27 Replies Latest reply on Jan 28, 2014 1:39 PM by dan_potter@datawatch.com

    vBulletin Message Boards?

      We are looking to revamp our message boards and wanted some feeback from other community managers about your expereince with vbulletin or other software packages.

       

      Thanks

      Chris Boglio

      Marketing Manager, Pets.com

        • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?

          Hi Chris,

           

          We've worked with many of the message board software packages available on the market today. Our experience goes back to when the only "enterprise level" options were iChat, WebCrossing, and eShare... I'm familiar with VBulletin due to its use on a couple of The Active Network web communities, but not entirely sure that it's a good fit for enterprise size communities.

           

          All platforms have their pluses and minuses. However, for an organization as large as Pets.com what is appealling about VBulletin? Looking at your community, the set up is a little confusing as the users have to click several times to get to the discussions (which are not really threaded for ease of reading). Is that what you want to change? Is it the cost or that you only want message boards and nothing else? I guess it comes down to why aren't you happy with what you are using today?

           

          The ability to easily administer the site should be a major consideration as well as whether the software can integrate into other areas of the site to drive activity (see Clearstep's 2.5 for the community everywhere feature).

           

          I guess it comes down to what are your requirements for the software, then put those against the feature set of the vendors within your budget. If you can provide some details on your requirements and metrics about your communities size and activity levels that would also help me to give you some better ideas.

           

          Mike

          • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?

            Thank you for your response.  The reason I mentioned vBulletin is because I am part of a many community sites that use the software and its every intuitive.  As you noticed, we are severely lacking in our message board capabilities.  We want a major overhaul to make the boards more intuitive, easy to navigate (users and moderators), controllable (sticky posts, full set of admin features; bells and whistles), measurability, and loyalty/reward system to mention a few requirements.  Clearstep is visually impressive, but I have yet to take a deeper dive into their software package.  For example, on vbulletin you have the ability to "quote" thread, which I was attempting to do, but there is no option to quote the previous thread or any thread.

             

            One other thing is how customizable is the software? We would want to keep the technical underpinnings but change the look and feel. Is that possible with Clearstep? I know it is with vbulletin.

             

            -Chris

            • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?
              adam.mertz

              Chris - sorry about the UI issue.  Just so you know there is a button in the tool bar to quote the previous thread as well as the ability to highlight a particular statement as a quote.  Both are circled in the pic below (click on the pic to increase the size).

              quoting previous thread.jpg

              Here's an example of what happens when clicking ont the quote icon.

              cboglio wrote:

               

              Thank you for your response.  The reason I mentioned vBulletin is because I am part of a many community sites that use the software and its every intuitive.  As you noticed, we are severely lacking in our message board capabilities.  We want a major overhaul to make the boards more intuitive, easy to navigate (users and moderators), controllable (sticky posts, full set of admin features; bells and whistles), measurability, and loyalty/reward system to mention a few requirements.  Clearstep is visually impressive, but I have yet to take a deeper dive into their software package.  For example, on vbulletin you have the ability to "quote" thread, which I was attempting to do, but there is no option to quote the previous thread or any thread.

               

              One other thing is how customizable is the software? We would want to keep the technical underpinnings but change the look and feel. Is that possible with Clearstep? I know it is with vbulletin.

               

              -Chris

              • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?
                ryanvdz
                One other thing is how customizable is the software? We would want to keep the technical underpinnings but change the look and feel. Is that possible with Clearstep? I know it is with vbulletin.

                 

                Hey Chris, regarding your second question, yes, Clearspace is very customizable and was written with UI customization in mind. You can make simple changes with built-in tools, or you can completely redesign the appearance of application to match the rest of your company / brand if you need. You can see examples in many of the communities powere by Clearspace:

                 

                Nike: http://www.nike.com/nikeos/p/nikesoccer/en_US/
                CNN: http://www.ireport.com/
                eBay: http://community.worldofgood.com/
                Bank of America: http://smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/
                Intel: http://communities.intel.com/
                Cisco: https://cisco.hosted.jivesoftware.com/
                Dick's Sporting Goods: http://www.sportspacecommunity.com

                 

                Hope this helps.

                 

                -r-

                • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?

