New forums for my site

I finally decided to create a message board for this site, which I’ll mostly use for WordPress theme support. Right now, it’s entirely experimental, and I want to know what you think. Check out the forums.

After a lot of nagging from users of the Structure theme and finally getting some time to work on it, I decided to put this thing together.

One of the reasons it took me so long to get a forum up was because I was torn between which forum to use. I checked out what other theme designers were using. Darren Hoyt is using Vanilla for his Mimbo forums. Small Potato is using vBulletin for the WPDesigner Forums. The WP Snap Forum is powered by bbPress. Plus, I had to seriously consider using the Simple Forum plugin.

There doesn’t seem to be any widespread agreement on which forum software or plugin to use. In the end, I decided to use bbPress. I really wanted to use Simple Forum because of its easy integration but didn’t like all the bells and whistles. I wanted the more lightweight bbPress, even if it was a pain to integrate.

Some problems

One of the major problems I had was getting permalinks to work. I’m not sure why it’s such a problem because my WordPress install works great. Most of the threads I found on the bbPress support forums regarding permalinks were about GoDaddy. Unfortunately, I’m still using their hosting service. I can’t remember what thread I found this code on, but it fixed my permalink problem.

You need to edit your “.htaccess” file for this. Put this code in in the file (the top two lines should help GoDaddy users):

AddHandler x-httpd-php5 .php
AddHandler x-httpd-php .php4

Options +MultiViews

Another problem I ran into was not being able to create new forums as an administrator. This was caused by one of the most popular plugins (one that’s definitely needed), Display Name.

To correct this, just deactivate the plugin when you need to create a new forum. Then, reactivate it. Problem solved.

Why did I choose bbPress?

I chose bbPress for several reasons.

  • The future for bbPress is looking up. I trust Matt and co. will continue building upon the software with an extra $29.5 million laying around.
  • I like the open-source community of WordPress. If bbPress gets revamped, I believe the WordPress community will embrace it. This means more people helping out at the support forums and better documentation.
  • Even though it was a pain to integrate because of my permalink situation, it's nice to be able use other WordPress functions easily.
  • Easy to modify with the template system.
  • Very lightweight compared to other forum scripts.

What do you think?

I’m sure there are some bugs, but you should go play around on the forums a bit. I even have a practice forum set up for now.

Another thing that’s been bothering me is the naming situation. Since I’m still in the early experimental stages, I can still change the name. Currently, it’s “forums.” I think “forum” sounds better, but I don’t like the forum slugs, which would look like “/forum/forum/forum-name” using that naming convention. Most of all, I like “message board” but figured it was a bit too long.

Go give the forums a test drive and let me know what you think. I do need a few lab rats to help test it.