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Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:10 am
by AndrewUSA
I’ve started a phpBB forum. None exists for my topic. There’s a guy who runs clinics around North America and has a mailing list. I offered to trade him a banner ad in exchange for him sharing my forums with his mailing list. (I need to get members to operate a forum!)

His question:
What’s the point? There are FB groups already. How and why would an online forum gain traction?

There are downsides, of course, we’ll cover those first:
- Much harder to share videos.
- Extra steps to upload photos.
- Even with a responsive style, mobile’s interface is “clunkier” than FB.
- No “like” feature. (Yes, I know there’s an unapproved extension that has some issues.)

Upsides:
- Privacy. (No ad/location/behavior tracking.)
- Easier to use an alias to keep your identity secret.
- Better formatting options.
- Better topic organization.
- Topics are chronological, not sorted/hidden by some mysterious algorithm.
- Easier to find old discussion topics. (Somewhat debatable, depends.)

What else? Why a forum over Facebook?

Thanks,
Andrew

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:08 am
by KevC
It's not Facebook. For a lot of people that's enough!

It will partly depend on your age demographic I suspect.

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:38 am
by david63
For many people Facebook is all that there is these days and they do not know that there is anything else, other than Twitter, on the Internet. Not only that but if it is posted on Facebook then it is 101% true (even when it isn't)

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:02 am
by Mick
Shouldn't the title be "Bulletin Boards over Social Media"?

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:09 am
by AmigoJack
Advantages:
  • Topics can be sorted filtered individually (various options that everyone can choose from)
  • Posts can be sorted and filtered individually
  • Various individual notification settings
  • An advanced search
  • The ability to see all unread posts
  • BBCodes for formattings (just like this list) are easy to extend by administrators
  • All stored data is not connected to other projects and as such not subject to be spread elsewhere - if an administrator promises he won't share any data then you can actually believe him (in contrast to Facebook which is so big that governments surely have their own access to it)

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:46 pm
by AndrewUSA
AmigoJack wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:09 am
Advantages:
Thanks, that's very helpful!

Andrew

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:13 pm
by Lumpy Burgertushie
in general, facebook is for posting pictures, telling everyone where you are every minute of the day so they can find you and kill you or your cat or whatever, bullying people that you wouldn't have the balls to do face to face, etc. etc. etc.

bulletin boards like phpbb are for actually having an intelligent discussion ( maybe not always ) etc.

don't get me started......

robert

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:35 am
by AndrewUSA
Oh, I don't know—I've seen some very good discussions on Facebook in some group pages. Outside of groups, yes, there are a whole lot of meal photos, pet pictures, "here's my kid", etc. Moderation can make a difference, but FB groups have moderators too.

Andrew

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:58 am
by KYPREO
Facebook serves posts to people's feeds based on who Facebook want to see posts according to their algorithm, not what the users want to see (which in turn is based on maximising profit from their own advertising platform).

If you navigate to a Facebook group, posts are arranged according to algorithms, based primarily around popular discussions and not logical categories or chronological order. Facebook has ways of identifying commercial posts and will de-prioritise those in favour of paid/sponsored advertisers.

This guy runs a clinic right, well if he has a Facebook page, Facebook controls who sees his posts from the page and how many impressions. This is artificially limited to force you to pay for clicks. I have a page with over 15K followers. If I post something, it might get 1,000 impressions and sent to who Facebook wants to see it according to their algorithm.

By contrast, on a forum, a user selects what he or she wants to read, based on logical sorted categories.

Facebook groups are not indexed by Google or other search engines - at least not in a meaningful way - and users trying to find content through organic searching will not find them on a Facebook group. Organic searching is still one of the major ways of connecting users to traffic, which in turn has an impact on traffic and the effectiveness of advertising. Facebook does not provide any visible to group administrator over what sort of traffic their group attracts, nor how which it earns Facebook. This is morally questionable, as the traffic is off the back of the group administrator's work, who is not given any share of the advertising revenue Facebook generates from the group.

By contrast, forums can be trawled by search engine bots and by large do OK in terms of search engine page rankings (also recent tweaks by Google have started favouring large commercial sites over forums which has led to large traffic drops for owners of smaller websites). A quiet forum measured by posts per day can still attract disproportionally large traffic due to favourable search indexing. My site for instance has 80% of page views from organic searching, mostly from Google (but increasingly from DuckDuckGo). However, to get this kind of ranking requires time and effort to build up a solid database of quality content. Since very established forums have completely disappeared due to traffic migrating to social media platforms, I imagine that getting a new forum off the ground these days would be very difficult indeed, let alone building up a solid database of information that will generate regular organic search traffic.

