30 days with Xenforo: Why we are going back IPB(or Vbulletin 4)

Discussion in 'XenForo Discussions' started by genos, Dec 14, 2015.

  1. genos

    genos Regular Member

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    Long review but detailed :D

    Our experience with Xenforo has more or less stagnated activity as the community either flat out dislikes it or tolerates it enough to not flat out quit :P

    Let's get this out the way. Xenforo is not a bad software. It really isn't. It's actually really good. However, its fanboys will lead you to believe that because many sites are moving to it....that means it is the best. We all know popularity doesn't necessarily equate to being best. They'll lead you to believe that Xenforo is the only option...when there are some amazing products such as IP Board(3 and 4) and Woltlab Buring Board that do offer a lot more.

    For us? Why is it underwhelming?
    1. The Support Community


    As active as their community is and as helpful as their community is(as well as the excellent support response time), there is a recurring theme that if you so much as speak negatively against the product you find yourself attacked. You'll find yourself needing to be on the defensive when you rightfully criticize the product about what it lacks or various usability.

    Negative responses on suggestion threads

    Even speaking with longtime(Since Day 1) XF users, many will say it is a blessing and curse simply because while the support is great, the moderation team at times plays favorites with the fanboys allowing them a bit more free reign to do/say as they please to lesser known or lesser liked individuals.

    Not to mention the scandals and what not some of the Xenforo developers have been involved in that definitely makes you nervous about downloading various add-ons. Do a google search

    Two big board forums(Anime forum with about 10,000,000 posts and a Korean Music forum with 11,000,000 posts) were considering a Xenforo switch but based on various things within the community as well as the sketchiness of various developers and Xenforo's delayed stance on various situations, they decided elsewhere. A 3rd big board Korean forum running IPb4 skipped a conversion to Xenforo as well.

    ]2. Xenforo feature set:

    The reason for us Xenforo is underwhelming is the fact there are compelling products that offer more. Woltlab Burning Board, for example, is almost half XF's price while offering nearly the same feature set and even more. The only reason I went XF(a 3rd time) was because of community request and I particularly wasn't fond of WBB's look/themes.

    IP Board is about 35 dollars more than XF but it's plus is the fact that it offers a full suite of apps that can extend your forum and make it into a lot more.

    IPB Vs XF...they are both forums but their approaches are a bit more different. XF focus mainly on forums and it does well enough but IP Board is more of a jack of all trades. Not necessarily a master or perfect but it has a bit of everything(Good and bad).

    I dislike XF simply for the growing need of add-ons we require to replicate features found in competing software. As I mentioned earlier, early versions of XF lacked very simple features such as merging users, that you'd expect a forum software of $140 to have from the start.

    While XF has came so far, it still finds itself playing catch up to features. One only has to look at their Have you seen forum to see this.

    Have You Seen...?

    While it is a cheap product compared o Vbulletin and IP Board, Xenforo(at least in our experience) begins to get pricier than even VB and IPB simply because in order to get the same feature set you have to start buying add-ons and they have their own renewal period as well as the forum software.

    (Don't point this out to XF fans as they will quickly say you are simply adding add-ons to make XF look bad in favor of competing products.)

    3. Xenforo's Apple like mentality

    Several things in Xenforo make zero sense to me because instead of the developer's giving the admin the right to do as they wish for their community they remove the choice.

    Biggest example....Profile posts. YOU ONLY GET 140 CHARACTERS. What does that sound like? Twitter? Exactly. Their reason being is that it makes it easier for post to post to twitter.

    Okay, cool. Good to be forward with social networking. So why not let admins have the choice to do so, eh :)

    I Can always download a friendly add-on for $5 to get the control I need...instead of it being core.

    4. Lack of Compelling 1st party/Reliance on 3rd party

    Let me start by saying, not every Invision Power product is perfect or great.....However you at least have the option of a cohesive product. IP Board(Forum), Commerce(Store), IP Downloads, IP Chat, IP Blog, IP Gallery, and IP Pages(CMS). At least you know that ALL products made by IPS will work together with little to no issue and that you don't have to really configure them and worry about Product A clashing with Product D because they are all made together.

    Being 1st party is a major benefit...but as I said, not all IP products are created equally and some could use a lot more love and care and focus.

    Xenforo pretty much doesn't offer much in the 1st party way that could accurately compete with IPB's entire suite and I am not entirely sure how it compares to WBB's suite of products.

    It does have a gallery(which is really good) and a downloads application they call resource manager along with the forum itself. But you'll still find yourself with a reliance on 3rd party.

    3rd party is not bad.....it actually gives those developer's more freedom. Of course with 3rd party, you run the risk of wanting to upgrade your software but unable to do so because the developer hasn't updated or has abandoned his app. Remember, there is a lot of shadiness with Xenforo developer's.

    More importantly, whenever you need to find a simple feature, you are constantly told "No, it can't do that. But there is an add-on for it."

    Your forum becomes bogged down with a bunch of add-ons because the software itself is anemic.

    The chatroom solutions on Xenforo are abysmal, IMO.

    5. Usability:

    At least compared to IPB 4, As an admin the usability is annoying on XF.

    No Mod Control panel...because many of the moderator actions are inline. That's cool but there are many things I am forced to log into the ACP to do that I can do from the Mod CP on IPB. Actually, I lied....there is $45 add-on that can give me a XF moderator control panel with a lot of features. Plus its $25 renewal.

