how is XF doing in term of customers compared to other platforms?

RobinHood

Well-known member
Also I doubt that to many people are concerned about which one is leading the marketshare like they once were. It is about as interesting as watching water evaporate.
I think it’s very interesting, as it represents where people are spending their money and the the market trends in migrations from one platform to another.

It’s a shame that data is no longer accurate as it doesn’t track the other options.
 

MikeMpls

Well-known member
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I'm not sure I fully trust these latest numbers (they seem to be shifting too quickly for no apparent reason), but the gap between Invision & vB (7.1%) is now smaller than the distance between XF & vB (7.5%). I guess the next question is, when will Invision be #2?
 

Alfa1

Well-known member

I think its very incomplete without vanilla and discourse. Discource has way higher use than IPS and is number 3. Vanilla is trailing IPS and has more than Burning Board. And then there are a bunch of non-commercial scripts like SMF, PHPBB, NodeBB, Flarum.

@digitalpoint please include vanilla and discourse in your overview. Both are commercial scripts.
 
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Slavik

XenForo moderator
Staff member
I'm not sure I fully trust these latest numbers (they seem to be shifting too quickly for no apparent reason), but the gap between Invision & vB (7.1%) is now smaller than the distance between XF & vB (7.5%). I guess the next question is, when will Invision be #2?

They are certainly shifting for a reason, I have never been so busy in converting sites.
 

Snog

Well-known member
They are certainly shifting for a reason, I have never been so busy in converting sites.
I agree, and it all started December 28, 2017. I'm running at double the normal work load since then. It's slowed a little bit the past couple of months, but the first 9 months of 2018 were ridiculous. ;)
 

DroidOne

Well-known member

I'm not sure I fully trust these latest numbers (they seem to be shifting too quickly for no apparent reason), but the gap between Invision & vB (7.1%) is now smaller than the distance between XF & vB (7.5%). I guess the next question is, when will Invision be #2?
Didn't vBulletin stop updating VB 3.x recently all together? There will be no PHP 7.2/7.3 patch etc (Paul stopped working on vB3 some time ago). I think that got people rushing towards switching to other platforms....since they're out of options really. Can't be postponed much longer.

Remember that both PHP 5.6 and PHP 7 will reach EOL before the end of the year. Even if you get vB to run, you're still stuck with adapting the add-ons and without any future vB 3.x updates.
 
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Mendalla

Active member
A very large, old board that I am on (I've been there 12 years and it was already well-established then) just flipped to Xenforo 2.0 rather than upgrading their VB install. The conversion was a bit nightmarish for their admins (the import took like 3-4 times as long live as they estimated from their testing) but I like the end product. If sites like that are migrating off the VB platform, I can see why the numbers are shifting as they are.
 

Rudy

Well-known member
Didn't vBulletin stop updating VB 3.x recently all together?
I wonder what all of those old sites are going to do. I visit so many who are still on vB3. (Using those feels like living in the dark ages.) I remember that I had to modify my vB 3.7 installation heavily in order to get it to work for a "big board" forum without killing our server, and even reapplying all of that to vB 3.8 would have taken a lot of work, not to mention vB4 (with its even higher resource usage). I am very glad we moved over to XF.
 

Mendalla

Active member
I wonder what all of those old sites are going to do.
The one VB board I am still on is very small and local in scope. Owner wasn't happy with 4.x so remains stubbornly on 3.something. I mentioned XF to him years ago, when my XF board was still fairly new, but there didn't seem to be interest. He's a part-time operation and has it tied in to a broader site, so it may just be time or resource constraints.
 

RobinHood

Well-known member
Some stats going into the new year:

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Seems that all 3 of the more modern platforms tracked by the system have continued to gain ground at VBs expense. Although I'm sure there's probably a fair few migrations going to other forum/social/community platforms that unfortunately aren't tracked by this system, such as Discourse and Flarum.

Here's some interesting info about a recent transition for Blizzard and their gaming forum from their old in house forum solution, to Discourse, and why they made that decision instead of moving to a more traditional forum solutions like the ones we're following in this thread.

Kaelon on The Admin Zone said:
This is probably old news by now, but for the past year, Blizzard has been steadily migrating all of its own in-house custom-designed forums to Discourse, and it has done a beautiful job of customizing the Discourse stack for its community of gamers and video game players.

https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/wow/
Kaelon on The Admin Zone said:
So, full disclosure, while I have a lot of colleagues and professional contacts at Blizzard and in the gaming industry in general, I am not a Blizzard employee and was not intimately involved in the forum transition. That said, I know a lot about what went on and also evaluated Discourse for use on my other gaming sites.

