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Just wondering if anyone had any suggestions for software that I could use to provide meta discussion of a website that I am working on?

My initial thought would be to use one of the many discussion boards available, but I hate them!, and would rather not go down the route of subjecting my users to using another forum! :)

I don't need anything too complex, just a place where users can raise feature/bug requests or ask for general help from other users.

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haha, I nearly clicked close as "belongs on meta.webmasters" but thankfully I read the question first. Cute kid, btw. –  Mark Henderson Jul 27 '10 at 2:39
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5 Answers

Have a look at Zoho forums, it uses a combination of forums, Q&A and user feedback. jQuery recently moved from Google Groups to Zoho due to Group's massive problems with spam.

There is a free version with the basics. If you are developing open source software I believe you can the full-featured version for free.

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Have you actually used Zoho forums for your website? I use Google Groups and have few problems with spam. –  delete Jul 27 '10 at 1:28
    
I have used both Zoho and Groups as a consumer, but not in any admin capacity. But I've read a few articles essentially trashing Groups and praising Zoho, e.g. ejohn.org/blog/google-groups-is-dead –  DisgruntledGoat Jul 27 '10 at 23:09
    
That article doesn't tally with my experiences. The spam filter on Google groups seems to work adequately. Anyway, I think there is a big difference between a public user feedback for a website (what we are discussing) and a mailing list for discussing software (what John Resig is discussing). –  delete Jul 28 '10 at 2:08
    
@Kinopiko: Well fair enough, we've obviously had different experiences! :p Maybe the spam problem is only prevalent on the huge groups like jQuery. Anyway I suggested Zoho because it covers the different requirements like discussion, questions and bugs/feedback in the different sections. –  DisgruntledGoat Jul 29 '10 at 13:11
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If you can deploy your own installation, have you considered a clone of the Stack Exchange engine? You can host it yourself and customize it as needed. You can find a list of available clones on the StackOverflow Meta.

Between tags and voting, I think you have a lot of what you need. Tags will allow you to categorize between bugs, support, and feature requests and voting will let you know what the community thinks of the idea. I believe that the desire for these things made people want StackOverflow to switch from UserVoice to it's own engine early on.

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Have you actually installed one of these things on your website, and what experiences did you have with it? –  delete Jul 27 '10 at 1:27
    
I personally haven't installed any since I haven't had the need, but a friend installed one of them to test out. He said the install itself was pretty easy, but he hadn't started to customize it yet. I could follow up with him, if I get a chance. –  Thomas Owens Jul 27 '10 at 9:47
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For another application service provider option, Get Satisfaction is probably worth evaluating.

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For feature/bug requests, I would recommend using something like UserVoice.

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Second that. Hootsuite is using this to great effect: feedback.hootsuite.com/forums/40182-hootsuite-com-web-dashboard –  JasonBirch Jul 26 '10 at 21:24
    
Stack Overflow used UserVoice before it switched to Meta. It was OK, but I think people just fell in love with the Stack Overflow paradigm. Which leads to my answer... –  Thomas Owens Jul 26 '10 at 23:55
    
Have you actually used UserVoice for your website, and what were your experiences with it? –  delete Jul 27 '10 at 1:45
    
I had used it for one site before, I was happy with it. –  GSto Jul 27 '10 at 14:00
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My suggestion is to use Google Groups. First of all it is off site so you don't have to worry about serving pages in the case that your server / host / whatever stops working. Second of all you don't have to do any more work, it is really easy to set up a Google group with just an email address. Third of all it works really well and you can also keep a copy of discussions in your email folder. Unless you have more than twenty messages a day discussing your site this is probably the most manageable option.

Another way is to use a free wordpress blog or something, but then it is not so easy for users to initiate discussions.

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+1, its also much easier to manage than installing something like phpbb. –  Tim Post Jul 26 '10 at 18:21
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