    Want to easily see how many and who all is in a usergroup? You have to go through hoops to do it when it is like 2 steps on IPB?

    Want to set usergroup colors? Well on IPB, it's a simple hook you install. On XF, you have to not only install the hook but manually go into edit theme templates. If you have multiple themes, that becomes tedious.

    Want to easily arrange the layout of the forum's boxes? Requires some tweaking. IPB4 simply has a drag and drop approach that allows you to move the boxes/modules around.

    Forget to add a tag for someone (@User) can't do that. You can add it but it wont tag them. IPB4, simple edit and add @User and it'll tag them.

    Want to easily delete your PMs from your inbox? There's no actual delete message. There's 'leave' conversation. I can also download an add-on for $45 that will give me a lot more features than XF does by default. Oh plus a yearly $25 renewal.

    Want to allow your user's to change their name? By default, there is no feature. Yet another add-on :)

    Maybe you want to have Animated Avatars? Might want to check to make sure your host/server has proper extension set up......Because you know unlike IPB, where you simply hit a toggle in the ACP to switch it on/off and then upload the image, I have to contact my host to let them know "I need this tweaked".

    I can go on and on...But the biggest offender....

    6. Usergroups:

    User permissions in theory make a lot of sense. All users are in the default registered group and you can set permissions that way by utilizing secondary groups to do so.

    Problem with this is, first of all the usability of permissions suck on XF. You sometimes go set permissions in the actual usergroup itself and then sometimes you have to go into options and go into the specific add-on to set permissions and everything right. I'd prefer IPB's way...you install the add-on and you toggle the permissions within that particular add-on.

    Why? Because if you have a crap ton of Add-ons, you'll soon find your user group permission lists growing to the point where it becomes more difficult to find an add-on and its particular section for permissions.

    Secondly, having to utilize secondary usergroups is annoying....You wind up having a user with like 20 different usergroups, let's say you run into an issue where there is a permission clash somewhere. You have to look in all the groups to find out where it clashes. More importantly, with those secondary usergroups, if you have usergroup styling set up for them, you have to set a display priority so the correct stylien and group shows as it should.

    There's no reason why when someone is promoted to another usergroup they need to retain in the former group they just left? We're born infants, we grow into toddlers(no longer called infants), then so and so forth. A 80 year old is not considered a child.....however using XF's mentality, they are an Infant, a toddle, a child, a teen, a young adult, a middle-aged adult, a senior citizen, etc etc.

    It's an utter mess and not user friendly.

    As I said Xenforo itself is not a bad product. And it powers around 30-40 percent of the premium software world's forums based on various stats compared to IPB's 13 percent.

    That doesn't make it better? In fact, I am willing to bet that IPS is still a more profitable company than XF is. But it's fanboys will have you think that Xenforo is god's gift to man. The developers are all Gods and the moderation team are kings.

    In reality, it's a forum software that is pretty good but is not really much better than anything else. It's just pretty and even then Xenforo's stale and dated design makes almost every theme look a bit unattractive save pixelexit and Audentio themes.

    3 times we tried XF....30 days so far.....and XF isn't anything revolutionary or exceptional. It's just...popular. So is Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian. Doesn't make them great people. It just means they are liked.

    I appreciate Xenforo's ease of use for customizing styles. I appreciate the excellent notification system and I truly applaud Xenforo's cool add-ons such as post ratings. A lot of amazing mods but then so are IPB's :) Without the developer scandal because IPS offers a bit more protection to users
     
    iBaker, Shyuan, Wonko and 1 other person like this.
  2. AWS

    AWS Administrator

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    That's a damn good review.
     
  3. QuartzBoards

    QuartzBoards Regular Member

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    Nice review Micha the Incredible, heheh :coffee:
     
  4. grub

    grub Regular Member

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    Very interesting reading for a forum newbie. Thanks!
     
    genos likes this.
  5. Autopilot

    Autopilot Regular Member

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    I don't see it :rolleyes:
     
  6. genos

    genos Regular Member

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    It is a shame really.

    The software is annoying as crap and I find myself with IPB4 again(We switched back already) and while it is good and I know it well, I do feel that IPB is sort of just coasting along and playing it safe in many areas. I may do an IPB review as well.

    However, the thought of using Xenforo truly bugs me because while the software is good in many ways(and does some things I wish IPB to be capable of) the userbase who make Xenforo feel like a religion truly give the platform a bad look. Not to mention the support forums, while helpful, feels more like a high school arena than a support board and I still find XF to lack features personally.

    So it seems now, i'll be choosing the lesser of two evils.
    IPB or Xenforo....
     
  7. grub

    grub Regular Member

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    I thought you had chosen IPB? Will you change again?
     
    Autopilot likes this.
  8. Autopilot

    Autopilot Regular Member

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    Obviously he can't make up his mind or he's toying with everyone.
     
  9. genos

    genos Regular Member

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    There are things I appreciate in both :) And things I hate in both. I cant stand Xenforo's community and tbh while the developers are talented they have this air of elitism/arrogance (IMO) and we know their community treats them like Gods, so I guess my choice has been made ;)

    Plus I honestly don't feel like converting. I just wish IPB would work on some bugs/glitches and improve/add a few more features.
     
  10. SneakyDave

    SneakyDave Lurker

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    Good review, good opinion. Good luck with the conversion back.
     
    genos likes this.

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