Removing Groups From Forums
Ice-cream sundaes! Oh yes! Actually, that’s one direction Drupal has been going (not the ice-cream, sadly), which is the eventual simplification of data storage. The biggest problem now, I think, is that developers map their views to data, and vice-versa. Drupal stores everything and anything as a ‘node’. So a node can contain one word, a site link, a story, a page, images, files, or any combination of all by having nodes within nodes. Its Views module then allows you to say how nodes are displayed; as blocks (widgets), pages, in tables, rows, any kind of custom layout.
What I’m visualising at present is a way of doing things like BP’s activity stream, where data is any kind of node you like, and you decide whether nodes can overflow or are cut (eg., large images), displayed all at once or shown as a bite (eg., stories/pages and small excerpts with ‘read more…’) etc. You then just decide whether each site page appears as a single page, a list of related nodes kinda bloggish, a list of related nodes a-la activity stream, etc. A couple of clicks could create a stream, a shopping page, or whatever you wish. Users then have BP style filtering links, so they can view everything the view shows, just friend’s contributions, just their groups, etc. Off-site information can be pulled in via links as well, and displayed as the same kind of node (similar data, just a different source). Wrap all that around an individual member with a profile and roles/permissions, and you have the most powerful and adaptable social network there is.
As I say, you can do that with Drupal, but gawd is it time consuming for a large project. I like the way WordPress is going, and if BuddyPress follows suit in the simple and easy to use stakes, the two combined will be amazing.
@alanchrishughes They are EXACTLY like facebook fan pages. You have an activity stream on both. You have forum/discussions on both. Not sure why you think otherwise. You can also add apps to facebook fan pages and buddypress groups. They look different and the wording on each is different but they really are the same thing.
I feel like a moron now because I just discovered if I delete the forum tab and pretend the groups tab is the forum tab, it works basically exactly like the way I was describing I thought it should work haha. Even the urls are straight forward /groups/thegroupname and you are on the equivalent of a forum thread.
The only reason I would still be against the group idea is because of the same thing I mentioned a few posts back about people not wanting to sign up and register for a website, not everybody wants to joint a group, even though I know you don’t have to join a group in buddypress to comment in the group discussion, it still has a bit of bad taste in the user experience just because of the name “groups” it brings back bad high school memories of clicks and the cool kids groups.
“Personally, I see nothing wrong with a social network which allows unregistered users to comment with CAPTCHA …”
I’m sorry, but the whole point of a social network is that it is not anonymous. You can’t have unregistered users on a social network. The point of a social network is to allow members to interact with eachother in a trusted environment like they would in the offline world; you introduce yourself, it has your picture and some basic personal information, you can make friends, etc. Mixing in anonymous “users” destroys that purpose.
Anonymous comments are fine on a forum, which is about topics. I go to forum to find answers to PHP questions; I don’t care who posts a coding solution.
“I really like the idea of them all being mixed together, if nothing else just to see what can be done, breaking down boundaries …”
Sure there will be many use cases where you would like to mix social network with a forum, with Twitter-like microblogging, with event management, with galleries, etc. But why cram everything into Buddypress?
I needed a simple, flexible social networking script with a solid reliable core that I could combine with other PHP scripts for whatever else I might need. Since bbpress forums started taking over Buddypress has become useless to me.
@peterverkooijen; I don’t think mixing in anonymous users defeats the point at all. Why should it? Don’t you talk to people you don’t know almost every day? Don’t people comment in passing about things, often making people smile? If software systems model the real world of human interactions, then I’d say that anonymity is quite normal. Perhaps you may still be stuck within the limitations of the terms you’re using? It’s not about “cramming everything in”, it’s about opening up to wider possibilities, and much, much easier ways of doing things which mean more to ordinary people rather than just those excited by technology (ie., us!)
Edit: In fact, you’ve just hit the nail right on the head. Rigid definitions lead to rigid mappings between rigidly defined data sources and the rigidly defined interface used to show their content. The future of CMS/Blog/Forum/Networking software is to drop the rigidity and open up to an amazing new flexibility and power. Not yet. But soon.
I think there should be some kind of separation for the anonymous commentors, common sense stuff though, like they could comment on forum/group posts, but not on a personal update stream or whatever.
@peterverkooijen just because buddypress or wordpress or whoever develop new features for an application doesn’t mean you are forced to use the new features. You don’t have to install the forums or allow user blogs.
