Of course I've looked at the basics, SMF, PHbb, VBulletin. VBulletin looks like the best for the whole shebang at $500. The others are free.
I know there are a lot of smart people on here who know a lot more about forums than I do and was wondering what your recommendation is, and why.
I don't mind paying but off the get go I'd probably want to get a free one or relatively cheap one to see what kind of following w are going to build for the particular niche. Then of course there is the issue about upgrading in the future and then losing the forum and all the discussions, so.... Probably best to just get something and stick with it.
I appreciate any help and insight into this.