Has anyone tried Vanilla, either as a user or as an admin? I’m installing it now and, I have to say, I really like it. It’s very different from the phpBB2 model, and it just gives the end user so many options. Some things a user can do:

  • Bookmark threads
  • Save commonly run searches
  • Get posts by RSS
  • Specify or create their own theme for Vanilla
  • Whisper private comments to other users within the context of threads
  • Start private threads that onlycertain other users can see
  • Hide other users’ posts
  • If there’s a post with, say, a NSFW graphic, they can toggle off the HTML and it will never display again until they toggle it back on. If they know Gary Whitta’s a member, they can toggle off his HTML at the source
  • Save commonly used text to a clipboard
  • Add additional user information fields (ie, if they wanted to add their jabber address, they could add it to their profile as jabber:whatever and it would work)

At the same time, it’s no BS. It doesn’t have sigs. The user isn’t prompted to specify a thousand IM clients in their profile (although they can add these if they’d like). It’s not filled with a million extraneous options. It just seems simple and powerful. I’m not sure how it would handle large communities, but for small ones, it seems powerful so far.

It has its quirks - I think the difference between “hide” and “block” is pretty confusing, and I could wish for a few more admin features, but I’m liking it so far.

Seems interesting, has some features that are on my todo list for the poe forum software. But i am curious how it runs under load, my forum software was built from the ground up to be low impact, but plenty of those features can be real resource hogs as soon as you have 10,000 users.

And is there an install that is not so dog ugly as to almost be unreadable?


Chet, yeah, the default theme is a bit too precious. Luckily, it’s all very easily moddable with simple CSS - in fact, an end user can write their own CSS file if they’d like, plug it in, and the forum will display that way for them from now on. There’s also some other themes available. These ones are linked in their Wiki (I’m partial to aspiramedia colors) and there are some ones scattered through their forums. Overall, even though the default theme is pretty hard on the eyes, it looks pretty easy to change the look of the install - just mod the CSS.

Sorry, I have no idea how it operates under load. I haven’t even opened up the forums I’m setting up yet and there’s no way we’ll get 10,000 users. However, most of the feedback on forums seems to be amazed that it’s so zippy when being hammered. It’s certainly slim and without bloat, so that’s not too hard to believe.

One thing I really like is how it gets rid of PMing in favor of whispering. Basically, whispers are private comments aimed at another user, but they are nestled within the context of threads. So you might start a thread and someone whispers a private reply that only you would see next time you checked it. PM-like functionality is handled by creating private whispered threads aimed at a certain user, which no one else can see (except the admin, if they want to). You can be email notified of a new private thread aimed at you, or you can filter threads at any time for private ones. It keeps the history and context of PMs nestled in threads, as opposed to individual messages.

Anyway, it’s new software, and open source, so I hope it’ll continue to evolve. Definitely has potential though.

By the way, I guess you can’t hide other users posts as an end user. “Hide” is an admin feature, and basically operates as a “delete thread” comment, only you can easily undelete it. Which is kind of a bummer.

Whispering (good description) is something I was thinking about for a long time, damn long time and when it finally hit me how to do it - i see someeone else is already doing it that way. Why couldn’t you have shown me this 6 months ago? Huh? huh?

The other feature I have been thinking about is the ability to tag a user’s post to attach it to them. This way when you read a new post by gideongamer and you are wondering what the fuck is with this nut, you can check and see you have had this thought before.


That’s a cool idea. Actually, I wish Vanilla had a notepad like that - although the clipboard is pretty damn close, at least as far as storing random thoughts is concerned. Linking posts to a user as sort of a “definition” of who they are would be a great addition to any forum software.

Vanilla’s a really cool little idea, more of a GMail approach to forums than anything else. It’s got a few drawbacks, but for brand new software, I find it remarkably refreshing.