Also
AndrewUSA wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:10 am
- Much harder to share videos.
It's actually easy. Either

(a) allow users to upload video as an attachment and use inline embed.
(b) Put video on Youtube. Include youtube link in post. Done - video displays in post.
- Extra steps to upload photos.
There are no extra steps. It's the same number of steps as a Facebook post. Add attachment. Done.

On my forum, this can be done with a phone. Image is automatically resized. Image is automatically rotated to correct orientation matching EXIF tags.
- No “like” feature. (Yes, I know there’s an unapproved extension that has some issues.)
Incorrect. There is a validated Thanks for Posts extension that can changed to a "like" feature by simply editing the language file to change "thanks" to "like.

I use Naguissa's unapproved Thanks for Posts extension which I have converted to a like system. It works flawlessly without any issues. You can see it in action at my forum: www.ausrotary.com

Hope that helps.

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:50 am
by battye
Also, if you run a forum - you can leverage your website to make it part of the experience.
For some people Facebook might be fine, but if you have more ambition I suppose, then you can create your own ecosystem to support it and encourage growth.

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:51 pm
by Jayson
Perhaps people are now used to typing a few words and pressing enter.

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:01 pm
by Mick
On a support board that can sometimes be a blessing.

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:26 pm
by david63
Mick wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:01 pm
On a support board that can sometimes be a blessing.
But not always when it then entails another 75 questions to actually ascertain what the problem is!

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:31 am
by AndrewUSA
KYPREO wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:58 am
AndrewUSA wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:10 am
- Much harder to share videos.
It's actually easy. Either

(a) allow users to upload video as an attachment and use inline embed.
(b) Put video on Youtube. Include youtube link in post. Done - video displays in post.
"a)" Yes, though impractical for many (most?) boards . . . the ones with big $$$ sponsors are the lucky ones.
"b)" is extra steps. I didn't say it wasn't easy, I said it is harder for phpBB—more steps and you have to leave the forum, know how to share from YouTube, copy the link, navigate back, paste. Remember, half the population is of below average intelligence and have a hard time with technology sometimes . . . if your demographic is just young techies, you're golden.
- Extra steps to upload photos.
There are no extra steps. It's the same number of steps as a Facebook post. Add attachment. Done.

On my forum, this can be done with a phone. Image is automatically resized. Image is automatically rotated to correct orientation matching EXIF tags.
Facebook: the photo button is right there. Click, select photo, done.
phpBB: photo button is hidden. Click attachments, click add files, select photo, click "place inline", done. Twice the steps.

I've heard of issues with phpBB no honoring rotation tags. Is that not the case or are you using an extension?

- No “like” feature. (Yes, I know there’s an unapproved extension that has some issues.)
Incorrect. There is a validated Thanks for Posts extension that can changed to a "like" feature by simply editing the language file to change "thanks" to "like.

I use Naguissa's unapproved Thanks for Posts extension which I have converted to a like system. It works flawlessly without any issues. You can see it in action at my forum: www.ausrotary.com
Can you tell me how you converted it?
Hope that helps.
Very much so, thanks! :)

Hey, I wonder if it'd meet YouTube's user agreement if you set up a global YouTube account for your phpBB forum and an extension (or core feature) uploaded a users' videos to YouTube and automatically embedded the link in each user's post? That'd be awesome!

Andrew

Re: Why forum over Facebook?

Posted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:44 am
by KYPREO
AndrewUSA wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:31 am
I've heard of issues with phpBB no honoring rotation tags. Is that not the case or are you using an extension?
It works with the new version of plupload (which is shipped with the latest version of phpBB). It require a very minor code change. See here:

viewtopic.php?f=64&t=2429206&p=15126841#p15126841

If you are not using max image size to automatically reduce images, then you can get an extension to handle the image rotation here: viewtopic.php?f=456&t=2477256

Can you tell me how you converted it?
See: viewtopic.php?f=456&t=2423931&p=14996171&#p14996171 - I believe you can download a version of the relevant languages with the changes already made - it might be on the extension's github entry.