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Analysis, Integrating Facebook and Other Sign-On Features into vBulletin


  • Analysis, Integrating Facebook and Other Sign-On Features into vBulletin

    We have recently been experimenting with integrating third party login systems into vBulletin software. There are several unofficial vBulletin products that allow you to add Facebook and other "connect" capabilities. For roughly two months we had been experimenting with our own vBNexus product that allows new and existing users quick access to the vBulletin site via Facebook and Google authentication. We've installed this product on two very active vBulletin forums and recently gathered some rather interesting statistics. There has been lots of heated discussion on regarding integration with Facebook and other service providers. This very basic analysis provides some interesting metrics around usage and activity levels of visitors that entered a vBulletin site via the non-conventional registration methods.

    Created by Mike Anders and Pritesh Shah

    Data Set Overview

    We installed vBNexus on two very active discussion forums powered by vBulletin. After roughly two months of the product being "live" we collected simple data points to try to understand visitor behavior. As you can see on each graph, the two websites are labeled as Site X and Site Y.

    Graph A: How many new members are registering?

    First, we wanted to know how many "normal" new user registrations we've received in the tested time period. On site X, we've received 10,281 new user registrations, while on Site Y we've received 14,331. We then wanted to know how many unique new users joined our sites by using the third party connect options. On site X this number was 750 new user registrations and only 573 on Site Y. The next task was to identify "activity" levels. We weren't exactly sure what constituted "activity" since this can be interpreted through many different variables. We compromised on a simple metric - "activity" means that in the two month period a new user made at least 1 post. It turns out that out of 10,281 users on Site X only 4,740 made at least 1 post; while on Site Y out of 14,331 users only 5,201 posted. We then compared the activity levels of regular new users to those of vBNexus. On Site X, 239 users out of 750 who signed up through Nexus made at least 1 post; on Site Y, 135 users out the 573 Nexus users became "active".

    Graph B: Comparing "Activity" levels.

    Since logging into vBulletin through Facebook (and other) is not yet a very highly-utilized feature, we wanted to look at the bigger picture. How does the general activity level of regular new user registrations stack up against non-vbulletin registrations? We used the same data set from Graph A to think about the trends. Just about every 3rd new facebook (Nexus) user on Site X became an active member and every 4th new Nexus user was posting on Site Y. On Site X, almost every 2nd regular new user applicant became an active poster and on Site Y roughly every 3rd regular new user made a post. Raw numbers translated into 46% regular vBulletin new users making at least 1 post on Site X while only 32% of Nexus users posted. On Site Y, 24% of Nexus users posted, much less than 36% of regular new users who made a post.

    Graph C: Details for Third Party Application Users

    Next, we we checked the details for the overall usage of non-standard vBulletin registrations and authentication. On Site X, in about 2 months we had a total of 1,068 users utilizing new non-standard vBulletin authentication options. 400 of them were new Facebook users, 350 new users signed-up through Google-connect. Additionally, 292 of existing regular vBulletin users linked their Facebook account to their Site X forum account, while 26 gConnect users linked back to the forum account. On Site Y, 469 new users signed-up via Facebook, 265 existing members linked their Facebook accounts to vBulletin; 104 new users came from gConnect and 23 existing members linked gConnect to their vBulletin forum account.

    Life, vBulletin and Everything... Conclusions

    My personal opinion is that integration is a new concept, it's up-and-coming and it has a lot of potential with a fairly bright future ahead of it; especially with a powerful user-content publishing platform like vBulletin 4. While the adoption rate currently looks to be much less than of its "regular authentication" counterpart, it shows lots of promise - even in it's current "experimental" stage and the future should be exciting. Share your opinions on the topic in this blog post!

    • Ghostsuit
      Ghostsuit commented
      Editing a comment
      Quite simply the online world needs simplified for the everyday user. I'd guess most use the same name/password for multiple sites and while this is less secure it's probably easier for random joe to use just the one login ie facebook etc for the multiple vb sites they may want to make the odd post on. Still ot does create the spamming problem etc of people being on other systems that might be less secure and also the potential problem that one day they might vanish.

    • tonjohn
      tonjohn commented
      Editing a comment
      OpenID support would be a great addition to vBulletin. This could also allow for some extremely content rich addons.

      Here is the PHP OpenID library that we use:

      Please add this feature.

    • Nestor
      Nestor commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree, OpenID and Facebook connect are a must in any new forum version. The FB connect over at is too quirky and doesn't even integrate too well with version 3.x so imagine about v4.

      I'm glad to see there is some serious consideration on this front although it's about a year behind everyone else. It's not too early IMO.
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