Removing Groups From Forums
I guess you want to have a “standalone” bbPress install ?
Forum without Groups ?
I’m familiar with bbPress, but I’m looking to setup a forum integrated with Buddypress.
Login to dashboard, go to Buddypress and then Forums Setup to install. Once it’s configured, create a group called Support or whatever you want to call it and then you have a forum inside.
If you’re looking for just a forum, install bbPress by itself and integrate your userbase from WP/BP.
If you’re looking for a one-click install of forums not attached to groups for BuddyPress, Brajesh Singh has a solution. I should note that I haven’t tested this myself since it’s a premium plugin, but you might be interested, which is why I’m listing it here.
hmm…I quite don´t understand what you are trying to do, but it sounds interesting.
Could you please explain or show how this looks like ? A Forum integrated with BuddyPress….?
I am curious to understand…
That kind of works but it still doesn’t eliminate all the groups confusion, when someone starts a new topic you still gotta tell it which group to go to, which will confuse people, the urls would so screwed up too, /groups/forum/forum/topic/theactualtopicname. Then there is probably a lot of other garbage still in the system that we are missing.
@alanchrishughes – Here’s such a tutorial to integrate WordPress and standalone bbPress:
I’m not sure if I would be able to follow all of that, but would that work the same integrating Buddypress and bbPress?
I’m really surprised nobody has written a plugin for this or the buddypress people haven’t worked it directly into the system yet, I’ve read so many complaints about this over the last 6 months or so.
There is a Global Sitewide Forums plugin for BP still in beta and working in 220.127.116.11 …
@alanchrishughes – i’m working on an activity based solution now but waiting on 1.2.5 with some hook fixes
What is the idea even behind this “groups” concept? I have been trying to understand it and figure out a way to just work with it, but it just doesn’t make sense, it’s backwards. Traditionally you have a message board which is then divided into different groups, but here we got groups with a bunch of message boards inside them. Instead of narrowing down and organizing discussion subjects, it opens it up and scatters everything all over.
It’s like facebook fan pages. Why do people find this concept so strange?
How are they in any way like a fanpage? A fanpage isn’t divided or organized by anything, they are like a single page blog.
Buddypress groups are like folders full of folders full of fan pages.
@alanchrishughes said: “What is the idea even behind this “groups” concept? I have been trying to understand it and figure out a way to just work with it, but it just doesn’t make sense, it’s backwards.”
Just waking up Alan, so I hope I haven’t completely misunderstood. Personally, I’ve always been interested in how people respond to software systems. I think one of the main problems these days is that techies are so into, and used to, all things forum-ish, etc., that it’s second nature. People who get into systems like WordPress and BuddyPress quickly become techies, often without realising it, and take up the common language and perspectives of the software system they’re using. However, from the average user’s point of view, everything is very different.
We’ve done a lot of research with local people regarding using community websites. They know what a community is, and they know what a group is, at least in the real world. But mention a forum or a blog and we hear, “A what?! Oh, don’t give me all that computer-speak, and *don’t* try to make me understand all that rubbish”. This from some young people as well as older ones not so used to technology.
In building a social network as we are right now, forums are pretty much useless, and so are blogs. Why? Generally speaking, because in community organisations a forum is a face-to-face meeting of different service providers, and in business an online forum is seen as a bunch of people talking constantly about nothing on the Internet, ie., not much real use in terms of serious networking and increasing profits. Blogs are perceived as even worse: people blathering on and on about nothing of much interest to the world because they haven’t anything better to do, and love to see themselves racking up the page count and traffic day by day. This is our experience here in the UK, at least in our locality.
Groups, on the other hand, everyone can relate to. People form groups in real life, and the word ‘group’ is one everyone readily understands. Consequently, if I tell a local voluntary group that they can have their own online group, and even keep it private if they wish, they respond positively and grasp the idea of posting messages in a group. That’s all a group need be: forums and blogs don’t come into it. The response I’ve personally had to the question of whether someone would like a blog is, “Why?” and to the question of whether they’d like a very useful online forum it’s almost always, “But we already have a forum, twice a month”!
