Articles

4 ways to bring forums into Web 2.0

In Uncategorized on 2008-11-12 by Kyle Maxwell

Forums essentially descend directly from the “ancient” bulletin board systems, in many ways the original social networking applications (other than email). But most of them don’t take full advantage of everything we’ve learned or implement common features from other social applications.

I spend a lot of time on a specific community that primarily uses a forum (SMF in this particular case) for almost everything. Many communities use these applications as sot of a “poor man’s CMS”, particularly as the community organizers and leaders don’t necessarily have a great deal of expertise in web applications or system administration. While a number of applications (bbpress, Google Groups, etc.) do have support for some of these mechanisms, I’d particularly appreciate a third-party indexer that builds upon existing sites, maybe through scraping.

The mechanisms I want to see

  1. Share out comments I’ve written into my lifestream. Some of my posts on forums I frequent really don’t have a lot of value, but some of them took a lot of thought and concern.
  2. Follow comments from my friends. Other indivdual posters frequently have intelligent, thoughtful posts in threads or sub-forums I don’t normally read, and I’d like to subscribe to their posts.
  3. Find other forums where my friends participate; after all, if we spend a lot of time interacting with them in one context, we likely share interests and potential friends.
  4. Search across forums similar to how Google enables us to search across blogs. Currently, forum posts do get indexed but a special “forum search” would help lead to #2 and #3 (particularly if it had an API).
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