Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

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lrgrthnlf
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Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by lrgrthnlf »

Hi all,

Initially my site started off as a mostly manually run site with a bit of automation wrapped around Perl + Make using a "beseen" messageboard. The site outgrew beseen's services and moved to phpBB for the messageboard and then eventually the manual profile stuff got too much to manage and the site is now pretty a phpBB messageboard with IRC/Java based chat.

It's got a couple of thousand members and tens of thousands of posts.. and I presently have coppermine gallery hooked into it (though I find coppermine very clunky from a UI/UX perspective - it was clearly written by someone very computer literate without much n00b input and the user flow is confusing). I also added in twitter new topic notifications using a mod from this site I edited for my needs. After I saw that RSS things had been fixed, I also turned on RSS feeds.

When I compare the site I run these days, with what other people have achieved using off the shelf solutions like SocialGo, Ning, SocialParody etc., I can see there are areas where I can improve my site. That said, I do NOT like the hosted, cookie cutter, SaaS approach of these "white box" social networking site builders. I don't like the idea of farming out my data and the data of my users and potentially not being able to easily extract it back should I wish to change systems. I like the idea of keeping the data "in house".

phpBB, in my mind, does one thing and does it well - superior messageboard functionality. It isn't designed to provide the more "social" features and I can understand the advantages of sticking to one's core competencies. This said, I need to move with the times and reconsider things like profiles, galleries and groups.

I'm curious to know how other people have taken phpBB and made it more social for their audience...
How have you improved profile searching?
Have you been able to add user and group galleries?
Do you have user controlled groups?
How much work has it taken to maintain when upstream updates are released?
Have you suffered any security issues?
Have you integrated with facebook or myspace?

I'm sure there are mods that do individual parts of what I'm talking about, but I'm interested in hearing from people who have put this all together into a coherent "social" whole as opposed to how a particular mod operates in isolation.
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Sierron
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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by Sierron »

It was a message board and it still be a message board.
lrgrthnlf wrote:How have you improved profile searching?
In the memberlist you can search for members after many different things.
lrgrthnlf wrote:Have you been able to add user and group galleries?
I think there is a mod available for this.
lrgrthnlf wrote:Do you have user controlled groups?
It's perhaps possible.
lrgrthnlf wrote:Have you suffered any security issues?
Currently I haven't seen one. Issues are fixed soon.
lrgrthnlf wrote:Have you integrated with facebook or myspace?
Oh please no. NO.
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lrgrthnlf
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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by lrgrthnlf »

Sierron wrote:It was a message board and it still be a message board.
Which is what I said.
Sierron wrote:In the memberlist you can search for members after many different things.
Yes, but in a social context, you're generally looking for people who potentially share your interests or who are in a similar location as opposed to what their contact details are or when they joined. The present location field, for example, is a freeform text field where anyone can enter anything. There's no geospatial awareness, no guidance for the user to enter stuff in a format consistent with everyone else. You can't say, "find people near me" or "find people near where I'm going to travel to" as people might enter:
  • Town
  • Town, State
  • Town, State, Country
  • Town, Country
  • Town, County, State, Country
  • Country
... and all the various abbreviations that go inbetween. The data is not in a normalised format and is therefore fairly useless for searching (not that location is one of the fields presented for searching). This ties into my comment about custom, user controlled groups. Eg. Allowing users to group themselves and to share content in these specific groups.

To a degree, adding groups (as they existing in the system right now) myself and then delegating control of the user groups in phpBB does part of this.. and otherwise adding custom forums for specific interests also goes part of the way, but it's a lot of overhead on my part coming up with these categories and things start to get a little unwieldy.

Right now I have about 24 different forums, though of course within these, some are restricted and/or lower traffic. Having a forum for every possible location doesn't make sense, and the way I think of regions might not make sense to the people in those regions, so allowing users to group themselves has advantages.
Sierron wrote:
lrgrthnlf wrote:Have you been able to add user and group galleries?
I think there is a mod available for this.
I'm sure there is, but you're thinking about this in a compartmentalised rather than holistic fashion. I don't think what I'm asking about would be specifically dealt with by a single mod, so I'm interested in the experience of others who've built a whole environment involving phpBB rather than dealt with specific components in isolation.
Sierron wrote:
lrgrthnlf wrote:Have you suffered any security issues?
Currently I haven't seen one. Issues are fixed soon.
I'm quite well aware that phpBB itself is updated fairly frequently which is one of the reasons I've been using it for over 8 years. My point here is with modifications.. over the years I've seen some components seem to fall out of favour and cease to gain updates. Being more of a system administrator and less of a programmer means I don't necessarily have the skills to find vulnerabilities in code and patch them myself. In assembling a social solution, I'm interested in components with staying power and people's experiences with said components. Essentially trying to discern best of breed based upon the experience of others.
Sierron wrote:
lrgrthnlf wrote:Have you integrated with facebook or myspace?
Oh please no. NO.
Yes, facebook and myspace have their elements of evil, sure.. but like them or hate them, people do like to link to external content from them.. to share/promote things that interest them on these systems. Yes, I hate myspace profiles with animated GIFs (who the hell came up with the idea of having to thank people for adding you by default with some garish animated monstrosity?) and embedded music that auto plays. Yes, if someone asks me to help them fertilise their crops, I'll ignore it. That said, they're still both powerful platforms for getting people to share stuff. I use facebook daily to share pictures and links with people and stay up to date with friends whom in the past I might have only spoken to once a year. You may argue that such people aren't really friends and aren't worth keeping up with, but I'd say that's not true for all cases. People may move away, their lives may become busier and thus they may not have the same opportunities to socialise with you as they did in the past.
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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by davaguco »

I was eagerly waiting for the Schmoogle maps mod to be completed, but Im afraid it might not make it, the mod author has been away from phpbb for too long...
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lrgrthnlf
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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by lrgrthnlf »

davaguco wrote:I was eagerly waiting for the Schmoogle maps mod to be completed, but Im afraid it might not make it, the mod author has been away from phpbb for too long...
I was imagining someone might have included that kind of integration with available maps sites, potentially bringing things back to unambiguous map coordinates and offering the possibility of being able to determine relative proximities..

