Maybe this is a stupid idea, or maybe it is brilliant. Whatever it is, I do want to opt it.
Personally I do not have much experience with converters, but from what I've read till now, converting to/from other forum software is either perfectly possible because you have just the right version to do it, or nearly impossible because you have only a slightly different version...
My idea is that of one 'universal' forum system. It should not provide any displaying-options, like viewing forums/topics/posts, posting, editting, et cetera, nor should it provide any other way of viewing the contents online. (Or maybe it does, but then very minimally.) What it does provide, is for every forum software package, a convertTo and convertFrom module, allowing to convert back and forth between e.g. phpBB and the universal system. These convertTo/From modules should be implemented by the communities/dev-teams of each respective forum system.
As such, it is guaranteed that it's possible to convert to and from all supported forum systems, and for developers it is not needed to have any experience with any other forum software than the project they contribute to, except for the universal system. Besides, in the current situation, there may exist up to n*n convertors, where n is the number of different forum software packages. With the above idea, this will be cut down to 2*n convertors, 2 for each forum software package (one from-convertor, one to-convertor). At the same time, this means you won't have to maintain n convertors, but only 2, if either your own board is updated or the universal system is updated.
What the universal system would include is:
- A definition of what it does include, and what it doesn't include. (It does include posts of course, but should it also convert photo galleries?)
- A framework to build the convertors upon.
- (Unit-) Tests for developers, helping them to create solid convertors. These should e.g. check the validity of the data (no 'orphan posts', belonging to no topic; the post & topic counts should be the same after conversion, etc..).
- How does one define a universal system? It should include most concepts that all boards have in common, but there should be drawn a line as to what will be included and what will not. (e.g. Is a photo gallery considered a common feature?)
- Would it be feasible at all?
- Would there be interest is such a system, and would there be volunteers to help build this up?
I'm a bit in doubt whether this topic is in the right forum, but if it isn't I trust it will be moved to the right place.