BLF was reborn on February 10th, 2023.
BLF will not be going back to the old forum software, but I thought I’d create a poll to see what BLF members currently think.
Do you prefer the old BLF forum software (Drupal) or the new BLF forum software (Discourse)?
I prefer the old BLF forum software (Drupal)
I prefer the new BLF forum software (Discourse)
I like them both equally
Feel free to post in this thread to explain your answer if you wish.
the new software has some nice features
the old software did too
the new software no longer works on my iPhone8, but still works on my iMac
both work with imgur images with [img] codes
the biggest difference is the new software makes links look Red instead of Blue… but the links work fine.
one thing the new software does better:
with the new software, we can see which post someone is replying to, even if there is no quote. This makes it easier to read the original post being replied to, if necessary.
I liked the old look more, but I still like the new look once Toykeeper’s dark theme is applied but not as much.
The infinite scroll is convenient but makes it harder to navigate very long threads due to a lack of precision.
The lack of dynamic components (and constant-online requirement to view threads, compared to just pre-loading all the pages) in the old version was more browser friendly, and especially nice on my phone where the new segments loading in make the page jump around.
It was also easier to look for archived versions of old posts, once embedded images have broken, discourse does funny stuff with URLs that makes it hard to check on the Wayback Machine.
Some of this could probably be fixed with a plugin, but I’m not sure if it exists.
Some new features are nice though, the new system for bookmarks is great to have.
I’m mostly happier with the new platform. There are definitely some things to miss about the old one, but overall it seems like the new one is a nice upgrade.
I had a lot of fun making themes.
I really like being able to build my own custom sidebar sections with the links I find most useful.
But in particular, I like being able to bookmark individual posts with a note attached, so I can remember to do them later. Previously, I ended up with hundreds of tabs open, or hundreds of unloaded tabs in Tabs Outliner, or a bunch of threads marked unread, to remind myself about stuff I needed to somehow follow up on… but now it’s built in in a way which works better.
That’s exactly the thing many people don’t want to. It’s just freakin’ forum. We use forums for 30+ years without need to learn how to navigate through them. If forum isn’t intuitive enough to use it without learning course then it’s definitely something wrong with it.
On the other hand Discourse look like suitable piece of forum software for modern instant-like way of life, where flat view threads get burried and forgotten with the new ones within the same day. Sadly old dinosaurs like BLF with so many useful old posts, old threads and all the informations, etc imho aren’t most suitable for this.
Flat view endless scrolling frontpage without static subforums is good for instant chit-chat like community but just isn’t old-knowledge-threads friendly. Once thread gets burried under the new threads it’s burried and forgotten forever. But that’s just my opinion.
I expect more votes for Discourse, because there’s less and less old members left. And that’s just sad.
Discourse doesn’t simply copy old website designs so there are new things to learn, yes. But just because something requires more effort to learn doesn’t mean it is not worth learning. It’s like using keystrokes on a desktop computer (CTRL+V ect). You learn them because they are efficient and it makes things easier in the long run, although technically mouse actions are more intuitive.
I think you’re possibly mistaking modern aesthetics with modern function here? As far as I can tell, threads behave the same way as they did before. Older threads appear below newer threads and commenting on an existing thread causes it to rise to the top. The old categories are still present on the sidebar so you can see the threads related to a particular topic.
What particular view are you looking for? Maybe you need a different view set as your home page. Maybe you would like it to default to this? : Categories - BudgetLightForum.com
Categories are still there, stickies are still there, new posts move back older posts from the list but that how it works on any forum including the Drupal older version, really it’s not that much different, the only major difference is the page system replaced with the timeline . You’re describing reddit and it’s not that at all.
In my opinion the new forum is far better :
not just usable on mobile (or any sized screen) but actually a pleasure to use, the older one was barely usable.
quoting mechanism allowing easy multi quoting, quote collapsing eliminating the sometimes ridiculously long nested quotes on the older forum. Quotes link to the original comment
better search engine, which helps discovring older posts
1st party image hosting, it was pretty common to see newcomers having difficulties adding images. Adding images now is a breeze.
