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I don't agree. A website is about CONTENT. I join communities because I want to learn about a certain topic and discuss it with others. I go wherever that is possible. I don't go where there is the “coolest image upload function”.

Yes, forum software in its core works like it did in the 1990s. But that’s a good thing! I consider linear discussion threads still the perfect way to discuss special areas of interest. Social network sites are focussing on user engagement (likes, retweets and so on) thru short posts, which in turn creates page views and therefore ad revenue. But that is not the main goal of my community. I like to have elaborate discussions about certain topics — like in the 1990s. ;-)

I am happy about every usability improvement in IPS, but I don't like those dozens of threads here stating "forum software needs to be more like social networks“. If people choose to spend more time on social networks than on a forum site, they don't chose a “better software”, they choose a different concept (or “infrastructure” as EleganceReef put it) of how to interact with others online.

IPS shouln’t copy that. They would always draw the short straw. In fact, I would say they could even work in the opposite direction and strengthen anything that works differently than on social network sites. Those are the benefits that the software and we as admins can offer to the users.

This is absolutely correct - those who complain that IPB is not like FB are comparing apples and pears. My specialist IPB site has several years of threads which users dip into and discuss more like a social encyclopedia. Social media is all about the 'now' - a few hours later the messages are effectively 'gone' and everyone has moved on. For me social media is the online equivalent of the casual chat in the bar/cafe whereas the forum is closer to a specialist club or society which is trying to develop and share a body of knowledge.

However I do agree that it is VITAL that IPB becomes far more intuitive. If a function is not immediately obvious most users will give up and leave. For example, I've had numerous queries about 'how to upload' images on IPB and quite a few problems with site registration. And thats from the keen ones - most just give up and leave when they hit problems.

So please, please can we have the option of a simple editor for users enabling them to post, quote, paste and upload images in a WYSIWYG format. I appreciate that great efforts have gone into making an all singing all dancing editor on 3.4 but I'm convinced that the majority of forum users out there simply want something intuitive, uncluttered, simple and fast.

Looking forward to IP Suite 4.0 :thumbsup:

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You haven't seen the newest version yet, though :smile:.

seriously who is this person :| - How is the likelyness of this even possible? GIVE ME UR BADGE and Identification :)

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I have an IPS site which is relatively niche-oriented. In the first year of existence we got approx. 9,000 members, in the second one approx. 22.000, and now approaching the third year we'll be around 36,000. For a site with a mainly regional focus (90 something per cent of users live in Australia, which by the way it's not a very populated country) we are not doing badly at all. Are we as easy to use as Facebook or Twitter? Of course not; moreover, we are more difficult to use than the IPS site, because you have to post a Hello message before gaining full access, you cannot see members' profiles, galleries, etc. until you reach 10 posts. There are huge permission differences between some membership groups. I guess all this creates a natural selection between those who stay, learn their way around and love it (we have unique content and at the end of the day our structure is logical), and those who can't be bothered working things out and leave (but even for these we serve as a good resource of info, even if they just remain lurkers).

Those who stay and love it, talk to other people on social media, at work, etc. and many come to us really curious and ready to overcome a bit of difficulty at the beginning, so word of mouth shouldn't be underestimated.

Now, for several reasons discussed by others in this thread, I thought it was time to get another basket and put a few eggs in it too... just in case. So, I built a new site with social media and the Facebook way of interacting in mind. I'm running phpfox software, which on one hand has many features that many would like to see coming from IPS, yet on the other, it doesn't feel nowhere near as robust and thoughtfully created and tested as IPS. It's a bit of a Facebook wannabe software but keeping in mind that we won't have the same infrastructure behind it, which is a realistic approach.

