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A client is considering SharePoint 2010 as an information platform on their local intranet (not connected to the internet). One of the main focus points is an advanced discussion forum, including a question-and-answer site similar to Stack Overflow.

I am aware that the out-of-the-box Discussion Forum is extremely underfeatured. After digging through the Microsoft forums, I have come across three main products that are being considered: TOZIT, LightningStorm Tools, and the Jitbit forum for ASP.NET. Besides the technical issues of getting these working on SharePoint 2010 (under investigation; this is NOT my question), these forum systems seem to be quite basic and only a starting point towards a real discussion system or Q&A forum.

My question is, are there any viable alternatives? The platform in question should be extensible and flexible; ie. something we can tune and tweak and customize (for instance, fine-grain permissions are very important to the client).

The reason we are interested in having this work on top of SharePoint is the potential for integration with other information services (ie. connecting to the My Sites newsfeed, connections to documents, etc.).

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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The TOZIT overview looks quite nice, what issues did you find with it? –  Danny Varod Jul 17 '12 at 17:18
    
Do you meant a user interaction Q & A list or just a static Q & A page similar to a FAQ? –  PirateEric Mar 7 '13 at 19:51
    
User interaction Q&A. –  jassyjames12 Mar 7 '13 at 20:44

7 Answers 7

I recommend you look at Newsgator Social Sites. It doesn't offer traditional Discussion Forum functionality, but does offer a different sort of community experience, one that I believe works better.

Its a tool my company uses internally and it works very well. We post questions and get semi-threaded discussions. It has a nice microblogging piece and allows you to dip in and out of communities with ease. For me, its a better tool for participating in the day-to-day life of the firm rather than just having a Q&A-type forum.

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NewsGator seems to be widely used, and one we considered prior to determining our needs were way limited for the cost and we just developed our own web parts. They also have some great webinars on how their customers implemented solutions, so they are pretty good at disseminating info too. –  MichaelF Jun 7 '11 at 15:30
    
We have Newsgator Social Sites, I love the microbloging. It does have questions, but no way to manage them. We are working on a intranet site (400 users), and want to have a Q&A section (as well as all the other sharepoint stuff). To make it work with a small community, the questions need to get answered, if not by the community, then by a moderator that could answer or delegate to an domain expert. Social Sites, just doesn't allow you to do this. –  Eric Labashosky Jun 8 '11 at 21:44
    
Lightning Tools was mentioned in the OP. I'll investigate and if it does Q&A then I'll award to colin, eventhou it was in the OP –  Eric Labashosky Jun 8 '11 at 21:48

The best option i have seen is the Lightning Tools SharePoint Forums product. As a client (for another product) of Lightning Tools i can only say they offer excellent support and the when i tried the forums they worked perfectly.

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2  
If you want to see an example, check out nothingbutsharepoint.com/sites/eusp/Forum/Pages/default.aspx –  PirateEric Jun 7 '11 at 12:11
    
Nuf said, if even NBSP /EUSP uses the lightning tools product, i'd go with this 1. –  Colin Jun 7 '11 at 13:12

Going the .net route, you might look at YAF.net.

You can see an example forum here.

You will have to roll your own SharePoint integration but their forums seem to indicate a few different ways you might achieve this, just search for SharePoint.

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I've used YAF and the forum itself is superb and covers just about every feature you could want in a forum, including Q&A. I know it can be integrated relativly easily if you have access to the server itself but I'm struggleing to find anything relating to SP online integration.

Have to say that this forum/Q&A platform is amazing and it would be pretty cool to use this in SP!

S

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I've done a Q&A type community list using the Team Discussion list type. It's more of a change in the way the users enter the information than anything else. At the end of the day, Q&A's aren't that much different than forum posts.

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I've looked into that one, but I don't really like the way it looks once many people have responded to an original post. Thank you though. –  jassyjames12 Mar 7 '13 at 21:00

Discussion Board is what is available out of the box. It looks pretty bad, but there isn't anything else really that gives this type of functionality. A blog would be similar I suppose in that you can post a question and people can leave comments. There are limitations to blog sites though.

Lightning Tools offers an updated forum product that is very nice if you have the budget for it, Storm Forums and Social Squared.

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