Our core engineering team is focusing on many of the infrastructure issues you’ve mentioned. We have only one employee (me) working on this project.
For further context, I’m part of Wattpad Labs which is different from Wattpad Core–Core focuses on the platform, app etc. There are dozens (maybe 100?) people who work for Wattpad Core.
As Labs, I work alone on projects to help Wattpad users without taking our main team away from their focus. I do the design, engineering, everything so explorations like these forums come at as low of a cost as possible for Wattpad. You’re right that old Clubs seemed to work just fine but like @Makaylasophia I believe supporting community interaction is essential to Wattpad’s future.
Our current forums are a Frankenstein version of Vanilla and custom (pHp) code which means that we can’t easily upgrade it w/Vanilla’s updates and our hacks to the forums create a lot of issues and tech debt for our platform. You might not realize it, but our current forums aren’t as stable as they seem and there are small fires which occur and take engineers away from their focus fixing and updating core features. Sometimes it’s actually issues on Clubs that cause issues for all users with our platform.
So, I wanted to try out a new version of Clubs to see if it would work for users so that our forums could be maintained more easily and stop monopolizing time and causing platform-wide issues for our engineers.
Plus, this version of forums should be easier and better for Ambassadors to moderate. They’re incredible community members who we value and need to support.
I also believe in the social features of Wattpad. PMs, forums, etc are important to me as a writer and lover of Wattpad. I want to continue focusing on them because (probably like you) my friendships on Wattpad are important to me. By updating our social tools, we can join in the conversations here on any device, anywhere, with no down time which gives us more opportunities to connect, find answers, advice, and friends.