Since theme-wise the new site is similar (yet maybe a tad broader than my IPS site), and there's basically no moderation (very much unlike my IPS site), and all forms of advertising are free (also unlike my IPS site), I thought that all I would need to do was to tell users on my site about it, and the new site would sail along fast. Well, here's what happened; some went, signed up, made a few posts, got bored due to the lack of unique content and left. I also tried to spread the word via other means, but it's an uphill battle when people have Facebook and Twitter for the kind of Gen Y type of interaction. It's around 6 months since I opened it and we just passed the 700 members (we get fresh waves of them only when my IPS site is down because I'm upgrading or something, activity catches up but then gradually lessens as people go back to my IPS site).

So, to make a long story short, it's much harder to battle the Facebook effect when you try to be a like Facebook than when you simply are something completely different to Facebook. Of course this is not say that some IPS functions couldn't be more user-friendly (eg. adding full or medium size photos on posts, etc). But overall, I'm extremely happy with IPS because I know that when it comes to making some forms of content the king, it is to a large extent what I actually need.

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This is absolutely correct - those who complain that IPB is not like FB are comparing apples and pears.

Apple and pear comparison is fair if that's where majority of users have been going to. It would be like burying your head in the sand.

Have a specific forum that is still active and still has some new members? That doesn't mean much to this discussion.

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You can only fight a social network with a social network.

A forum board is a different story u can still try to make ur forum into a social cmmunity, but face it... in the end it's still a forum. (IPB 4.0 will fix that I believe, all you need is the dedicated time to get past the new set of bugs that will likely be ranted about by the community and the time to customize the community even more.)

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So, how often do we connect with friends and family over the specific subject forum we administer? I'm willing to make a substantial bet about null...Let's compare that one subject forum to all the different subjects our friends and family want to discuss with us, that one subject forum starts to look like a spec of sand. That's where FB wins.. It's not winning at taking your forum subjects away, it's winning by the sheer numbers of people wanting to discuss something other than a specific topic or subject. YOU CAN NOT WIN/beat FB!!! If you run a general forum with no specific meaning or goal you might as well just drop out now imo. FB will spank you up and down.

Let me give you an example. I had a moderator that was at my site everyday. posting, great member of the community. More of a social guy than a person that was there for our forum subject imo. He found FB and we pretty much seen nothing of him. I went and visited his FB page to see what was up. What I seen shouldn't of surprised me at all. I seen a man connecting with his family and friends over everything other than our forum topic/subject. I mean look at this realistically, is anyone going to change their specific topic site to a specific topic site and general site? No, the type of members needed to make the social end work are on FB..

IPB can make some changes to aid in some social aspects but in no way can they magically create a product that does what FB does or make a product to keep members on a specific topic when that one specific topic is not what in whole people connect with more often.

Before FB people did use their forums as a social site by making a general forum in a specific forum platform. Yes those did get used "before" FB however, since FB's arrival, anything social seems to connect to them now and that's how society in general seems to of accepted it. That means as admins now the rules have changed "for good" and we must accept that and now adapt. The answer is not competing with FB it's with understanding your community and what you can do for them while they are there. Provide quality information and a quality platform to discuss what they are there for. Provide specific advertising that is not custom tailored by Google or MS for your subject. Specific information sites can definably win if you have reasonable expectations.

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Facebook was hurting me too. But now Facebook is a source of my traffic. My site, (http://www.turkeycentral.com), has the forum but also articles, using IP Content, and tons of photos using IPGallery. Previously I had gotten tired of answering the same questions over and over in my forum, so I wrote articles which covered all of the usual questions (http://www.turkeycentral.com/page/articles.html). Now I use the articles in the same way with Facebook. I do the same with the photos in the photo gallery.

Here's what I did:

First I opened a Facebook PAGE about Turkey under the same name as my site (don't open a Facebook group, you will end up with a second forum).

Then I joined as many Facebook groups and followed as many pages about Turkey that I could. Now once a week I visit them. I am  looking for two things:

1. Any content on other pages and groups that I can share on my Facebook page. Just by perusing similar Facebook pages and groups and sharing, my Facebook page has grown substantially in popularity. Of course I also add posts about my articles and interesting topics in my forum.

In a sitting I sometimes share up to 50 posts and photos from other Facebook pages and groups. All of the good stuff (no BS posts) from multiple pages and groups ends up on my page. Of course every one of those shared posts ends up with a link to my site in the "Say something about this" option which appears every time I share something.

