[Sugar-devel] Regarding Social Help project

Prasoon Shukla prasoon92.iitr at gmail.com
Mon Mar 10 12:30:08 EDT 2014

*Note : I sent this message once before but it was moderated because it was
too large. So, I'm replacing the inline images with links to the
images/links to pages. I hope that this will be enough of a reduction in


I talked to Walter on the IRC a few days ago regarding the social help
project. We decided that I should explore FOSS forum software that is
actively maintained for the social help project. So, I tried looking at
some popular alternatives. The ones I found worth exploring are *phpBB*,
*Discourse* and *bbPress. *I selected these specific forums because of
their ease of use, functionality and the ease of getting a forum up and

To summarize things, Discourse *appears* to be clearly ahead of the other
two in all things except in terms of the ease-of-installation. However, it
has became much easier to install discourse now than it was a few months
ago. In fact, they now provide a docker image that can be used to install
discourse with relative ease. That said, bbPress wins in terms of ease of
installation with a WordPress like setup process. phpBB is easy just as
easy. Nevertheless, I think that this is a minor disadvantage in the bigger
scheme of things.

Now, once installed, phpBB and bbPress are quite similar in functionality -
so I'll just compare Discourse with phpBB instead of comparing with both.

   -  phpBB is *very badly cluttered. *This, I think, is especially bad
   when we're talking of getting children to use this software.  A single line
   posted by a user is presented together with a whole bunch of useless
   information :

See http://picpaste.com/pics/forums1.1394467977.png
That's one single line of information with quite a lot of clutter.
The topics page is even more cluttered. See this popular phpBB forum:

Now I know that with years of use, most of have gotten used to tuning out
the uninformative parts but that won't be the case with children. Discourse
does much better at this. See a sample discussion here:
That in itself is good enough reason to use Discourse. But, I'll point out
few more.

   - The one time registration is much *much* simpler in Discourse. Just
   take a look at this:
   - *phpBB*  :
      - *Discourse*: http://picpaste.com/pics/forums4.1394468652.png

Of course, we'll need to modify core Discourse according to our needs as
well. But in any case, the registration will be much easier with Discourse.

   - Making an actual post is much more difficult in phpBB. Again, this is
   because of too much unnecessary information - dealing with tags, bunch of
   miscellaneous options at the end and posting permissions. This causes much
   grief when your long written post just refuses to go through. Discourse is
   simpler. See this: http://picpaste.com/pics/forums5.1394468781.png

Aside from these three very fundamental things, there are few other good

   1. No arbitrary page breaks, which I think is quite nice. Often I'll be
   immersed in reading a thread and the page just abruptly ends, which I quite
   2.  A great reply system - where you don't have to strain yourself to
   read that 6 level deep nested comment. More reading by Jeff Atwood here:
   3. Active development ongoing so we're likely to see some great upgrades
   in the coming out in the near future.

So, I'll vote for discourse.

Anyway, if we're willing to discuss proprietary options, then Moot (
https://moot.it/) seems *really *nice. But then again, it's not open.
However, Moot does provide both free and non-free options with a very easy
setup. So ...
You can explore Moot here: https://moot.it/prasoon2211/ (it's my personal

Anyway, that's my take on the social help feature. Comments are welcome.

Prasoon Shukla

PS: While proofreading this, I realized that this post reads like an
advertisement for Discourse.
Oh well.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/sugar-devel/attachments/20140310/4b7b1843/attachment.html>

More information about the Sugar-devel mailing list