Forums are the basic building blocks of the internet, which is used by millions of people every day. So, you need to have a bit of shrewdness to say the software behind some of them is broken or is not user-friendly. Many people believe that the way to improve the internet is by taking advantage of the benefits of custom web applications, especially custom forum software.
People like Jeff Atwood are open-minded enough to admit that forums were broken. But Jeff says they fixed them. He is a software developer and the founder of StackExchange. Jeff has a new project, known as the Discourse Construction Kit which went into public testing last month and its aim is to change people’s perceptions on online forums.
StackExchange’s Atwood and co-founder Joel Spolsky attempted to solve the problems faced by question-and-answer sites, something which had not been attempted by anyone before. They used the StackExchange software which has millions of users to tackle these problems. However, Atwood said he felt something was not right about how people talk to the internet.
Atwood indicated that forums have remained unchanged for a very long time to the extent forums are considered undesirable or unworkable, and that’s why many sites no longer want them because the software is poor.
This has been brought about by the arrival of open source software, faster internet connections, mobile devices and powerful computers which did not make any difference to the quality of forum software.
However, the Discourse Construction Kit treats things a bit differently. It has only two many sections; Popular and Categories. The Popular section is a list of the most popular threads, and Categories divides them into user-defined groups.
However, there are some questions Atwood and his team must answer despite the fact that early tests of the software indicate positive results. Attracting new users is one of the biggest challenges someone wishing to start a new forum must overcome.
Nevertheless, he says Discourse is built in an infrastructure that will attract any users easily, but it’s yet to be seen how it can work practically.
When Discourse was put out in front of other forum users for feedback by The Guardian, people said that it has potential to change how people interact with the internet regardless the fact that it lacks users at the time being.
If you built open source software by, “people will come so long as you built it,” it will never die. Discourse might be the opening to development of forum software, which could be the key step to improving the internet.