2. Any comments, or any of the same questions in Facebook groups or pages that I get in my forums, which are answered in my articles. Or a post about something which I have a photo of. When I find something like this, I reply. And my reply includes a link to one of my articles or photos/photo galleries about the same subject. I don't over-do it. Facebook page owners don't mind this practice as long as you're helping a member, and you are! :)

Think of it as chumming. There's lots of fish guts in the water (a suitable metaphor for most of the content on Facebook), and lots of fish will get a free meal. But you can also throw your line in with a nice chunk of bait and catch a lot of them.

Think of Facebook, at least those groups and pages about the same thing your site is about, as a chum slick. Happy fishing!

Edited by Bendensin

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Where are the stats that show it's because of facebook and not the lack of content being provided by those websites? 

​I think gaming websites like yours are proof enough in my own experience with IPB and gaming clans. Some just move entirely to Facebook groups due to the functionality and ease of us. Push notifications and simple reply options on Facebook, which users already check daily, beat going to a forum, logging in and going through a comparably lengthy process just to partake in a discussion.
 

Edited by kotaco

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Some just move entirely to Facebook groups due to the functionality and ease of us. Push notifications and simple reply options on Facebook, which users already check daily, beat going to a forum, logging in and going through a comparably lengthy process just to partake in a discussion. 

​If that is the case and all users are happy with it I would say: so be it. You couldn’t change that situation even if you built a direct Facebook clone. 

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I don't like social networks like facebook or instagram. The content they offer is instantaneous, and that's it. The success of a post on a social network does not last more than a few hours... after that, vanishes... And the content is commonly poor, only images and few ideas...

Forums otherwise usually offer more deep discussions and the interest for the content may last for years...

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whether we like or not the truth here is Facebook and the other social media becoming more attractive for a lot of visitors and this affect the traffic of our websites

I suggest to make IPB more integrated with such a social media networks and make our users able to find all what they are posting in our websites in their social media walls. by this way we will not worry about the competition and we can convent our users by telling them that they have the option to setup the posting to be update their Facebook wall or pages or groups once they are posting

I hope this will be taken into consideration because it will solve a lot of traffic and performance issues of our websites  

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whether we like or not the truth here is Facebook and the other social media becoming more attractive for a lot of visitors and this affect the traffic of our websites

I suggest to make IPB more integrated with such a social media networks and make our users able to find all what they are posting in our websites in their social media walls. by this way we will not worry about the competition and we can convent our users by telling them that they have the option to setup the posting to be update their Facebook wall or pages or groups once they are posting

I hope this will be taken into consideration because it will solve a lot of traffic and performance issues of our websites  

​Oh, god no. I do not want everything I write on my forum or any forum I use automatically shared with my social media sites. If my friends were interested in that they would have joined my forum already. These days everyone is so picky about what gets published to their Facebook feed that I think the current structure of IPB (the user chooses what they want to share) is perfect to what your members ACTUALLY want.

You have to stop worrying about competing with Facebook and only use it to your advantage. I get over 1,000 unique visitors per week from my Facebook page. These are all people who have an interest in what my forum is about and have opted-in to "liking" my page but I do NOT post what exactly what is written on the forums, I create marketing content that intrigues the user to go read what is happening on the forum. This takes more effort and thought but works 100x better than just posting the content, as that won't intrigue anyone to join/post on your forum as they are already on Facebook and can comment there.

Let me just close with saying that if you intend to compete with Facebook, you're going to lose. They have far superior resources than you do and even Google (someone with equal or greater resources) has failed at this. I am not saying that you still shouldn't use Facebook and social sites to your advantage but if you go comparing features and want to develop the same features, Facebook's are going to be 100x better so you have to focus on content and making your site unique to Facebook.

