An existing forum needs to migrate to a different type of software. I would like it to be similar in many ways, in its functioning, to Stack Exchange. But I can't propose it as a new SE site because it's not limited to sharing authoritative answers. It also functions as an internet support group for those who have a specific neurological condition, and their family members.

What software could be used to accomplish this? Currently vBulletin is used; I don't like it. I like the SE way of doing things better.


  • SE: I like the tags method of organization, the editing, the clean look, the voting; searching works great.

  • Why I can't use SE: the forum doesn't only provide factual information about the condition -- it also functions as a support group. That goes completely against the premises of the SE model.

  • 1
    You must get more specific about your needs, what features you want, and what characteristics you wish to avoid. Aug 16 '17 at 6:52
  • It seems you want Q&A as well as discussions. Would it work for you to offer these as separate parts within the Web app? So users would have to decide whether they want to post a question (SE model) or whether they want to post a thread (vBulletin model).
    – unor
    Aug 16 '17 at 14:14
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    Do you want something self-hosted, or a ready made service? And how much are you willing to pay?
    – vclaw
    Aug 16 '17 at 15:28
  • @unor - The people interested in information and peer support around this neurological condition would find it uncomfortable to have to triage what they want to say or ask. The SE model, augmented with some static pages where certain frequently used fact sheets and articles are posted permanently, would be best. The only hangup with the SE software is that we need to allow a fairly wandering around style of discussion. It needs to be able to function as an international support group. Aug 16 '17 at 15:50

My answer would be Stack Exchange - you can't get more similar!

Not all of the stack exchange sites seem to require authoritative answers, take a look at the full list here and many of the sites listed under culture/recreation seem unlikely to do so.

I would suggest, possibly after some discussions on meta:

  1. Propose at Area 51 & see if you can't get enough people at the vbulletin site to sign up to get it past the required thresholds.
  2. If you think that the current number of people who might be interested in such a site for a single condition is too low to ever support the site see if you can't generalise to cover more conditions, or all neurological conditions, and have tags for specific conditions.
  3. If you still can't get it done that way SE offer an enterprise edition that they may have deals for charitable institutions and similar groups and you may be able to locate a suitable hosting solution.
  • What's the threshold number? Am I right that signing up simply entails creating an account? // Ballpark, what does the enterprise edition cost? The forum is currently hosted at a nonprofit that runs on a shoestring budget. // In case your two ideas don't work -- can you think of any software that is closer to SE than vbulletin? Aug 16 '17 at 10:56
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    @aparente001: Read the FAQ area51.stackexchange.com/faq to get some ideas of thresholds. You will have to contact SE for a quote and to see if they do any discounts, charitable, etc. Aug 16 '17 at 11:01
  • The question said: It also functions as an internet support group for those who have a specific neurological condition, and their family members — I'm thinking that for that, private discussion topics would be needed? (e.g. for support people + family members + the one with the neurological condition.) Do you know if there are private chats & topics in StackExchange? Or maybe we interpreted the question differently
    – KajMagnus
    Apr 27 '18 at 13:34
  • @KajMagnus - internet support group does not necessarily imply the need for private discussion areas but if there was enough demand or a compelling enough reason there is no reason why the current chat rooms couldn't have an invitation only mode. Ideas like that are what meta and area51 are for. Apr 27 '18 at 17:52
  • @KajMagnus - There was a wonderful forum hosted by Tourette Canada but it is now defunct. 99% of the time, questions, answers and comments were completely public. Note that except for some "stickies," answers weren't definitive. In that sense it was quite different from SE. When a person with Tourette, or a relative, has a problem or a question, they should always get at least one answer. Apr 28 '18 at 1:52

Maybe Talkyard fits your use case. It's open source Q&A software, inspired by StackExchange.

Here's an example discussion — in fact copied from StackExchange/StackOverflow (cc-by-sa license):

With Talkyard, you can also have open-ended discussions, and Slack like chat channels. Things can be private or public. For example you can add only specific users (e.g. family members?), to a chat.

Talkyard is beta software currently (May 2018) and I'm developing it. GitHub repo here, and SaaS hosting here. Screenshot:

enter image description here

(The posts are from this StackExchange question, license: cc-by-sa-3.0)

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