For almost 15 years now we’ve had a forum software running on our server and its one of my favorite things because I enjoy talking to customers directly. However over that time it has been the vector of attack by malicious hackers and its gotten really complex and ungainly.
However even worse, has been the pages and pages of threads where the answers for a question being asked are buried without any way for a new reader to find. The vast majority of thread are either feedback, bug reports, or questions on how to do something. When you get the same question over and over again – with the answer lying deep within a thread, you know its not working.
As of yesterday we instituted a new “Answers Forum” which is designed to work much like Stack Exchange where people can ask questions, readers can vote on answers, and an answer bubbles up to the top. If you haven’t ever used Stack Exchange its a website used for all sorts of knowledge areas including development, aviation, beer, sciences, music, pets, etc… and it works around the concept of answers. The focus is on the answer, not the journey there.
Now I know there will be some discussion about the wisdom of moving to a new system, but I wanted to lay out in a simple way the pros and cons of this move. Here it goes:
- More focused on answers to user’s questions
- Integrated with our website
- One login used for our store, answers, and other website logins
- Eventually can possibly replace our feedback system, removing yet another extra-site login
- Works with our website theme
- Auto-updates for security
- Simpler look and feel
- One less attack vector for hackers
- We have nearly 15 years of content in the old forum that will no longer be available to users
- If you haven’t done so already, you have to create a new login for our website (though as we are moving to a single-sign-in – this is a good thing)
- Old Forum has more advanced features that some may miss
- Change is always hard
This is something we’ve been looking at for quite awhile and I know transitions are never easy, but I do think long term this will benefit everyone. We love our conversations with our customers – and we think this change will keep that while bubbling up solutions to new and prospective ones as well.
If you have a link to an old forum post that you want to refer to – feel free to use it for the next few weeks with us. We’ll keep the old forums in an archived state for us for about that time, but then we will take it down to remove the hacking attack vector.