elizabeth lane lawley's thoughts on technology, academia, family, and tangential topics

Sunday, 25 May 2003

ridiculously easy group-forming software?

I feel a little sheepish asking this, since I seem to have been dubbed an “industry expert” in this area, but I need to find a software package (preferably free) that will support group-based communication (threaded forums, basically) and maybe document sharing for a group of faculty in my department.

I’m leaning towards a very simple solution, which is to create a group weblog with all the faculty as authors, and use simplecomments to allow either direct commenting or trackback-based commenting for those few of us who already have MT weblogs.

But what I really want is something more like Yahoo! groups, but without the ads. I have access to a server that will support most scripting and db environments, so installing something is not a problem.

Anybody know of an integrated tool that provides threaded forums, and other bells-and-whistles (calendaring, for example) that can be run locally rather than through an ad-based service?

Posted at 10:28 AM in: social software

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Comment from David Sifry on May 25, 2003 10:54 AM (Permalink to Comment)

Check out PHP-bb -

No calendaring, but it is a really simple, easy-to-use, feature-rich forums system that you can customize as well.

It can also do nice things like notify you via email when there is a post to a topic, etc.


Comment from Brendyn on May 25, 2003 11:13 AM (Permalink to Comment)

Yeah, I agree. PHPBB is a really nice forum system, I use it with all the mass group communication things I do for my sites I develop. :)

Comment from Ross K on May 25, 2003 12:45 PM (Permalink to Comment)

I have no experience with these, but there are some interesting things being built on the horde platform. WHUPS, Kronolith, Jonah, Gollem, and Hermes all look like they could be useful.

It probably stretches the definition of "ridiculously easy", but there is always mailman for handling the mailing list stuff.

Comment from Simon Forrest on May 25, 2003 1:46 PM (Permalink to Comment)

It's not free, but one of my clients has recently been using for supporting ad hoc distributed workgroups. It has forums, document libraries, shared calendar, task lists etc. It's $3 per month per user for educational and non-profit organisations. As an ASP solution, it's probably not what you're after here but I thought I'd mention it as an option.

Comment from jeremy hunsinger on May 25, 2003 1:55 PM (Permalink to Comment)

I use phorum for this but for real power along far many more lines of collaboration, see , which if it had a bit more web service integration would be ideal for many more things. There is also an extension of that allows you to discuss the papers.

Comment from fivecats on May 25, 2003 6:09 PM (Permalink to Comment)


Whatever you decide you might want to pass this info on to Stephe. He's considering doing the same thing for "What the Tech?" should he get the grant he's looking for.


Comment from Bob Monsour on May 25, 2003 9:48 PM (Permalink to Comment)

Since you're using MT, you might want to look at the message board software that the MT people use to run their support forum . It's called Invision Power Board and you can find it here. It appears to include a calendar. I am just starting to collect sources of similar software for use at my son's K-8 school. I'm also looking at using MT as a content manager for a new web site that we're developing (but that's another story).

Good luck to you.

Comment from JonathanSmith on May 26, 2003 12:37 PM (Permalink to Comment)

Might as well throw another one into the hat!

Geeklog ( is a 'blog', otherwise known as a Weblog. It allows you to create your own virtual community area, complete with user administration, story posting, messaging, comments, polls, calendar, weblinks, and more! It can run on many different operating systems, and uses PHP4 and MySQL.

Liz sipping melange at Cafe Central in Vienna