Best forum tool

I am working with a co-op interested in setting up its infrastructure on MayFirst. They are looking for a forum platform that they can use for governance discussions. Ideally it would be integrated with MF logins, since they will be using NextCloud as well.

What is the best option out there for a forum that wouldn’t require a VPS-level subscription?

Options I’ve been thinking about:

  • A private space on this forum. This document suggests that is possible. But would that really be ideal for a co-op’s self-governance discussions? Are other member orgs doing this?
  • A LAMP-compatible forum that could be hosted on a shared server (any suggestions?)
  • Another, aligned third-party space like Hylo

FYI, this is an affordable housing co-op that I’m working with. I discussed it with @jaimev. If we can make something work for them, it could be replicated among hundreds of similar co-ops around the US.

Hi @ntnsndr

We can create a private category in this Discourse instance for any member and it will be automatically connected to their May First login. That may not be enough isolation for all projects but it is something we can do for members now. Some member orgs have tried this.

I don’t know which is the leading forum/decision making software that can be run on a lamp stack but it looks like there are some projects on GitHub. It would certainly be great to discuss some options if people have feedback.

Some members have also been able to run Node.js based projects on our shared servers but initial set up and keeping them maintained can be much more work.

Tell us more about what Hylo is.

Okay, thanks for this. That’s helpful. Would it be easy for us to demo a private forum? I wonder how hard it would be to ensure that all members only receive notifications from that forum.

Another option could be to simply use a Mailman email list instead of a forum. But not everyone wants their email clogged like that.

Hylo is a social network that is now being developed by a values-aligned team, Terran Collective. I was just on a call today and heard that an activist group I work with found that it worked really well.

I’ve heard good things about Flarum and have been curious to try it out. I think going with a standard LAMP stack app will really make deployment and flexibility significantly easier.

I was actually just playing with a Flarum + NextCloud combo on a YunoHost deployment. I haven’t tested much yet, but Flarum seems like a cleaner, simpler Discourse, which I like, because I have always found Discourse overkill. Flarum integrates beautifully with NextCloud’s External Sites app, and with YunoHost’s user management.

Flarum does require Composer for installation and updates, so I’m not sure it would work on MF LAMP.

The more I think of it, the more surprised I am that there isn’t a solid plug and play (but also customizable) way for communities to deploy a basic cloud + discussion system. It’s what so many communities need. I wonder if the team is working in this direction.

I have now been running NextCloud on Cloudron in production for years with a small group, with various plugins, and the stability and ease of use is comparable to running WordPress on LAMP (minus all the spam and database insertion hacks). There are still some pain points, but the software-managed-server model is getting better and better, and it sure beats manual software updates. I wonder if a possible future for MF is in supporting a VPS+YunoHost combo.