VenntLately, I have been beta testing a new discussion system called, Vennt. Vennt is an interesting and new approach to your average discussion board site. However, it is not a discussion system that you download and use on your site, but a one location where anyone can go and discuss anything at all. It uses ajax to filter through posts and tagging rather then using forums and threads to organize content. The system is extremely minimalist and is designed in a way that anyone can get in and start a discussion.

What I like about the system the most though is that it is a personalized discussion system. When you register for an account, you are asked to provide tags of interest. I entered web 2.0, php, design, ajax, games, and so on. Once logged in to Vennt, I am directed to the main page, Discuss, which contains posts that only relate to my tags of interest. This way, I can immediately find discussions to jump into and read that I am interested in. You will also see all of your profiles tags along the top of the page. Select a tag will filter out all posts using ajax and immediately display them without refreshing the document, making the system very simple and fast to navigate. If you want to view posts outside of your tag selection, you can select the “Everything” tag at the top which will return all threads in the system, sorted by most recent activity.

Vennt also features your average discussion board functionality where you can search posts and users, manage your profile, and posts new threads. Although the main difference is that everything is organized with folksonomy so when searching for users and threads, you can search by tag. Because of this, it also makes it easy for me to find people with related interests and to follow their discussion simply by searching for users on a specific interest tag. I type in “CSS” and I get a list of members that are interested in CSS. Same applies to threads. Furthermore, you can also view a tag cloud in the Tags section so you can find new and popular discussions.

Believe it or not, Vennt is actually a final project for the University that the creator, James Hicks, attends! I must admit, it’s a pretty impressive school project. If I were the teacher, I’d probably give… an A-. It’s layed out well, unique, Web Standard, and takes advantage of new technologies (ajax). Although, there are a few things here and there that could use some improvement, such as navigating around the system (user search), activity summary in user profiles, and RSS feeds. Lastly, one thing that I would love to see, if possible, is Vennt released as a service where anyone can signup and use it for their own projects rather then installing support forums, like a hosted discussion system. Or if that’s a bit much, maybe turning into a downloadable script like many of the forum solutions we use today for our sites. Overall, I really enjoy using the Vennt discussion system. I was able to get going in no time and participate in discussions.

There’s already a fair amount of members and some great discussions including talks about the new Apple MacBook, Nintendo Wii, Web 2.0, and more. Vennt is a place where you can just… talk, and its great. Nice job on your final project, James. Hope you get a good grade!

Side Note: Other Tag-Based Discussion Boards/Forums
Since testing Vennt, I have searched around for other tag based forum solutions and have found a few. They are all worth taking a look: SayOutLoud, Talking Hub, and bbPress (Installable and by the makers of WordPress).


5 Comments on “Vennt – Tag Based Discussion System”

  1. Deep Codes » Vennt says:

    [...] Vennt – Tag Based Discussion System [...]

  2. James Hicks says:

    Nice write up Brian, glad you enjoyed using vennt!
    And a nice blog you have here, I will be keeping my eye on it. vennt will be available for anyone quite soon, I just want to see what people think of it and correct anything before I do so.

  3. Self Evident says:

    IRC reborn of AJAX.

  4. Library clips says:

    Tag-based forums…

    Solution Watch has a write up on the new tag-based forums, Vennt (private release only).
    Thanks to Brian’s screenshots we get a glimpse of what’s going on…so instead of forums as a pivot for discussion it is around tags.
    When you si…

  5. David Givoni says:

    Thanks for drawing my attention to these tag based forums.
    We’ve also developed a web 2.0 forum called quomon (www.quomon.com).
    I think actually one of the difficult things with tags is to find a good navigation for it. Since it’s not hierarchical, it’s difficult to give people a sense of how they’re moving around in the information (sideways, up-and-wider, down-and-refining etc.).
    We invented our own navigation, which we would very much like to get feedback on.
    Check it out…

    /David