I've been running a Majordomo mailing list for several years which has worked fine but would now like to go with the times and set up a web forum instead (replacing the mailing list which will of course be clost down when the web forum is working).
I know very little about server-side software installation/setup/configuration, but if all that doesn't take too much time and doesn't need regular maintenance I can ask the system administrator to help me out. Hopefully the forum software is user-friendly enough so I can customize and administrate it myself.
The archived messages from my mailing list (in the Mbox format according to my system admin) are valuable to the forum and it would be a huge bonus if users could have search results from it. Since full names, IP addresses and email addresses are shown in them they would somehow need to be removed. As for the sender names it would probably be useful if I could do a "search and replace" type function when importing so that the same person's web-forum username would replace his/her email address in messages from the mailing list.
If that's going to be too complicated I suppose just removing all that information would be OK as well, just as long as the messages themselves could show up in the search function of the web based forum.
Regarding web-forum software I understand (from reading postings here and elsewhere online) that PhpBB 3 (free) or vBulletin (commercial) is the way to go. For me, running a non-profit forum I think PhpBB will be my choice, if it works well, is user-friendly (for people using it as well as me administrating it) and allows for importing of my existing mailing list messages of course.
So, where do I start, and which software will be best suited for my use/skill level?
I would say that PhpBB 3 is a good choice for you, if you like the general design and the ease of configuration. See the PhpBB 3 Demo for more information about this.
About the importing, it would be indeed a great plus if you could find a tool to import your entire mailing list messages history to the forum software. This way, you would not lose anything from the past, and the life of your community would continue, even if the technology evolves.
You can even keep both of them, forum and mailing list, because some forum softwares support reply by email to forum topics. Here are some vBulletin mods supporting such features:
More information here: http://www.vbulletin.com/forum/showthread.php?300725-Mailing-List-integr...
For phpBB 2:
Anyway, the first step would be to migrate the mbox format to a database or something like this, that would help Migration Tools to take these data into account for importation.
FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.
Seems like I need to find someone with the proper technical knowledge to do the importing for me unless there's a downloadable tool which is made specifically for this purpose. Given that Majordomo mailing lists are/were the norm I'm surprised this isn't already available (at least I haven't found anything by Googling a bit).
I tried out PhpBB 3 but didn't like the user interface: it's not user-friendly enough when you have to fiddle around with URL links in your posts. I much prefer having a pop-up window to appear when you want to insert a URL, then enter it. I tried the MyBB demo and it seems to have this, but doesn't score as high as PhpBB 3. Why is that?
I also wish it had a WYSIWYG mode for replies/new posts, but you can't get everything can you?
Off the top of my head I would like my web-forum to have these features:
- simple, well laid out user-interface (makes it easy for even computer novices to be able to read/post/reply/navigate)
- entering URLs or images should have a pop-up window come up where you enter the address
- email notifications (the user gets an email whenever a reply has been posted, if he/she has chosen to do so). This feature should also be configurable in the user's control panel so it doesn't have to be set every time you post
- preferrably WYSIWYG when writing a post
vBulletin seems to have many of these features but is too expensive (I prefer free or cheaper solutions if possible).
Suggestions for other software?
No unfortunately, I haven't found any tools related to Majordomo (according to http://www.greatcircle.com/majordomo/) to export datas from its data file. However, the mbox format is quite common, so it could be an interesting track to follow to export + reimport data. But, indeed, it will require technical knowledge to do such.
So finally, PhpBB 3 haven't convinced you? Then I would suggest MyBB or PunBB, that are more simple, and you may prefer them. Do not stick on the score each of them have, it's nothing really important, compared to the feeling you have when you use a forum software. I'm not sure both of them have WYSIWIG per default, but for sure, plugins exist to fill in this missing feature. According to your Top required features list, both of them match your needs.
And finally, yes, I also prefer having free & open source softwares, it's far better than thinking every year about renewing the license of the software we paid.
It's a pity there's no option for importing Majordomo list messages as I certainly don't have that kind of knowledge. So if someone comes up with a solution please do post here! I did come across m2f, but I'm not sure if it does what I'm looking for, and it seems only to be for PhpBB2, which I didn't like
I've taken a look at the MyBB demo and it seems to fill my needs better than PhpBB. I haven't tried PunBB yet though. Thanks for the suggestion
If I do come across someone with programming knowledge: which format should the Majordomo list messages be converted into in order to become say, MyBB compatible? Anywhere I can get the specific details for this sort of thing?
