I am so glad to have found this site!
Here's what I am trying to do. We have created a new service called "Retail Help Desk" which is being sold to shopping mall owners. They are hiring us to be a general help desk for their retail stores and restaurants. So I need a forum where these guys can place their questions so we (and the community at large) can answer them. The first mall has signed up, and I need to find a way to register 100 people quickly. There will be more soon, this is going to grow fast.
There are some things that have arisen as a result of the service we need to provide, that we need help with. I had installed E-Blah, and I like it, but in talking with their developers, the things I need (listed below) are not possible with their software. As such, I am hunting for a new solution. If it can be free, that would be great, but I'm also willing to pay for a solution that does all of the items below:
1. We want the shopping malls to send us a list of people who are authorized to use the service. I envision an excel spreadsheet. Since this list will change every month, we need the forum software to allow us to upload a list of new (added) users, and a list of users that should be deleted. The mall we've sold the service to is sending us a list of 100 users, right off the bat.
2. The list of users should include a screen name, a real name, email address, store/company name, phone number, and their mall location.
3. Reporting - we will need a way to generate a report of all the questions posed by a particular user, as well as the answers that we gave them. We need to report that back to the mall management.
4. We'd like a way to be able to respond to posts via smart phone. We want to provide responses very quickly, and sometimes we are on the road.
Please advise ASAP.
Retail Smart Guys
Hi Danjab, and welcome here!
According to the four items you posted, I would say that a forum software with a good API or a simple database could match the requirements of items 1. and 2.. Indeed, no forum supports the add in batch of users, and, more important, how are you supposed to manage password? I would say that you need a software that asks for a password after the registration AND email validation. This way, you create new entries in the DB, and you trigger the forum's API to send validation emails to new users. I would therefore recommend MyBB, SMF and FluxBB.
For 3., I don't think there's a forum that will bring you this kind of report, but you have some that will show different metrics like posts/user, top posters and so on. Have a look at the Comparator to the Statistics feature.
4. Good news for you: we just introduced the smartphone compatibility section on our site, it should not be hard to find which forum matches your needs for this item.
Hope it helps
FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.
Hey lastnico, thanks for your reply. I do have a couple of follow up questions, if you don't mind:
1. For each of the forums you suggested (MyBB, SMF, and FluxBB), do you know if they have a database that could be accessed by a report writer? I have to figure out some way that I can report the usage of the forums back to the mall management. They definitely want to know. I don't mind hiring a report writer to help me create that.
2. Of the 3 that you mentioned, do you have a preference? Is there one that you like better than the others?
Thanks again for your invaluable help!
Retail Smart Guys
1. Yes, the three of them can use a MySQL database engine (supported by default), which is basically well supported by most reporting tools. They are also really simple to query using your own script if required.
2. Hard to compare these forum, because they target different audience and people, but, if I had to sort them in terms of features, I would say:
FluxBB < MyBB < SMF
but this does not mean FluxBB is necessarily not better than SMF for example...