If You Were Building A Forum, What Software Would You Go With?

51 replies
It's easy to spread yourself too thin, and I imagine building a forum (at least a successful one is no easy task.)

However, I plan on taking on this challenge very soon, (I've already got my domain purchased).

My questions to the WF Community are:

1. What do you think is the best software to build a forum with (I'm considering Vbulletin (really expensive :/), but all my sites are on GoDaddy and I heard it's a pain to setup).

2. After picking your software, what skills do you think are needed to set it up. I want to take the task on myself, I've built several websites, but my skills are limited to Html and Css.

3. Grabbing your initial 100 members. What methods would you use to draw people in?

4. Do you think a nice header/image is a waste of time to design for a forum, I noticed the warrior forum header is very simple. But for the forum I want to design, it's on a very specific topic that I would love to have a graphic artist design a header for like the one on my website RatRaceWatch - Anti 9 to 5 Community

Thanks,
Ryan
#building #forum #software
  • Profile picture of the author RatRaceWatch
    Originally Posted by Christian Chan View Post

    It was talked about before. Xenforo.
    I wasn't going to say anything, but then I thought, why not :0.

    I understand that there is a massive amount of information on this site, and I'm sure there have been many posts that have mentioned what I've said before (of course not exactly what I'm asking).

    But before you crafted your 6 word response, did you think that maybe going with the mindset that people should search every topic and research that it hasn't been covered before might not be the brightest of ideas?

    Think about it like this:

    Imagine going in a bookstore (and lets just say, all the books are free):

    You go over to the SEO section (and basically what you're proposing, correct me if I'm wrong).

    All the information on SEO was in one book. (We wouldn't want several books on SEO because, often they will be covering some of the same info.)

    Yes... that's right one book, and it would be thousands upon thousands of pages to meet this requirement.

    I use this as a metaphor for what you are proposing. Sure, if someone wants to search through the forum, and contribute to a conversation, by all means, let them do so.

    But if someone doesn't want to read through 100's of pages (many, which may get off topic and have nothing to do with the discussion at hand), and post a few questions related to their title, then they should have every right to do so.

    If people are tired of seeing a familiar topic, then ignore it, and continue on to reading information that pertains to your liking.

    Maybe I misunderstood your intentions with your post, but I thought I'd clarify that. I'm sure there will be those that agree and disagree, but I find it unfair to propose a system that might not be as beneficial as you might think.
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  • Profile picture of the author Nick Walker
    1. What do you think is the best software to build a forum with (I'm considering Vbulletin (really expensive :/), but all my sites are on GoDaddy and I heard it's a pain to setup).
    No doubt Vbulletin is the way to go. Of course forums are pains to set up, but i have got no idea why you are talking about GoDaddy...?

    2. After picking your software, what skills do you think are needed to set it up. I want to take the task on myself, I've built several websites, but my skills are limited to Html and Css.
    php and css, i don't think forums need Html that much..

    3. Grabbing your initial 100 members. What methods would you use to draw people in?
    directory submission, social networking, social bookmarking... buy banners (mostly)

    4. Do you think a nice header/image is a waste of time to design for a forum, I noticed the warrior forum header is very simple. But for the forum I want to design, it's on a very specific topic that I would love to have a graphic artist design a header for like the one on my website RatRaceWatch - Anti 9 to 5 Community
    Header / Image? i hope you're talking about logo. Logos are to be simple. look at nike. its a tick, and we all know its nike, same with adidas puma etc.
    Make them simple
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    • Profile picture of the author RatRaceWatch
      Originally Posted by Nick Walker View Post

      No doubt Vbulletin is the way to go. Of course forums are pains to set up, but i have got no idea why you are talking about GoDaddy...?


      Header / Image? i hope you're talking about logo. Logos are to be simple. look at nike. its a tick, and we all know its nike, same with adidas puma etc.
      Make them simple
      GoDaddy is the hosting I'm using. From what I've read online, people have had difficulties using vbulletin with godaddy hosting (not sure the exact details).


