New Discussion Forums

This website is a hobby, and one of the main motivations behind it is that I enjoy making tweaks and trying new features. In fact, I love trying new themes and widgets so much, I’ve even made dummy sites that have already been mothballed. On Amdall Gallery, I recently got to a point where there wasn’t much more I could change without a major upgrade. I finally decided to make the leap, and jumped into the world of WordPress plugins.

It actually made me sort of nervous; when you add a plugin to a WordPress site, the entire thing switches to a more advanced editing and settings interface. You get some new options, but it also breaks some previous functionality. All of my rss feeds disconnected, as did most of the shortcode I was using (the “random post” ones were big for me). Fortunately, you can download plugins to fix those issues. It also reset my front page, so I had to rebuild that. Unfortunately, there is one lost button that I haven’t figured out how to replace; the “subscribe via WordPress” widget is gone. I think people can still subscribe through the WordPress Reader (or just via email/social media), but I really liked that button in my sidebar.

So, the first major project I decided to tackle after fixing the broken stuff was adding a discussion forum! I tried several different plugins, such as bbPress, Simple Press, and Buddypress, but ultimately went with Asgaros. There are so many excellent choices, it was actually really difficult to decide. I picked the Asgaros plugin mostly because it looks clean, I like the options/settings, and it’s apparently very lightweight (according to the internet). I had a ton of fun exploring this stuff.

The forums are now live, so feel free to check them out if you’re interested (hit that link, or just mouse up to the top navigation bar, between Gallery and Alerts). Here’s a little tour of the main sections:

Forums Main

The opening page. It’s got a General Discussion forum for talking about any random topic, a Posts from the Gallery forum for discussing content from the main site, and an Announcements section for general information related to Amdall Gallery. There’s a last section under Restricted that’s only visible to me right now; I’m not really sure what that’s for yet (for family members maybe?)

 

Forums General Discussion

The next level menu. This shows what it looks like when you click General Discussion; all current threads appear, sorted by most recent comment. It should work like pretty much any other forum; unused stuff will fall down and out to other pages over time.

 

Forums Profile

Profile page. You can create a profile to use the forum either just using an email, or with an existing WordPress account. You don’t have to use a real name, but it does have to be a working email address. You also don’t have to use a profile picture. Only logged in users can view profiles, view members, or use subscriptions. But, anyone can view the forum posts.

 

Subscriptions

Thread and Forum subscriptions. You can subscribe to either topics or entire forums. You don’t have to have it email you notifications either (it’s a setting); you can just use the Subscriptions tab as a bookmarking feature.

 

I’d say this forum actually turned out pretty well. Of course, I have to credit the team at Asgaros for actually building the functionality. I just had to set it up and get it running.

Also, here’s a .gif that goes through the registration process step by step. It’s pretty poor quality, but maybe it will help some folks:

Forum Login Revised.gif

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2 comments

  • setting it up and getting it running is no small feat… thanks. I am going to try to participate (when I am not just trying to get my own sites up and running).

    • Sounds good! I’d love to see you pop in if you have something to share.

      Although my expectations are low for the forums, the best case scenario I imagine is that some of the amazing artists and site-builders I’ve come across through the WordPress ecosystem feel comfortable enough to occasionally post there. It would be really cool to see people bouncing website ideas off each other, art techniques/preferences/tools, etc.

      I love the art on your site by the way. I’d actually seen your paintings in the Reader before, and thought I was already following you. That mistake has been corrected!

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