Forum software change In short Our current forum software (vBulletin 3) is at end of its development life and will no longer be updated for anything other than security reasons. I intend to move us to use the new XenForo forum software, instead of choosing vBulletin 4. This topic is a chance for me to explain why and get feedback from you, instead of just surprising you with a sudden change. The detail Why is this important?We all spend a lot of time on the forum, maybe as much as we do reading email or the news. Having great forum software that aids discussion and doesn't hinder it matters. It's also how Thunderbolt staff communicate and collaborate, so it needs to work well.When you're buying forum software, you're also committing to using something for several years, so you have to have confidence in your choice. Forums are not that easy to switch between and some are fairly expensive.Why do we need to upgrade?On a general level, keeping software up to date is sound practice because it protects you from security flaws that are discovered and allows you to benefit from improvements made.On a specific level, our current forum software has been the primary cause of downtime on the site. I currently have to prune topics when they reach around 2,000 replies to stop them crashing the server, which is a nuisance. It's also relatively difficult to customise and maintain, as the administrator interface is complicated to say the least.Why not vBulletin 4?The company that created vBulletin was bought out by an American company a couple of years ago and their reputation since has been less than fantastic. The key staff who started it left, which is never a good sign. I installed vBulletin 4 with a copy of Thunderbolt's data and while it's an improvement, many of the same problems remain. It's incredibly bloated and weighed down by legacy features and code, a bit like MS Office or Adobe Creative Suite. I simply don't have confidence in the long-term viability of this choice.Why XenForo?This is what the three key guys who left vBulletin are doing. They've created new forum software from a fresh start and it looks great. I've spent a few hours reading about it, using the software and watching videos, and I'm impressed. It seems like a natural and significant upgrade from what we have, and something that suits our style of community.Specifically: It supports pretty much every feature we currently have Topic length has a negligible effect on performance (yay!) The layout and design is very flexible and straightforward to change The spam clean tools are comprehensive and easy to use There are many minor UI improvements over vBulletin Because it's being made by the people who created vBulletin, much of it works how you'd expect, but there are improvements in almost every area. Normally I wouldn't opt for something so new, but given the track record of the development team, I believe it's a safe option, both short- and long-term. What next?I'd like to get initial feedback from you to ensure that you understand why this is needed and that you are happy for me to proceed.XenForo goes on sale on Oct 5th and there is a discount for buying a license in the first 24 hours. However, I don't want to rush into switching us over. My plan is to buy a license, then set up a dummy forum with a copy of this one's data and test it to ensure that it fits our needs. It will also allow time for bugs to be fixed, updates to be issued and for me to customise the look and feel of the forum. I will give you access to a preview of the new forum to gather further feedback on the layout and design before finally switching over to the new system.I hope that over the years, I've gained your trust to make these kind of decisions, but given the critical nature of the forum, I think it's important to have this consultation before any change is made. If you have concerns, comments or questions, fire away!