In my view, Discourse is not an appropriate solution for most classic discussion-based forum communities. It is, however, a great solution for faster-paced social experiences. There are several reasons for this:
  • Conversations are not threaded, they are linear with threading-like references.
  • Discourse is on a Rails stack, and is notoriously resource-hungry. Self-hosters will find themselves spending ~60 min a day managing and maintaining the installation and optimizing their servers.
  • Though it is open source, managed hosting for this offering is expensive since Discourse.org is in the hosting business, and other third-party hosts offer cookie-cutter installations.
  • Blizzard had a dedicated web team spend over a year custom forking Discourse and then slowly migrating boards over (and they made the decision to just migrate ~2 weeks worth of posts, and then archiving all of their older content).
  • UI is streamlined and highly responsive, and has a mobile-first approach which will appeal to current web users across platforms.
For people who typically post less than ~150 words per post, Discourse will work just fine. But for admins who are used to tweaking installations and who, they themselves, are not developers, customizing Discourse is not for the faint-hearted. Other forum platforms, like Flarum, seem to mimic the major UI innovations that Discourse advanced (such as in-thread summarising) while maintaining a more accessible code-base. But this largely glosses over a single glaring problem afflicting all of us these days:

Forums are essentially a dead medium, and outside of niche discussion communities, will not capture significant new audiences at the pre-2008 activity levels. For a growth-based experience, we should be investing in micro-blogging and hyper-discussion platforms, more similar to Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat -- though these, too, are now archaic compared to the media-rich video-centric experiences that are driving over a third of content creation on the web today. For networks of users creating content, going mobile-first with an emphasis on video would be a better investment of time rather than trying to use a platform like Discourse to catapult your content engine -- which it will not.
Source

Here's the version breakdown for the big 3. Still a shame that we can't see a more detailed 4.x versioning breakdown for IPS.

I think it's very interesting to note that XF now stands at 29% on the 2.x branch a year after release. I'll be keen to see how quickly that increases once 2.1 is released seeing how widely anticipated it has been and it sounds like many big boards have been waiting to see what was in store before planning their 2.x upgrade path.

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This graph shows that in terms of conversions from one platform to another, IPS to XF still seems roughly double that of XF to IPB. Although this has dropped marginally over the last 18 months in favour of IPB. I do wonder how accurate these number are though - are 4.2% of forums still converting from IPS or XF back to VB? Perhaps the cases are migrations to a more modern platform gone wrong and the admins succumbing to users demand to get back to the old site.

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The slight increase in conversions of XF to IPS does make you wonder what is drawing people to that platform. Is the prospect of a full community suite getting more and more desirable and perceived as a necessity by some in the competitive social landscape of today?

Will XF ever address that in the core? Or will features such as the new API and 3rd party apps allowing bridging with apps like WordPress make this less and less important as admins are more easily able to add these features via dedicated 3rd party integration?

There are some interesting stats here from an IPS forum that recently converted from XF showing traffic breakdown on various aspects of the full website within the IPS system:

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Systems is classed as more other core pages within the IPS app such as:
  • Profiles
  • Search
  • activity streams
  • Account Settings
Going by this graph, only a 1/3 of the site traffic is the core forum, which I assume is primarily reading and writing on threads themselves. That seems pretty low and makes you wonder where visitors are spending all that other time on the site. It's worth noting that clubs isn't broken down on this graph. I'd be keen to see the exact combined percentage of clubs and member map for this site, as it's a very good example of a community with lots of geographic sub communities where both clubs and a member map with both members and local clubs can be displayed and browed by users.

There are some very big XF sites that could do with core features like this, such as Tesla Motors Club, who I believe had to commission their own groups / clubs platform. Plus lots of smaller communities who don't have the funds to build their own system, and so have to resort to using some mediocre 3rd party XF solutions or managing networks of facebook groups instead.

Another really interesting takeaway from the above graph is the gallery, and how small a slice it takes up. I think this highlights a core UI and UX posting and new gallery content discovery problem inherent to all forum software suites at the moment. It seems most forum users prefer still prefer to post photos and videos in threads. Probably because they get the most traffic there, resulting in better engagement for the content creator.

IPS recently upgraded their gallery and the new lightbox, it's a great upgrade, but discovery and getting users into and using the gallery can still be a huge issue for many admins. They've tried to fix this with their activity feed, but it's still rather poor IMO and not easy or enjoyable to use. All forum platforms still need to fix that.