Edited by ForeverPontiac

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​Oh, god no. I do not want everything I write on my forum or any forum I use automatically shared with my social media sites. If my friends were interested in that they would have joined my forum already. These days everyone is so picky about what gets published to their Facebook feed that I think the current structure of IPB (the user chooses what they want to share) is perfect to what your members ACTUALLY want.

You have to stop worrying about competing with Facebook and only use it to your advantage. I get over 1,000 unique visitors per week from my Facebook page. These are all people who have an interest in what my forum is about and have opted-in to "liking" my page but I do NOT post what exactly what is written on the forums, I create marketing content that intrigues the user to go read what is happening on the forum. This takes more effort and thought but works 100x better than just posting the content, as that won't intrigue anyone to join/post on your forum as they are already on Facebook and can comment there.

Let me just close with saying that if you intend to compete with Facebook, you're going to lose. They have far superior resources than you do and even Google (someone with equal or greater resources) has failed at this. I am not saying that you still shouldn't use Facebook and social sites to your advantage but if you go comparing features and want to develop the same features, Facebook's are going to be 100x better so you have to focus on content and making your site unique to Facebook.

​Actually the competition becoming a fact and this competition is not about the programming script against IPB script but it is about attracting members , for example my website is about accounting and auditing and now alot of facebook pages about the same topic and guess what, they are also have a deep discussion with the members interested in their pages,

what I suggest is to increase the integration and this will be the best solution for such a cases  

again the obvious fact here is social media attract more members and great part of their times spent in it so I'll not ignore this fact because you are happy in your website

another point is the integration already exist in IPB but what I hope is to increase this integration to give the members more options

best regards

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again the obvious fact here is social media attract more members and great part of their times spent in it so I'll not ignore this fact because you are happy in your website

​No one suggested burying our head in the sand and ignoring the competition. The point is to focus on the strength of our communities and what makes them different from social networks. If you have nothing to set yourself apart from Facebook, why would people want to use your site? Being more like Facebook or integrating more with Facebook will not help in this regard. It actually might speed up the process of people leaving your site and doing everything on Facebook. 

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​Actually the competition becoming a fact and this competition is not about the programming script against IPB script but it is about attracting members , for example my website is about accounting and auditing and now alot of facebook pages about the same topic and guess what, they are also have a deep discussion with the members interested in their pages,

what I suggest is to increase the integration and this will be the best solution for such a cases  

again the obvious fact here is social media attract more members and great part of their times spent in it so I'll not ignore this fact because you are happy in your website

another point is the integration already exist in IPB but what I hope is to increase this integration to give the members more options

best regards

​If you integrate with Facebook, why would people visit your site?

You've stated that integrating with social media will render more users but fail to explain the reasoning or proof behind it. If the users can get your information/content on social media, why would they go to your site? This is the point I'm trying to get across. You have to use social media to your advantage but by all means integrating the two is going to render 1 useless and that's going to be your site. Also this "integration" is rather vague, you said earlier you want every post that a user makes shared on social media. I guarantee 99.9999999999% of a regular forum will not want that. 

Every community though is unique, I don't know your members and this could work great (I doubt it) and what they want but that does not mean that it is suitable for all IPS communities

Edited by ForeverPontiac

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I think this is an apples to oranges comparison. They both are marketed very very differently. The content of both of those solutions are inherently different.

Facebook has more emphasis on user/social engagement while Forums or community sites are more focused on content about a similar interest. You do not go to Facebook to read about the NFL do you? No, you go to Facebook to tell them how bad the CowGirls got beat by the Eagles yesterday.

You go to an NFL site with a forum solution to discuss how the hell the CowGirls got beat by the Eagles and what they're going to do to improve their game for the next day.

However, some of this interaction can be used on both solutions, but it doesn't mean that some of this user interaction is better fit for one nor the other, it solely depends on the content, the site and its focus.

My gaming community uses Facebook quite heavily, and yes - our forums aren't that popular currently because everyone pretty much uses Facebook for the social interaction. However, anytime someone needs some content or wants to post some, they're always on our site doing just that. The good thing is, I don't have to worry about troll posts and topics and pretty much everything on our site is genuine content about our focus.

