Since its launch in 2007, the Two Way Radio Forum has served as an online, community based social and support resource for all types of radios and radio users. Now after 12 years, the forum is getting a complete upgrade and makeover!
We've been planning to update the Two Way Radio Forum for awhile now and our first thought was to simply upgrade to the latest forum software, which in this case was vbulletin. However, to keep up with social media and the advances in web based community platforms, we began to consider other options. One of these is an open source discussion platform called Discourse. Danny did some research on it and we were very impressed with it. It offers many advantages and functionality over the previous forum software and a broader, more powerful arena for discussion between members of our forum community.
Why switch platforms?
We were running on a very old version of vBulletin (3.8) that no longer receives regular updates. vBulletin uses the PHP programming language and was built for a PHP version that is now out of date and no longer receives security patches. It is clear that sticking with our current forum version is just asking for trouble, and we need to either upgrade to the latest vBulletin (5.5) or switch to a new platform.
Why not use vBulletin 5?
Upgrading to the latest vBulletin was our first instinct. In fact, we initially purchased a license for it. However, as Danny was looking into the upgrade process he found out that going from 3.8 to version 5 is more of a migration than an upgrade. It would take some effort to get the data migrated correctly, and we would basically have to reconfigure the site and build a new theme. If we’re going to have to go through all of that work anyway it makes sense to see what other options are available.
Sticking with vBulletin would have the advantage of a reduced learning curve for members, but there are definitely reasons to switch. vBulletin used to be a leader in forum software, but they seem to have really gone downhill. VB 5 itself is now 7 years old and doesn’t look like a modern platform. Also, it’s still not built to be mobile friendly. We considered that a big drawback.
While researching other options, Danny was repeatedly drawn to Discourse. He has a programming background and finds himself using Stack Overflow pretty often, so he likes the similar look and feel. It also helped that the co-founder of Discourse was also co-founder of Stack Overflow. That was good enough for him to consider it further.
Here are a few things that we like about the new forum:
- By default, the home page is a list of the latest updated threads. You don’t have to look at a list of forums that may not get new posts very frequently. There’s also a way for users to switch to category view if they prefer the old way.
- Threads aren’t broken up into pages. Just keep scrolling and posts are dynamically loaded.
- It is easy to use on phones and tablets
- Users can earn badges as they use the site and the system is easy to setup.
- The notification system is very in depth. You can receive notifications for a variety of things and it’s all configurable. You can also @ another user in a post
- There’s an escalating trust system that helps prevent spam, but users automatically gain trust as they use the site.
- We have the ability to turn on logging in with other services, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. This might simplify the registration process and encourage more users to sign up.
- Automatically create a post by replying to an email notification.
- Built-in support for a wiki could be a powerful tool for community driven content.
- There’s a lot more, but why not experience it for yourself?
Of course the Two Way Radio Forum community isn't here for us, it was created for you. We’re hopeful that you are as excited about Discourse as we are and it makes you want to spend more time there. We also hope it is more inviting for new users and helps grow the community. That said, we know change can be tough and there could be features that you want that aren’t here. That’s why we tested the platform first with a beta site and solicited feedback from our community members before we decided to jump in and make the move.
We're excited about the new forum and we hope you like it too. We’d like to know if you see any formatting problems or other issues that look like bugs, but most importantly we want to know what you think of the platform. Is there anything about the forum we need to change or improve on? Is there anything missing that we need to include?
If you currently have a Two Way Radio Forum account, your existing login credentials should work. You should also have the ability to login with your Facebook, Google or Twitter account. If you do have trouble logging in, please let us know, so we can fix it ASAP. If you don't have a forum account, we invite you to create one. The forum is free to use, and we encourage everyone with an interest or passion for radios to join the community.
Feel free to check it out, "kick the tires" so to speak, and let us know what you think. Visit the all new Two Way Radio Forum now!