                  Hi Chris,

                   

                  Thanks for the details. I think that you'll find most of the top platforms on the market today to be very intuitive for members to use, with good admin controls as well. The bells and whistles for community software are not all that different from vendor to vendor. Most will be able to provide a consistent branding experience for your community that strengthens or enhances the brand rather than detracting from it. However, you'll need to do the due diligence yourself (or have your staff look into this), but here is what I can tell you from our recent experience.

                   

                  As part of a strategy and management engagement, we reviewed the following vendors - Jive, Small World Labs, Lithium, Leverage software, and Telligent's Community Server. Each has its benefits and some drawbacks. In the end we recommended Jive due to the customization capabilities and for the overall fit of offering that would meet our client's community members' needs while integrating into the existing platform/CMS systems in use. The IT and web team at our client is currently playing with the customization on a test site and is very happy so far. (DISCLOSURE: We are not partners with Jive and received no compensation for our recommendation. We are not aligned with any software vendors, and only recommend what platform would work best for our clients. This time it happened to be Jive that met our client's needs.)

                   

                  My concern with VBulletin is that while intuitive and customizable, it may not be as scalable as you need for a potentially large community. At the same time, I would be concerned about how well it meshes with your business goals in terms of playing well with your other systems. Lastly, because everything we do is based upon metrics and analysis, how well does VBulletin's software play with your site's web analytics package? We know that Jive works well with Omniture and with Webtrends.

                   

                  Feel free to contact me if you want to know more. But I would definitely recommend that you play with the Jive platform for a while to understand its benefits as a comparison point with VBulletin or any other platform you may be considering. Just my two cents...

                   

                  Mike

                  • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?

                    Im not very computr literate, but have been looking for software that will allow me to start a car club so that it wil attract customers to me via my forum, blog site and wiki.

                    I was recommended Jive by a company that decided not to use them in the end.

                    I have looked at V Bulliten and know of forums using this with 30-40 thousand members so it can handle traffic fine.

                    My biggest hurdle is, as a small one man business looking to give a service through this sort of software. Vbulliten does not offer Wiki or Blog but is only £80 per year licence. While am I being quoted $34000 to buy Jives software. What makes it so good to be 230 times dearer.

                     

                    Does anyone know of a more reasonably price software that will give forum, blog and wiki?

                    • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?

                      How does the cost structure/licensing costs work for external communities?  We're also in the initial stages of researching this...I've used vBulletin forums.

                      • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?

                        According to comments made in the recent interview by Robert Scoble of Sam Lawrence, Clearspace seems to be aimed at the enterprise market as opposed to small - medium business and its price reflects that.

                         

                        We're currently evaluating Jives products for both internal and external usage and for us the price point sits in the range of other enterprise offereings so doesn't cause issue for us. Of course this doesn't help you being a one person business who wants to make use of Web 2.0 to connect better with your customers and so on. In answer to your question about being significantly better, in my opinion Cleasrspace is very good at what it does but then it comes with an enterprise entry price point.

                         

                        Something that might interest you though and looks like it has price points that scale from the small to large business is Telligent Community server, users include Microsoft for a lot of their external web 2.0 type sites. Depending on resources available to you something like Wordpress with a good skin can make a nice blog+brochure type site and with a skinned forum on the side it might be something for you to consider too.

                         

                        Hope this gives you some food for thought and I don't get hit by the ban hammer for linking to other products

                        • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?

                          Don't worry about a ban hammer - we really value these kinds of discussions at Jive.... keep 'em coming

                          • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?

                            Hi,

                             

                            We are in the same boat, we want to revamp -

                            our forum is a collection on vBulletin boards which is getting difficult to manage.

                            At the moment we have 15,000 registered and 5000 active members.

                            We would be interested in looking at CC as an alternative

                            Do you have example sites where you migrated data from vB to Clearspace Community?

                             

                            Has anyone here migrated successfully from VB to CC?

                             

                            thanks,

                            G

                              • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?
                                trishaliu

                                We succesfully migrated our user community from VB to Jive SBS last year. The number of threads and users we migrated were in the low thousands (~ 2000 - 3000). We moved over all discussion threads, attachments, user accounts and user profiles. The data migration went very smoothly.

                                 

                                The reason for the migration was our commitment to customers to give them a more robust, scalable platform in which to interact with each other, network, and share content. We have received very positive feedback from the users, and are looking forward to implementing new customer services on the SBS platform for content exchange and collaborative documentation. I don't think these services would be possible to offer on VB.

                                  • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?

