The next step to getting back to blogging basics, for Symbian-Guru.com, was to eliminate the forum bridge that allowed us to use vBulletin as our comment engine. It was not an easy decision – I had paid $200 for the lifetime vBulletin license, and knew that disconnecting the blog from the forum would eventually leave the forum to slowly die. However, there were too many other factors to consider with the bridge.
For starters, we did not close the forum – we simply disconnected it from the blog, so that new blog posts were not automatically published as threads in the forum, and comments posted on the blog posts are not copied to the forum, or vice versa. Users can still login and have conversations with one another, and to a small degree, are doing just that.
The biggest downfall of the vBulletin Bridge plugin was that it did not properly show the correct author. On a blog such as Symbian-Guru.com, with 3 authors (and likely more in the future), it is vital that readers are able to easily know who wrote a specific post. Not only does this eliminate confusion on differing viewpoints, but it allows readers to build a relationship with a specific author, which encourages readers to interact via comments.
Another major issue was that the forum bridge broke the XMLRPC protocol, which is how 3rd party applications such as Windows Live Writer and Wordmobi are able to connect to your blog to create new posts and such. This is a major issue for us, as I use Windows Live Writer on my netbook incessantly, and Wordmobi is really convenient in certain situations. XMLRPC support was pulled when the bridge developer updated it to support scheduled posting (another major necessity).
Since disconnecting the forum, and reverting back to the default WordPress comments engine, we have actually seen a massive increase in the number of comments, which is awesome. A blog is nothing if it doesn’t have readers, and I would prefer 10 readers who interact with you to 1000 readers who simply open the page and then close it later. As I work towards simplifying Symbian-Guru for the benefit of both me and my readers, disconnecting the forum has proven to make a huge difference.