First of all, bravo & 'merci mille fois' for this site. great idea.
Despite dozens of hours of research, nothing is still really clear and I'm turning to your wiseness for help.
For a commercial project to help very small private local communities of non tech crowds with unique specific common interests to communicate, I hesitate between a forum and a social network solution but since the project evolves much more around shared common topics in a group than users activities/profiles, Forum seems much better suited for this specific project and needs. I don't see people posting about their status and micro blogging but much more comment on one another about a topic specific to the group they're part of.
Here are the needs:
- Manage (hundreds scalable to thousands) small (20-100 members) private/secure (https) local groups/communities in one installation hosted and managed on our servers (AWS).
- Groups joined by mail invitation only from a member of the group.
- Bulk mail invitation (10-100 adresses at a time) (a la facebook).
- Members of one group do not see the existence of the other groups (nor its members) unless they are part of it. Or if they see it, they do not see what's inside, nor the members.
- Inside one group, 4-5 levels of topic/section/thread privacy. Meaning that Topics and Messages of one section in one group is only visible to specified members (=subgroup) of that group. Specific sections/Threads per subgroups inside the group.
- HTTPS. All group content pages must be encrypted and only readable by members of the group.
- 1/10-100 member can join 10-100 groups and find on ONE single page all new posts from all the groups & threads he/she is a member of. (reminds Facebook feeds page). That is absolutely necessary for members/administrators of multiple groups.
- Email/SMS notification of new posts (a la Facebook).
- Mobile compatibility is a major plus.
- French version for front users, (other languages would be good later),
- file attachment (jpg, doc, pdf). Using Amazon S3 seems wise.
- subscription/paid membership management.
- Lightweight architecture & Design.
Love FaceBook Groups & Forum light simple design and FluxBB light weight.
Unfortunately, FluxBB does not seem to be able to do so much, starting with the 'hidden topics'.
phpBB & vBulletin look absolutely horrible and non user friendly for our target crowd. They're not geeks nor computer intensive users. It must be as easy as facebook as possible. information must be bare minimum, no whistles and flashy graphics. no scrolling forever to just read 3 posts. Only what they need, the topics and essential social tools with e-mail notification.
Option 2 if anyone has any idea/suggestion: Maybe it'd be smarter to find a some way to aggregate communities using some big players tools like with Google Apps or a Facebook API. But i don't see how to stay in control of the datas and the acquired communities yet. I don't know.
Please, any advice and paths to explore will be most welcome.
Thanks a lot
I may have your man: Google Groups! It could be mainly used as a mailing list, but it also provides a forum display where each user can post new messages using a web interface. It is quite complete, is compatible with mobile, can allow groups to not see others, is light, ultra fast, and bulk mail invitation is directly available.
By the way, it supports calendar, file attachments, several languages (including French), but neither polls, nor paid membership (a small interface with Google Checkout can fill the gap).
Thanks for detailing it exactly Jacques et à bientôt (yes, I'm French too !
FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.
Thanks a lot for your reply. I was getting desperate for one. And you're absolutely right. Google Groups would be the thing. And you forgot a huge appealing aspect : it's hosted in the cloud by the top worldwide web company. One huge issue less to deal with. So I thought about Google Groups from the start since I already commercially installed Google Apps for some clients.
BUT there is only a huge concern here. How can it be commercial and viable as a value added commercial service if I don't host or own the datas and cannot tweak the code? Let's think about it. In the meantime, which solution would come close to google groups?
Indeed, this small advantage has to be considered as well
That's the main problem with Google products: they provide a so high quality per default that it is hard to add any additional value on top of that. If we want to stay in the same domain of forum which looks like mailing list, you also have Nabble, but I'm not sure it can fulfill the needs you described...