                                    vBulletin does offer very similar services in their latest release. However the key items in your post are content exchange and collaborative documentation.

                                     

                                    When it comes down to discussion forums vBulletin wins hands down over Jive.  

                                    • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?

                                      Trisha,

                                       

                                      If I may ask, I am looking at the migration from VB to Jive myself..and to be honest, I haven't a clue how the migration is going to work out. Did you have any scripts or how was the process for you? Would love to talk more about this subject.

                                        • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?
                                          trishaliu

                                          Hello dvickers - happy to share my experience! I did have help from:

                                           

                                          - My company's IT team

                                          - Jive Professional Services (PS)

                                           

                                          Migration of the vBulletin data went very smoothly. At first, I believe we provided the vBulletin table schema to Jive PS to review. They helped walk us through a mapping exercise so that we could determine where in the schema data is coming from, and where in our Jive instance it would go do.

                                           

                                          For the actual migration, our IT team pulled an SQL dump of all the data. This was provided to Jive PS who performed the migration and loaded the data into our SBS. After the load, PS performed data checks (e.g. matching # of threads, accounts, attachments, etc. to the original numbers).

                                           

                                          I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have more questions.

                                           

                                          Trisha

                                    • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?
                                      wengla02

                                      Gary - for a car club, unless you have a funding model and a staff in place, VB, SMF will work better for you.  Realistically, unless you want to hire someone or learn a *ton* about technology I'd suggest using a pre-built solution - haven't looked at those in years, but Yahoo Groups and Delphi Forums used to be very popular.

                                      • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?
                                        wengla02

                                        VB does scale, but you'd better have a consultant or a LAMP wizard on staff to tweak the system as you scale.  Clearspace is designed to scale much more easily.

                                        • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?

                                          First off I am just a user and have no intentions of ever buying or useing jive software (ironically enough I am useing to make this post...)

                                           

                                          This is a message to anyone thinking of taking Jive over vBulletin for a discussion forum. I could make a huge list of the issues involving this but a much simpler approach would be to direct you to the Harmony Central website and take a look at the disaster that has occured over there in their attempt to convert to Jive from vBulletin (and the following apology from the CEO to the community).

                                           

                                          Also I will say this. While ease of administering a forum is something to consider, the most important factor is as always (with everything) customer satisfaction (as can be read in any QA text book).  Jive based forums are not intuitive, are slower, dont mesh with mobile platforms, waste a lot of screen realestate (esspecially when nesting quotes), and have a LOT of unnecessary features. Not to mention the way some users use the availible formatting tools in Jive create an inconsistent and difficult to read platform.

                                           

                                          As a user of many forums I can tell you that anytime I come accross a forum using Jive software I immediately search for a different means of discussing the topics I was originally looking to discuss. Turning away customers is bad buisness and given the hefty price tag of Jive software I would say it would be money better spent on individuals who know how to maintain/manage vBulliten software properly.

                                            • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?
                                              beaugordon

                                              We migrated from vBulletin to Jive about 2.5 years ago and are happy with the results.

                                               

                                              For the most part the leading social business tools have a lot of the same primary features.  When I look at the feature set between Jive and vBulletin, it looks to me like vBulletin is trailing overall, though there are probably points where vBulletin beats Jive.

                                               

                                              The tool is not going to make your community successful, it's the time and investment you make on top of the tool.  If you are an enterprise, you are going to need to spend money on someone who knows how to administer the tool, be it Jive or vBulletin or something else.  You are going to want to invest time to moderate and nurture the community and make sure you have a corporate culture that believes in the power of engaging with customers through social websites.  You are also going to want a company standing behind the product who can support it when something goes wrong and who is aggressively innovating new features to make their product better.  On the last point, Jive has been solid in support and impressive in the pace of innovation from my perspective.

                                               

                                              I really doubt there are many forum users who immediately flee from any site just because that site isn't using their favorite forum software.  In my experience users care much more about the content (and the findability of that content). than they do about the interface, so long as the interface is reasonably straightforward. 

                                               

                                              It seems like the Harmony Central community mentioned earlier has some angry users primarily because the migration from vBulletin wasn't handled well.  (threads not migrated, problems with logins, lost status levels, etc)  Those problems aren't because of Jive's product.  My 8000 users and I are happy

                                                • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?

                                                  Beau Gordon wrote:

                                                   

                                                  We migrated from vBulletin to Jive about 2.5 years ago and are happy with the results.

