http://www.forum.breedia.com (main site is Rails)
My shortlisted forum platforms were Discourse and Xenforo, but we decided to go with XF for two main reasons:
- Our users preferred XF over DC (many of which were coming from another one of my sites that uses vB)
- Features; such as being able to watch forums, topic categories (prefixes), friends activity, fully responsive design, paid subs, extensive usergroup controls and promotions etc
I set up a test install of both forums, in pretty much their default skins and asked a number of members to try them. I think because XF is in many ways a natural progression of vB, they unanimously preferred it. This is worth bearing in mind for the DC team because vB is probably the most popular forum platform out there and has been around a long time, meaning people have grown to like it having become accustomed to it over the years.
There were other reasons as well, but I think the above two raise some great questions; why did our users prefer XF? (Did they find DC confusing? Was the design/UX not to their taste? etc) And what features does DC need to make it a compelling choice against the other forum platforms? (Perhaps a question that needs to be asked of forum admins.)
I know the DC team have their vision (and that’s great!) but I really do think you need to start speaking to end users a little more. Not every forum will be have a main site that draws people to it over other forums (in which case it won’t matter too much which platform they use) - but there will be lots and lots of dog forums, car forums, and other sites that are forums first and foremost that the end user will find via Google, and they’ll proceed taking a look at a handful of them and making a decision about which to join after what they see and what feels most comfortable to them. With regards to content or the community being the greatest draw - generally (and although many forum admins may say otherwise) they are usually, more or less on a par, with the community being equally knowledgable, welcoming or attractive to the end user.
I am a fan of DC (I especially like the idea of the badge/permissions system) and hope to use it one day, but for this project I just had to go with XF. I hope this feedback is useful to the team.