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Community Building and User Generated Content Forum

    
Help! What is the best forum software?
Need easy to use software and tips on forums!
justsold




msg:1562678
 6:20 pm on Aug 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi there! I would like to start a forum on my web site, part to be used for my real estate business for consumer questions and part to be used for our neighborhood association. Not concerned with revenue as much as sharing information, easy installation and ease of use. Is it better to buy the software and have it on the web site or to do one of the free forums that is hosted separately? If it is on the web site is it just hosted by my normal webmaster? Am I understanding correctly that a forum on my web site also produces fresh content for the search engines which is a good thing? I use Front Page to post things to my web site - does the forum software create a new folder that is in my Front Page web site? How does this all work?!

Diann

[edited by: rogerd at 2:37 am (utc) on Aug. 16, 2004]
[edit reason] No URLs please... [/edit]

 

Psycho111




msg:1562679
 12:30 am on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Forums are rather easy to setup and there are quite a few good ones that are free.

I suggest you edit out your url before the mods do....it isn't allowed here.

justsold




msg:1562680
 12:52 am on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

sorry - I did not know about the URL thing! Each forum has such different rules! Can I still take it out from the post above?

[edited by: justsold at 1:34 am (utc) on Aug. 16, 2004]

vkaryl




msg:1562681
 1:16 am on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Diann - as long as you can see an "owner edit" option in the left sidebar under your username, you can edit the post.

If you have a decent host (one that allows access to the cgi-bin etc.) you'd be well-advised to use phbBB or one of the other free forum software packages around. They have a generally short learning curve, and are very easy to administer. In fact, you should check with your host to see if they have a forum or so available to you for install through their control panel.

This forum is a great place to start. Welcome to Webmaster World!

rogerd




msg:1562682
 2:42 am on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Diann, your server may help determine which forum works best. If you have Windows hosting, you'll be able to more easily run ASP forums, while if you have Linux/UNIX hosting you may find it more straightforward to set up the PHP/MySQL forums. There are also PERL forums that can be adapted to various servers.

These aren't hard and fast rules, as you can run PHP on Windows, for example - from a support standpoint, though, it may be easier to use one of the "native" packages.

grelmar




msg:1562683
 6:12 am on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm not going to particularly recommend a specific package, but I would recommend against the free hosted services, if it is going to be in any way attached to a business.

All the "free hosted" boards come with a cost: advertising. And that can look a little cheap on something that's attached to a business. Also, you run the risk of advertising for the competition, especially with the way more and more ad-serving is based on content matching. If your BBS is about real estate, I would expect the ad-server to eventually clue in, and serve up ads relating ot real estate, some of which will be in direct conflict with your business.

If you're going to install a package BBS on your hosting service, look closely at the different ones available. There are some excelent "free" software packs out there. (YaBB and phpBB come to mind).

The advantages of the free (open source) packs are:
- Cost (duh)
- Available Modifications: Both the above mentioned BBS software packages are open source, which means there is a large community of people out there contributing modifications and templates, and all sorts of ways to customize the software.

Downside of Open Source:
- Can be trickier to install than some of the paid packages, and tend to require a bit more knowledge, in general, to operate.
- There is no such thing as "customer support", but there will be a large user base willing to help out and share personal experiences.

As for the paid packages:
- Well, I wouldn't know. I have more time than money so I stick to the open source solutions. I hear that some tend to be easier to install, have better instructions and decent customer support.

Paid/hosted packages:
- Basically, for a small monthly fee, there are companies that will operate a BBS for you. You just have to tweak a few settings as far as general look and certain basic functions. The easiest, least hassle, but most expensive route in the long term.

For a BBS that you install on server space you already pay for: Basically, it's a one shot deal. Get it installed and up and running, and looking the way you want, then forget about it, other than watching and participating, of course.

justsold




msg:1562684
 6:28 am on Aug 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks you guys! I am going to check out ALL your suggestions and I am sure I will have LOTS more questions!

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