Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A New Virtual Community:

There's nothing particularly unique about the virtual community I helped launch recently. The community is for the small but quickly growing group of snowboarding enthusiasts in the Dallas area. Thus, the site is appropriately called Dallas Snowboarders.

Here's our banner:

As I said, there's not much unique about it. We used PHPBB as our forum software with a few extra mods for a photo album, calendar, and ability to post video. We stacked Wordpress up front for a very basic content management system. We didn't take the time to integrate the authentication databases so we turned comments off. We'd rather keep user interaction inside the forums right now anyway.

An important topic came up while working on the site... Wordpress and PHPBB are almost exactly the same concepts in software with a slightly different delivery. What PHPBB would consider to be a thread, Wordpress would call a blog entry. Someone posts a topic, other people reply. The differences are slight, but have a heavy impact. On the blog, posts are always ordered by the date of the original post, not replies. On a forum, threads are bumped to the top when new replies appear. Blogs are usually setup with only one or just a few people making new posts. Forums usually allow anyone to start a new thread.

Given that the data management for both pieces of software are so close to the same... We talked a long time about building one piece of software that did both. It would be very easy to use PHPBB as backend software for a blog. Create a forum where only select users can start new threads, write some new scripts to display the content in a blog style format, and you've got a blog. Once you get this setup, you can create unique forums for every user that wants a personal blog.

I'm curious if this is a good way to create two conceptual interfaces for the same data.

Anyway, I digress. is one of the first communities I've been involved in launching in a while. The last time I checked, we were up to 14 users. We announced the site 4 days ago. I hope it catches on, I'm eager to meet local boarders.

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