This forum is the replacement for the old phpBB one. You probably have a lot of question, so we try to answer some of them already:
We now feature a single sign login bound to your FAF account. You do not need to create a forum account, you just login with your FAF username and password. If you change your FAF account name it will also change in this forum.
This allows to always be up to date with playernames. But even more important it is the ultimate spam prevention: a spam bot can't register to the forum without registering FAF first. This prevents all automated spam attack against the underlying software nodebb.
It has a drawback though: If you can't create or access your FAF account you can't ask for help in the forum. We kindly advise everybody to move such request to the #technical-help channel on Discord.
We dropped a lot of sub-forums that weren't really used before. We might reconsider changing more stuff based on your feedback.
We are now running on a software called NodeBB. Nodebb aims to also look nice on mobile devices. Our NodeBB uses MongoDB under the hood which is a much more suitable datastore for a forum (=> better performance)
phpBB was not fine! Let me tell you why:
This is a very good question. We will not migrate it, since this would not work out with the new forum structure and the new account linking (in the old forum we have no verified connection between a forum account and a faf account).
We want to make the forum read-only for now and maybe somebody in this community (wink, wink!) wants to write a script to turn the old forum into a static page archive.
... is debatable for sure. It took me 1 1/2 year from the first evaluation to the working solution as of now. Design was no priority topic at this point. But NodeBB offers a lot. If you are interested in helping out, please contact me.
The obvious choice would have been migrating to a newer version of phpBB. But as I mentioned before there are some issues that would have made this transition a walk on a tight rope.
Our phpBB installation is 9 years old, the underlying phpBB 3.0 release even older (according to Wikipedia work on phpBB 3.0.x began in late 2002, first release candidate was in May 2007). The web software development world was a completely different one back then as it is today:
phpBB 3 had no concept of installable mods or plugins. If you wanted to extend your installation you would follow the extension developers guide and manually edit php code files and manually run SQL statements against the database, thus adding fields, tables and whatever the developers came up with. Also version control on the running server was not a thing back then.
Unfortunately our installation made use of this. For example the whole like-system is deeply intrusive into every part of the application. The "solved" feature in the help forum is another example. Eventually no active server admin knows what has been changed to the system and there is no way to look it up.
All of these additional features would instantly break on a new version, as there is no corresponding code handling this in a newer version. Furthermore every change to the database could make a potential upgrade fail. And there is nobody out there to help you upgrade a manually fucked up 3.0 installation throughout version 3.1 and then 3.2. And if you then run into some weird unexplainable issues due to some weird migration leftovers nobody will be able to help you.
In addition to that past experience shows that former administrators seems to have manually fiddled with the database as some features in the database are broken or don't work as intended.
An upgrade would have come with high risk, unknown outcome and lots of efforts. This is the reason why we decided to look for a solution with a clean installation. Furthermore phpBB 3.2 didn't even match our criteria.
Before selecting any kind of software (or product) you should know what you want. Knowing the issues of the old forums and from other issues we had in FAF over the last 5 years, I made a list of requirements before I went to search for the market.
Eventually NodeBB was the only product I found matching all criteria, so I'll leave out the comparison with other software out there.
Eventually the points 6 and 7 were the dealbreakers on most forum alternatives out there.