Forum vs WordPress

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.

So…

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.

7 replies
  1. Rarst
    Rarst says:

    I don’t really see why exactly you want to use WordPress in this setup (because it’s cool?).

    Creating syndicated front page and few static pages front-end for the forum can be perfectly done without WP at all I think.

    I am not sure I completely understand you reasoning but it looks like one of “if you have WordPress every problem looks like a blog” type. 🙂

    Reply
  2. Jim
    Jim says:

    @Rarst: I think you may be right… Since I have used WordPress I seem to have got a little addicted to it. Maybe I need to step away from WordPress for a while. I want to build a community but the forums that plug into WordPress all seem lacking, not least from the security angle. Using a forum as the foundations just seems a little more “solid” from a community angle. I guess I will just have to bite the proverbial bullet and see how it goes… will be an interesting experiment I’m sure.

    Thanks for the comment.

    Reply
  3. Lyndi
    Lyndi says:

    What you have said here makes sense, I think. 😉

    The only advice I have for you here is that WordPress might not be the way to go if you want multi-users publishing directly to the site. I maintain a WordPress photographic community type blog. Here we allow very simple registration and the ability to add posts. The thing has become a security nightmare. In the month this site has been live I have already had to restore the database twice. Rarst might be correct, WordPress might not be your solution here (did I say that?).

    Reply
  4. Jim
    Jim says:

    @Lyndi: Thanks for the feedback, I feel like I am maybe over-thinking it to be honest. I have decided that whatever I decide for the front page the framework will be a forum. So, I am going to get that going first and see how I can snazzy it up on the front page, as the typical forum layout is not what I am looking for.

    I’ll give you both a shout once I get it up and running and see what you think. 😀

    Reply
  5. Tony
    Tony says:

    The makers of WordPress also have their own forum package called BBPress. Look for it on the Automattic website. They are doing a whole pile of integration work, including the security. This may or may not solve your issue.

    Reply
  6. Jim
    Jim says:

    @Tony: I have actually solved this issue and have it running on a few sites now. I will write a post about my experiences soon. I looked at BBPress in the beginning but in the end I was not convinced by mixing the two technologies and ended up customising phpBB instead.

    Reply

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