Better communities begin with the software that powers them.

Best Practices and Flexibility

Waterhole comes with features that streamline building healthy communities, while still giving you the power to create exactly the community you need.

Community management has matured since the early days of forums, and now there are many well-established best practices. Waterhole aims to integrate these thoughtfully into the core product, rather than leaving it all up to you to figure out what you should be doing and piecing together third-party extensions.

Every feature in Waterhole is carefully considered and crafted with the flexibility to serve multiple use cases. For example, you can set up your community Structure with a mix of static Pages, Links, and Channels, each with their own unique layout, filters, instructions, taxonomies, and other functionality. Reactions can be used to power ideation, and Groups can be used to elevate permissions or reward users with status. All of these essential features are built right into the product, so you know they will be consistent, high quality, and well supported.

Nevertheless, every community has different needs which may require further customization. We embrace this challenge and encourage communities to work with developers to take full advantage of Waterhole's extensible open-source codebase, which makes it easy to implement bespoke functionality without accumulating technical debt.

Sustainable Open Source

Waterhole has a sustainable open source business model.

The Waterhole business model is very simple: We make great software. You pay to use it. That money goes back into making the software even better.

Meanwhile, Waterhole is open source. This has some disadvantages, but we believe that the benefits outweigh them. It means that anyone can contribute, build extensions, and you can try Waterhole and make sure it's the right fit for you before you buy a license.

By charging for licenses, we avoid having to undertake other activities which would distract from product development, like soliciting donations, or running services. We believe that others are better placed to offer services around Waterhole, and we encourage freelancers, agencies, and entrepreneurs to seize this opportunity and become a part of the ecosystem.

As a company selling software rather than a service, Waterhole is a much safer bet than many other alternatives. Waterhole licenses are perpetual, meaning that you can keep using the version of Waterhole you paid for, forever. You are always and forever in full control over your server, your code, and your data.

Powerless Technology

Waterhole relies on a simple, resilient, proven technology stack.

From its foundational architecture to the implementation of specific features, Waterhole strives to abide by the Rule of Least Power:

Use the least powerful language suitable for expressing information, constraints or programs on the World Wide Web.

Accordingly, Waterhole is not a Single-Page Application built with a JavaScript framework. Rather, Waterhole is a traditional Multi-Page Application built with the Laravel framework, and progressively-enhanced with Hotwire. This makes for fast page loads and a resilient user experience, even in unfavorable network conditions. And it significantly reduces codebase complexity, leading to a more productive and enjoyable developer experience for anyone working with Waterhole.

Inclusive Design

Waterhole communities should be inclusive and accessible to everyone.

Waterhole embodies an inclusive approach in its Design System – a sane starting point, optimized for usability and human-friendliness. Waterhole will strive to be WCAG compliant and provide a good experience to users of screen readers and alternative input modalities.