The concern I'd have with an organisation like Google, however, is that they have some fairly restrictive licensing on use of their platform and what you can do with information you glean from the platform. Use of their systems also requires connection via API methods, no? ... those are limited to a certain number of queries a day, are they not?

Still definitely something to explore on the normalisation of geospatial data. I have seen a few sites hook into google for their location stuff, so it's clearly possible.
lrgrthnlf
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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by lrgrthnlf »

So how are people going with making things more social?

I've noticed some people use packages like JomSocial and OxWall and in these cases it looks like people often talk about using packages other than phpBB for the messageboard components..

Let me reiterate, I know phpBB is a messageboard package, and that's what its intent is to provide.. that said, if one runs a given site, one should not expect their userbase to sign up with the individual components of the site.. and that once logged in a user might expect a central dash, incorporating a site's more "2.0" features as well as their various posts and subscriptions etc. from phpBB.

I think phpBB provides an excellent messageboard experience, but now needs to be considered part of a growing ecosystem of functionality as opposed to a purely standalone experience.

Has anyone else gone from a purely phpBB system to something with phpBB as a part of the system?
Which components did you choose?
Did you have to migrate the authentication across?
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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by lrgrthnlf »

I have to admit, I'm looking forward to the next release of phpBB.. if the hook system will allow what I think it may then it should be easier to hook other things into phpBB and vice versa more easily.

In the interim, surely I'm not the only person who's wanted to have more than a messageboard whilst continuing to leverage the superior messageboard functions of phpBB?

What are others doing to build more of a community around their forums?
lrgrthnlf
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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by lrgrthnlf »

It's been awhile since I checked in on this thread, and it seems not much has happened...

What other systems do people integrate phpBB with? I'd like to add features beyond the standard messageboard in a more integrated, more cohesive fashion with less of a "bolt on" feel.

Better profile search is part of that, I reckon...

Since I last posted over two years ago, have people done anything they'd like to share?
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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by Danielx64 »

lrgrthnlf wrote:It's been awhile since I checked in on this thread, and it seems not much has happened...

What other systems do people integrate phpBB with? I'd like to add features beyond the standard messageboard in a more integrated, more cohesive fashion with less of a "bolt on" feel.

Better profile search is part of that, I reckon...

Since I last posted over two years ago, have people done anything they'd like to share?
I been using wp-united to hook up with owrdpress but there are issues with it, one is that it can be slow.

I been looking at https://github.com/mssti/BRIDGE-phpBB---WordPress and I'm considering taking over that mod, IMO it much faster than wp-united but there are some features missing. I tested it last night and most of it still work :)

I'm also looking at taking over wp-united but I think that it too soon though
Please note that I will not be porting any of my mods to phpBB 3.1. Sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.
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lrgrthnlf
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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by lrgrthnlf »

Seven years later, I'm checking in again :) ...

phpBB does messageboard functionality well.. and again I am not suggesting that it should be made into something else.. rather, I'm looking at what other features can be built in around it to provide a more complete experience that covers both long term discussions and spontaneous ephemeral/temporaneous sharing.

A lot of social themed sites don't allow the topic based threading that phpBB does - trying to read a long discussion on a Facebook post is a nightmare... but people can follow others in a newsfeed and chat to one another. With Slack, Discord and other chat style programs, you follow channels rather than people.

Messageboards: Forums, topics - long form discussions, less spontaneous
Facebook, Twitter and friends: People, Organisations - quick discussions, spontaneous sharing
Discord, Slack etc.: Channels - conversation

Now phpBB has plugins like mChat, which although not perfect, adds some spontaneity.. I dunno.. has anyone looked at https://matrix.org/ for more interactive communications? It looks like you could integrate it into phpBB if you wrote a Python 3 authentication library that implemented phpBB's method of password encoding.
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Lumpy Burgertushie
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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by Lumpy Burgertushie »

I believe that most of the phpbb users want it to stay a bulletin board software, not a facebook clone etc.

a lot of us are hopeful that a lot of the current so called "social" apps are on the way out.

things like facebook could go extinct tomorrow and I would be a happy man.

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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by Marek Muc »

@lrgrthnlf , so what effect do you expect from making your board more 'social'? would you like to see discussions about e.g. covid-19 or Trump vs Biden there? or pictures of users' pets?
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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by Random American »

Lumpy Burgertushie wrote:
Sun Oct 11, 2020 4:37 am
things like facebook could go extinct tomorrow and I would be a happy man.
I think Facebook will be broken up in the next few years. The political tide is turning against them.
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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by Lumpy Burgertushie »

for all the fact that I see no redeeming social value in facebook, the one thing I have to say is that nothing facebook does
is a violation of the first ammendment.

remember, the first ammendment only applies to government passing a law that restricts freedom of speech.
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
anybody, or any business etc. , can restrict your freedom of speech all they want to.

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Re: Making phpBB more social - what have you bridged with?

Post by Random American »

That fact was not lost on me Robert. Owners of phpBB boards can restrict speech in any way they want too. Still, some people in politics want to change that, and it might not end well for Facebook.
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