Site building and forums

Aside from my 9-5 and helping my church with its infrastructure I am also building my own site which will hopefully be of use to the kingdom. The site I am building is called Worshipartsforum and is exactly that, I have the ein and the domain and have started to build the site but I have never implemented a forum and although I am slowly figuring it out any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. In my vision this will be a place for all different facets of worship arts (Band, production, children’s ministries, etc.) from all churches to come together and share ideas, tips, information and just generally connect. I have visioned a structure similar to this forum or spiceworks. there will be no cost but I may use adspace populated by christian based businesses to cover the costs of running the site (not sure about that yet). If anyone has done anything like this before or has any tips, please share, thank you.

On the technical side, this site appears to be running Discourse. There’s no shortage of different forum software though:

Choose whatever works to your strengths in the event you need to customize or scale. Don’t overdo it yet with multi-server/multi-region just yet. If you get popular start doing that stuff, but for now just throw down five bucks on a Digital Ocean droplet to host a board.

Now, when it comes to providing a product or service, do make sure you know your audience and have thoroughly heard their pain points. Do worship arts types want to come together on a bulletin board? Would they rather have a social network type of thing? If you want to catch a mouse then use cheese, you need to be sure you are offering something that your demographic wants.

Thank you for the info Isaac, I have spoken to many of the worship arts teams in my own church and am a musician myself and the consensus I get from that (very small) sample seems to be that it would be helpful for contact and collaboration. I am sure it will evolve as it grows and I am completely open to change. this site is for the user and will hopefully have an engaged community that will help it to grow into the best tool it can be for them as a whole.

This site does indeed run on Discourse, which is extremely nice from a usability perspective. Any forum is going to require a decent number of moderators, well-written policies on what’s acceptable and not, and ongoing software maintenance. CITN started as an IRC channel primarily, and the forum is a relatively recent addition (originally theCity and now Discourse) that came about as the group has grown.

We chose Discourse, because a lot of the group prefers to interact via email rather than checking the site and Discourse has extremely flexible email options along with reply-by-email. We also chose to make the forum public when we switched to Discourse to increase the google-ability of our solutions and discussions. There are lots of considerations to be made when building a forum, so if it’s at all possible I’d try and get a few of your first key members on-board to work through those decisions.

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imho, while there are a number of options available, few of them are all that wonderful. I’ve used a number of them - e.g. phpBB, MyBB, SMF, Discourse, etc.

I have not used but would like to try Flarum.

When it comes to finding software I love AlternativeTo, e.g. see their listing page for phpBB and the alternatives. Great jumping off place and the number of folks who have hearted any particular application is a decent indicator of whether the app is worth further exploration (assuming it isn’t new).

Discourse is great although I disagree with some of the design choices which I think keep it from being all it can be.

In sum, take a look at AlternativeTo to find a good list of options; Flarum might be worth looking at; otherwise I’d probably go with Discourse although I think it is less than it could be due to some philosophical design choices that have been made. :slight_smile:

As an aside, if you want to camp out in our AVL related Slack channel and forum category while getting an understanding of what you’d like in a system the infrastructure and moderation are already in place.

That sounds good, I will take all the knowledge I can get