“… just because buddypress or wordpress or whoever develop new features for an application doesn’t mean you are forced to use the new features. You don’t have to install the forums …”
The topic of this thread was about removing groups from forum. Groups imho are a natural part of a social networking architecture. Forums not so much. Most of the questions on this board these days are about forums/bbpress. That seems also where most of the developers attention is going, while there is almost no progress on what should be the core of a social network script for WordPress; member management, privacy/security, making BP WordPress 3.0-ready, etc.
Talk about “dropping rigidity and opening up to an amazing new flexibility and power” is pure nonsense. I’m not a programmer myself, but have you looked under the hood? Have you looked into the database? Do you know how BP is structured? Software can’t be all things to all people. It will never make you ice cream sundaes. Sure it’s nice to have built-in features, but there is always a trade-off. In Buddypress’ case it is growing structural confusion. Where would you draw the line?
I’d prefer a leaner core, a script that only adds social networking to WordPress and does it well. Integration with bbpress should go via WordPress, not as bolt-on to BP. Ideally WordPress would have an API that would make the members database just as easy to integrate with PunBB or phpBB if I wanted to.
I totally agree with you !
The bbPress should be skipped and we need more User-Management and Privacy build into BP.
Would be great if you could write your ideas and suggestions into this thread:
@peterverkooijen I don’t care what is considered a “natural” part of a social networking website, it is what I want for the website I am developing. I wanted a messageboard potentially with subjects divided into specific groups, not groups with a bunch of messageboards inside of them.
Like I said a few posts back I realized if I just ignore the forums tab and treat the groups like a messageboard it almost works, if only you could create more than one topic in each group.
“I wanted a messageboard potentially with subjects divided into specific groups”
Sounds like you need a traditional forum script, perhaps with a bit of customization. Why do you use Buddypress?
Why would I not? I like the fact that it is all integrated, wordpress, buddypress, and a messageboard. I wanted it to work like a regular messageboard, but when they start a new thread or comment in a thread it shows up their buddypress stream the way it does when you comment on a blog post.
I don’t use buddypress yet, I am waiting until I can get things to work the way I want.
So you basically want to force Buddypress to work like a regular messageboard…
No, I want the messageboard in buddypress to work like a regular messageboard.
I don’t think every group needs a messageboard of it’s own.
@peterverkooijen said; “Talk about dropping rigidity and opening up to an amazing new flexibility and power is pure nonsense”. Ah Peter, without visionaries such as yourself, how would we ever have got to where we are..?! Growing out of rigid definitions into new flexibility is where the virtual world is heading, like it or not. Everything you see online now will be long dead in five years, and all the concepts you hold dear buried deep. Might as well get used to it.
BuddyPress is a mess, as I see it. It isn’t really anything, and at the same time it’s too much. If I want a community conversation stream, along with simple WordPress themes, etc., there’s Mingle. If I want a forum on my site that’s easy too; there’s BBPress, Mingle Forum, etc. If I want member groups regardless of these, there’s, erm… there’s… well, BuddyPress does that, kind of, in a big and over-complicated way.
BuddyPress should be about making social contacts. The name’s a bit of a clue, right? In other words, friends and contacts with grouping of such, contact streams, and strong privacy for users so they determine who sees what they post. On top of that, as it’s a social tool; community moderation/banning, and reporting to site admins in a simple and obvious way. Oh, and of course, easy to see notifications such as friend/contact requests, etc. Who thought it was a good idea to *include* forums in all of this, and relate them to groups?! Each entity and its associated operations should be separate and self-sustaining. Basic OOP.
It just doesn’t do anything easily, does it? And the hype on the download pages about plugins to do whatever you like is just hype, really. Oh, it ‘kind of’ does everything you want, but only kind of. You have to jump through hoops, and even then you’re fighting with a forum which tries to be a group trying to hold conversation streams together.
I’m interested in productive discussion about social networking sites and their take-up and impact, though not here as I feel it’s not the right place. For one thing, the developers and those who kiss up don’t like to hear how their baby was malformed from the start. If anyone is interested in finding solutions to creating truly interactive social networks in the easiest and most stable way possible at present, please email any-name-you-like at our domain.
@peterverkooijen said: I’m sorry, but the whole point of a social network is that it is not anonymous. You can’t have unregistered users on a social network. The point of a social network is to allow members to interact with eachother in a trusted environment like they would in the offline world
You just described email.
I’ve never understood the whole privacy freak out problem. Ever since facebook started getting big I hear about it all the time. But it is stupid, if you don’t want information or photos of yourself on the internet, don’t put them on the internet, and especially don’t turn around and try to blame the website you put it on.
@alanchrishughes (“I’ve never understood the whole privacy freak out problem …”)
That has nothing whatsoever to do with what I said.
