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XenForo as a Forum versus GetSatisfaction

Discussion in 'XenForo Pre-Sales Questions' started by rubyone1, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. rubyone1

    rubyone1 New Member

    I have a small e-commerce company that makes some products, and we currently runphpBB3. The forums were intended as a way for our customers to communicate with us, post photos of stuff they've done with our products, communicate with other customers, and of course for us to provide customer and product support. Naturally, our most fervent forum members have even helped us crowdsource some of the customer support now, which has been a huge help!

    The problem of course is that phpBB3 is a sinkhole for information. It's not very searchable, not very feature-rich, is terrible with SEO. I'm evaluating XenForo, which clearly has many legs up over phpBB. That is not in contention for me. One of my difficulties is understanding how these dedicated forum platforms have advantages over some of these evolving Help Desk platforms. For example, I'm also looking at something called GetSatisfaction, which is helpdesk software.

    I'm wondering if people have opinions on how XenForo might have an advantage over something like GetSatisfaction, and what are features on XenForo that help me foster a better community than GetSatisfaction would?

  2. Tigratrus

    Tigratrus Well-Known Member

    Alerts when someone likes or quotes something that a member posted. Do NOT underestimate this, being appreciated by their peers is a HUGE incentive to participate.

    Much better SEO.

    The ability to extend the platform FAR beyond just forum functionality means it can adapt and grow as you discover new ways to leverage the engagement of your community.

    XF is almost certain to be far easier to customize the look/feel to better reflect your own company's branding.

    Tons more reasons but those were the ones that leapt to mind...
  3. Reeve of Shinra

    Reeve of Shinra Well-Known Member

    I don't use the help desk solutions myself however I know a lot of people who do use them as a compliment to their forum based sites. The two seem to play well and each has its sweet spots. People have modded one to do the work of the other and as you mentioned help desk software is evolving in that direction but its not there yet.

    From my perspective as a person running a forum, a guy who occasionally has to reach out for help / information, etc, etc -- I think both solutions might be appropriate. There are times I want to ask a question or get feedback from multiple sources (like you are doing here ;)) and that's where I really love forums. Then there are times I have a real indepth issue, perhaps billing related or where I need direct support -- and that's where having a ticket created via a ticketing system really comes into play.

    The real point here is that you have an existing community which has some benefit to your operation so in some aspects it would be good to keep that growing on a platform conductive to such activities. If you didn't already have a forum, then I might suggest the help desk approach first.
  4. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    I've been involved with a PHPBB3 community that migrated to Getsatisfaction.
    Over time, the community dwindled.
    We were not a big group, and we got smaller.
    Certainly the transition didn't go well. Most people didn't make the jump.

    If you feel your audience is already on GetSatisfaction ... that might be OK ... as they already are signed up on getsatisfaction.

    The community in question here ... we used GetSatifaction for everything .... and it is certainly not a website ... it's just a Support Tool.
  5. Rudy

    Rudy Well-Known Member

    It's a traditional apples vs. oranges issue. They are two different types of products. A forum is all about conversations and the social aspect, and GetSatisfaction is a help desk. It is the same as someone arguing the differences between a blog (such as Wordpress) with comments and a forum system. True you can have conversations in blog comments, but it is more difficult and it's all out in the open. Forums are more about building a community.

    I just switched a forum I founded in 1997 from phpBB2 (which we began using in 2002) to XenForo. Another, newer forum (founded Feb. 2010) was on SMF2, and we also converted that to XenForo. In both cases, user participation has actually improved on both sites. It also helped that with password compatibility, users just logged into XenForo and carried on as though nothing had changed.

    If you convert phpBB3, you will need to use vBulletin as an intermediate step. There are a couple of us here that do it as a service (I hold a vB license) if you don't want to tackle it yourself.
  6. rubyone1

    rubyone1 New Member

    Thanks for all the insights. I think Rudy put it well--I think GetSatisfaction doesn't seem as "conversational" as a forum. I definitely hope user participation increases with XenForo. I think my primary objective is to get a more flexible forum that does better SEO and is more easily searchable. We are just losing so much information on our forums that just collects cobwebs.

    I'm coming to the conclusion that we'll focus on migrating to XenForo and then maybe down the road, we'll try to use GetSatisfaction as a help desk.

    There are a few small operations that help with phpBB3 migration to XenForo already, so I'll probably spring for one of those. They don't mention any intermediate steps to vB, so I'm assuming people have already starting developing scripts to do a direct migration. Although I'm open to other service providers. If there's anyone interested in providing migration services here, then please send me a private message!

    Thanks so much everyone.
  7. Rudy

    Rudy Well-Known Member

    In addition to helping draw in traffic, better SEO should also help you get listed more efficiently in Google. On the "big board" (vBulletin) that I admin, we encourage users to make use of Google Search, via a dialog I added to the search menu, as it offers much better acronym and phrase matching than the forum's search function.

    If your members are posting images, they will really like the "lightbox" used for image attachments that XenForo employs. It is easy to use, and the presentation of images is really done nicely.

    As for migration, many of us doing this are using vBulletin as an intermediate step. (XF's developers are former lead developers if vB, so I trust that their vB to XF importer would work the best of any of them.) In my case, I found it was easier for me to import to vB and do some cleanup and rearranging there, before moving it over to XenForo (where the process went very smoothly). There are a lot of "gotchas" though. I just did an import from phpBB2 where I had to write a custom script to make poll results show up properly tabulated in XF. And many plugins or modifications don't make the conversion no matter which system you are coming from. In fact, that is one reason why we aren't converting the "big board" forum yet: we are waiting for a couple more add-ons as replacements to what we have already.
  8. Tomble

    Tomble Active Member

    The two both have their benefits I would have thought, the main benefit of a forum solution for some support is that apart from encouraging participation and return visits (which obviously helps you get messages out via the forum) it is often the case that a customer has an issue but may not feel it major enough for its own support ticket.
  9. Rudy

    Rudy Well-Known Member

    There is also the benefit of customers helping other customers, which takes some of the load off of the staff for the more commonly asked questions.

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