New jQuery Forum

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Today we’re officially announcing the brand new jQuery Forum. We’ve been using mailing lists, and subsequently Google Groups, over the past 4 years to manage the discussion and community around jQuery. That particular solution has simply not been able to scale to our discussion requirements both in terms of participation and in managing spam.

New jQuery Forum

When looking for a new area to have discussions, we looked at a wide variety of solutions with a few major requirements: It had to be capable of handling both regular discussions and the now-ubiquitous question & answers that occur. Additionally, we wanted something that lowered the barrier to asking a question — something that anyone would be able to use (thus it had to have a good web interface).

We also wanted a solution that would have a low maintenance threshold for the team. This would mean either using a hosted solution in which the team we were working with was very accommodating or using a solution that we host ourselves that was trivially easy to use and had a good community of developers.

We ended up analyzing countless solutions, but in the end we chose to go with Zoho Discussions (Zoho’s announcement about the move). A combination of decisions drove us to this decision:

  • Zoho Discussions seamlessly integrates both regular, forum-style, discussions and Q&A. Additionally, all the moderation and administration tools are designed around building and managing a slick workflow for answering questions and concerns.
  • The Discussions team at Zoho have been incredibly accommodating. They are not only providing all the hosting for free but going out of their way to fix concerns and integrate our full Google Groups back history. We’ve been working very closely with them, and they’ve fixed, or are fixing, every issue that we’ve brought forward.

The jQuery team has transitioned to using the new forum over the past week and have been very pleased with how it’s been working out thus far. Most of the old Google Groups and all of the old posts have been integrated into the new system. We will be doing a final import of the Google Groups posts once we finally close the groups in the next week or two.

We’ve opened up a number of individual forums for discussion.

As time goes by, we’ll certainly open more as needs arise — especially ones for non-English speaking users.

As it stands the two largest outstanding issues that are being actively worked on are:

  • There is no way to receive email updates of all posts. You can receive email updates for individual posts that you subscribe to, and you receive email updates for posts that you create, but it’s not possible to subscribe to all of them simultaneously. In the meantime we recommend that you subscribe to the forum RSS feed as a way to see all posts and replies.
  • Many of the pages on the site are being loaded in an “Ajax” manner which is being replaced with a more traditional (and appropriate) page load. The full transition should be complete very soon.

We’ve collected a number of smaller issues and are communicating actively with the Zoho Discussions team. If you find any more issues please feel free to post them to the About the jQuery Forum forum.

As mentioned before, we analyzed a number of discussion solutions — dozens, in fact. There are a few that we were quite pleased with and were in the final running.

  • Stack Overflow is pretty much the undisputed king of web-based Q&A. There is already an active community of jQuery users there, as well. We looked at both adopting the existing Stack Overflow community and setting up a Stack Exchange as possible solutions. However, both of those left a major gap: They were not suited to handling regular, non-Q&A, discussions. If we were to use either of those solutions, we would have to set up an additional forum or mailing list just to have plain discussions. In the end we decided to not move ahead with these solutions in favor of something that provided a more-unified community.
  • We also looked at many traditional forum solutions such as Vanilla Forums. Out of all the ones that we looked at, Vanilla Forums proved to be the best structured towards our needs. With an active and organized plugin community, we were able to find many solutions to our problems. However, in the end there was no good way to provide consistent Q&A using Vanilla, or a set of plugins, exclusively. We would end up having to use it in conjunction with Stack Overflow or another service. Also, we would have to host and develop the solution completely by ourselves, which requires time that we would rather spend in other ways.
  • We also looked at better mailing list solutions, like Librelist, but they don’t provide any sort of simple web interface (at least not in the way that forum solutions do), making it very difficult for new users to participate and get questions answered. We really have no interest in going back to the old discussion techniques of Google Groups and other mailing list providers.

We want to take this opportunity to thank the Zoho Discussions team for all their hard work in helping us transition over to their software. They’ve been incredibly helpful and we’re very excited to to be working with them.

Additionally we want to thank Chrys Bader, Mike Branski, and the rest of the community at the old forum for being supportive and willing to integrate into the new forum setup.

Thanks again to everyone for their help in this transition. We hope to work out most of the kinks very quickly and are looking to smooth sailing from here on out. Feel free to hop onto the forums and be sure to report any problems that you may have.

Originally published at 14 Days of jQuery (archived).

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