I'm Darren Gordon and I've been with Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd for several months. I am currently tasked with bringing some new improvements to vBulletin with 3.8 later this year.

This week I'll be going over a couple of the most requested new features that have been announced.

Social Group Discussions
3.7 shipped with a flat, non threaded message wall in the social groups. The wall is great for leaving messages such as 'hey, nice group!' but isn't that useful when it comes to actually having a meaningful discussion about the chosen topic. In order to greatly enhance the ability of social groups to allow users to talk about their common interests, the social group messages have been threaded with the use of 'discussions'.

By default, the user who created the group can moderate their discussions and the messages within them. Another permission allows users to configure their social groups so that only they can create discussions within that group. This allows users to create social groups with greater control over the subject matter (kinda like a forum with limited 'Can Post Threads' permissions such as the Announcements). Because users can take control of their groups and can be given the primary responsibility for maintaining them, this also reduces the potential extra work for board moderators.

Discussions and messages now also have several features from forums and threads. This creates an interesting scenario where group owners can now see how moderators work with the forums, and allows them to get involved in their own space. Features included:

  • Full inline moderation (Discussions and Messages)
  • Quick Editing (Messages)
  • Subscriptions (Groups and Discussions)
  • E-mail Notifications (Discussions)
  • Social Bookmarking (Discussions)
  • Read Marking (Groups and Discussions)

With read marking, users can mark discussions or entire groups as read, as well as automatic marking when users have read the last post of a discussion, or the last discussion of a group.

Social Group Categories
Each Social Group now belongs to a category. Categories allow users to find groups that are relevant to them, especially on larger boards. The categories are predefined by the board admins. As well as providing suggestions to the users for the kind of groups they could create, this also allows admins to encourage users to create social groups that are relevant to the board as a whole.

Categories are included in the advanced search filters, and can also be viewed individually. Selecting a category displays only the social groups that are in that category.

When upgrading to 3.8, any existing social group messages will be moved into an initial discussion named after the group, and all groups will belong to the inital 'Uncategorized' category, which can then be modified by an admin.

The feature list for 3.8 is pretty much locked down now, but comments and feedback are always welcome I'll be posting again soon about as yet unannounced features in vBulletin 3.8. For now, you can take a peek at this...