 

 

Edited by Dylan Riggs

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Facebook has more emphasis on user/social engagement while Forums or community sites are more focused on content about a similar interest. 

​Well, a Facebook group can easily replace regular stand-alone forums. They have basically the same concept. 

That’s why I would certainly not start such a group on FB, but I have a page to drive traffic from there to my site. The FB page is just a “news channel”. It can’t replace my site. 

Edited by opentype

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I agree that, generally speaking, Facebook is about the users; communities are about engaging users with content. If your community is a gaming clan site with nothing more than  user to user banter, your users are likely going to be more drawn to Facebook. If, on the other hand, your site is topic and content driven, communities are very relevant and I've not seen any such site fail to Facebook. 

Ideally, you will harness the power of both mediums together. 

 

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FaceBook is hands down our biggest competitor. Thankfully our members are looking for anonymity and many aren't willing to "share" on FaceBook. We've harnessed that power thus far but it's going to be difficult moving forward as long as we're not ahead of FaceBook technologically and intuitively!!!!

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I'm not professional in the world of boards or websites programming but in the the other hand let me tell a simple example I can see in the field of accounting solutions

most of the developers of accounting solutions realize that using excel is becoming essential for the accountants, that is why they are programming their solution with an enhancement of the integration features with  excel ( like export and import ) , I think the same idea must be exist with any community developer who developing such a discussion boards, I mean the integration with the most well known social media must be considered and must be taking care , this integration will be vary from board to another according to the strategy of the developing company but at the end it must be exist

I think IPS doing well in this integration and actually I find the integration getting more worthy in version 4 but still there is more to be done in this area., and I believe that the integration is the solution to avoid comparison between any developed discussion board and Facebook.  By this integration the user always will have the option to publish his contents to most well known social media from one place which I hope it will be the discussion boards installed in a sites like our sites

all what I mean here " why I have to consider social media like Facebook as a monster while I can transform it to be my pet "

 

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I'm not professional in the world of boards or websites programming but in the the other hand let me tell a simple example I can see in the field of accounting solutions

most of the developers of accounting solutions realize that using excel is becoming essential for the accountants, that is why they are programming their solution with an enhancement of the integration features with  excel ( like export and import ) , I think the same idea must be exist with any community developer who developing such a discussion boards, I mean the integration with the most well known social media must be considered and must be taking care , this integration will be vary from board to another according to the strategy of the developing company but at the end it must be exist

I think IPS doing well in this integration and actually I find the integration getting more worthy in version 4 but still there is more to be done in this area., and I believe that the integration is the solution to avoid comparison between any developed discussion board and Facebook.  By this integration the user always will have the option to publish his contents to most well known social media from one place which I hope it will be the discussion boards installed in a sites like our sites

all what I mean here " why I have to consider social media like Facebook as a monster while I can transform it to be my pet "

 

Excel is a great example of what we are facing today company-wise, a giant software company (Microsoft) VS small - average sized software company (other accounting software), technology wise not so much. Excel has been around for a while now and has the resources of Microsoft, it has developed a great tool for many companies and many fields to use. My Dad is in the higher ranks of a rather know company in the finance field and is always stating to me about the complaints of how much software he has to go around to do simple accounting or check his direct report's work because normally you have your "editor" (Excel) then you have your storage, then they have to use another item to remote in to the storage, etc... etc... Each software piece has it's strong suit, like Excel for editing, another software for storage, etc... 

Unlike in the accounting software world, forum software is pretty much self-sufficient apart from databases and whatnot (it is it's own editor, publisher, etc...) and so is social media. Though they have their strong suits, they usually cater to different audiences and content is not really "transferable" to one or the other.

