We are considering moving forums.alfresco.com to a new platform. We will maintain the existing functionality and data. But what are some key features we would be looking to leverage in a new forums platform?
UPDATE (8/16/2012): I am locking this page because this is a great list for now and I need to work with my team to prioritize it. If someone notices something major that isn't on this list, just shoot it to me in an email (jeff dot potts at alfresco). Assuming the PoC goes well, the implementation team will begin its sprints. At the appropriate time we'll get several of you to take a look at the system multiple times before we migrate. Once a firm plan is in place I'll post it to the forum in plenty of time for everyone to have a proper heads up.
Ability to mark questions as resolved. If they are a question. (Existing)
In someone's profile can set the version of alfresco you are using. Keep this, but set a tag for alfresco version on a post so that it will stay the same over time.
Support general tags on any post.
Be able to mark a person as Partner, Employee, or Community Member (Existing)
Make managing the top level forums easier, so posts can be moved, and categories merged if there isn't much traction.
Make sure moderation tools are nice.
Make getting rid of zombie accounts easier. Overall, significant improvement to spam block and removal is needed.
Better and more visible leaderboards on homepage. Most active users (all-time, and month prior), most number of points accumulated (all-time, and month prior). New users waiting on answers. See monthly detailed forum reports.
Make manual reports automatic, add to site.
Make people moderator of each forum. (Existing)
Would like to be able to easily identify candidate moderators by forum by seeing most active/most helpful users by forum.
Moderators need good moderation tools.
Allow users to say who they are employed by.
If the company a user works for is a partner highlight this on the users profile and posts. (Existing)
Single sign-on to reduce number of accounts needed by community members (likely out-of-scope initially)
Ability to group forums and to show only that particular group, if needed. For example, from the forthcoming developer portal, we might want to link people to the 'developer forums' and have the forums those developers see completely exclude end-user forums.
Easy integration with Alfresco Cloud to facilitate embedding screenshots and vids.
Localized interface for all languages we currently have forums for, plus simplified Chinese
Some way of 'distilling' knowledge - we already have 'solved' and 'sticky' concepts - but some sort of way to populate a F.A.Q or knowledge base from forums. Would need to remove the irrelevant stuff and just leave the essence. Possibly a discussion summary.
Tag forums to alfresco version so we don't have people using alfresco 2 answers for alfresco 7. Or vice versa. (Duplicate)
Obsolete topic cleanup : to use rm terminology can we have some sort of retention policy. So for example someone could post a short term question such as 'is add ons down?' Or 'is HEAD broken? Then after a couple of days it gets automatically removed. Or we may have to put out a temporary warning such as 'We are moving our forums to a new data centre over the weekend' and have that topic expire after a couple of weeks.
Ranking of best and worst answers along with why.
Added by Unknown Users
One of the key features we had to drop when the forums were upgraded to phpBB3 was the ability to subscribe to a filterable set of RSS feeds. Off the top of my head these included: new posts in specific forum(s) and also replies to posts the user has contributed to. I suspect most people use the forums by first hitting the 'View New Posts' page, initially looking for the red star indicator and then picking up other interesting-looking topics, then looking in sub-forums for technologies they're comfortable with; and finally looking in 'Unanswered posts'. I believe supporting those key views (not necessarily via RSS) would help people use their time efficiently.
Having new posts available via RSS feed is a key feature, especially for language specific forums with less traffic.
A jira-like 'watch' feature (incl notification mails) (Existing)
Improve mark as Solved- Currently when user mark it as solved It does not show it as solved in the Topic wise listing we only come to know that it is solved after going in to the detail of that forum. So, It will be great if we show that information in the main listing it self.
More Titles based on No of post and points : Currently only few titles like 'Community Contributor','Community Guru' are available that too are just based on the total no of posts.It will be better if there are more titles based on the no of posts and points earned.
(Apologies for any duplicated items, trying to clearly demarcate my contributions)
Tags, tags and more tags. This should be the primary means of browsing, rather than 'forums', which are never granular enough and encourage cross-posting. (Duplicate)
Vote up or down buttons on topics and on replies. Highly ranked topics or replied should appear at the top of lists, before lower-ranked ones.
Expose information on the 'quality' of users' topics and their replies and make this accessible, e.g. appears on hovering over a username. Similar to eBay sellers, this is needed to give context to users and 'keep them honest'.
Ability to mark questions as 'solved' as suggested above. We should have a means to encourage the person who opened the topic to provide feedback on each response submitted, perhaps expose this as a third metric against their user profile.
Automatic deletion of posts/replies with negative rankings after a set period of time? This would help to keep things 'tidy'.
Please pull in profile details, avatars etc. from external services, e.g. Twitter, Gravatar. It's a huge pain to have to keep these up to date on different sites.
Overall - tagging and social needs to be built in from the start! Not a bolt-on added onto the product (as at present).
Add support for Tapatalk http://www.tapatalk.com/. I increasingly browse forums from my Mobile and iPad using this client.
Add adaptive layout or a Mobile theme. Again, quickly browsing topics is not done when on the laptop, but with the mobile or iPad.
Mark topic with personal tags. For example, when reading a topic you know the answer to, but need to use your laptop to fully answer (to be able to copy paste code or something), tag with 'followup', 'readlater'
When creating a new topic, do a search for existing topics based on topic title, and inform the user that the topic may already exist to avoid duplicate postings.
Instead of the traditional forum post form when creating new topic with title and one textbox, have three textboxes. First, explanation of error/help needed. Second, textbox to enter what has been tested. Third, textbox to enter alfresco.log (and when posted formatted for readability). That way we can get better initial topic posts. Follow up post can use the traditional form. May also be dependent on what sub-forum you are posting to, not all may need this advanced form.
About down voting - I think one should only be able to upvote, or 'mark as helpful' or similar. Down-vote has a tendency to get misused by forum trolls.