Part of our site will be a user forum and we need advice from those of you with experience. We need suggestions on which platform to use or if things have to be built from scratch or what. The more plug-n-play, the better. And if we can't do something that does everything we want, then we should go with something that would allow us to upgrade to what we want later on without losing all the posts and upsetting our users.
We won't have money to pay people to moderate, so it will be mostly user run. The point of the forum on our site would be to allow voter and politicians to debate issues amongst themselves locally, in their county, their state or across the nation. We want three traffic lanes for this: "Official Debate", "Possible Solutions" and "Free Debate". The "Official Debate" section would be a place where politicians could debate each other. More on that later. In the "Possible Solutions" lane, there would be drachonian rules on what you could and couldn't post. It would be mostly well thought out suggestions and tweaks. In "Free Debate", there would be just a lot of tossing around of ideas and a lot of the same old stuff you see in user forums.
We want to show the users debates in chronological order so posts make sense, but also have the ability to easily search popular posts or filter by whatever search criteria the user wants.
Users should be able to flag for: -Spam -Abusive language -Useful information/Good ideas -Entertaining
Users should be able to search by those criteria plus keywords, and users.
We should have some way where spam gets removed without us having to pay moderators.
There should be a way to automatically filter out/flag curse words and to remove duplicated posts (as possible spam).
Threads should be able to be linked to our Questions.
So, back to the the "Official Debate" section… we would want three windows - the main window would be where we see the Politicians talking to each other. In another window, we would see the Press asking questions. If a politician clicks to answer a question, then it becomes a part of the main window. Voters can up and down vote questions in the Press window. The third window would be for people to leave comments about the debate. It would also be awesome if the Politicians could set up a "Town Hall" function where for that debate only, the Voters were treated as press and could ask questions. There should be a "next" function, so users could go to the next comment/question/answer without having to scroll because one tactic that people will probably use is to leave numerous super long answers to make it almost impossible to find the other person's answers (and some people just tend to ramble).
Sooooo….. all that said…. Any ideas?