We announced today that in preparation for the Unified Community Platform, we will need to retire threaded forums. This will happen by mid-January next year.
If your wiki is still actively using forums, you likely have questions on what will happen specifically when the current threaded forums are, at long last, removed from Fandom and fully replaced by Discussions, and/or the alternative for those dependent on wikitext: DPL forums. Please ask them here! If many of you are wondering about the same details, I'll edit this post later to include the most frequently asked questions and their answers right here at the top.
Edit - these questions seem to be common so far, so I'm adding them here, along with their answers:
- Can my wiki just keep its Forums, even if they have to go elsewhere?
No. As we've explained in various places before, the code powering the Forums (and, incidentally, also Message Wall and Article Comments) is outdated and very problematic. We're retiring Forums because we need to remove that code from our platform in order to make crucial changes. That means: Any content you have in your Forums that is not migrated to Discussions will be completely deleted by mid-January. You will no longer have a "Forum" link in your local navigation bar. You will no longer be able to use or even see the Forums. Retiring the feature means exceptions are impossible.
- (How) Can you move Forum content to DPL forums?
The DPL forums are essentially just regular MediaWiki pages in a specific setup. As such, they will not go away with the UCP. You can set them up as explained in this guide at any time: Now, tomorrow, after the UCP launches. You do not need any staff permission to do this - except if your wiki has or has in the past had Forums enabled, in which case a Fandom staff member needs to un-archive the "Forum:" namespace. You can request this at any time as well: Now, tomorrow, after the UCP launches.
We have not yet explored in detail how a community might switch to DPL forums. We have an automated script that can convert Forum content into Discussions content, but we do not have any automated process to convert it into DPL forum pages, nor will we create one. Both Forums and DPL forums operate on MediaWiki, but Forum posts are each their own individual MediaWiki page with one author, while a conversation in the DPL forums takes place on one page, with multiple authors, like a regular article. You can copy a Forum conversation into a DPL forum thread, but it would be a very manual process.
2nd Edit - perhaps the most crucial questions:
- Do we HAVE to have Discussions on our wiki?
Some of you have asked if you can disable your Forums before the migration, so Discussions does not automatically get enabled on your communities, or whether you can opt out of the migration in some other way. This would result in your community losing all of your existing Forum content. That content would not be preserved, unless you do the legwork yourself on porting it over to DPL Forums. For this, no automated process exists. It would be a lot of work, the result may be quite unsatisfying, and Fandom can't realistically help with it.
Fandom has come away from forcing Discussions on communities that really do not want to use it. So if you're absolutely, dead-set on rather losing your Forum content than having Discussions enabled, we won't force it on you. Before you hone in on that option, though, please do consider this:
You are not the only member of your community, and others might prefer Discussions over the alternatives, even if you don't. If you say No to Discussions and opt for DPL forums or even no Forum replacement at all, you are potentially preventing every casual visitor to your wiki from engaging with it.
Not everyone understands how wikis work, only a tiny percentage of visitors on Fandom even know what wikitext is, but we think those who don't are still valuable community members who should be able to contribute something.
Discussions is far from a perfect feature. We have a long list of potential improvements that users have requested since its introduction, improvements that we agree would be great, but have not had the developer capacity to implement. So far. That said, it does fulfill its basic purpose - to allow communication between groups of users - just fine. In some ways better than DPL forums, because it's much easier to use especially on mobile, sends notifications, content can be filtered, etc. The one insurmountable shortcoming it has for a wiki community is that it does not support wikitext.
Unless your wiki's Forum conversations exclusively focus on editing debates with heavy use of templates, inline-styling, etc., which you'll want to continue on MediaWiki pages (such as DPL forums), Discussions may prove a useful feature for your wiki, despite lingering imperfections. Casual conversations can be had here. People who don't know wikitext and are a bit intimidated by actual editing but who still love the same topic you love can use it. So before you make any final decision, ask your community if really everyone would rather forego an easy conversation feature altogether. If you haven't yet, give Discussions a more thorough look - you can check it out on a lot of wikis, such as Wookieepedia. Make sure you understand the consequences of not having any easily usable social feature. And remember that you can have both: Discussions for casual conversations and non-technical debates, and DPL forums in parallel for tech talk.
- Do you really HAVE to kill Forums?
Yes. We are fully aware that the Forums are still in active use on many big communities, that they're loved and deeply integrated into the daily activities on those communities. We know taking them away hurts. But not making the changes we need to make just so the Forums can stick around for a relatively small subset of specific communities would hurt even more, would hurt users across all of Fandom.
Fandom as a platform desperately needs updating. Right now, all Fandom users are missing out on seven years' worth of updates the Wikimedia Foundation has made to the MediaWiki code - we have no mobile editor, for instance, and can't support many newer extensions. We can't make that update while Forums are so deeply embedded in the code. We can't feasibly update the Forum code, update Fandom's MediaWiki version, and then update the version again in the future.
Right now, we're that person who can't update or install any new apps because their phone is way too old, but who really likes that they can swap out the battery on their phone. It's really awesome, being able to do that. Newer phones suck because they don't let you do that. You're stuck with the one, always-dying built-in battery it comes with. But newer phones can do so much more that your old one can't! So will you really keep using your stone age phone and forego playing Wizards Unite forever, or will you bite the bullet and make the upgrade already?
3rd Edit - answers to some in-depth questions that it took a while to figure out:
- How exactly will the migration from forums to Discussions handle certain aspects of forums?
- Threads will become posts. Kudos will become Likes/Upvotes. Forum boards will become categories.
- Your follow status will stay intact. That means, if you were following a forum thread, you'll still be notified about new replies once that conversation lives in Discussions.
- When your former forum posts turn into Discussions posts, your post count on your profile for Discussions will go up accordingly. However, your edit count for the wiki will not go down, even if your edits in the Forum space have been removed.
- Deleted forum posts will be migrated to Discussions as well, in their deleted state.
4th edit - answers to the last remaining questions:
- What will happen to maintenance lists such as Special:UnusedFiles once forum content is deleted, and the images that were embedded in forum posts are no longer used? Will the file pages for images only used in forum posts be deleted?
Judging by how the migration script used to work back when we last used it in 2018, file pages will not be deleted, so those images stay on the wiki and can be used again. But it'll still register that they were used (on pages that are no longer accessible post migration), and so they won't clog up Special:UnusedFiles.
- How will we migrate Topics (the feature) to their Discussions equivalent article tags?
Forum Topics will become tags. For communities that had their forums migrated in the past, when Discussions didn't yet have article tags, the new migration script won't retroactively restore those. If it's a large pain point for many communities, though, we may be able to run a separate script after everyone has been moved to the UCP, to restore old forum Topics and turn them into article tags.
The above answers are based on how the old migration script that we used in the past worked. For the upcoming forum retirement, we'll have to update that script, since Discussions has changed since it was last used.