Innovation vs Imitation: A Call to Arms

Dismal Shadow

Active member
So I am not going to copy and paste but quoting from a good developer for SimpleDesk a helpdesk solution for SMF.
One of Arantor's philosophies is 'innovate, not imitate' when it comes to doing something. If you're going to do something that makes it distinctive and unique, and SimpleDesk does that in a number of ways.
I recently wrote a blog article on SimpleDesk about our permissions revamp, what we did and why we did it.
And I have to say as I was writing it, several things really stuck.
I won't bore you with requoting the full piece - you can see it from the above link. But the opening is very relevant.
Should you accept what is there because it's how everyone else does it? Should you accept how other packages do things because that's what's expected?
The fact that we have such a prevalent customization feel in this community echoes that first statement. They don't want the forum how it is out of the box, which is fantastic.
The problem is too many people ask for it to change how other packages work. I see there's a mod that gives you vBulletin styling in the forum, and I have to say I'm actually slightly disappointed by that. Not because someone's done it, but because it means people just want the look of something expensive to pass it off as that.
It also means people are continuing to desire things how other people have done it, not doing something interesting and unique. And that's really what I'm writing about.
Don't accept things how they are. Definitely don't accept how others do them just because others do them. vBulletin has a specific style, and most vBulletin forums look the same. Just as most 1.1.x forums look the same, just as most 2.0 RC2+ forums look pretty similar, though it's getting more imaginative.

Each person that requests something "like xyz" is doing both their site, and really SMF, a disservice. Don't build your site around what you think is cool, either.
Do something innovative - and do it for your users. Your users will appreciate your site more if you do something new and interesting that helps them relate to each other, or makes the service your site offers that bit more useful or efficient. They'll come back more and talk more and support each other more if you take the time to cater to their needs and do so in a way they may not have realised before.

So, go forth, have amazing ideas, and the fortitude to turn the new and interesting ideas into reality! Don't kid yourself that what is out there is the best for you - only you know that. And what's best for someone else may not be best for you, so allow yourself the creativity to try something totally different!

In short: stop asking for things to be "like xyz". Stop accepting copies of what's done. Start being your own boss, daring to dream the dreams that haven't been dreamt before, daring to imagine the unimagined, even the unimaginable, and start doing new and exciting things.
I don't want to see 100 clones of what's already there. Give me a single new thing to explore any day!

So the question is will Xenforo do the same thing...innovate and do something new?


Well-known member
It's very hard to truly innovate, as something has almost always been thought of or done before, no matter how obscure it might be.

Dismal Shadow

Active member
"Immitate it and innovate it with lots of cool features, it's innovation, no? Sure, most things have been done before. So, take what's been done and do something new with it. The potential for doing that, as opposed to just sticking with what's been done already and doing it again, is infinite."~ Arantor



Well-known member
Some packages do features very well, others not so well. If a developer discounts a suggestion because "X" does it that way, I most likely won't be using their software. IPB gives me that impression at times, and quite frankly, pisses me off.

Well-known member
'innovate, not imitate'

There is nothing new under the sun ... reinventing the wheel is pretty useless ...

all XF has to do is to implement the best practices that are already proven and successful elsewhere ...

but some like to make things more complicated. :rolleyes:


Well-known member
XF is already showing that Mike and Kier are going for some innovative designs. I do hope that we will see more innovation. But at the same time, concepts that have been proven to work need to be implemented as well. Take the best of both worlds.


Everything that can be invented has been invented.
Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. patent office, 1899

Of course it's an urban legend, but makes the point.............

Anthony Parsons

Well-known member
Whilst I will say I can see plenty of imitation in xenforo, I can also see plenty of innovation as well... ie. doing things superior / new to the others. Features and wants are near identical between all forum platforms nowadays, its just a matter of whether they are included or not. Xenforo seems to have a few tricks unseen elsewhere, and from what I read into (assume) from some of Kier's and Mike's posts, I feel there are things they are holding back which just don't exist in other platforms at all which will be a nice surprise to us all.


Well-known member
Innovation starts with imitation.

I love how innovative XenForo has been with things, and yes, I can see some imitation, but they have done things in a way to work extremely with with the system.


Active member
There are times when something(s) cannot be improved on. Not using it for the sake of not wanting to copy it is silly. When someone hands you something that works well there is no reason to reinvent the it without actually improving it.

I do not think you should outright steal the code, or design. But incorporating how it works into your own cog is possibly a good move.

We would not be here today if we did not borrow or take an idea from time to time.


Well-known member
Immitate it and innovate it with lots of cool features, it's innovation, no? Sure, most things have been done before. So, take what's been done and do something new with it. The potential for doing that, as opposed to just sticking with what's been done already and doing it again, is infinite

iPhone is a good example.


Well-known member
I've said this before and it bears repeating. Implement what is best and what makes the most sense. Whether it turns out to be innovation or imitation is frankly irrelevant.