Haydenator, let's take your post line by line....
<Wow, you're sure going out of your way to rubbish a developer who's been providing free plugins for years. I'd be embarrassed if I shamelessly plugged my own company while disrespecting a developer of free products on the same screen.>
"Rubbish a developer?" I think not. I simply point out that "just works" is not fact. Many people are having the same problem, and the developer is not responding to this fundamental problem in timely fashion. FREE is meaningless. Our time is worth far, far more than the cost of a commercial product. If a developer is going to tout "just works," then the thing SHOULD just work. This plugin doesn't!
Oh, and where do you get the idea that I'm "shamelessly plugging" my own company? You SO leap to "the developer's" defense that you confuse yourself and clearly did not even carefully read my post, as I'll further point out below.
Where do I "shamelessly plug" my own company? I have NOTHING to do with SimplePress whatsoever, and where would you deduce that I do? Again and again in your post, as I'll further point out, you make logical leaps over tall buildings that would make Superman proud!
<I've had Mingle Forums installed since May and while I find some things are counter-intuitive, I've had no problems with it, nor likely most Mingle Forum users.>
TOTALLY missing the point! The fact that "most" users don't have a problem does not mean that MANY users are not having the problem I describe in this thread. It does NOT "just work" for many users, which is the topic of this thread.
<Considering the number of users that download it each week (1,800 just for last), I'd say the number of questions on the support forum is fairly low.>
TOTALLY missing the point! Most people will just uninstall and move on. Most people won't bother to take the time to try to resolve something that is this fundamentally broken, and they won't take the time to warn others off.
I myself was one of the many users that added to the download statistic you are mentioning here, and I ALSO uninstalled it after it did NOT "just work." Do you have a statistic on what percentage of the downloads resulted in quick uninstalls? Of course not. The fact that many people TRY this plugin says NOTHING about how many people then reject it, as I did.
And your idea that you can extrapolate ANYTHING from the relative "fairly low" number of people posting here is ridiculous on so many levels that I won't even start to take the space to point them out. They SHOULD be obvious. Terrible statistics, and terrible logic. Don't be so defensive!
The thing does NOT "just work," and I (and many others) have every right to point that out and warn people off of the product.
<I also haven't noticed much activity from the developer lately, but I don't expect to considering that I don't owe them anything.>
Yup, and we that warn people on this thread and many other threads across the Net aren't COSTING the developer anything either. TIME is our most valuable commodity, and I would not have wasted mine on this product had I found the many threads about this before devoting hours to trying to get this thing TO WORK (without success).
<I moved from simple:press because it was a bit bloaty for my needs and I couldn't skin it the way I wanted. I had been using BBPress before that and found it didn't suit me. There's nothing wrong with them though but they don't magically set themselves up or "Just work".>
Uhh... you're simply wrong. They DO just work. You install them and CONFIGURE them. Done. They WORK as advertised. They are not "magically" just MISSING fundamental components, like a BUTTON!!!! You are conflating "working" with configuration! Of course all products need to be configured. It's ridiculous that you would compare a MISSING and CRITICAL BUTTON with the need to configure a product.
<Finally there is no "Add Topic" button. It's "New Topic" and provided a user is A) Registered and B) added to the user group and C) user group assigned to the category (if private), they can see and participate in the forum.>
Whatever, and, again, missing the point.
The exact verbiage on the button is not the point. And I'll be forgiven for not getting the exact verbiage right when I CAN NEVER SEE THE FABLED BUTTON!
The point is that everybody having this problem has gone through your suggested steps, A through C (they are obvious). My own configuration was trivially simple, and the button still does not appear. I've troubleshot according to developer instructions, to no avail. Hours spent on this stupidity. Nobody is served by you basically telling us (that don't get the button) that we're all stupid. We are not, and there IS a fundamental problem with this product.
<If you've disabled "Registration required to post" obviously the above doesn't apply.>
You might have ASKED this question before launching into your defensive tirade. But your goal was not to be helpful. Your goal was to demean a poster in defense of the developer.
Think about it....
If all you have to say might well NOT even "apply," then you should have ASKED first.
In fact, I've configured it both ways, with the same result. Again, we having this problem are NOT stupid, and there is a fundamental problem with this product.
You might acknowledge that possibility before you LEAP to the defense of this oh so wonderful developer that is touting a product that "just works" and that in fact JUST DOESN'T (for many people, apparently at random).
<If an unregistered visitor makes a topic or post in a public forum and it does NOT show up for them, it's likely due to caching (conversely, logged in users generally don't get served cached data, so they'll get the update in real-time).>
NOTHING to do with it, and obviously not.
If this plugin has this problem as a caching-related issue, then, again, something is VERY wrong with it... because NONE of the other related plugins suffer from such a fundamental problem as THIS one has!
Caching has nothing to do with it. You're groping.
<If I cannot see "New Topic" I've found it's generally because....>
All your suggestions are red herrings. Been there, done that. Those of us having this issue are not stupid, and it's not a configuration or, as you call it, "set up" issue.
If you read the many threads on the Net about this problem, you will see that people are finding this issue with brand new WP sites, with just this plugin installed, with no registration required, etc., etc.
I myself set up a pure test-bed environment with JUST this plugin, just to get to the bottom of THIS ISSUE, in an attempt to get THIS ONE PLUGIN to work right. No joy.
If this plugin needs some wild, exotic set-up combination beyond all I tried, then this plugin is far too complicated to "set up" to be worth using! I DO enterprise web-based application development for a living. And THIS plugin is fundamentally (and seemingly randomly) broken!
<Nothing "Just works" without setting it up properly first.>
Again, your ridiculous conflation of "set up" and a properly functioning product. EVERY other forums plugin does JUST WORK in the sense that it functions properly. This one does NOT. It is not a configuration or "set up" issue (unless, again, it takes some really wild, exotic "set up" to simply get that damned button to appear)!
There is, of course, no "perfect" forum plugin out there. Nobody is asking for that! I was looking for one that "just works," and this one does not.
If "setting it up properly first" means doing more than I tried on my test-bed (to no avail), then this plugin is FAR too difficult to "set up properly" to be worth the time. "Just works" implies what EVERY other forums plugin I tried actually delivers: You install it, and ALL of the basic functionality is immediately present. "Configuration," then, becomes a matter of look/feel and permissions issues.
And whatever is WRONG with this plugin is not fundamentally a permissions issue!
When even a site administrator user cannot see the "New Topic" button, something about this plugin is patently ridiculous! There is NO configuration/settings combination that should have that result! And NO other forums plugin has that result!
Oh, and I'm not going to get into a back-and-forth with you on this thread, so if you reply, I won't be baited. The facts are what they are. This plugin does NOT "just work," and those of us that find it does not are not missing something in the "set up" or stupid. It's BROKEN for many people, and until that FACT is resolved, this plugin is NOT worth the time to install and "set up."