In general, I full hare your views.
Your average end user will likely never search through mailing list threads, even if they
contain exactly the information they are looking for.
A well presented forum running from a dedicated forum system such as vBulletin or phpBB
provides the end user with interface familiarity and branding which
builds trust in the brand and community.
A BB is much more user-friendly than a mail-list.
The following features do not exist in a mail list at all:
1. Conduct precise searches (with search parameters).
2. Split the domain into hierarchical forums, which prevents a mixup of issues.
This in turn avoids repeat discussion of the same topic endlessly.
3. It establishes credentials of any user so that a casual visitor instantly knows how much to
(is he a SC member or any other office-holder? How many posts are to his credit?)
4. We can check out a particular user by looking at his posts (genuine helper or trouble-maker?)
On the other hand, please check if the selected tool has the facility to read/respond the posts
while offline, and then do a rapid sync operation when the internet is available.
As I understand it, Silverstripe is a long way behind all the major
CMS systems in terms of 3rd party integration, but looking through the
forums I have seen that there are a few people who have hacked
Silverstripe in order to allow some basic functionality:
If we did provide a user forum, which I believe we should, using a
dedicated forum system will provide far more functionality and
usability, as well as regular security updates than we could ever hope
to code and maintain ourselves without drawing on resources that could
be used for development of LibreOffice.
And THAT in turn means we should be using a readymade plugin for Drupal, which will ensure
availability of regular updates and well-tested security, as compared to home-grown hacks. Even if
the solution is solid today, the same resources may not be available in future; or may lose
interest in maintaining this project.
What do others think? Is the forum support option important for trust
building and familiarity? What system would we use?
Since vBulletin is commercial, we should opt for phpBB as Drupal plugin.
While I think the forum should be established, I am against setting it up for SilverStripe as well.
The reason is simple: It will not be possible to migrate the threads from SilverStripe to Drupal.
We should not waste efforts on two fronts.
I believe Drupal website should start functioning NOW on production-grade servers in some
functional areas which do not need to be closely integrated with other functional areas. For
example, BB does not need to be linked to any other area, where as all production-related areas are
interrelated). Specifically, we need to think whether any hyperlinks will break later due to
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