What software would you use to power a digital community today?

Specifically an RP community (this is for )

Traditionally, it was BBSs. Then Forums. And now, I guess, Discord and Slack and Matrix, mostly (but that's not the workflow or the usecase I want. At All.)

I'm half tempted to reach for Buddy Press, if that's even still a thing (but there has to be a better solution to this problem than Wordpress.)


If my expected userbase was slightly more technical, I'd just set up a linux box that they could log in to, and use a news server, on system email, and gopher to accomplish what I need.

But I'm worried that would exclude potential community members because of the perception of having to learn something new in order to interact, and I want to lower the barrier to entry.

Suggestions are welcome.

@ajroach42 Discourse is the most widely used forum in the world, far as I know, so it's not a barrier to use. Rocket.Chat is almost identical to Slack, at least for a beginner, and it just loads in a browser tab, so no cognitive overhead there, either. Similarly Matrix.

@ajroach42 I host a couple instances, so can perhaps assist if you need it. I set it up using Docker and Nginx for a reverse proxy on Ubuntu cloud instances... Works great!

@ajroach42 Communities and tools tend to mesh together over time.

An option might be to offer a menu-driven system (old-school BBS-style), though that's going to play poorly with any mobile devices. It's _very_ light on load and fast as blazes if you've got a keyboard. Less so if not.

Your other options generally are protocol-based tools, Web-based tools, or app-based tools.

#FreedomBox probably deserves a look.

What are your goals / constraints, generally? How many users?


1) communities and tools mesh together over time. - Sure, but this is easier if the tools don't suck.

2) Menu-driven system. - ??? Does such a thing exist, or are you suggesting that I write it?

3) Protocol-based tools, web-based tools, app-based tools. ??? I guess I just don't understand what you mean.

4) freedombox - I don't see a forum in freedombox?

5) requirements - A few dozen users. semi-permanent conversations, organized around several topics, mostly in character.

@ajroach42 2) It exists, though I'm not specifically familiar with any. "menu driven bbs software linux" as a search turns up hits:


SE question (closed, natch) on BBS systems:

3) I'll explain, in a follow-up.

4) #FreedomBox is A Thing -- "your own inexpensive server at home. It runs free software and offers an increasing number of services ranging from a calendar or jabber server to a wiki or VPN."


@ajroach42 ... which gets us back to 3), which I'll unpack:

Protocol-based tools: individual services, running on Well Known Ports (generally), such as email, SSH, Usenet, Web, etc. Users bring their own clients to the party.

Web-based tools: the app is a web client you install and/or design. See Meredith L. Patterson's "On Port 80":

Apps: generally: mobile-based iOS or Android apps.

Each has strengths/weaknesses, Web and Apps are presently popular.

@dredmorbius I understood this much.

I was wondering if you had something more to say about it.

Apps are usually frontends for protocols or websites, yeah?

Making a decision about "protocol" vs "website" is less meaningful to me than deciding on a specific workflow or piece of software. I don't much care what it's doing on the back-end, if it's usable.

@dredmorbius 2) - Ah, you meant a menu driven BBS system. Yes. Several exist, synchronet and WWIV look pretty promising, but neither has a web interface.

4) - I'm familiar with the FreedomBox concept, but looking over the software that they include, I don't see a forum.

I see chat, calendar, wiki, lots of stuff I could make use of, but nothing that solves my direct need.

Still neat, just not exactly what I wanted.

@ajroach42 As for the menu-based approach: you can create a pretty simple such tool using the rksh (restricted K shell) and a small bash script, running a set of carefully cultivated utilities. Allowing shell access on a system is generally considered to be pretty risky though. Virtualisation and containers make that somewhat safer these days. I'd be very careful going that route, though there are terminal servers, e.g., Tilde.club:


@ajroach42 I got lazy and just created a subreddit "/r/theouterlinux" for any forum related stuff, which was really easy to do. And then, people can either use a heavy web browser, Reditr, or something CLI-firendly like rtv or any forks since the main developer has quit the project. Discoverability is better too, though I'm all alone on mine. I know it's a proprietary platform, but I don't see it the same way as Facefarm, Instagotyobiometrics, or Goolag+.

A BBS would be cool though...

@TheOuterLinux That's an option, but I prefer to self host when I can.

@ajroach42 Ultimately, those functions are always in use on the internet, just the way they are presented to the end user is different.
Getting personal messages
Retrieving database information
Current events.
The informational requirements are the same as always, just the 'acceptable' presentation has changed.

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