Whether the take-up on our site is good once it’s completed and advertised is dependent upon many factors. One thing I’ve learned to do over the past few years though, is switch off from the latest cool thing like forums within blogs within groups within posts related to other blogs which pull in every social network on the planet because you typed a certain key phrase. OMG yes it’s all so cool, but OMG do you end up with only users who also think it’s cool. The rest of the world don’t flaming well care, and the rest of the world IS the world.
Just my two-pence worth as they say here, but I’d look at what your users will find useful, and how what you’re building will make sense to them in terms they currently understand. In the recent past I’ve tried to enthuse people about all the cool stuff we have available, but unless it relates quickly and simply to their real world tasks it’s a waste of time and effort.
Groups are cool and useful because they reflect simple public/private real world entities.
I completely agree with you about trying to simplify terminology and usage for non-techies, that is exactly why I dislike this groups concept. The irony of what you just explained about how people don’t understand forums and how they are a bad idea, is that buddypress still uses forums and the word forum itself, buddypress even goes one step further and adds another arbitrary layer of confusion called groups over top of the forums.
I agree people are more familiar with the word and concept of groups, but when they are groups of things they don’t understand, it is not helping anything. If this were my project I would start at the highest level with a “Talk” or “Discussion” or even the old “Message Board” section and then inside of that create groups to divide and organize the individual conversations/threads going on inside each group.
@alanchrishughes; What we’ve done – and it’s making sense to a few testers so far – is to ditch the forums and just use groups. So people know, for example, that they can create a cycling group, or a business group, or a flower arranging group. They understand that they can post messages in their group, and invite others to join in, accept new members, etc., and also that if they want things in the group to remain only there then they can make it private.
Apart from the varying negative reactions I see from people regarding forums and blogs, one of the things which puts people off with forums is the layout style. They don’t want to ‘go into’ a new area and then have to sub-navigate, as they frequently become lost and end up hitting the Home button and starting again. Or worse still, the browser’s Close button, because it’s just another minor stress in life they can do without. Seeing an activity stream, and then entering a group knowing that it’s much the same thing, but either publicly displayed or kept private, they can handle. (Funnily enough, one tester said today when looking at the activity stream, “This is a really great idea…a local forum”).
Personally, I’m very much pulling away from all the “Oh how cool is this?!” side of technology, as you may notice from other posts I’ve made. It’s not because I’m ready for pipe and slippers yet, nor because I don’t like it all, but simply because those who are or become site and software developers are usually far removed from those they’re developing for, yet they don’t realise it. ‘Screen blindness’, perhaps. Developers are producing highly complex helicopters, while what most people really want are bog-standard 4-gear cars. Some are even happy with a horse and cart! (Afterthought; I guess the trick is to produce the complex helicopter, but make it so simple to fly that all you need is a steering wheel and 4 gears. I know; the analogy falls down hard if stretched further!)
I think that would be a great idea to just ditch the forums. You click on a group of interest and all the discussions/topics/threads/whatever are right there. But that is what a forum already is, accept you would be calling it a group instead.
@alanchrishughes; That makes sense to me, and I think that’s the way social networking will go soon, though it’s in its infancy right now. I think the very concepts of ‘forums’, ‘groups’, ‘blogs’ and so-on will merge, and fade into history soon enough.
I like the information filtering provided for user in the activity streams. For example, ‘All Members’ shows all activity, while ‘My Friends’ or ‘My Groups’ shows only what has been posted by friends, or in groups you belong to. That’s simple enough for almost anyone to grasp, and easy to use. When that sort of thing is extended into “What sort of information do you want to see, and how do you want to see it?” we’ll be making further progress. Currently, something like a forum is not easy for most people to grasp and use, and very restrictive for developers.
“What is the idea even behind this “groups” concept? I have been trying to understand it and figure out a way to just work with it, but it just doesn’t make sense, it’s backwards.”
