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Using Active Forums for a Question and Answer site

by Will Morgenweck on 06 Oct 2010 11:28 AM

In reply to my latest blog post, Mitch Labrador of TribalHut asked, "How would I setup Active Forums for a Question and Answer site?"  Quite frankly, Active Forums is still missing a few key components, but we are getting closer.  This is actually something we have been considering for quite awhile.  With Active Forums 4.3 we will be even closer to being able to use forums for a variety of different applications and I think a question and answer format would work well.

There are a couple of different ways that we could set this up.  Personally, I would want to keep Q&A separate from Discussions. I would probably setup a forum for Post Sales Q&A and another for Pre-Sales Q&A, with more user friendly names of course.  For both forums I would enable free-form tags and pre-defined categories.  For the Post Sales Q&A I would probably also setup some custom fields to capture Product And DNN versions.  I would also use the Active Forums API so that we had one form for content creation.  I wouldn't want the user to have to navigate to various areas of the site to ask a certain type of question or even to start a discussion.  If we create the proper form we could route the message appropriately based upon user selections or even user permissions.  For example, if the user has a question and never purchased a product we would route that message to the Pre-Sales Q&A section.  What I really like about this format is that we can leverage the tools already in the forums for managing content.  Instead of rejecting a question because it doesn't meet the proper guidelines, we could simply move it to the appropriate discussion forum.  I think this would keep everyone satisfied and keep the information flowing properly.  I know by providing a bit of technical overview this process sounds complicated, but for the end-user it would be as easy as creating a new topic. 

As I mentioned, Active Forums is still missing a few items for this to work properly.  From an actual feature standpoint the only thing missing is the ability to vote on replies.  If we were trying imitate StackExchange then we would need to add some options to the current points/karma structure in Active Forums.  Everything else is just a matter of creating the views.  We would need lists for topics that are questions, topics that haven't been answered, topics that have been answered and a few other user centric views.  Our template engine already supports rendering the output.  All we need to do is create a few more queries. 

Making it possible to use Active Forums for a Question and Answer application is definitely something we are working towards. 

    6 Comments for Using Active Forums for a Question and Answer site

    Dylan Barber
    Dylan Barber
    06 Oct 2010 11:36 AM

    I agree Active Forums is probably the closest to having a StackExchange like QnA module. I would love to see you guys get there --- if you do please tell me and i will flip over the QA  site I set up in response to your other blog post (http://www.activemodules.com/blogs/...-bad-idea/ )

    Just cause I wanted to see if i could do it - would love to move that to DNN!
    Mitch Labrador
    Mitch Labrador
    06 Oct 2010 11:49 AM

    @Will
    That's great, this is something I would defintely love to use. Glad to see you are moving in that direction.

    @Dylan
    What are you suing for dnnqna.com is that a custom app you bilt, or are you using something else?
    Cliff Hammock
    Cliff Hammock
    06 Oct 2010 01:37 PM

    I was on that original thread about 18 months ago and had a live contract to create a vertical market Q&A site. I worked for quite a while to pull it off with Active Social, Data Springs Dynamic Forms and Registration and got really close but could not ever quite get everything to the client's satisfaction. I eventually lost that gig because I wasn't willing to move to another platform for development. But I still think the concept was great and saw a lot of possible markets for this. So if AM does get a full featured Q&A app running that could be combined with Active Social for profiles I will probaby revisit some of the ideas that I journaled about in 2009.
    Rod
    Rod
    06 Oct 2010 08:30 PM

    Yep, great idea. Would love to see this feature in AF.
    Dylan Barber
    Dylan Barber
    07 Oct 2010 12:15 AM

    @Mitch - its a django/Python open source thing called osqa (osqa.net)

    Jashan Chittesh
    Jashan Chittesh
    20 Aug 2011 08:14 AM

    Any news on this? It would be awesome to have a Stackexchange replacement directly inside DotNetNuke. I'm also currently using OSQA and trying to integrate it with DotNetNuke (that's how I got here ;-) ). As far as I know, there's no real C#/.NET based solution like Stackexchange (well, Stackexchange is .NET-based but it's closed source and not really available). Having something like this for DotNetNuke would really really rock big time. Forums are fine for discussions but really suck when it comes to Q&A and I think Stackexchange / OSQA and the likes really did a perfect job (it's just the platform that I don't really like ... installing a Django-stack on a Windows / SQL Server based system is a real major PITA).
    test
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