                                                   

                                                  For the most part the leading social business tools have a lot of the same primary features.  When I look at the feature set between Jive and vBulletin, it looks to me like vBulletin is trailing overall, though there are probably points where vBulletin beats Jive.

                                                   

                                                  The tool is not going to make your community successful, it's the time and investment you make on top of the tool.  If you are an enterprise, you are going to need to spend money on someone who knows how to administer the tool, be it Jive or vBulletin or something else.  You are going to want to invest time to moderate and nurture the community and make sure you have a corporate culture that believes in the power of engaging with customers through social websites.  You are also going to want a company standing behind the product who can support it when something goes wrong and who is aggressively innovating new features to make their product better.  On the last point, Jive has been solid in support and impressive in the pace of innovation from my perspective.

                                                   

                                                  I really doubt there are many forum users who immediately flee from any site just because that site isn't using their favorite forum software.  In my experience users care much more about the content (and the findability of that content). than they do about the interface, so long as the interface is reasonably straightforward. 

                                                   

                                                  It seems like the Harmony Central community mentioned earlier has some angry users primarily because the migration from vBulletin wasn't handled well.  (threads not migrated, problems with logins, lost status levels, etc)  Those problems aren't because of Jive's product.  My 8000 users and I are happy

                                                   

                                                  The biggest ongoing complaint with the Jive software over at Harmony Central is the un-intuitive nature of the JIve software. It is vastly different and unfamilar to the vast majority of internet users. That is a problem. When you want to deliver content to a community (customers) you want to do so in the easiest to use and navigate platform as possible. Features mean nothing. User do not want features they just want the content and they want it fast. The harmony-central forums consisted of many muscians who were discussing their hobby and professions with other like minded musicians. And BTW many of the users have left and will never return.

                                                   

                                                  Jive introduced a confusing search system for reviews, and a overly complex forum software that lacked basic forum functions that many have come to expect from a discussion forum. Took more clicks to get the same content and is not back button friendly. All very simple issues that even a month after deployment Jive has not fixed. Jive was hired to design, maintain, and host the site as harmony central does not have the resources to do it themselves. Jive failed. The Jive forums being taken offline permently is a prime example of this.

                                                   

                                                  Other complaints included wasted screen space, incompatibility with many browsers, slow site loading, non functional with mobile platforms, confusing thread layout, useless subscribe feature, inability to quickly identify updated threads (really? this is like the most basic of all forum features), too many formatting options allows abuse by posters to make threads inconsistent and hard to read, no multi quotes, have to reply to someoen, difficult to edit posts (doesn't show the code just the content), and the list goes on. And these are all issues that can be identified on any site using Jive software. This site itself included.

                                                   

                                                  What does Jive bring? A bunch of useless features that forum users do not care about. Why do I need a word processor like formatting in a forum? Why do I need to embed content in a a discussion post? Why do I have to reply to a particular person in order to contribute to a discussion? Why does a thread have to be identified as a specific type of something? So many features in Jive that no one needs or cares about. Just because they can doesn't mean they should. And I would rather they focus there time making what they have more usable and familar and intuitive instead of adding features.

                                                   

                                                  The worst part is immediately after launch they advertised on the site that Harmony Central was a sucessful customer of Jive. This couldn't be farther from the truth and is outright lieing to its potential customers. Personally I want to see Jive make a public announcment admitting their failure on the Harmony Central website, stating what they plan to do to rectify the situation, and remove them as a sucessful customer. This whole situation has been handled poorly by both parties and if I was in charge of the HC website I would be looking into legal action against Jive esspecially considering the

                                                  ridiculous cost they charge for this crap software.

                                                   

                                                  The money would have been better spent on hiring someone to properly set up a new release of the vBelletin software. Not on buying the poorly supported garbage that is Jive software. I am boycotting all forums that employ the use of Jive software.

                                                   

                                                  Edit:

                                                   

                                                  You will also note I didn't mention any of the technical difficulties that arrose from the poor deployment of the site. Everything above is on Jive's shoulders. yes HC should have done more beta testing (and properly) but no amount of testing or changing of the software will make it acceptable for forum users. Period. The entire software would have to be redesigned and I don't beleive Jive is willing to do that.

                                              • Re: vBulletin Message Boards?

                                                Stewart Wachs Curtis Gross, can you gents help Dan from Datawatch?

                                                 

                                                Thanks!