I finally got frustrated enough with the forums here to take a day and a half away from most other stuff to fix some things. I got some great feedback and design help from Virtualmin user unborn on IRC, and from Eric (and, of course lots of feedback since we launched the new site).
So, things look really different in a few area; I think better, for the most part, though there’s more information on the screen and might be more intimidating the first time you see it…but, there’s a lot of additional useful functionality. My favorite feature is the Active Topics, Unanswered Topics, *New & Updated Topics" tabs at the top of the forums page, but some other improvements include nicer layout of the forum topics and post/comment pages, buttons for skipping to the first unread post, and a quick reply button that jumps directly to the comment field. All of these features come from the Advanced Forum and Advanced Forum Bootstrap modules, plus some theme and module changes to suit our website theme. Big changes here,
I’ve also rolled in Better Formats, which gets rid of some of the stupid boilerplate that appears when commenting. Since we use Markdown, a very common markup language that I think most moderately technical users will have some familiarity with it, I don’t think we need that noisy mess on every page, so it’s gone. You can get markup help by clicking the “More information about text formats” link.
Also, last night, I enabled the Comment Notify plugin. I hate this plugin (it encourages behavior that’s counter productive to meaningful participation, like “posting to subscribe”), but subscriptions and notifications are so horribly broken on Drupal, that it’s the best I can do for now. I do plan to re-visit this problem again, but it was apparent we really needed some kind of solution to this problem. I think with this plugin and the “New & Updated” tab will make it pretty easy to stay on top of things.
As always, holler if you run into problems with the new forums. I’m particularly interested in hearing about any problems anyone has with accessibility for the site.