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Why do you prefer Vanilla 2 to vBulletin?

edited July 2010 in Vanilla 2.0 - 2.8
I am leaning towards moving a very large site to Vanilla 2 from vB, and was wondering why users here choose it over vBulletin? I have found a few threads, but not many comparing Vanilla 2 specifically.

I have a few concerns about moving. Ads, attachments, totally new layout to confuse users (I like it though), many categories, etc. I would also love an iPhone theme. I have been looking at invisionboard too which is clean like vanilla, but more traditional like forums my users would be use to. Any comments?


  • oliverraduneroliverraduner Contributing to Vanilla since 2010 Switzerland ✭✭
    Are you serious, asking this question? ;-)

    Personally, I am absolutely NO fan of vBulleting similiar systems. They are way overloaded with features, have not a nice UI and are very complex to extend (whether themes or plugins) and you need to deal with the license stuff.

    With Vanilla, I was happy to find a simplye, straight-forward and easy to use forum application.
  • vB/IPB and Vanilla 2 are like apples and oranges. :)

    vB/IPB are suitable for Facebook-like communities, with a lot of interaction between members, and if you need out of the box features like attachments, image galleries, blogs etc. Vanilla is great for pure discussion forums where you want to start topics and receive answers quickly, with no need for social features.

    Last year I opened two websites powered by IPB. I wanted to use Vanilla2 for both but it wasn't even in beta back then. I'm going to try converting one of them to Vanilla 2. For the other one Vanilla is not suitable (yet?).
  • oliverraduneroliverraduner Contributing to Vanilla since 2010 Switzerland ✭✭
    edited July 2010
    Not fully agree with you, @Tudor. For me, Vanilla2 with it's capabilities (applications, plugin) is nearly a candidate to replace a complete community website. And when it comes to comparison with Facebook, in my opinion Vanilla2 clearly wins (look & feel, activities, commenting of nearly "everything",...).

    Anyway, the comparison with apples and oranges quite nails it. I guess you should just use the one that seems more suitable for your needs and attracts you more :)
  • I really like the feel of Vanilla forums. I think that my users would be pretty ticked off if one day they went from vb -> vanilla. It is so radically different, I am worried people would be lost. I may have to go from vb -> invision. I am kind of sick of vb if you can't tell.

    I think I have a few communities I may start with vanilla, but am still on the edge of plunging a larger forum into it at this point....
  • ToddTodd Chief Product Officer Vanilla Staff
    @sammyman, What are some of the features that vBulletin has that Vanilla is lacking in your opinion? Would love the feedback.
  • edited July 2010
    @Todd - For my forum, the main thing would be photo uploads. I do think vb is getting out of control and is too big and clunky which is why I am looking at other alternatives.

    I still haven't figured out how to implement a good ad system (even google ads) in Vanilla. This is huge for me because it pays my bills. For instance, I would love to have the 2nd post be an ad in every discussion.

    Another thing is that on my forum we have a lot of categories. I think Vanilla does a great job with promoting discussion, however, I am worried that having 20+ categories would be problematic to navigate.

    What about a simple CMS so you could create a basic articles section. Almost every large forums has some kind of articles section, but no forums implement this well.

    The biggest problem is that I feel comfortable with new technologies, but people on my site are very old fashion and stubborn. Change is always frowned upon. A big change to a totally different type of forum would cause a massive uproar.

    Lastly, I already tried importing my vb data to a clean Vanilla install and I got errors. I think it was ' marks in usernames. I need to get this figured out.

    I haven't tested out the moderation features, but this of course is crucial in a larger community.

    All in all, I am sold on Vanilla. Keep up the good work.

  • LincLinc Detroit Admin
    edited July 2010
    I could write a 5-part essay on why Vanilla is superior to vBulletin. First and foremost is that Vanilla is FAR more usable for normal people (read: people who have no idea what a vBulletin forum is or how to navigate through its quirks, which is 99% of Internet users) and it's not built on a horribly twisted and anachronistic theme and plugin system.

    I've been using vBulletin for 7 years on 2 different websites and have done a TON of customization work with it. Result: I absolutely loathe it.
  • @Lincoln do you have any large vb forums that you have converted to vanilla? What was the user response?
  • LincLinc Detroit Admin
    I have 2 in the works right now. We shall see!
  • ToddTodd Chief Product Officer Vanilla Staff
    edited July 2010
    @sammyman, Thanks for the thoughtful response.

