My previous entry about web-based forums generated a number of comments from those wanting me to stick with newsgroups (NTTP) for support.
I actually prefer newsgroups to web-based forums, but I’m faced with a couple of problems:
- More and more of my customers are finding themselves behind corporate firewalls which don’t allow NNTP access, so they can’t reach my newsgroups
- Some of my customers have never used newsgroups before, and they don’t want to learn another program just to get support
Of these, the firewall problem is the one that I’m most concerned about because it’s happening much more frequently than it used to.
In addition, a web-based forum enables easier archiving and searching, and it also allows me to display obvious links to FAQs – which would cut down on the number of duplicate questions.
The downside is that web-based forums are slower than newsgroups, and attachments are always more cumbersome (or, in many cases, simply unavailable). One obvious solution is a “news-to-web” type of service which creates web forums from my newsgroups, but that leaves me maintaining two services instead of one.
Most likely I’ll continue to use newsgroups simply because I can’t find a web forum package that does what I need, but if I ever do find one I like, chances are I’ll switch over.