      ??? - "i hope you're talking about logo" - Forums can't have headers? Huh?
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  • Profile picture of the author RatRaceWatch
    Very rude - Christian Chan, I've seen some of your recent negative unhelpful responses on other posts, this is a forum designed to help people.... (guess you missed that point) karma is a ____. Best of luck to you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Geekman
    There are no difficulties in vBulletin with godaddy and vB is the best forum software as far as I know.
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    • Profile picture of the author Net Solutions
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      I usually go for Vbulletin, it is user friendly as well as inexpensive to setup and run..
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  • Profile picture of the author Geraldm
    vBulletin all the way!!
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  • Profile picture of the author showmack
    You should outsource this task. I have seen programmers doing it in less than $100. They will also change the header logo etc in the same amount. If you need further modification then you can try purchasing some skins for it, which you can get in very cheap price. You just need to search it on google.

    As per my thoughts it is very easy to setup a forum, however the difficult task is to market it!
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    • Profile picture of the author RatRaceWatch
      Originally Posted by showmack View Post

      You should outsource this task. I have seen programmers doing it in less than $100. They will also change the header logo etc in the same amount. If you need further modification then you can try purchasing some skins for it, which you can get in very cheap price. You just need to search it on google.

      As per my thoughts it is very easy to setup a forum, however the difficult task is to market it!
      Yeah, this is something I've though about doing since setting up a forum is not in my area of expertise.

      Costs might be a little high purchasing a license, i think it's around 170ish for vbulletin, and then hiring someone to set it up.

      Do you know what kind of hosting account you would have to have, in order to handle the high load of information and members that could be on there.

      I would prefer to stick within the godaddy interface (if anyone has any success with a hosting plan that can handle a high-traffic forum).
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Baker
    If you want to go free, then phpBB is the way to go. It has a fantastic Admin Control Panel and very easy to use.

    Paid wise, which is my preference, I would go with either Invision Power Board or vBulletin. They are the 2 best forum software makers in the world. They have a huge database of modifications/hacks to add more functionality and they are also the 2 most secured. Their support forums are also incredible useful if you ever run into any troubles.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
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      Originally Posted by Mike Baker View Post

      If you want to go free, then phpBB is the way to go. It has a fantastic Admin Control Panel and very easy to use.
      This ^^^ exactly.

      For myself, phpBB is about all I'd consider. Not mostly because of the money, but because of the convenience and the fact that I know anything else would be too difficult and complicated for me, and I'd only run into problems and end up outsourcing all sorts of things. phpBB is a pleasure to use. Even I can cope with it, and that's a real "ease of use" recommendation.
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    • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
      Originally Posted by Mike Baker View Post

      I would go with either Invision Power Board .
      + 1 fantastic support team and product IPB
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  • Profile picture of the author GeorgR.
    I am currently using SMF as a fun side-project on my forum

    1UP SEO Webmaster & Internet Marketing Forum - Index

    I like it much better than phpbb. Otherwise i would go with VB...but i think SMF comes VERY close and it's free.
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  • Profile picture of the author JeffNormand
    Another vote for vBulletin. It's not hard to setup even on GoDaddy

    Also you can get their basic package, and upgrade later minus a fee if you want to expand.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kezz
    For me personally my preferred combo is WordPress + Simpleress plugin, using s2member to handle payment if it's to be paid access.

    Here's why.

    phpBB is a fantastic forum script, the best of the free scripts imho, and if you just want a free access forum it's a win.

    But, if you want to integrate a payment gateway you basically can't. The only extensions that were created to handle this are long since abandoned. And if you want to have any other aspects to your site, such as member's only content dripping or anything like that, you can't.

    vBulletin is also a great script, but as others have said it's a beast to both pay for and to manage.

    It doesn't have its strong reputation for no reason of course, but for me personally I like to be able to get in and make changes and setup different configs without it being a headache, or without having to pay out large dev costs for custom mods.

    On the other hand, I've used WP + Simpleress + s2member and have been very happy with the results.

    Simpleress works as a plugin but is very robust and feature packed and is easily on par with many other free forum scripts. But, being WP based it is much easier to modify the look and feel etc. They also have a new version coming out soon which promises to be lighter and have more features. Simpleress

    It integrates beautifully with s2member which gives you your paywall. And because you're using s2member to control access, you can give members at varying levels access not only to certain rooms in your forum, but also to certain parts of your site such as dripped content or special downloads. s2Member.com

    And then because it's all WordPress, it's waaaay easier and hence cheaper to get the look setup how you want it and get everything optimized for SEO and performance. All stacks up as a big WIN.

