Possibilities With Open-Source Community Software

Most companies using open-source community software end up with a community site which doesn’t look great.

Either they display a long list of discussions like BoingBoing or do some development work like Marvel.

Both are ok, but they miss out on the opportunity to spend a little more money developing something that looks as good as most enterprise platforms out there today.

Most enterprise communities (e.g. Dropbox and Square below) focus on ensuring the community is clean, easy to participate, and easy to navigate.

They do this by having a landing page. You don’t drop people into a mass of discussions, you drop them into a page that makes it easy to find what they want and help them get started.

It’s pretty easy to build a front-page for an open-source platform. We’ve been exploring it for the redesign of our community (below)

(we’ve also added a button to hide it for regular members)

If you’re going to use an enterprise community platform, it shouldn’t be for how it looks (that’s down to the implementation partner), it should be for integrations, security, and reliability.

If those aren’t as critical to you, then use an open-source platform (Vanilla/Discourse etc) but please spend just a little extra to develop a proper landing page for the community.

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  1. chiprodgers says:

    I’m curious about people’s experiences with open source platforms.

    • What are some good platforms you’ve worked with?
    • Has anyone used Drupal / Acquia?
    • Other solutions you like or dislike?


  2. Sarah Hawk says:

    I’ve (obviously!) worked extensively with Discourse, which I unashamedly love.

    We previously ran this community on Drupal and TBH I’m not a fan. It can be amazing, but it’s not out of the box and it can be VERY costly to develop.

  3. chiprodgers says:

    Thanks Hawk!

    I was wondering what platform you guys are using. Discourse seems great. I checked out their GitHub page and it’s really active with new commits regularly - that’s cool.

    Anyone have comments on other platforms? Some that I’m aware of are:

    • Vanilla Forums
    • MyBB
    • vBulletin
    • OpenSocial
    • HumHub
    • OxWall

    And probably there are a ton more… Thoughts?

  4. Sarah Hawk says:

    NodeBB is one. Quite similar to Discourse but without the market share.

    Vanilla is pretty good in my limited experience with it.

  5. Richard Millington says:

    Yes, we probably sank $15k or so into that Drupal platform over its lifetime. Much of that was our mistake mind, there are some great examples of Drupal platforms. But, really, today I’d just go with what’s available to people.

  6. luca meli says:

    What he says it is true: free social network platform are cheap but not too effective!

    I have tested https://www.opensource-socialnetwork.org/

    jcow and now I had to give a try to HUmHub.

    This last one is not too bad but there are some serious troubles to personalize the theme. If you do not know to code, it is very difficult to adapt the platform to your project.

    It is impossible to ask an effective support because they are all volunteers, you need to thank what they do is already a miracle.

    I will need to carry on with open source social network platforms because the budget is very small!

    If you can pay better to find a professional platform

  7. luca meli says:

    Humhub now

  8. Evelien Schut says:

    Open Social is build on Drupal 8 and a the distribution is also free available :wink:

    We have a modal where we sell it as SAAS, but give 95% of what we make, back to the Drupal community via our distribution.
    We believe open source will make our product better and better, without just us doing all the work.
    Also, Customers can start as an Enterprise, but if for some reason they feel there is a mismatch between us and them… they can take the project and find a different Drupal agency. But still get the new updates we deliver on a monthly base.

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