vBulletin --> Discourse

(Joe Velez) #21

Sitepoint’s main audience are programmers, designers, etc.

We programmers/designers have change embedded in our DNA. We accept change more easily because our livelihood requires it. We need to evolve to continue to grow.

That doesn’t mean that we will not complain when our favorite site changes. It does mean that we adapt and accept change at a faster rate compared to any other group.

Another reason for a group to accept change more easily is that they are “programmed” to accept change. I do this by constantly making changes to the site. The members now expect it.

I remember the first time I did a major upgrade to the site. (I just came on board.) We had a major backlash. Not as bad as Digg but it was ugly. Since that day, changes on the site are on a yearly basis. Now, members are more acceptable to change … they understand why change is important and offer valuable input more rapidly.

(Mark Schwanke) #22


Have you checked out XDA Developers ? Perhaps there is hope for your community afterall? XDA Developers is an awesome fast site built on Vbulletin. Their members are passionate and they have numerous volunteer moderators. Before you move look at the site and maybe reach out to their admins.

If you do move, make sure you take subscriptions with you. I moved a site once and the vendor we moved to said they couldn’t move thread subscriptions. This was a huge mistake that I should have pushed back on. All of the active discussions were killed after the move and we reverted nearly to day one of the community because no one was getting notifications of replies on threads they were participating in before the move.

If that is one piece of advice I could give to any person considering a migration, that would be it.

If you are thinking of not moving all the content, how do you plan to communicate that to members? If you choose not to move inactive members but active members have commented on their posts, how do you plan to reconcile the lost points for your most active members. I would say that this could be a point of anger for some of your members if you’re stripping them of their reputation by only moving some content. I’ve found that by trying to consider who you would or wouldn’t move and what content you would or wouldn’t move creates spinning of wheels and makes the migration process more complex than it should be and prone to error. Rather ask for content that is older than X date with no comments to be archived.


(Sarah Hawk) #23

Good point. That was the one issue that we had also – and we messed it up by subscribing everyone to everything in the move. People got annoyed with all the notifications (but at least they had to come onsite to turn them off!).

Having said that, I’m not sure how easy it is to migrate subscriptions from vB to Discourse. It’s not part of any of the migration scripts that I’ve seen to date.

(Mark Schwanke) #24

Yeah we moved from Jive to another solution (now owned by Oracle) and they pretty much said it wasn’t possible. I should have pushed hard to make it happen but under the funding circumstances I wasn’t really in a position to do so. We paid for it(reduced traffic) for years as a result. Now they moved to Lithium and were able to continue subscriptions in the move.

(Fahad Ullah) #25

Did things improve after you guys were accustomed to using the tools that Discourse provides and discarded the old flow? If the means to an end are different, I can teach the moderators and develop new workflows, but if the end is totally different then it would be difficult I believe.

(Fahad Ullah) #26

You’ve raised some valid concerns and suggested some really useful tips. I will keep these points in mind before doing something drastic.

Thank you. :slight_smile:

(Fahad Ullah) #27

I have been using the forums on XDA for quite sometime and I agree about their speed. But XDA and our website are different in the sense that XDA has multiple silos and people remain in those silos. Also, they follow a very deep category and sub forum structure. For example, if I have a Nexus 6P, I will just go in the forum of Nexus 6P and may not visit other forums. For PakWheels, this does not work. I tried bifurcating 4x4/Off Road section by Make/Models and the members didn’t like it and they unanimously complained about it…

Thank you. This again is a very important advice I received here which I will most definitely keep in mind before the migration.

This is out of the question. We will be moving everything or nothing at all :slight_smile:

(Fahad Ullah) #28

Ease of development is also something which is very important for our team as we are a very product focused company and like to add custom functionality.

I am also following the news about XenForo 2.0 but it doesn’t appear to be coming in the near future. Also, XenForo is just a different kind of vBulletin and not something that re-imagines how the discussion forums should work and this is why I prefer Discourse over XenForo.

(Ralph Mason) #29

Yes, you work out a modus operandi and it flows pretty well after that. There are plenty of quirks, though, so you’re kept on your toes. Ideally, do a lot of testing to be sure what all the buttons are for, as there are plenty of surprises. For example, it takes a while to get a handle on what the various options for handling a flagged post mean—such as Agree, Disagree, Defer etc. They are exceptionally non-intuitive.