    And regarding hosting, yes I would suggest GoDaddy is not your best option. As a web developer I've worked with many different hosts for my clients and their service is without doubt the slowest, most problem ridden and unreliable. My recommendation is Host Duplex for excellent service and utmost reliability. I switched to them from Hostgator and haven't looked back. Host Duplex | XenServer VPS | Shared Web Hosting | Dedicated Servers
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    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Evans
      VBulletn hands down.

      I've made the mistake of building (now well established) forums with phpbb. It's missing so many features, namely live user tracking i.e whose viewing which threads etc.
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      • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
        Banned
        Originally Posted by webcore View Post

        I've made the mistake of building (now well established) forums with phpbb. It's missing so many features, namely live user tracking i.e whose viewing which threads etc.
        That's available in the current version, Webcore: "Admin" can certainly see what any user's doing (I'm not sure if "Moderators" can but I'm guessing they can). Please excuse me if I'm casting erroneous aspersions, but I'm wondering whether your information may be a little out of date, here? :confused:
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    • Profile picture of the author Lloyd Buchinski
      Originally Posted by Kezz View Post

      And regarding hosting, yes I would suggest GoDaddy is not your best option. As a web developer I've worked with many different hosts for my clients and their service is without doubt the slowest, most problem ridden and unreliable.
      I haven't used them myself but just wanted to back this up a bit. Their domain registration service does have some strong points, but their hosting gets negative comments regularly. I researched thoroughly before deciding on hosting. Godaddy wasn't on any list at all, but if I did have to make one it would be titled the 'don't even consider' list.

      One developer commented that he charges extra for the same job on their hosting, or he turns it down.

      I don't consider this forum to be a good one for hosting information. WebHostingTalk.com has it beat for that topic. Do a few searches there.
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      • Profile picture of the author Spartacus
        I'd say vBulletin. Otherwise free ones like phpBB and SMF. Of which both I've used and work great, I'm not sure about the same though these days. I know there are plenty of other free ones that look great but I've never used them.
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  • Profile picture of the author Clyde
    Xenforo. They are ex-Vbulletin programmers. They left because Vbulletin started sucking.
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  • Profile picture of the author RatRaceWatch
    Xenoforo seems to look good, possibly simpler to use? I wonder how it stacks up against Vbulletin :0
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  • Profile picture of the author spiker12
    Once you have significant content in your forum, how hard is it to switch? Say from simple machines to v bulletin?
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    • Profile picture of the author PeerFly
      Originally Posted by spiker12 View Post

      Once you have significant content in your forum, how hard is it to switch? Say from simple machines to v bulletin?
      It's easy. They offer importers for people to easily switch.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Meaney
    My vote goes to Vbulletin too..

    All my forums use it, the WF uses it and most of the big online communities use it.

    Good support too.
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  • Profile picture of the author RatRaceWatch
    Has anyone had any experience with both Xenoforo and Vbulletin, they both look pretty darn good, and i've been reading a lot about them online, but i trust my fellow warriors opinions :0
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  • Profile picture of the author JaySaldivar
    You can't go wrong with PHPBB is free and open source and have a vast community behind it that supports it. However if you want to get more serious, the best software out there is vBulletin, it's not free, but even Warriorforum uses it, it's a nice piece of software for those purposes.
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  • Profile picture of the author BenKJunya
    Ikonboard is a wide ranging web bulletin board system. It excels the limits that are forced by the other bulletin board software’s which will allow you to make beyond doubt unique community on your website with very few hassles. It has a wide template and skins features. It supports multi-lingual support and definitely your members will keep coming back for more information.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rukshan
    I prefer VBulletin. Other forums software are not up to standard.
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  • Profile picture of the author spearce000
    I built one forum site around phpBB, but found it was vulnerable to hackers. I changed it over to a Simple Machines forum which I liked better anyway, and would certainly recommend. The Fireboard plugin for Joomla is another good, free/open source solution - especially if you want to have a forum as a spin-off of a sales site.
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  • Profile picture of the author Chri5123
    I would go with Vbulletin or phpBB if you want a good free choice.

    Chris
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  • Profile picture of the author Lloyd Buchinski
    Xenoforo really is interesting. One detail I liked (in one of the links already posted) is that when someone submits a post, the page does not refresh. They just see the post added to the page. Slick

    VBulletin isn't doing so well lately. For all the people mentioning this forum, there might be a good reason why we are not using the current version which has been out for months. It has had a lot of negative press and complaints.

