Conversion: Discourse (back) to vBulletin

We converted our vBulletin community to Discourse a few years ago thinking that maybe something new and fresh would be more usable and attractive to a community. I personally never liked the interface but I thought maybe I was just disconnected and that the community would appreciate it. Well, we were wrong.

After a few years, our community discussion has basically plummeted. Not only is it more difficult for our customers to find applicable discussions, but they just don’t like the lack of structure and UI / UX.

So, the question is simple… has anyone had experience migrating from Discourse to vBulletin (or similar)?

It’s basically so bad that we would probably just scrap our 14 yrs of community data to get back to a forum that works, but we’re really rather not do that.

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I believe that question should be asked in a vBulletin forum.


Hm. Valid point. We’re mostly looking for knowledge on the process and I (perhaps wrongly) assumed that knowledge could come from both camps.

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I suspect the long term problem might be the content — or lack thereof — and not necessarily the container. It is true that infinitely “good” (or bad) software does not matter if the content and audience isn’t there. No software can magically synthesize interesting content, or make an audience suddenly appear on demand.


Well, true. :slight_smile: But that’s more a judgment of the community and management of the community. In this case, we have a long history of that community and it dried up when we migrated to Discourse.

Don’t read this (as I suspect you may have) as a judgment against Discourse. It’s simply an indication to us that Discourse was a poor fit to the audience. There are different ways companies engage with their communities – we simply chose a venue that wasn’t appropriate to ours and the analytics prove that out.

As I implied before, this was our failing – not Discourse. Don’t take offense.

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I’d also suggest that it doesn’t have to be directly related to the forum software, it could also be in large part due to the rise of social media. I am a member of several old forum giants that have slowly withered away as people instead gathered around the big mobile platforms like facebook and twitter (and most recently discord).


It doesn’t seem like @codinghorror is taking offense as much as pointing out a very real reality (that’s a thing). I wouldn’t be surprised if you notice that nothing changes when you go back to vB. Also, if you never liked the interface, what themes did you try?

It would also be interesting to actually analyse the data and see what dropped off - gain some insights instead of just going back.

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I have seen in some communities based on very small numbers of active users (say 10-20) if a significant percent of those users just hate change, and subsequently leave based on change, then changing isn’t a good idea.

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can you elaborate?

Discourse gives you (nested) Categories and you can have the Categories view as default. There is a tagging system.

What additional structure do you need that you can’t already implement using these facilities?

Did you take full advantage of the theming facility to optimise the look of your forum? Have you seen some of the amazing make-overs?

This is my personal favourite, what an awesome job
(Although the mobile view needs a tweak?). Please point me to a vBulletin site you believe looks this good on desktop