Please bear with me on this one, I know they are very different beasts but I have been experimenting with a new concept (to me) over the weekend and would like to invite comments.
I have a site I have been running for a while which I would like to turn from a blog where comments are invited to a community. As much as I like forums in certain circumstances they can be a little bland when compared to a blog. This made me wonder what the potential is to combine the two.
A site I use on a daily basis is hotukdeals.com. This site uses a highly customised vBulletin installation to present the information in a blog-esque format. It works well, people can vote items hot and cold, but they have to register to comment.
Looking into it in a bit more detail it seems there are positives and negatives to using a forum vs using WordPress.
As much as people love WordPress (I do!), it seems to me to be a platform designed to publish information and then get comments on it. If you want a community then everyone needs the ability to publish. This is possible with WordPress but it’s a bit messy and still involved the back end. With a forum people can hit new post and post within the site itself.
The disadvantage of the forum is users generally have to register in order to comment. You can turn this off but forums don’t cope with this quite as well as WordPress does. This may deter the passing comment and rely on people buying in to the site.
My theory is to run a forum on the site but use the RSS feed to link the information to the front page, run by WordPress, replacing the usual blog posts. This way I have WordPress running the page areas of the site but the front page content is dragged in via an RSS widget. I don’t yet know how well this will work or whether a forum portal would be a better solution, but I guess I will find out once I have it up and running.
Am I being crazy?
Are there benefits I am missing to using one over the other?
Does using both make sense?
This all came to me on a whim, so I apologise for the lack of in-depth research, I just thought at this point it may be a good idea to poll the readership.