MichaelH who has been a long time contributor to the WordPress.org Forums created his own wishlist for what he would like to see in the forum software, that being BBPress. The reason why this is important is because of Michael’s status on the WordPress.org forums. Some of the things that is mentioned in his wishlist are items that have been preached about before by others so I’m hoping that with Michael’s wishlist, some of those items are finally addressed.
On the other side of the coin, Sam Bauers who is the lead developer of the BBPress project responded to Michael’s wishlist point by point and stated he would use the list as more of a To-Do list. You can read Sam’s response here. Note that the order in which Sam responds to the list is the order for his To-Do list.
Sam states that it’s a bit rough right now because the WordPress forums are running on BBPress 0.9 but they will be migrated to 1.0 when it’s released. As Sam mentions, that would make for a nice test bed for 1.0 features.
I have a few issues with the WordPress.org forum myself. For starters, the search sucks. You can only restrict your search results to documentation, the support forums, WP.org blogs or the bug database. I would love to see more refinement so I can search between non-resolved and resolved threads, search specific forums, etc. Another issue I have is that I have no way of knowing whether a thread I have responded to or have created has received a new reply without either subscribing to the RSS feed for that thread or visiting my profile where it lists recent replies. I’ll come out and say it that subscribing to the RSS feed for every thread I create or respond to is just plain dumb. Also, I should not have to actually visit the site to see if new messages have been created. I check email multiple times a day, not my feedreader. On top of that, I wouldn’t mind a simple subscription manager so I can delete subscriptions to threads I am no longer interested in.
Those two items I just described are standard run of the mill features found in 99% of other forum software on the web. I’ve been told that the issues I have with BBPress have been addressed in the form of plugins. The way I see it, the forums on WordPress.org are the #1 example of what BBPress is capable of and if I don’t see a couple features found in the majority of the other software, the mindset is that the software is way behind the competition. However, I’ve listened to Sam describe BBPress 1.0 and what will be possible in this version and what is currently possible with the software now and when he talks, it makes me wonder if I’ve made a mistake giving BBPress a bad rap. I actually get excited when I hear Sam describe BBPress.
I hope that at some point, I can get the impression that when I use the WordPress.org forums, I am using something modern. Until then, here is a toast hoping for a successful launch to BBPress 1.0 this year which Matt states “is so close to being released, he can taste it”.
It feels like we’re on two different subjects here in some ways. The WP.org support forums and bbPress don’t necessarily have to be tied to the same conversation. There are features that should be added to the support forums but shouldn’t be added to the core of bbPress.
I definitely agree that the WP.org forums could use a little sprucing up — in the form of plugins. Better user-thread management is something that should probably be addressed in bbPress.
The one thing that’s so great about bbPress right now is that it’s extremely lightweight. It literally serves every need I have. Sure, there are things I want, but I’m not certain they should be a part of the core.
Even though WordPress is fairly lightweight, more features keep getting piled on. Jeff, even you’ve written about bloat and WordPress. I’d hate to see bbPress go down this road of piling on new features. Sure, many forum users might consider some things as standard compared to other forum software, but the great thing is that it’s very modular — you can pick and choose the features you want through plugins. Granted, a lot of those plugins have yet to be written.
MichaelH’s list is pretty solid though. It does address some real needs for the support forums on WP.org. Some of these things can be added to the support forums right now and shouldn’t reflect poorly upon bbPress.
And, as you’ve said, the search sucks. I learned to use Google long ago.
One last thought: My hope is that one day WPTavern will join in the ranks as a WordPress-/bbPress-powered site.