Building a Discussion Forum in 2024

I’m crawling out of my cave at 2am on a Sunday evening, after spending three full weeks completely immersed in the creation of the Extra Chill Community. It’s not 100% completed, but I have launched a beta version and I will be refining the application as time goes on, and I’m very excited about it.

To unwind, I cracked open a beer and came here to write about my experience. This is the most involved coding project that I have ever undertaken, and although I have launched a workable product, I am nowhere near done developing it.

Still, I think I have achieved something really cool, and I want to document exactly what I did and why.

I came up with this idea while conversing with the fine people of the digital entrepreneurship forum, Builder Society. Right before I started I had the idea to implement the “Randomize” button on Extra Chill archive pages. I enjoyed the enhancement to my site so much that I set out looking for more unique features to implement.

Things Come Full Circle

Forums are one of the earliest ways that people interacted on the internet. They were the forerunners of this online world, but they took a massive hit in popularity with the rise of more advanced social media platforms.

However, these more advanced platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and you name it, have jumped the shark. They once had the draw of being a space to connect with your peers, and now they have devolved into a place to damage your self-esteem and mental health while wasting all of your precious free time on mindless nothingness.

With these platforms becoming increasingly devoid of value, we find ourselves seeking out a more in-depth form of internet communication. Where once we wanted that quick information hit, we are now looking to connect with others genuinely, and have in-depth discussions that provide true value to our lives.

A Fresh Spin on an Old Favorite

Just like in music, art, and fashion, trends come and go, and things that were once popular often come back around to regain popularity. If not in the same way, in some other, more advanced way that offers a clear nod to the original while presenting a new element.

Being somebody who owns multiple websites, I’m in the business of not only acquiring readers but also keeping them around. Also, owning an established music blog means getting bombarded with email requests from people all the time.

I can’t complain, because constantly being sent new music is a good problem to have. However, I can’t possibly listen to every submission, much less write about every submission. The volume is too great, some of the submissions are terrible, and I have other interests aside from promoting up-and coming artists. It’s a thankless game.

Brass Tacks

The Extra Chill Community Forums are designed to solve this problem of getting so many submissions by allowing the submitters to go and share their music with a community full of music lovers, without having to rely on me to filter it to the people.

This takes the pressure off of Extra Chill. It allows the artists to make use of their own personalities to market themselves, and allows our team to focus on creating more engaging content than the repetitive new music coverage that nobody really seems to read anyway.

People can engage in the community, gain followers, and indirectly promote their music and gain genuine fans through the community. The overall vision also includes in-depth fan, artist, and music industry professional profiles that allow users to market themselves effectively through Extra Chill.

It turns Extra Chill from a blog and promotional entity to a multifaceted machine that has the potential to become a titan of the music industry. I don’t say this just to toot my own horn as the person who built this, but Extra Chill just got a lot stronger with the addition of this forum.

The best part about this all is that the implementation is completely custom and out of my own mind, with the help of AI. I would not have been able to achieve this alone just one year ago. One year from now, it’s possible that this wouldn’t take three weeks, but alas.

Technical Mumbo Jumbo

I registered a new subdomain at and installed a fresh copy of WordPress plus a clean GeneratePress child theme. I have become quite find of this theme because it is free, and open source and designed like a ball of clay for developers.

BBpress is a classic forum plugin that is also free and open source. It was designed by people involved in WordPress itself, and it is used on the official WordPress support site. However, it is dated, and looks it, and requires quite a bit of customization to be used intuitively.

This is where ChatGPT comes in. Since BBpress has been around as free and open source software since 2004, GPT knows a lot about how it works. There are also various plugins available that help to customize a forum, but I decided to go for the total code route and make the community of my dreams.

A Postmodernist Music Lover’s Rabbit Hole

This site is a classic forum at its core, but it is infused with the personalization elements of MySpace and the gamification elements of Reddit, along with some unique features that help tailor it to use in the music industry.

It has followers, notifications, upvotes, multiple kinds of profiles, custom badges, and intuitive features to sort all of this data. Not to mention, it has a developer who is completely obsessed with turning it into the coolest thing around.

It’s only going to get more awesome, and I’m really excited to have been able to accomplish this with modern tools. I feel like I’m on the cutting edge of technology, and I happened to be standing in the right place when all of this came out.

I’ve already spent ten years learning how to run a blog, and now I’ve been given a tool that makes all the things I couldn’t figure out in the past a very possible and reasonable thing to do. All you’ve got to know is enough to explain to the bot what you need and you can come up with a pretty impressive application.

The bot is not perfect of course, and it takes a long time to learn how to read code to the point where you can even make heads or tails of it, I’d call it completely worth it. Plus, you can even use the AI from a beginner’s standpoint, rather than skipping to the custom WordPress development. You could just learn how to style some fonts.

If you read this far, I imagine you like me enough to sign up for my community. If you missed the link earlier, you can do that here.