(Sarah Hawk) #30

Hi @fahadullah – I’d love to hear if you’ve made any progress on this.
I’m undertaking another vB --> Discourse migration this weekend for a client.

(Fahad Ullah) #31

Hi @HAWK - we have moved the project further down in our backlog for now and we are implementing incremental changes and doing a little more user research along the points from this thread to gauge how will users take the whole migration thing.

I will update here once we start the migration.

All the best for your migration. Please do share how it went :slight_smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #32

Good to hear from your @fahadullah – thanks for the update.

[quote=“fahadullah, post:31, topic:2180”]
All the best for your migration. Please do share how it went
[/quote] Thanks! It went incredibly smoothly – easiest one yet. This time around I used discoursehosting.com to run the data migration and although they got the job done, they don’t compare to discourse.org when it comes to process, speed and professionalism.

(Fahad Ullah) #33

@hawk and anyone else who might be interested

We are finally ready to go ahead with the migration. POC and due diligence are completed. The tentative timeline to go live with Discourse is around August 15, 2016.

@junaidpk_14 is our Principal Developer and is leading the migration project. He will be posting some queries and questions in the thread to take the discussion forward from where I left it.

(Sarah Hawk) #34

Fantastic! Congratulations on the progress. Looking forward to hearing how it goes. Good luck.

(Fahad Ullah) #35

Hello again everyone,

It gives me immense pleasure to announce that we have finally migrated to Discourse. This thread and the advice I received from the members here were my guiding principal throughout this migration. @hawk and her work and documentation from the time of SitePoint migration were also very helpful.

I would like to thank each one of you for providing valuable advice which made the migration successful.

If anyone of you would like to have a look at the migration and our new forums, please head over to http://pakwheels.com/forums/

Today is the first day and we are still trying to optimize it on our servers. I will be sharing some numbers in the next few days that might help someone who is in the same boat as we had been a few months back.

If you have any questions regarding my experience with the migration, feel free to ask.

– Fahad

(Gear Buzz) #36

What made you go for Discourse? I see most forums moving to XenForo from VBulletin (that is my plan for 2017)

Long discussions here https://xenforo.com/community/threads/discourse.44195/page-6

And here

Not a lot of love for Discourse.

I will do a last check around and consult my developers and (community specialist) server Co before pulling the starting trigger on the XenForo migration work.

(Gear Buzz) #37

One thing that annoys me is the circular avatars (as it obscures the corner content of all the (originally right angled) images.

(Fahad Ullah) #38

One of the biggest reason was Discourse does not look and feel like conventional forums, it looks and works like how Facebook Groups work but with better organization. Let me explain this into more detail.

PakWheels.com was launched in 2003 when only a few people had access to internet. Internet penetration was less than 2%. The majority of the population of Pakistan is not tech-savvy nor they are that educated. Internet penetration currently stands at 17-18% and the growth in internet users came from the non-tech-savvy segment who only used internet for YouTube and Facebook and are used to that kind of UX which is pretty different from the conventional bulletin board UX.

So we did some usability testing and the new users had difficulty getting around the Bulletin Board flows while they were perfectly fine with Discourse as it used the Facebook Groups style flows. Our existing users had no issues with Bulletin Board style flows and they actually preferred that over the Discourse. So we decided to go with Discourse to capture the new user market.

In addition to this, we had a tough time maintaining vBulletin since it is in PHP and we have an RoR based engineering team for our main website which has more than 10 times more traffic than our forums. So it made the decision for us easier to move over to Discourse.

(Gear Buzz) #39

Great answer and I really appreciate the detail.

Many thanks,

(Sarah Hawk) #40

Congratulations @fahadullah – that must feel great!

Please do. Anecdotal success (or otherwise) is great, but data is where the real value lies when it comes to making decisions.

I suspect that’s because people are afraid of change, and Discourse doesn’t look like vB (whereas XenForo does). It’s a while back now, but I wrote about my reasons for going down the Discourse road when I did it the first time.