PS: does this forum have an option for email alerts upon new replies?
Yes, indeed, that's a pity. You need to convert the mbox format (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mbox, http://email.about.com/cs/standards/a/mbox_format.htm), that is actually, a simple plain text file, where mails are separated using regex on the "From" keyword. A simple text parser could do the job.
The destination will probably be a database, using the SQL tables or the API of the forum software you will choose. If you for example use MyBB, you will have to import the messages to the following DB structure (I only displayed the posts table, but several will have to be used):
CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `mybb_posts` (
`pid` INT(10) UNSIGNED NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
`tid` INT(10) UNSIGNED NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
`replyto` INT(10) UNSIGNED NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
`fid` SMALLINT(5) UNSIGNED NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
`subject` VARCHAR(120) NOT NULL DEFAULT '',
`icon` SMALLINT(5) UNSIGNED NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
`uid` INT(10) UNSIGNED NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
`username` VARCHAR(80) NOT NULL DEFAULT '',
`dateline` BIGINT(30) NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
`message` text NOT NULL,
`ipaddress` VARCHAR(30) NOT NULL DEFAULT '',
`longipaddress` INT(11) NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
`includesig` INT(1) NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
`smilieoff` INT(1) NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
`edituid` INT(10) UNSIGNED NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
`edittime` INT(10) NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
`visible` INT(1) NOT NULL DEFAULT '0',
`posthash` VARCHAR(32) NOT NULL DEFAULT '',
PRIMARY KEY (`pid`),
KEY `tid` (`tid`,`uid`),
KEY `uid` (`uid`),
KEY `visible` (`visible`),
KEY `dateline` (`dateline`),
KEY `longipaddress` (`longipaddress`),
FULLTEXT KEY `message` (`message`)
) ENGINE=MyISAM DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8 ;
About MyBB, happy that you like it, it is indeed quite complete (more than PunBB anyway), and free.
On this forum, tick the "Notify me when new comments are posted" checkbox in order to receive updates on a current topic. If it does not work, check your email address, and then (maybe), your spam folder.
I myself know next to nothing about programming, but if it's not too much additional work I could ask the server's system administrator if he has the time to look at it and make any adjustments if needed.
Will your code remove all the email specific headers (IP, from and to addresses, path etc.) and keep the message contents itself?
Ideally each post should look the same way as they would if posted directly via the web forum. It would also be great if I could rename the posters' full name to the same username he/she uses in the web forum once it's up (it's not critical that I have the archives ready when starting up the web forum, but I would like to add them at some stage).
Being not such a high volume list (around 200 members) I could do a search & replace for the username/email address thing perhaps.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but by using the above code (possibly with some modifications) I will be able to convert my Mbox message archive into a format which MyBB understands so each individual message can be used with the forum?
Thanks -I noticed the "notify me when new comments are posted", but for some reason it doesn't appear all the time (for instance now, when writing this reply I only get a green "Save" and "Preview" button at the bottom of the edit window.
phpBB, while nice, is not such a good advice for your situation IMHO. e.g. the M2F plugin newver worked for me.
FUDforum on the other hand ( http://www.fudforum.org ) is a fast and scalable discussion forum. It is highly customizable and supports unlimited members, forums, posts, topics, polls & attachments.
IMHO , you will be happier with FUDforum, by default can import (even sync) the Mailinglist. It can import XML Feeds and sync with USENET groups and Mailing Lists (bi-directional).
I'm sorry for the very late answer.
Unfortunately, the code I gave you is just a SQL description of the table you should populate on MyBB, the script that could do that does not exist yet Once you'll have it, it will be possible to tweak it in order to change usernames, emails, remove IP, headers and so on.
Quite strange, I'm always able to see it, someone else is getting this problem? Maybe are you trying to post as non-logged?
Nice to report your own mailing list migration experience, thank you. And I'm noting that you recommend FUDForum for this kind of migration. Fusion, have you tried this forum software as well? Maybe it could fulfill your needs?