@erlend_sh - So, wouldn’t migrating the database break all those inbound links? That’s bad, right?
Some operators are archiving the old threads (read-only), and starting fresh with new software - often the first and final post on an archived topic a link to the new version(s) of that topic - providing for referencing legacy content, formatting and link management without mangling the content itself (or trying to force the new platform to meet outdated requirements - as @Lee_Ars USENET migration post addresses.)
Note that we also had this discussion when Blogs began to emerge as a replacement for many forums - and the general thought then was: Abandon it all - thought that thinking was probably the result of concluding that forums were the wrong format altogether for the discussions at hand.
So, perhaps this question should fork?
At what point is the costs of migration (technical, format-loss, legacy-link loss, etc.) exceed the benefits when migrating to a significantly/functionally different platform?
I’m fascinated that many of the reasons I hear FOR migration can instead be argued to be the reason to NOT migrate the data, but to instead leave it intact and then integrated with the new platform (whatever that is.)
I’m watching the proboards version migration in progress now, and it is a huge mess - outbound image links and internally stored files are breaking everywhere - search is non-responsive and pages are timing out everywhere. They don’t have a choice but to migrate - but it seems that non-standard options, customization, and plugins may be the destroyer of their worlds. Without a doubt there are people considering leaving, except they feel “locked in” by their data. “Lock-in” is something the platform providers think of as a “business advantage.”
Portability should be a serious industry discussion - but forum platform business models have been haphazard at best, and scrambling for customers has caused migration planning to be shunted off to the pile of features that is “nice-to-have” instead of core the long-term-health of the platform developers. Forum platform sales says “Yes! We will customize your forum”, and engineering delivers yet another non-portable/upgradable solution - furthering lock-in, but hamstringing innovation.
Platforms should compete on presentations, features, and service - a good platform should have import/export from the start. Perhaps an industry standard is in order? Forums are woefully missing from http://microformats.org/ (Is this another fork?)
I’m truly glad to hear that Ars is happy, apparently indefinitely, with their current audience and solution - some people still prefer command-line OS interfaces as well (no insult here, as I have CYGWYN on my desktop). But, I worked at Yahoo! for 5 years on social products (including forum and group redesigns) and can tell you from research and direct experience : Forum software (circa 2008) is seen as archaic and unusable by the vast majority of the English speaking world. Since 2000, the internet has grown more than 10x in users - have forums? From the numbers I’ve seen, the answer is not even close.
I HOPE that it isn’t the case that other people who jumped in early and built forum-based communities feel they must reluctantly stick with their aging platform waiting on a migration path that will never come (or perhaps never should.)