@lincme.co.uk (“Ah Peter, without visionaries such as yourself, how would we ever have got to where we are..?! Growing out of rigid definitions into new flexibility is where the virtual world is heading, like it or not. Everything you see online now will be long dead in five years, and all the concepts you hold dear buried deep. Might as well get used to it.”)
Mushy holistic talk won’t get us there. I favor modular systems with well-defined components that can work together in many different configurations. Buddypress is a kitchen-sink mess that tries to be all things to all people.
@peterverkooijen you keep talking about privacy
but anyways, I’m still looking for a solution to simplify the messageboard/s system. Right now I’m looking into renaming “groups” to “topics”
@alanchrishughes (“you keep talking about privacy”)
To develop a real social network you want to encourage people to share their real identity, real name, post a picture, some personal information, etc. They will happily do that provided there is some basic privacy protection in place; only members can see their profiles, only friends can see certain data, etc. The whole point of social networks is to provide an online environment where you can interact with other people online with the same amount of control and trust you have in the offline world. See Facebook and LinkedIn. Privacy/security control is fatally underdeveloped in Buddypress. That may be OK for a forum that revolves around topics, but not for a social network that is supposed to revolve around personal profiles.
I’m not the only one pointing this out…:
Just a few from the first page today…
@peterverkooijen; Ok, I came across sarcastic back there. Apologies. Discussion is always useful, but not when we let ego get in the way.
Your comment about “Mushy holistic talk” made me smile. Where did those terms creep in? Perhaps “New Age Software: it does nothing, but it feels good!” might be the key here, umm..? Actually, while I do have a ‘holistic’ side to me, I’m a software developer who began using computers 28 years ago. I’ve lead projects in the Banking and Avionics industries, and trained post-graduate software engineers for some time. The avionics software we created was superb, cost millions, and is used by major avionics firms to build aircraft and helicopters you might have flown in. The best bit is that not one of them fell out of the sky due to engineering software errors (yay for us), and a major helicopter company put on a personal display for us to show that it all worked. Scary, but fun!
So yes, I know huge software projects inside out, and you can take it from me that my comments on things here are not just the ramblings of a wannabe.
BuddyPress should have been designed, in my experience, from the user up. In other words, first create the user and his/her data, and provide basic functions. Next, think about what the user might want to do. So, provide groups of users, activity streams, etc., and let the user decide what they show and don’t show. That’s just basic reality modelling. If you want forums and other such freestyle public groups, then provide those too. But it all comes down to the basic user, and what he/she wishes to be public.
Regarding your points about what social networks are or aren’t, I think you’re letting your own definitions become over-important. The USER decides what the social network is to THEM by specifying their profile and posting privileges. After all, don’t you decide in the real world what you share with people, and when, and under what particular circumstances? Same thing online. If not, then real world people may shun your social network.
@lincme.co.uk, I think we basically agree, but your remark sounded similar to the standard defense of BP, that it is so great because you can do absolutely anything with it. My counter-argument to that unavoidably sounds rigid and over-important.
@lincme.co.uk I am assuming you are one of the people who developed or now work on Buddypress, do you know if there is going to be a forum option like I have described that is separate from groups in any up coming version? I have really been wanting to redesign a website I run http://www.parkersburgskateplaza.org using Buddypess since I first read about the software this winter, but I am almost ready to just roll with it as is and stumble through trying to explain how it works to people, but would rather wait if something simpler is in the works.
@peterverkooijen; It’s all good, and once we’ve had a few ruffled feathers we can get down to sharing really useful ideas, eh? I don’t think you’re “wrong”, any more than I think I’m “right”. We probably see more the same way than not. As for BP as a project, sadly, it’s perhaps too late to go back to great design principles. A bit like a snowball rolling downhill. Most software projects are like that. Once started, you either roll with it or stop and admire the view. From where it’s easy to say, “Look at that damned thing, storming downhill like that!”
@alanchrishughes; No, heck no, I don’t work on BuddyPress and never have. The folks who do have obviously worked long and hard on it, and in their defence I should say that it’s all too easy to be critical about someone else’s work. If this were my software project it would never have got this far the way it is. However, it isn’t. I don’t have the time to commit to working on it, so I can only be an armchair critic. Frankly, no matter what your experience, shouting from an armchair has its limitations, and makes you no friends.
Regarding the forum/group options, I think BuddyPress needs remodelling and recoding, but that probably won’t happen – snowball downhill, etc. It should be really small in terms of code, with add-on modules for groups, forums, etc., as you wish to use them. As I said, have a user entity, then create modules and functions for users to, erm, use. It seems to me to have been designed back-asswards, but you know, what can I say..?
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