Are BBS and Forum two different things?

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #1

Continuing the discussion from What is wrong with PHPBB?.

I wouldn’t touch most “definition debates” with a ten foot pole, but since this one pertains to “what is Discourse, really?” I figured it might be worthwhile and a little bit of fun.



My stance is pretty simple. Language is defined by its use and not its history. Today, we use the terms “forum (software)” and “bulletin board (system)” interchangeably, and most people would not be able to tell you the difference between the two.

Wikipedia describes forum software as an evolution of bulletin board systems (and phpBB is its first example!). – So you could say that a forum is a forum and a bulletin board same as a human is a human and a primate.

If you go googling for either forum or bbs software, you’ll find exactly the same thing. There are no widespread “forum vs bbs” debates or separate lists of the two. And more often than not, “forum” is the key term while “bbs” is a byline.

There could be any amount of experts with well thought out definitions of the two (according to them) different terms, and it doesn’t matter one bit as long as Wikipedia, Google and the vast majority of The Internet population disagrees with them.

Discourse is a forum. Discourse is a bulletin board system.

(For the record I don’t say “GNU/Linux” either. Now you know what side I’m on)

(mario) #2

Linguistically that’s spot on. The presentational attributes have little impact on the factual purpose. Every web tool that enables discussions does pracically qualify as forum and ought to be labeled as such.

Technically the tree-style ones are a superset of the flattish implementations (no meta data to reconstruct a thread). Which however doesn’t quantify their respective or general usefulness in any way. Detached discussions are often way more appropriate for timelining and back-and-forth canvassing. They’re often more casual/vacalierly just by appearance (not necessarily moderation/reglementation-wise).

Users can nonetheless tell the difference between these two major stylistic variants. Nowadays the prevalence of the flattish discussions sites however leads to the tree-style forums being perceived as just “comment systems” even. At least that’s an assessment I’ve heard from flatty-users about e.g. reddit or slashdot.

Discourse is a discussion system. It did away with confusion cruft in its UI, and more importantly: bulletin board codez.

(Lee_Ars) #3

Yeah—there’s a semantic distinction between “bulletin board” and “forum,” but there is no practical distinction with how the words are used. Harping on usage here is even more pedantic than insisting on “GNU/Linux.”