On XF1.x I found that Sonnb's gallery and use of masonry effect displaying uncropped thumbnails made it more enjoyable to browse albums and new content. The lightbox he developed was excellent too, and it seems a shame that XF seems to have fallen quite far behind on that front with keeping their solutions as nice to use.

The addition of video upload to posts is a big media sharing hurdle addressed in 2.1, really please about that and it will help in making the platform more competitive with Facebook groups.

To wrap up, here are some more interesting stats monitoring PHP major versions:

18 Months in June 2017 ago vs today in December 2018.

7.x is now at 47.8% adoption rate, it would be interesting to see how this compares to the new stats collected from the XF 2.x installs.

191631 191632


PS. Loving that you can resize images in the editor now! Great for posts like this👌
 
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Chris D

XenForo developer
Staff member
7.x is now at 47.8% adoption rate, it would be interesting to see how this compares to the new stats collected from the XF 2.x installs.
For XF customers, PHP 7.x adoption is actually better than this, it sits at 57.9%. Which is great, but there are still over 36% using PHP 5.6.

It's dropping, slowly but surely, but it needs to dramatically fall if we want XF 2.2 to have a minimum of PHP 7.0 (the next logical target).

191641
 

Rudy

Well-known member
I still have to disagree with this:

Forums are essentially a dead medium, and outside of niche discussion communities, will not capture significant new audiences at the pre-2008 activity levels.
For the topics my various forums cover, social media is largely useless (discussions are shallow and uninformed, and the troll volume is drastically higher), but the "meat and potatoes" discussions happen only in forums. Maybe they aren't as popular, but I can point to any number of forums I frequent (or operate) that have steadily grown and are in the top search results on Google. My oldest forum (rather small) dates to 1997, and existed for two years prior on a tired old guestbook script. One of the busiest is on track for 20 million posts by February, and we are routinely seeing even average days top 2,000 users online at any given moment.

That certainly does not define "dead" or "dying." Those kinds of pronouncements are typically made from someone of false authority who deems their ideas are the "one twue way." 🙄

Come to think of it, forums have always been niche communities. This has not changed in nearly three decades since I started visiting CompuServe's forums back in the late 1980s, back when I was struggling with an issue on our Novell Netware network and discovered their community there. Forums themselves grew out of newsgroups and mailing lists, again, all niche-level discussion groups. They have all changed of course, but the strongest are still around and getting stronger all the time. Forums are not social media; the message I quoted simply cannot comprehend that simple fact.
 

RobinHood

Well-known member
I agree that they certainly aren't a dead medium, far from it. I don't agree with that part of his post, I think a more fitting description is that they are still lagging behind the times and playing catchup to some of the new ways that many users want to interact with, engage with, and contribute to certain types of communities on the web. The users of many users of communities from the last few years desire something different from forums of old, as per the reasons for their decision and experience in the post I quoted from Kaelon above, and hence why they felt Discourse was the best option for them. It's also evident by the explosion of the use of other groups and community platforms and options over the last few years.

Forums are not social media
I still don't understand how any forum admin can claim this. They are, by definition:rolleyes:
 

Robust

Well-known member
I think a more fitting description is that they are still lagging behind the times and playing catchup to some of the new ways that many users want to interact with, engage with, and contribute to certain types of communities on the web.
I think they're just now aimed for a different audience of people.

These "new ways" are something forums shouldn't be. They're usually lazy forms of social media, basic interactions with some kinda tweak. Forums can't really adjust to be what is trendy in social media. They have their benefits, namely they promote more thorough discussion and have better tools for archival. Focusing on the pros of forums is probably the best way forward.

I don't think forums, in general, "will capture significant new audiences at the pre-2008 activity levels". But that doesn't mean it's a dying niche. And, for sure, they're still necessary and relevant to promote meaningful discourse.
 
Rock and Roll is dead because of the new wave of Pop.
Anything new and trendy will destroy what came before it, say sensationalists.

That said, forums are in reality going nowhere, for reasons that have already been stated. Quite a number of people want more meaningful conversations than what they ate for breakfast or drowning in a sea of +1s, but the big advertisers especially after that demographic (large swaths of people that spend spend spend) will of course not see that, and I suspect that's precisely the sort of reason for this cry of "dead" usually.

Off that topic, I'm glad to see I not only chose the best forum software, but that it's doing wonderfully.
 

RobinHood

Well-known member
These "new ways" are something forums shouldn't be. They're usually lazy forms of social media, basic interactions with some kinda tweak. Forums can't really adjust to be what is trendy in social media.
Not really, and sure they can. The biggest observations I have is most of the other major options have a much smoother cross platform experience. ie. native and highly integrated mobile application support, with highly optimised native mobile OS support, along with highly optimised media sharing capabilities.

