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.