Feedback and community vs spam

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10/15/2006

I finally implemented a way to mass delete feedback, since spammers have been hitting my feedback form several times a day for awhile now.  To my surprise, I found a few legitimate comments as well, so you might hear from me if you left a comment in the last several months.  Of course, it is rather pointless to try to spam the feedback form, since I am the only one who reads it.  However, it did get me thinking about trying to foster participation and discussion here.

There are clearly a people with display and conversion issues, and there does not seem to be any other central place where they can go for help.  Looking at the questions people have asked so far, I am not able to answer them myself, but maybe someone is out there who can and will participate.

The main options I'm considering are:

  • Google Groups - I like the Google design aesthetic.
  • Yahoo Groups - Way too many annoying ads
  • Usenet - not enough control for my taste.
  • Self-hosted - lots of control, but do I really want the headache of running a spam target?

Some of the considerations:

  • cost - I'm not really going to pay any signifigant amount for a commercial product or service.  If there are ads, I want to get the ad revenue.
  • open - I want to be able to get everything out in a usable format.  Wouldn't it be nice if there was a common data model?
  • long-term viability - I don't want to have to switch at some point down the road.  It should be something that is actively maintained and improved.
  • indexed - I want it to be search-engine friendly, and be able to include the search results with the main FileFormat.Info search results.
  • anti-spam - Given the spam I get on something that is not indexed, I can only imagine what it is like on a public forum.  I need built-in anti-spam tools and probably moderation as well.
  • inclusive - Everyone should be able to participate.  Ideally it would support OpenID and other common login systems and not have to have a local sign-up process.  It doesn't need to support anonymous or private posting.
  • usability and looks - I want it to be easy to use and look great.  I should be able to skin it so it is nicely integrated in with the rest of FileFormat.Info.
  • source language - though I primarily use Java and know some PHP, if I host it myself, I would prefer something in Ruby.  But I don't intend to muck with the code, so it doesn't really matter that much.  It should have a decent data model and be able to use the latest version of MySQL. And it needs to run on Linux (Debian).

Nice forum software that I've seen include:

This could be a pretty long list (see this one). The Wikipedia article on Internet Forums doesn't really have enough information to help. The note at the top of the Rails Forum (which uses PunBB) is pretty funny.

Tags: ffi forum

File Formats: (none)