None of the add on ecosystem has to be tightly integrated into this, but the core software does. And that's why Tapatalk is doing so well on the mobile front.

If there was a community suite that offered the standard threaded forum experience, but had a tightly integrated mobile app with push notifications, had great photo and video upload and browsing capability, and real time messaging/conversations, then it would absolutely kill it in the community space.

The simple stuff needs to be done natively, cross platform, be able to take any media you throw at it, and be live in the situations that matter (messaging/conversations) and there you have a modern community suite that can compete with the hosted options such as facebook, discord, reddit etc. Do that and you become the obvious choice for anyone trying to escape those platforms and start your own thriving and modern independent community instance.

The last couple of years have shown how untrustworthy and reckless some of the big options like facebook are with user data. People want to leave, but there's no all in one solutions that can offer most of the features their users expect. Do these core features simply and well and private forums/communities will explode again to levels and activity never seen before and well above the early 2000's.

But I digress, so here are some more stats.

Wappalyzer, who gathers their data primarily from visitors who have their browser extension installed, as opposed the Digital Point's crawler. Interesting to note the large install detection of Discuz! X in this, which seems to be a Chinese message board solution.

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It puts XF and IPB at about the same market share, with VB still double both combined, leaving a huge amount of room for growth in all new platforms.

Interestingly it looks like Discourse is pretty prominent on this graph in relation to XF and IPB at about half of the number of forums that either of the other two platforms have. While Burning Board looks like a blip on the radar.

I do wonder about the accuracy of this data though as it could be missing a large number of smaller sites, with fewer visitors, none of which have the browser extension installed.

Another source from Built With using a sample size of 12k forums in the top 1 Million Sites shows XF in a massive lead out of the modern commercial offerings. Outpacing IPB by 4:1, and it even shows Discourse, an open source option that makes its money on its hosted offering having a larger install base than IPB.

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RobinHood

Well-known member
The above graph is just for the top 1M sites in the Built With database, here's the same graph for all sites detected on their system, sampling 77K forums.

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RobinHood

Well-known member
This graph is even more interesting. From the top 10K sites in their database, there are 300 forums, of which XF, Discourse and Telligent are the top modern commercial offerings. Although Vanilla also makes a massive jump from the previous graphs, another open source solution with some expensive business plans varying from $700 to $10k per month, a similar model to Discourse.

It's interesting to note that when whittling it down to the top 10k sites and top 300 forums, a massive 40% are still on VB and have held off upgrading to anything more modern. Is this because they're too highly customised that it's too costly or risky to upgrade to XF, Discourse or something else? Do they feel the offerings aren't mature enough or offer enough of a value add to make it worth upgrading?

It's also worth noting that this data set of successful sites has a much larger percentage of commercial options vs the rest. But yet again, of the modern solutions, it seems that XF is killing it.

However Discourse is hot on their heels. They're definitely one to be watched, especially with projects such as the Blockchain Advisory Board being founded in conjunction with Tapatalk (the largest forum mobile app) and a few advisors, including Jeff Atwood, co-founder of Discourse. This effort is to "increase trust in an anonymous network and enable immutable reputations for verified trades and transactions"

It seems they are going to be integrating Kin into their app, in an effort to:

harness the power of crypto-enabled, peer-to-peer experiences to increase engagement in its large, online community. Soon, Tapatalk users will be able to receive Kin for posting quality content in the app, and in turn, they can send Kin to other creators on the platform.
Kin in Tapatalk
The main user activities in the app include creating content for forums, following forums from across the internet, and interacting with other users about a topic of shared interest (liking, commenting, etc). Once Kin is fully integrated into the app, Tapatalk users will be able to receive rewards for the content they add and interacting with the community, as well as gifting each other Kin for contributing to discussions.

What’s Next?
We’re working closely with Tapatalk to ensure that the integration goes live early in the new year. While Tapatalk is also available for desktop users, our efforts are currently focused on the mobile application.
Does this mean users will soon be able to be paid for their contributions to the communities they frequent? Could this be analogous to the Patreon model for content creators on other platforms such as YouTubers, Podcasters, musicians and artists, but for forum content? If so, this could be a game changer and make communities that generate revenue for their members incredibly appealing and result in being quite disruptive to the community space.

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Alfa1

Well-known member
Does this mean users will soon be able to be paid for their contributions to the communities they frequent?
That is a function on Reddit. They first had bitcointip, then changetip and later TipBit:
 
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