Forums that use the phpBB forum setup where you have to quote everything and there is no comment threading, are complicated for both the users and management of the forum.
Twitter people like because it is fast but it doesn't really have any useful threading. Any threading that is done currently is quite confusing and not very useful.
Facebook people like because it is their own personal forum but it doesn't have categorizations or very deep threading.
YouTube people like because it is video and doesn't require reading and is an easy consumption. The comment section people like to use but they don't really like how unusable it is. There is no threading and the voting is garbage.
Reddit is about the only forum that has the necessary features to make it very useful.
Some Forum Features that are Useful and Necessary
- Comment Threading - Comment threading that doesn't have a thread depth limit. That happens on its own. Reddit limits what is shown at a time both horizontally as well as comment quantity depth.
- Voting - This is necessary to get spam to go away, to get good things to rise to the top, to get trolls to go away, etc.
- The moderator tools in reddit are very powerful that allow for manipulation of behavior in positive ways. You can get the voting to be put on hold so that you can't bandwagon very easy. The system automatically fuzzes the voting so it is difficult to game.
- There is a reddit suite that isn't a main part of reddit but adds very powerful and useful tools. There are even bots that do useful things like give you useful data from wikipedia, pull data from twitter, check to make sure that posts are long enough or don't have certain things.
- What is really useful about the reddit suite that you can get as an addon is that it embeds the videos inline as well as pictures. You can expand or hide them simply as well.
- In general useful tools are only really found when you have massive amounts of people to work with.
The biggest things holding back main forums is threading and voting.
I'd like to say that adding simplistic formatting instead of the annoying tagging method that most forums use would be good to do. Something similar to how WordPress has TinyMCE. This way people could import word files that are formatted with bullet points etc. Formatting is a massive thing that would be helpful.
When it comes to doing automated procedure, it would also be useful to make it so that people would be told to insert a paragraph if they go over x amount of words per text block. You could also add in a spell check tool.
When it comes to reddit however there are some things that most forums do have that it does not. That would be the massive emoticon library. That would be very nice to add.
A great deal could be done with forums if they would take cues from other platforms instead of holding fast to archaic things that don't tend to promote discussion very well.
Reddit by far has the best forum platform but it definitely could be improved.
One of the more annoying things about phpBB is the install and addon system. At least when I was using it. I believe that it has been upgraded around 2.0 for not having super annoying coding changes you have to make and having to worry about how upgrades will jack with the custom coding changes.
The WordPress system where you can upgrade your Content Management System and add addons and upgrade them and themes all very easily, is the way that works very well. I believe the new phpBB system is like that but I haven't checked. If it isn't like that, it should be. Why? Because the php and mysql versions update often enough to make a security issue if you don't keep updating things.
So in summary, the old forum format is like MySpace and the threaded and voting forum systems like reddit is like Facebook. Sometimes aesthetic updates are actually functionality updates. Just like MySpace to Facebook. While MySpace worked, Facebook works better because the aesthetic changes were actually functionality updates.
So, even if you do something like reddit, you can have skins just like you have with phpBB or WordPress or the forum system that WordPress has which sadly also uses the flat comment system instead of the threaded voting kind.