Here are some of the common questions I expect to get regarding the merger, and the answers I have to them.
Q: What will happen to all the forum posts in the phpBB forums now? Will they be lost?
A: For the past several months we've had an instance of vBulletin that has a 100% mirroring of all phpBB data from these forums. We've been testing and ensuring that we can migrate all the content over to the new forums. These forums contain an amazing amount of useful information, and in essence they are the heart of the community itself, so their full restoration to the new location is paramount. It's a good thing Fabrizio is so darn smart!
Q: What about usernames, profiles, post counts, etc.?
A: All will be migrated over and merged together where appropriate. I know post counts are important to community members, so we'll preserve it all. We did a username comparison and found that there were only 13 instance of users having the same username on multiple sites where that user didn't seem to be the same person (we compared email addresses). In the case of a conflicting username, the person who registered it first will have precedence, unless that person's account is no longer active (as defined by no posts within the past six months). In all cases we'll contact both parties to seek the best possible solution - it could very well be that one of the two people would be happy to change their username. I do not expect this to cause significant conflict.
Q: Should I wait to register in the new forums?
A: No, you can go ahead and register, but if you want your post count and history to merge with the new site, it's critical that you register with the same username so we can link them. If you don't care about that, register with whatever username you wish.
Q: Things look...rather spartan there in the new forums - they're not finished are they?
A: These aren't even beta forums, they're pre-alpha. Right now the only forums we've created are for Zune Thoughts, and a few generic testing forums (Off Topic, etc.). We need to create a Thoughts Media template for the root level of the forums, polish up all sorts of odds and ends, and of course start to migrate over all the content and user data over the next few months. The Zune Thoughts templates have all sorts of glitches and bugs. Plus, I'm still trying to figure vBulletin out, it's about 500% more complex than phpBB.
Q: What about subscriber services?
A: Subscriber services are one of the major pieces of work that we have yet to do. For now, everything will continue to operate as normal on the respective sites. Once the forums merge, we'll have the goal of getting subscriber benefits up and running at the same time (or very shortly thereafter).
Q: You mentioned a new content management system?
A: From the end user perspective (you), the new CMS will have zero impact on your experience using the site. What it will enable, however, is more editorial content from our editorial and review team members, because the new system is much more flexible than our current one. It will allow us to do what we do even better, which means more content for you.
Q: What about forum ranks?
A: We've simplified them. So rather than being a "Pocket PC Ponderer", you'll be just a "Ponderer".
Q: The Zune Thoughts forum structure looks quite different from Pocket PC Thoughts and Smartphone Thoughts - where are the "Front Page Posts" forums?
A: Everything will live together inside the one forum. So user posts about hardware will live in the same forum as front-page editorial posts about hardware. It's easier to look in just one place. We're going to be implementing a much improved archive system with metatag support, so it will be ultra-easy to look at archived posts, then filter based on topic if you don't want to manually look through the forum.
Anything else? Fire away! I'll update this document with new Q&A based on reader response.