    Photo Uploads. We will be releasing our file upload plugin as soon as Tim makes it gracefully degrade on servers that don't have apc (which would be most people).

    Ads. We are going to be doing more work on this ourselves. I would love you to start a thread on what your specific thoughts are since you have experience. I know some people want to show more ads to non-registered users etc.

    Categories. Having support for a lot of categories is something we are looking into. We want to come up with a good implementation of this so our ux genius (Mark) is doing a lot of bedtime thinking on the subject.

    CMS. This is something we will probably won't be doing straight away. We are working on better integration with other cms', Wordpress being the major one right now.

    Moderation. I would love to hear your feedback on moderation features that you use a lot on large forums. I know @Lincoln would also have good suggestions.

    With regards to your import. I think there's some discussion elsewhere. If you want to open an issue on github then I will try and work through it there.
  • I am also coming from the vbulletin and IPB environment. IPB and VB comes full featured out of the box however most features are not needed and use up resources. I am learning vanilla at the moment. My biggest problem is no editor (WYSIWYG.) People are too lazy to manually input code tags, etc.. I noticed there is a plugin for this but it's not approved by Vanilla so I am weary on using it. Also signature support should be out of the box and an option in the user profile. I understand vanilla wants to keep resources down but there are little things people are just used to and those things should come out of box with vanilla.
  • LincLinc Detroit Admin
    @sammyman The important thing to remember about your members hating change: they get over it. :) They will be very vocal for 2 weeks... then they forget the old way. As someone who has done MASSIVE community shifts, this is always the pattern. Tell them beforehand, let them vent for a little and answer all their questions, and then just do it.

    @Todd My primary concern in moderation is the ability to soft-delete a post. As in, it's gone for Members but still viewable by Admins/Moderators. I use this as an important tool to oversee what moderators are doing, especially new ones.

    You can get into all sorts of merging, splitting, etc. but I'd almost rather see that as a plugin if possible because I think having 20 moderator options in the default is too damn confusing for a small/simple forum.

    On the top of categories, I have an idea I've been cooking up about having 5-7 categories, and then having a set of tags appear in the New Discussion view depending on what category is selected. You could have a tag that is in all categories, or ones that are category-specific, and you could tick multiple tags per discussion. That would compromise between a long list of categories and the ability to drill down by topic. Think a hybrid of Gmail's labels and Vanilla's categories. It's definitely first on my list of plugins to develop for myself.
  • LincLinc Detroit Admin
    @Ron Heh, signatures won't be in core. @Mark hates 'em, and I love that he hates them. :D However, I believe there's a sig plugin already; they're not hard to do that way.

    WYSIWYG - another thing I believe should stay as a plugin. Honestly, I love that text is "vanilla" in Vanilla. :) Being able to write in 22-pt turquoise Comic Sans shouldn't be a core ability.
  • @Lincoln I agree about the signatures, but the members need to be happy. Granted it's a way to spamvertise and show off ugly graphics. But it's what the members like lol.

    The forum I am starting is for webmasters. There will be a lot of code and img tags being used where WYSIWYG comes in useful. If there was a section to show the members how to do certain things in a post that would be great.
  • LincLinc Detroit Admin
    @Ron I disagree that "members need to be happy." After years of thinking I needed to cater to every member request, I see that the vocal minority often overrules what will make MORE members stay. Somehow, the entire Wordpress world gets on without signatures and, dare I say, gets far more NEW and casual participation than a typical forum.
  • TimTim Operations Vanilla Staff
    There is an approved Signatures plugin in the addons. It is currently in use on a massive vanilla site and performing well. It even has some clever options to appease those that don't like sigs.

    Vanilla Forums COO [GitHub, Twitter,]

  • @lincoln @Todd

    I agree, excessive moderator tools in core isn't needed, this would be plugin ground if its needed at all. I think that some simple moderation tools can be included in the core application that are missing now, like extended spam prevention and mass user management. If we address the issues that big forum admins deal with "moderator roles" and resolve the issues that older forum setups fail to address, then you could prevent this all together.

    so what do moderators of big forums on other setups frequently have to deal with that would pose as an issue with a vanilla forum? I think these admins are speculating that these issues would carry over, pure speculation. I'm sure some obstacle exist but I would prefer to point to actual issues than attempt to solve the mysterious bugs hiding behind the door that really don't exist.

    Extended spam prevention: Word blacklisting, with a blacklist already provided that just needs to be enabled, and added to if needed.

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