The Convention USA Chairman has established acceptable criteria for the establishment of a testbed for new ideas, leaving great flexibility as to the form such a forum may take. Further, the support offered for a forum suggests it is time to examine the potential forum options.
NOTE: It was originally my intent to begin building the forum on February 19th. I will postpone this until the 26th, to allow this conversation to reach a natural conclusion.
The selection of a forum software is an important choice, as changing
forums tools becomes increasingly more difficult the longer we use a
particular solution. Two solutions have been presented so far, phpBB and MyBB. I have been continuing to research the benefits of each. Here is my report. I welcome a report by Delegate Tape to ensure that a balanced presentation is made.
phpBB3.0 is the more established forum solution. As such, it benefits from being tested in a wider array of situations and from having a much larger base of developed customizations. This comes at a cost of vestigial code that handle obscure cases unrelated to our specific needs.
Its permissions system is much more elaborate, allowing much more flexibility, but leading to a more complicated administration control panel.
MyBB is the new kid on the block. As such, it is a slick new code that includes paradigms not yet available in phpBB. This comes at a cost of being tested in a wide range of situations.
In particular, MyBB locks entire database tables on a write, while phpBB only locks database table rows. This makes MyBB less scalable, particularly when handling larger forums with thousands of users simultaneously participating.
Two of these features stand out.
Hooks allow for a more efficient implementation of modifications, which is particularly helpful when upgrading forum versions.
In Line Moderation allows moderators to have far greater control while simply viewing the forum than phpBB allows.
phpBB3.1 has entered the final verification steps before alpha testing can begin. A developmental version is available, but I would strongly oppose loading a developmental version. A stable release should be available by the end of the year, though I have no guarantees of that.
This version will include built-in hooks, similar to MyBB.
The primary long-term tradeoff appears to be scalability vs. in-line moderation.
If our goal is to build a forum to handle a convention the size we are now, I would agree that MyBB would be the optimal solution. Since our view is a convention with hundreds to thousands of active delegates participating simultaneously, however, I feel that scalability is the most critical factor.
Initially, the primary goal of our forum will be building a community of delegates, not including the newest and fanciest forum features available.
It is my view that phpBB3.0 is the best initial solution for our needs, but that we should anticipate moving to phpBB3.1 once a stable release is made available. As such, we should be very judicious about adding custom code modifications until we have made that transition.
This post is at least twice as long as I typically like to write. It contains a lot of information to digest. I thank you for taking the time to consider its content.
I also value your further insight into this critical decision in forming a forum that meets the needs of our fellow delegates.