Notes on setting up a web based forum @ FreeBSD.org
Some random thoughts:
We need to come up with a forum structure. We obviously need to find a good balance between too few and too many subforums. Too many forums will lead to a lot of extra work, for example when users post threads in the wrong forum. Too few forums is also a problem. We also need to make clear descriptions for each forum. It should be obvious were to post your questions, no matter what they are. See WebForumNotes/Layout.
- We need to have a group of well thought-out rules. Web forums always attract shitheads and other people from the dark corners of the Internet and it's always nice to have something that your users must obey to respect before they create their accounts. Besides, rules and policies will increase the overall seriousness of the forum. This is extremely important. We cannot accept discussions about illegal stuff (like illegal file sharing), racism etc etc.
- We need moderators (and I guess we need plenty of them). We probably won't see much activity in the beginning, it takes time for people to find the forum and it takes time for people to accept it and make it a daily place to visit. However, when the amount of registered users starts to grow we need moderators. At first we probably should look at recruiting committers or high profile users as moderators, but as time passes we might look at actually try to bring in high profile posters on the forum into the moderator community.
- We need administrators above the moderators. This is people with direct access to vbulletin internals. They are also responsible for forming rules and appointing new moderators. Generally, I think there should be only a limited set of administrators.
- Changes to vBulletin internals must be discussed among the administrators first.
- We need to develop a moderator policy. Should all moderators be allowed to delete/move threads/posts in all subforums, or should we appoint moderators on a per-subforum basis. I prefer number one, where all moderators have full rights. However, I don't have a strong opinion on this one.
- No anonymous posting. You need an account in order to post messages and start new threads. (This cuts down on abuse, spam, trolling, etc..)
- We need to have a test phase were we make absolutely sure everything works as expected. This is probably something that should be done within closed doors.
- I don't think we should have subforums for other BSD's, like Net or Open. Otoh, maybe we should have subforums for PC-BSD (and similar "distributions") but they have their own forums at their homepages so I don't quite see the point there either. It doesn't make sense to have forums for other operating systems either, like Linux.
- I guess the forum should have some sort of FreeBSD "theme", with our colors (red etc).
- I guess we should have some kind of open forum, where people can discuss whatever they want as long as they don't conflict with the rules. This can help us form a stronger community, but on the other hand it can cause a lot of headache for the moderators since such a subforum will need to be constantly supervised.
- We should probably also have a "hidden" forum, which only moderators and administrators can see (and post messages to).
- I would also vote for a forum available only for developers.
- We should probably reserve usernames for all committers. For example, it might not be a such a good thing if people can create accounts like "phk" or "des". They should obviously be reserved for the real phk and des. Commiters should be obliged to use their FreeBSD.org username on forum, and each commiter should belong to commiters(?) group.
- Should we have language-specific forums?
Note: some language-specific forums already exist - e.g. FUG-FR