At the moment the “questions and answers” forum is a bit of a catch all, for the vast majority of discussion. It might be good to introduce more topic-by-topic forums so that all our discussions are categorised more heavily. e.g. different things like. Surveying, Editing & Tagging, Rendering, JOSM, Mapping Parties/Events, Tool development, OSM web development, API development.
…then again it might not be good! The trouble is that this would feel like spreading the forums more thinly, meaning new discussions would be more likely to go unnoticed. I can see that it’s actually quite easy to track where new discussions are appearing across all the forums, but it’s not as “in your face” as it is on some forum systems I’ve seen.
I used a minibb forum quite a lot before. There’s one thing I quite like, and maybe you could do this in the PunBB set-up somehow: On the ‘home’ display it shows the various forums, but there’s also quite a lot of emphasis on a list of all the latest new discussion topics across all the different forums. Similar to the ‘New posts’ display on pubBB (only not doing any clever tracking of what you’ve viewed actually)
The nice thing about this is that you can use the forums as a layer of categorisation which doesn’t necessarily matter so much for the casual visitor. meaning you can introduce quite a lot of different forums (useful categorisations) without it getting in the way. The casual visitor doesn’t get perturbed by the action being spread out across many forums, because the new discussions are always plastered prominently on the front page. They don’t even need to care which forum a discussion is filed into. See what I mean?
Hmmmm… that’s some fairly subtle ponderings on forum useability. I suppose I should shut up and turn my attention OSM useability!