XF 2.2 Forum and thread types

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Forums contain threads and threads contain posts. It's been the essential framework of forums on the Internet since the public migrated from usenet to the web.

The structure is well known and well understood - though the origins of some of the terminology are lost in the mists of time. Who ever came up with the notion of your site being a forum, but these separate containers for related threads also being forums? 🤷🏼‍♂️

But back on topic, and we all know that visiting a forum (the second type) will usually show a list of threads ordered with the most recently updated near the top, and that clicking on any of those threads will show a page with the oldest post first and newer posts underneath and on subsequent pages.

Bending discussion forums to varying purposes

Over the years, forum administrators have been inventive and used the simple messages-in-named-containers structure of forums to build all sorts of content - let's look at the XenForo community as an example.

First, we have announcements and these "Have you seen" threads. These are quite focused on the initial post (or first few posts in some HYS threads), with these posts containing a lot of information... a bit like an article with subsequent comments.

Then we have the suggestions forums, where we ask people to up-vote the ideas they're interested in.

There are also support forums where people are looking for answers to questions or solutions to problems.

And of course there are also forums for general chat and discussions, which most closely fit the original notion of a discussion thread and where you can't really say the threads fit the same model as the other types.

Up until now, these forums and the threads within have all been displayed the same way.

But not any more

With XenForo 2.2, we are introducing the concept of Forum and thread types. This is a massive change with enormous ramifications for forums. Today, we're only really going to talk about the admin and user experience of the new systems, but in a few days we're going to follow up with a developer-focused HYS where we will talk about what's going on behind the scenes here, because we're really rather excited about the potential it unlocks.

There is a lot to talk about, but let's just dive into some examples...

tl;dr

We're prefer you to read all the details below, but if you just want the juicy bits:
 
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DigNap15

Active member
My intitial reaction after looking at the first page is WOW!!
I had been thinking of a similar concept to artilces in a bid to upgrade the quality of my forum's theads

Can we have another category
Mindless Drivel or threads that are a complete waste of time, but sometimes are a bit funny, and occupy the minds of many of my members

Now I've got to read the whole of this thread.
Goes and makes a cup of coffee
 

Pseudonym

Member
That can already be done.

It can already be done that question forums have 'questions', discussion forums have 'discussions', article forums have 'articles' and suggestion forums have 'suggestions' in the URL instead of 'forums' automatically if enabled in a specific forum's settings?
 

beerForo

Well-known member
No, you said Forums, that can be changed with routing. I think you meant Threads.

Maybe I misunderstand.
 
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beerForo

Well-known member
Here you go
 

Pseudonym

Member
No, you said Forums, that can be changed with routing. I think you meant Threads.

No I meant forums. I'm less worried about threads and I imagine this would also introduce more problems than it solves. The word thread is still more appropriate. I don't want to have to make route filters for 1000 nodes. I don't necessarily want to remove the node ID from the URL.
 
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arn

Well-known member
Like I said above, I am really happy with these additions. I think they provide a lot of flexibility. And I had already been exploring 3rd party options for the Q&A piece.

One observation though -- I think the Q&A thread naturally lends itself to "post comments". Now, I never thought threaded conversations really worked well in the traditional forum setting -- I recall vBulletin's attempts at it. But, when you are talking about a Q&A where the A's are pieces of votable content itself. There is naturally going to be discussions around the A's.

The problem with the flat structure is what happens when someone replies to an Answer? That answer's reply gets its own Vote button, which doesn't make much sense. And what happens when people sort by Vote? These strange replies will be floating around with no context.

Since we're already being a little loose with post order anyway in these Q&A threads -- IMO, the best solution would be when someone replies to an Answer by hitting Reply or Quote on that Answer itself, that reply gets nested under the Answer, and not in the thread somewhere.

arn
 

DigNap15

Active member
You guys kept quiet for 6 months, and got lots of flak for no new feautres and Invision was this and invision was that.
This is amazemballs
Its really going to change the forum world
 

Brent W

Well-known member
Like I said above, I am really happy with these additions. I think they provide a lot of flexibility. And I had already been exploring 3rd party options for the Q&A piece.

One observation though -- I think the Q&A thread naturally lends itself to "post comments". Now, I never thought threaded conversations really worked well in the traditional forum setting -- I recall vBulletin's attempts at it. But, when you are talking about a Q&A where the A's are pieces of votable content itself. There is naturally going to be discussions around the A's.

The problem with the flat structure is what happens when someone replies to an Answer? That answer's reply gets its own Vote button, which doesn't make much sense. And what happens when people sort by Vote? These strange replies will be floating around with no context.

Since we're already being a little loose with post order anyway in these Q&A threads -- IMO, the best solution would be when someone replies to an Answer by hitting Reply or Quote on that Answer itself, that reply gets nested under the Answer, and not in the thread somewhere.

arn

Agreed. Q&A will get messy fast with each reply to someone else's answer being included in the upvote.
 

AndrewSimm

Well-known member
Would an existing "article" content type cause an issue with this?

Ideally, I would run with 2.2 and my own article system until I had time to rebuild mine around the base Xenforo one.
 

JulianD

Well-known member
If the forums will no longer be forums exclusively in the traditional sense might we get the option to remove 'forums' from the URL and/or alter it for a certain type of forum?

Edit: I know I can use Route Filters but I mean the setting as per type of forum.
Already suggested

 

DigNap15

Active member
I was planning to add articles to my website and then link them to threads in the fourm.
So I think this will do that for me.
 
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NicolasZN

Well-known member
And now that is just another reason to not continue any addon development.
How so?
I am still very new to the XF ecosystem, having brought a board off a closed free forum host a couple years ago, but I've already observed from my distance this tendency of those who develop add-ons begrudging the software advancing. On the one hand, I get it - if you wrote an add on to do this and then it becomes core, it kills sales for that add on (perhaps before you recouped development costs). On the other hand, the software staying modern encourages people to come to it and then buy add ons for their niche needs.

Frankly, the fact that I had to spend hundreds of dollars in add ons for features I figure should be core (and then more money annually to keep updates for those addons than even purchasing a new XF license would cost) is one thing that almost made me regret coming to XF. I don't mind the obviously niche things I pay for, but something like a calendar? Oy vey. I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

XF has brought a lot of business to a lot of people who develop on it, and by continuing to advance it (which means sometimes making commonly requested, and commonly added, features core) also continues to make it a viable income stream for people who develop on it, in my opinion.

Add-on devs should not see themselves in competition, or being harmed by, actual feature updates. Though, I understand that not having a sense of the roadmap may make it terrible when you've just finished something then you see it's becoming core. The XF devs say the suggestions forum sorted by popular is their roadmap, and those features are also the ones that make sense for 3rd party devs to want to make because the market for them is the largest - but when you aim for a big market, it's possible it will be a big enough market to make it worth just incorporating overall.
 
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frm

Well-known member
Agreed. Q&A will get messy fast with each reply to someone else's answer being included in the upvote.
I would think quoting would be the most suitable solution to getting the best answer due to it allowing users to not be repetitious, but to expand.

Take:

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While user is correct, it's lacking information on how many floors it is; user3 provides that answer, possibly making it a better answer while giving credit and not being repetitious of user. User3 also adds a unique perspective of the height of two buildings with the same number of floors, whether on topic or not. Which answer is better? It'd be up to whoever upvoted due to the lack of floors mentioned (even though that wasn't in the question, it could be the answer they were seeking), despite not answering the question of its height, as that's repetitious without the quote, and with what could be considered irrelevant information.

Edit: Quotes can obviously be edited out too.
 
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