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Moving forward with Composr

ocPortal has been relaunched as Composr CMS, which is now in beta. ocPortal 9 will be superseded by Composr 10.

Head over to compo.sr for our new site, and to our migration roadmap. Existing ocPortal member accounts have been mirrored.


How our inbuilt forum competes with standalone forums

How our inbuilt forum competes with standalone forums Years ago we decided it was better to write our own forum ('OCF') on top of the ocPortal framework, than to go for deeper, but imperfect, integrations with third-party forums. Amazingly the bulk of OCF was written over just a few weeks and we were able to learn quite a few lessons from mistakes other forum software had, and made a number of innovations.

Here are some features we have in OCF that are mostly unique across forum software:
  • Blind polls (results hidden until voting ends)
  • IP address validation for admin groups, for added security
  • Personal topics, rather than primitive personal messages
  • Inline personal posts (personal messages embedded in public forum topics, so people can make private points to each other)
  • Forum introduction questions (a much more general concept than the silly 'password protected' forums, which duplicate what usergroup permissions are for)
  • True tree structure for forum, and cascading topics that can show as pinned just for a subtree (e.g. have a pinned topic under all the 'Games' forums, but not under the 'Politics' forums)
  • Sinking topics (the opposite of pinning)
  • Reported post forum (so moderators can discuss reported posts as part of their normal forum workflow, rather than them being stored elsewhere)
  • Clubs (so members can create their own usergroups and forums)
  • Javascript overlay for profile info next to posts, rather than having repetitive information placed everywhere
  • Integrated moderation function (no separate modcp needed)
  • Post history (so you can see if people edited old posts in a debate for example)
  • Welcome messages (so you can define a series of mailings to welcome new members)
  • Important posts (a moderator can highlight a post in a topic to make a clear point)
  • Post templates (so the forum can be used like a help desk)
  • Integrated rank/usergroup system (because having rank and usergroup separate just gets confusing)

Since the time of OCF's development, standalone forums have actually reduced a lot in popularity, for the same reasons that we decided tight integration was the way to go – a consistent user experience across a whole website is the way to go, instead of having community features mostly siloed off on some separate piece of software. That ended up being called 'Web 2.0' and then 'Social media', but it basically is what ocPortal's philosophy always has been: an interactive and integrated cross-website experience. However most "new forums", written from scratch to provide this tight integration, are cut down in functionality and lack a lot of really important features, whilst we've matched and raised the functionality at the same time as properly integrating it. This is one thing I'm quite proud of about ocPortal :). We don't throw away the old to create the new, we embrace established concepts and build industry innovations right into the core of it all.

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