“It’s like facebook fan pages. Why do people find this concept so strange?”
This is again the clash between forum and social network. They are NOT the same thing! They are different ways to structure a community. Mixing them is a recipe for disaster. Buddypress is pulled in two directions. The old-fashioned forum structure (bbpress) is winning.
A social network is organized around members. Member profiles are the main home pages, usually including a wire or blog. Members can friend or follow eachother and form groups and share content.
A forum is organized around topics. Members are secundary and are usually identified by anonymous usernames. Topics are arranged linearly, with main topics and sub-topics.
Because member management is horribly underdeveloped in Buddypress and the old BBpress users now set the tone in the developers community, Buddypress is turning into a confused forum script.
@lincme.co.uk I agree with you on basically all of this, but there is still the major organizational problem with the way things are setup now, like look at the url of this page and how overly complicated that is. Like I said before I agree with you that renaming “forums” to “groups” is a great idea and that could really cut down the url/organization of things to something much easier for non-techies to follow like
An off topic suggestion, but I think non-techies are thrown off by having to register for websites and checking their email, verifying, password, etc. they don’t care enough and just leave. Most blogs don’t require you to register, at most you just have to enter a captcha, maybe having an option for group creators to allow non-registered visitors comment on topics would increase interactivity. Just a thought.
“… but I think non-techies are thrown off by having to register for websites and checking their email, verifying, password, etc. they don’t care enough and just leave.”
You can’t have a social network without verification of identity. You should just build your site in bbpress, punbb, joomla or drupal. Or Moodle.
@peterverkooijen; Good points about the focus of a social network being on the member, while a forum is focussed more around the information. I think @alanchrishughes has a point too though, about non-techies being put off by having to register.many people are still terrified that if they enter their name and email address then you’ll have access to their bank account – seriously!
I’ve built a number of sites in Drupal, which is very powerful indeed, and doesn’t suffer so much from update issues. It gives such fine control of everything that it’s amazing, and for those who haven’t tried it, you can basically build your own custom CMS with it. It takes so long to do though. We tried Elgg, which is kinda cool out of the box, and does a lot of social network things really well. However, its interface is naff (in my opinion) and theming is not easy. Worse still, adding extra pages to build a custom site means lots of coding, instead of WP’s simple click-to-add. We’re going to need that for custom background (paying) advert pages, and hopefully a lot of them as time goes on. Also, Elgg has almost no member control, roles, etc., and wile the Elgg team feel that’s not important, we strongly disagree. People do not behave nicely just because they signed up to a social network!
Personally, I see nothing wrong with a social network which allows unregistered users to comment with CAPTCHA, along with well defined and easy to use groups for members to join, and good role management and strong privacy for those who require it. That way, just as in the real world, you can have private places and high streets, with members themselves controlling who does what. For me, at least, that’s all a social network need be.
@Peterverkooijen I really like the idea of them all being mixed together, if nothing else just to see what can be done, breaking down boundaries. Sometimes you just want to blurt something out facebook or twitter style into your stream, other times you want to post something with a bit of direction that you would post on a website,blog, or messageboard, but in the end it is all one user account, one profile, in one familiar place.
And you do realize that bbpress still requires you to log in also right? When I suggested that I was referring to @lincme.co.uk talking about how one day blogs/forums/groups will merge into one thing. So it would embody aspects of social networking but also aspects of traditional websites and blogs which sometimes have 1 time visitors to read a news story and just want to ad a quick response. In the future this news article may be written as a forum post to a group, which is then query_posts(“showposts=10&category_name=whatever”); to a list on the front page of a website with a fancy little custom field thumbnail and excerpt.
Or maybe one day all buddypress installations will be able to be connected in a way, like gravator, so that I could be logged into my favorite skate magazine website, but post a comment to an article on a political website and this would show up in my universal buddypress stream, and then there is a time machine and flux capacitor plugin that can make ice cream sundaes……
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