I think the post editor is simpler to use, but some options are missing like resising 3rd party images , the instant preview is very practical.
dark/light modes and other themes (ToyKeeper’s)
better notification system.
Edit : I wrote this on mobile with my PC already turned ON 3 meters away, I didn’t even bother moving to it which would have been inconceivable for me with the older software.
It sounds like you’re not familiar with the new platform yet, and may have even been implicitly saying so. The forum even added a note about how it was your first post this year, i.e. first post on the new platform. So things might not make sense at first. … which is relatable; that’s where everyone starts out.
But based on what you said, it sounds like you may not have understood the old platform very well either. Some of the things you noted as new-forum problems are identical to how the old forum worked.
Learning isn’t a bad thing. It may be frustrating when a need for learning is inflicted instead of chosen… but after getting past that moment of frustration, the path forward can be quite enjoyable if you approach it as an opportunity to grow instead of a chore.
Hi there @YBF650 , thanks for your reasonable and balanced opinion.
I would actually argue that the new method is more precise, and becomes more useful the longer the thread gets. I describe this in detail and compare it with the old method here:
Hi there @Speadge , could you go into a bit more detail about these two points? I think we might not be understanding each other here. As ToyKeeper mentioned, there has been no functional change in those two aspects compared to the old forum software.
Possibly the biggest contributing factor to the rapid initial growth of BLF from the very beginning was the “Recent Posts” list of new threads and/or threads with current activity front and center on the homepage, which was strangely overlooked in most other forum engines. Now this current Discourse software was created by developers that also recognize the critical importance of showing what’s new/current on the homepage.
However, the Latest list is only one of the angles of viewing the forum, and shouldn’t be confused with its organizational structure. I totally agree with you that a Reddit-style flat-chronological forum structure is terrible for threads getting buried, and in that sense the current Discourse engine is even better than before. The only way to access the forum categories in the old forum was with a single obscure “Forum” link in the left sidebar. Every month I received multiple PMs asking “How do I post a new thread?” because they couldn’t find the forum categories and therefore couldn’t find the “New topic” button. Now the categories are much more prominent, including in the Latest topics list, which is something that I always wanted to display in the old Recent Posts list but couldn’t due to technical limitations.
It’s also worth noting that the search function we have now is head and shoulders above what we had before, which also contributes to finding and continuing valuable historical conversations. There’s also a very good mechanism on the homepage to help keep track of posts that are new for you and help you pick up where you left off on your last visit, as described here:
It wasn’t referring to precision in terms of post number, mostly as in trying to find a specific post where you don’t know the number. A small movement of the scrollbar on some threads might move the thread by weeks of posts. The timeline slider is better in some ways, but can be inconvenient.
A way to jump to a certain date would be pretty useful, if it can be added somehow.
The new search function is great, I’ve used it plenty of times. SO much better than using “site:budgetlightforum.com” on google.
The lack of a decent hierarchical browsing mode. Makes it feel more like a blog than a forum (ironic given the old software was Drupal ).
Pages loading asynchronously. A blight on the internet, and makes it almost impossible to search within a thread, both since I use type-to-search a lot, and because Discourse’s search is just not that great.
I definitely disagree here, in my experience Discourse’s search engine is the best local search engine I’ve used on any website. Also notice that the search icon has an “in this topic” option when you’re in the context of a thread/topic for searching within it, even if it’s thousands of posts long. But using the browser’s “Find in page” option or Ctrl+F twice will open the browser’s find-on-page controls, which do work within the loaded context of the thread. It seems like the currently loaded context is about the same as the former 30 posts per page in Drupal, so roughly a draw in that sense in my opinion.
More in terms of the navigation of the actual forum - I know there’s a sidebar with all the sections, but I always like interfaces where you can scroll down through the sections, seeing recent new/updated threads from each one together instead of just a long list of recently updated threads. Overall not a dealbreaker for using it and as an ex-forum-admin myself, I know there are good reasons discourse is so popular.