QUOTE(Pete F @ Wed 3rd December 2008, 6:51pm)
I'm looking for some feedback on online discussion forums. I participate in a lot of blogs and social networking, but don't have a lot of experience with forum-based communities like this one. I need to make a client.
As in, build a forum site from scratch, or decide which software to use, or what? I'm assuming that you're not attempting to make clients in the sense of a Dr. Frankenstein bringing life to dead corpses in order to have them buy your products... Though to be honest, that might not be such a bad idea, if you could also manufacture some money for them to spend.
So, I'd love to hear from anyone with thoughts about the advantages a forum-based web site has over a blog.
Well, the best thing about forums is the compartmentalization of topics, in order to keep things more organized. For example, this thread, which was in "General Discussion," was easily moved to another forum, "The Lounge," because it has nothing to do with Wikipedia. On a blog, you'd do this by changing the categories assigned to the post, but it would still occupy the topmost position on the site's home page, until it was superseded by some other entry. That's not to say we don't get criticized for excessive moving of threads, of course, but we probably get more criticism these days for failing
to move threads than the other way around.
Anyway, forums are better if you have adversarial or controversial discussions among people who don't always agree with each other. Group blogs are better when your content is all fairly homogenous and based on a reasonably unified ideology. Forums have far more features for things like access permissions/restrictions, reputation management, warning, banning, anti-spamming, shing-shang-a-langing, members-only content, and so on.
So to give you a decent idea of which is better for you, you should tell us what your forum/blog/whatever is actually about. If you're just going to expound on the relative merits of different types of glass-blowing gear, a blog would probably be better, but if you're interested in trying to really blow the lid off of the Massive International Glass-Blowing Gear Conspiracy, then you might want to do the forum thing.