With the power of the WordPress Community behind it, could TalkPress ignite the fire under forums?
WordPress.com has been an incredible success with millions of bloggers registering millions of blogs and having their chance to blog free, or for a small fee for some services. Blog topics range from personal and private to politics and raising social consciousness. Some WordPress.com blogs have become popular and even famous, such as Robert Scoble and icanhascheezburger.
As a hosting company, WordPress.com hosts some of the largest websites and blogs in the world including icanhascheezburger, CNN news sites including Political Ticker, the Dow Jones’ All Things D, GretaWire, Time’s The Page, People Magazine’s Style Watch, and more. These companies provide the revenue to keep the free blog hosting services rocking and prove that WordPress has the strength and capabilities to support serious demands from users and servers.
WordPress.com has many features and benefits including a free support forum, easy importing and exporting, multilingual versions for over 50 languages, multiple authors, design options, and more.
The lessons learned there for bloggers prepared them for the herculean task of launching TalkPress for forums. They will need international localization, flexibility, customer service staff, community building tools, and most of all, a stable and durable server system.
TalkPress is going to be the bbPress forum version of WordPress.com’s model, a hosted forum service. Imagine, having your own free forum. The user controls their individual forum and users.
There are a lot of challenges to creating TalkPress.
Can bbPress become the Next WordPress.com for Forums?
First and foremost is the ability, or lack thereof, to connect the blogs from WordPress.com, or possibly other WordPress or non-WordPress blogs, to TalkPress. Will the same login information work on WordPress.com as it does on TalkPress, or will they be two separate sites and services? Will these be stand-alone forums or easily integrated with blogs?
In the announcement, Bauer says that work is being done to handle the huge user tables of WordPress.com – but I believe this implies the quantity of users not connecting the two user databases.
bbPress is also still in development. Matt Mullenweg admitted that bbPress has long been the ignored sibling to WordPress. Sam Bauers took over the project and shook it to its knees, adding powerful code, strengthening its weaknesses, and improving a lot of functionality. There is a tremendous community around bbPress with loyal fans, haters, and code hackers. Still, bbPress has limitations, at least for those providing volunteer support on the WordPress Support Forums and WordPress.com Forums daily, as described by MichaelH’s recent review and recommendations on Weblog Tools Collection. Bauer has agreed to review all these recommendations, and the responses, to improve the functionality and usability of bbPress on those forums, which should bleed into bbPress in general.
I recently covered a lot of bbPress news, tips, and plugins, and I know bbPress is plenty powerful to handle such a task, but it will be interesting to see how much the world embraces the new forum fever.
Bringing Forums Back Into Vogue
In the earliest days of the web, the communities were called forums, places where like-minded individuals came together to network and connect. As websites developed, some took their forums with them, along with their communities, but the web became fragmented, little islands in the sea. As online social media developed, so did enthusiasm for bringing forums back into popularity.
With the development of a free hosted forum service, forums could once again rise in popularity as well as demand.
Many bloggers debate over whether or not their blog should have a forum, and many go with them. Sites and services are best served with a forum where there value a community or customer service.
Would you have a forum on your blog?
More importantly, would you get a free forum from TalkPress if they were available? What would you do with it?
What would such a free forum service have to do in order to get your attention and fulfill your online needs?
What I’m really waiting for is the BuddyPress version of bbPress – which would totally change the sense and structure of a forum, bringing back the old CompuServe format that was so incredibly successful.