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Why a Discourse thread might almost always rank higher than a XF one

Discussion in 'General XenForo Discussion and Feedback' started by Razasharp, Apr 13, 2014.

  1. Razasharp

    Razasharp Well-Known Member

    We had a really interesting discussion on Xenadmins last week - about forums falling out of favour with Google. There were some great points made in the thread, and particularly from forum seo expert Adam H, with which I agreed:

    And Discourse is doing the same for forums - have a look here: http://community.badvoltage.org/t/welcome-and-introductions/16 and how the thread is summarised at the top - no need to trail through pages, it's all there for you. Google will love this, they have already stressed that if a site is good for a user it will count towards page rank.

    Anyway - what do you think? Do you agree? Disagree?

    I'd love to hear what @Mike and @Kier think too - will we see something like this in XF soon?
    Alfa1 likes this.
  2. petertdavis

    petertdavis Well-Known Member

    I've thought about this a bit. First, the reason I started my first forum wasn't to provide a place for people to get answers to their questions, it was to build a community of people who shared my interests. We do, of course, have a section meant for people to post to get answers, it's called a "What's it Worth" section and people post to get appraisals and the thing about it is that it would be difficult to pick specific answers as the best, it works better in a "wisdom of the crowds" sense. On the other hand, in our regular forums we often get questions like "can you identify this coin" and sometimes there are specific posts which give a good answer but more often than not you learn more by reading the whole thread. I would certainly like to experiment with some sort of feature which would help identify the more useful answers but I'd want some flexibility in which forums it would be activated in and which not, and who gets to decide which is the best answer.
    tyteen4a03 and Razasharp like this.
  3. Razasharp

    Razasharp Well-Known Member

    Hey Peter - long time no speak :p

    If you look at that Discourse thread, it's not just about answers - it includes a lot of the useful info there, such as links (and even how many clicks links are getting), and allows you to get the 'best' posts or a summary of the thread (which I think they base on those getting the most replies). XF could actually go a step further and include most liked post, and 'best answer', because Discourse will actually want to steer away from that as they will want to protect their Stack Exchange sites - which includes both a best answer and most rated post.

    I agree that many of our sites our communities, but that would only really give us a few different keywords - such as 'topic forum' or 'topic chat/community' etc But what about the threads? We need them to rank highly too, and for that we have to do what the Google gods want - and they want things to be good for people going to your site via their search, who most of the time want some information... but don't want to trawl through a huge thread to find it.

    I like your idea of options - we discussed this in the XA thread too, such as perhaps a different default view for guests than members.
    Alfa1, karll and Markos like this.
  4. Markos

    Markos Well-Known Member

    Because Discourse is used mainly big and/or trusted sites (like boingboing)...it's not a question of software. It's a question of site.

    A trusted site can rank well with Xenforo/vBulletin/PHPBB. :)
  5. Russ

    Russ Well-Known Member

    I'm just curious by "summarized at the top" what's different from creating that exact thread content on a xenforo forum?

    When clicking Summarize This Topic it simply removes people's introductions which is what the thread is asking for in the first place? How is removing certain people's introductions "Summarizing The Topic?" Maybe I'm over thinking things or it just simply doesn't make sense for a user to skip over certain posts when the whole point of the topic is to get to know people :D
    tyteen4a03 likes this.
  6. karll

    karll Well-Known Member

    There is more summarizing going on there than just showing the "best" posts. Underneath the first post there are some thread stats: Creation time, time of the last post, number of posts, views, users, likes, links, and the a list with all the posters and how many posts they made in the thread.
  7. Razasharp

    Razasharp Well-Known Member

    I think it summarises a thread based on posts that have likes and replies. Ideally it would be like SO where (perhaps in certain forums) users could select their best answer, and also it could display the most liked post. Discourse probably won't do that because it will hurt their stack exchange sites - so an great thing for XF to include - because it's highly valuable to forum owners.

    Like @karll mentioned, there's loads more too - such as list of links (and number of clicks each link gets too) as well as other meta data. I did something similar on my slurp site. I also really like links to other threads and threads linking to that thread too - that's really handy and saves having to faff around adding links in threads to link them together.
  8. mistypants

    mistypants Well-Known Member

    I can see why a best answer functionality (or something similar) would be useful for many sites but IMO those sites then should consider using a platform like Discourse. For discussion oriented (rather than Q&A) focused sites, you'll never beat a forum. As an example, a lot of the questions asked on my site are clarifications about the plot of the video game we're focused on. Oftentimes there is no simple answer; members instead interpret the story and the lore and post their own thoughts, ask each other questions, build upon others' answers. A forum is best suited to that and, considering most of the XF features are focused on creating a robust forum platform, something like this just doesn't seem to be its intention. But of course, everyone's needs are different. People have expressed interest in a best answer to up/down voting feature so it may be an add-on worth funding.
    Amaury likes this.
  9. Alfa1

    Alfa1 Well-Known Member

    I dont think you can really distinguish between discussion and question oriented forums. Most forums will have an amount of threads that discuss the answers to questions.
    As a site becomes bigger, the assets (valuable information) of a forum are hidden deeper within the site. If it was not for search engines like Google a lot of our assets would stay hidden to most people.

    I get millions of users per month through Google searches. There are various methods of content discovery which are important for this. This includes thread tags, wiki links in posts and thread/post rating weights.
    A best answer function is really not going to cut it. Thats like comparing an article to a wiki system.
    A node based Q&A system would be a major upgrade of forum usability and SEO.

    Microdata / microformatting offers a lot of tools to tell search engines what the meaning and value of a post or a thread is. XF should make use of that. Google loves to take meaningful data and display it in the search result sidebar.

    Polls are basically questions and answers. Polls have been forum functionality for decades now, but it still is the same. The discussion is completely disconnected from the poll votes. Why is it that if I vote on a poll answer that my post does not display the value? It would be useful to do so.
    Why can users not add new poll answers? About half of all polls I have ever seen are skewed because the real answer to the question were posted after the poll was started.
    A revamp of the poll system would do wonders.

    Social media have been eating socially oriented traffic of forums.
    XenForo has been created as an answer to this.

    Question & Answer sites came later and are now eating information oriented traffic of forums.
    I hope that XenForo will also have an answer to this.
    karll and Razasharp like this.
  10. Razasharp

    Razasharp Well-Known Member

    Great points there Alfa.

    I agree that the main thing we have to do when thinking about seo, is consider what Google wants out of our sites, or rather, what people want when they come to our sites from a search.

    Essentially, 99% of the time, that boils down to them not wanting to spend ages trawling through huge threads to get the info they came for. This is what Discourse is doing really well, and something that XF can take to the next level.

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