Also unlike in the accounting world where your company technically "owns" all the data that is being passed around to these multiple software so this is technically not a problem for your employees to distribute it and use it in them. Forums/Communities this is not necessarily true. As a user, I only technically partially "own" the content I post or not at all depending on the TOS so I don't have control of it after it gets posted. Yes, I could possibly share my own content depending on TOS to social media but for instance in terms of this post, it doesn't make much sense to only share the contents of this post because it doesn't really mean much on it's own without everyone else's in the discussion but I would be breaching probably TOS with IPS if shared everyone's and probably the other users wouldn't like me very much as maybe they only wanted that content shared here. Which is why in the world of forums and communities, sharing via the links already provide by IPS that share the URL of the topic is the best idea. Especially in sense of images, files, etc... if you "export" everything to social media, you'll probably face some legal issues let alone member complaints.

There is really a lot to consider here and it's not as simple as "EXPORT ALL THE THINGS TO SOCIAL MEDIA!" ;) 

Importing, going the other way from social media to your community, I think might be more simple but IPS has taken care of a lot of the obvious things, i.e. using your credentials as login, statuses, RSS feeds, etc... The only other things I can think of is maybe image uploads to the Gallery (but what gallery? how do we piece that together?), Facebook notes or other blogs to Blog (is this covered by RSS feed? I don't own blogs so I couldn't say)

Edited by ForeverPontiac

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I don’t get that Excel comparison. Desktop apps are made to open/edit/save/export data (store within files) – that’s their main purpose. Online communities are nothing like that. The main purpose here is that the user actually creates content and interacts with the content ON that specific platform. Sure there are all sorts of APIs created around these networks but their point is mostly to get more traffic to the platform, not to give the user the choice to export everything to other sites. 

As we discussed in the other topic, social networks aren’t even designed in a way that content from a standalone community (like an IPS-powered site) can be directly reused on those social networks. There is nothing IPS can do about that. 

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Dear @opentype and @ForeverPontiac

It is very good that I’m paying your attention to what I'm writing specially if it is about the subject of social media integration :smile::smile:

Anyway I do respect your point of view but in the other way I consider any application as a mean of data processing , for me accounting solutions like excel like the discussion boards and all of it agreeing in one concept which is " input - process - output "

my simple example about excel and accounting solution doesn't deserve such a heavy comparison from you, because all what I meant is to pay your attention about a very important concept in developing which is “ the developer must take care about the data exchange with the external media that his solution might deal with “

so this concept must be considered always and I think IPS apply the same concept when they are designing their discussion board and the evidence or the proof of this in version 3.4 is

1-      when you want to open a new topic you can share its summary and link to your Facebook, Twitter and other

2-      you can import rss feeds of any compatible  external  content to any forum in a form or topics

So again I’m repeating “ you can export the summary of a topic“ not  a complete topic content, accordingly what I’m asking in some topics I wrote before is to increase the share with the Facebook to make the user able to share all what related to him ( all his contributions ) in a complete content to his Facebook wall or Facebook group or Facebook page ( it can be to LinkedIn pulse or Google plus too )

you may don’t agree about the concept, but IPS applying already this concept and all what I’m asking is expanding the features of sharing the contents with the other social media

another point I want to refer to is the user interest and why the users register in our websites

the users registering in our websites almost because we have a unique contents that they can not find anywhere else or we have a specialists or experts they want to communicate with by engaging in a discussion with them so according to this,  in both cases we want the users read and discuss what our websites subject of  in our websites and in the other hand we want to give them more options of sharing the posts they are posting

the benefits of expanding the share features with the well known media  I can summarize as follow :

1-      The users will consider sharing their ideas around the subject of my website through my website to the other social media this means e.g. If I have an accounting forum they will open their topic in my website and they will share it completely to their ( wall, group, page ) via my website too

2-      They users will not worry about their contribution because they are sharing (copying) it to their own (wall, group, page) and this consider as a kind of backup for all the knowledge they are sharing with the others in my website

3-      Sharing the contents completely with the URL to my website can create a good traffic

4-      Eliminate the worry about the competition with the other social media and convert the users attraction battle to an integration

5-      We are as websites owners can convince more users who use social media intensively to join to our communities and writhe their contributions through our websites and this will enrich the contents that we have and of course will create more traffic to our websites

 

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