    I also prefer SMF over phpbb. Unless I felt very sure about a site, I would start it off with a free forum. It is standard that you can import from all the major forums into the paid ones. Of course it would be worth double checking that to make sure.
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    • Profile picture of the author PeerFly
      Originally Posted by RatRaceWatch View Post

      Has anyone had any experience with both Xenoforo and Vbulletin, they both look pretty darn good, and i've been reading a lot about them online, but i trust my fellow warriors opinions :0
      Compare the attitude of users on XenForo to the attitude of the users on vBulletin. Compare vB4 to XenForo 1.1. Big Bigger Biggest XF Forums | XenForo Community contains a list of some of the biggest xF forums. More and more forums are converting from vBulletin to XenForo and for good reason.

      Originally Posted by Lloyd Buchinski View Post

      VBulletin isn't doing so well lately. For all the people mentioning this forum, there might be a good reason why we are not using the current version which has been out for months. It has had a lot of negative press and complaints.
      Agreed. This forum uses 3.8.7, which is fine but vB4.X.X is hideous.
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  • Profile picture of the author RatRaceWatch
    That's a great catch Lloyd. I didn't even realize this site was on the older version, and thnx for the info Peerfly.

    It's a tough choice. When I get the chance, I want to go as professional as possible, because I'm absolutely confident I'm going to have a successful forum :0.

    Based on what I've read, it really is down to V Bulletin and Xenoforo, with xeno taking a slight lead.

    Loving all the feedback :0

    My main thing is, if I have a high-traffic forum, will I need an upgraded hosting plan. I'd like to do everything via godaddy if possible (yes I realize there may be better hosting plans) but that's where all my domains reside, and I'm very comfortable with the interface.

    Any ideas on the plan I would need for maybe a forum, that has 10,000 members, maybe 1000 active members online at a time.

    What kind of cost and plans would I be looking at.

    Thnx!
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  • Profile picture of the author davezan
    Try asking your question in WebHostingTalk.com. Mention especially the numbers (e.g. number
    of members, expected price) so hosting providers who participate there can better tell you.

    Bare minimum, I would say you will need a Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting to manage that
    forum with that member count. Dynamic software like online forums and blogs tend to eat up
    a lot of server resources that are generally shared among various users, especially if you'll use
    "lots" of plugins to do extra stuff in them.

    Wish I could tell you more, but I'm also still learning this stuff. Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author frankl
    If you want a free software, go with MyBB. It's easy to use and it has a good development team.

    If you want more professional script, IPB or Xenforo is the best choice, I think. I wouldn't waste my time with VB.
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  • Profile picture of the author londoncoffee
    Hi Ratrace,
    thinking about starting a Forum myself. Been looking at xenforo and it looks pretty cool. If ever you need help, you can get people on this forum for help with set-up and take a look at Fiverr for logo design and other stuff you can outsource.
    Good luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author RatRaceWatch
    What do you guys think the learning curve is on setting up vbulletin or xenoforo yourself?

    Would you deem it possible for someone that is made several websites with strictly html and css skills?
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  • Profile picture of the author wherrington
    I went with vbulletin but that was because I had a membership paying forum so wanted it to be high quality and something that wouldn't limit the amount of plugins/technology I could put into it.

    There were also some custom builds that people made for vbulletin that really suited the niche I was in, so I went with it as the development community is very active and professional.
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    • Profile picture of the author commoditytrainer
      Originally Posted by firentire View Post

      I would recommend vBulletin. Is the best you can get, but the license is almost $200.
      The license is 15 dollars and you can get a forum through VB for 185 or if you want to have blogs, the full meal deal for 270 plus 15 for the license. After you pay the 15 dollar license fee, the you can have multiple boards for the cost, if the board is 185 then that is it.
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  • Profile picture of the author commoditytrainer
    I would go with VB without a doubt. It is by far the best as you can see many of the most popular forums are using VB.

    We have a contest on our forum if you are interested:

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  • Profile picture of the author sitemarketer
    I might consider Embeddable Forums by Tal.ki

    However, what I actually did is just use my support desk so everything is in one place. Currently using ZenDesk for a few reasons, but Assistly will likely be my choice when it implements a few features I'm waiting for.
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  • Profile picture of the author abubakar89
    vBulletin ...... its most widely used

    as you said you want to do all stuff yourself so vBulletin would be best choice as you will find a lot of how to tutorials for vBulletin but not for others

    I hope this helps
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