Today in just few hours i was away from this forum someone managed to open more than 350-400! spam topics. Holly s*, it really proves my point i'm saying over and over again.
In my humble opinion:
1. Wordpress: For the main site - easy to maintain, lightweight and easy to modify. Can be used for landing page, product page and knowledge base.
2. WHMCS/Clientexec: To sell the product, tickets for Pro clients, use it as main point for user registration (more explanation later). Can be easily integrated with WP to pull products over API/URL and forum.
3. Maxmind: Great integration with WHMCS to automatically filter all bad apples.
4. For the forum best would be to use vBulletin, Xenforo or IPS but personally i would avoid vBulletin because v4 is pretty old and v5 is a mess.
5. Bug tracker: Any, there are plenty of great bug trackers and it could be used as new feature tracker.
This was easy part, now it comes coding:
5. Every *Min installation regardless if GPL or Pro comes with unique security code needed for the user to register. Why? So only people who actually have active installation can participate in this community. The system can check once per day/week for all active installation and if any of them fail to respond for more than X days the user will be prohibited to use some services, e.g. limited to only some parts of forum. This is my idea how it should work:
- User must register before he proceed with any installation.
- Because of how WHMCS works the user must use real name, address, phone, server IP and any other detail what you think you will need.
- Maxmind will check if the user is legit and if he isnt the system will put on hold his registration until manual revision.
- At the beginning of the installation the software will ask for email and unique security code, without that the installation will not continue. Email should match WHMCS info.
- If the user applied the code for Pro version the software will check if the license is attached to his server IP, and if it is it will proceed to enable Pro version of the product.
6. Bug tracker could be connected with a bridge with WHMCS, forum or not be connected at all. If i would remove all support questions, questions from people with low or no knowledge, subscription... from current "Issues" there will be left only handful of topics. Plus the registration could be "free for all" as in this case it works in favor of *Min, e.g. you want more people to report eventual bugs or exploits.
7. The rest:
- Open only few forum sections for people who dont have/use some of the *Min products, e.g. "looking to hire" part would fit here.
- Automatically close topics older than X months to prevent necroing topics what are long time irrelevant.
- Strict forum rules to prevent abuse, people posting in wrong parts of the forum, opening multiple topics on same subject ... and many more things. WebHostingTalk forum have some nice rules what are worth to check.
- Dedicate forum sections for advertising services connected with *Min-family (hosting, coding, installation...) and people who are looking to hire for help, so we can avoid flooding the forum as desperation to grab some job.
- *Min devs stop posting in parts of the forum (like how to install) and focus more where they need to be, like when someone asking about specific functionality, or code or... you got the point.
... the list goes on...
- What if user have problems to install?
He can pay Virtualmin for support, pay someone else or post in forum for help and wait when someone reply. Nothing uncommon and nothing out of the ordinary.
- What if user installation stop working?
Virtualmin can set the amount of time for how long the user will be active without working software. I mean, if someone have broken Virtualmin for more than 1 month its safe to assume that he will not use it anymore.
- How can i ask questions before i use or buy any of the products?
Use the tickets, something what is common in this industry.
- I'm best SysAdmin in the world and i just want to help without using any product.
I'm sure manual approval can deal with this situation.
- But i'm used to abuse this software and/or i dont want to use my real name?
Good, dont use it.
- Why i need to register for free product?
A. Because *Min devs can do whatever they want.
B. Because it will increase the overall security and lover the time for support and make it easier.
C. Answer not covered or satisfactory - check again A.
... tons of other Q&A what i dont have time to list right now.
Just to make it clear, i didnt invent the wheel here as all this stuff is already present with many hostig businesses or other similar industries. All this can be made completely or just partially automated. With prices going down this should not be a problem to achieve even if outsourcing, like paying people who will code the connections/bridges between the software or custom modules.
Implementing this it would be a life changer for you guys and set free so much of your time and increase the chance to make more money what i'm sure you will invest back in your products. I mean who would be against this suggestions. Some of them could be modified to fit better your software but thats it.
Good side would be more serious and professional approach to your products.
<*tin foil hat is ready>