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Forum Solutions?

What is the current thinking on phpbb, vbulletin, vanillaforums et al?

3:16 pm on Jul 2, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member nick_w is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Hello everyone,

I have a project that needs a forum. One with the long haul in mind -- ie 5yrs minimum. I would have gone straight for vbulletin years ago, but have read some bad things about the current version 5. Im not keen on hosted solutions, and phpbb seems that it may still be lacking features even this far down the road with their project.

What are your thoughts?

What is the best feature-rich, robust, long-term solution for community software?

Many thanks,
4:05 am on July 3, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Sometimes Wikipedia can have useful targeted info:


At least it is a place to start.
7:46 pm on July 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have used SMF for years on several websites. It's been a stable platform to use and is flexible for the different niches needs in community software.
4:45 am on July 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I don't think that there is a single answer to your question. If you're looking for features that phpbb does not incorporate, you're probably ruling out most other forum software. I suggest identifying your "must have" features and using that list to narrow your choices.

vBulletin 4 remains very popular and its community of users have created a huge range of mods, add-ons and styles, most of which are free. vBulletin 5 has a comparatively small assortment, which to me suggests a low rate of adoption. I have a vBulletin 5 license, but have yet to be convinced that it's worth switching from version 4.

I have looked at other forum packages and they all seem to have their own advocates and detractors, along with pluses and minuses. My choice would be different if I were trying to build a technical forum where the archived information was valuable and I wanted robust search features, versus a discussion forum focused on issues of the day where engagement was important but older material would not be of much interest. If I were starting a new forum, I would define my essential feature set and use software speed as the tie-breaker.
5:38 am on July 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Hey nick, welcome back! ;)
Sorry for the late response, I've been on vacation.

Phpbb has many features that can be added on as mods. I find it to be fairly flexible. I make extensive use of the conditional statements to hack the software to display information in ways not possible in a plain vanilla installation. I also hack the code for better SEO and indexing. It can even be hacked to conform to schema metadata conventions. There are third party templates that aren't coded to the neatest standards but they can be easily hacked and modified as well. Phpbb coding seems to be well organized and logical in structure, with sensible naming conventions for the different parts, which makes it easy to modify. I find working with phpBB easier than working with WordPress.
4:40 pm on Aug 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Vbulletin is a sinking ship. IB has all but destroyed the product with the latest version. Its market share has been collapsing the past 3 years.

SMF has suffered from developer stagnation
, as phpBB has. Both suffer from outdated frameworks.

Xenforo is the hottest number now. It's been out for a few years, very stable and a hugely active add-on community. This product is made by the former VBulletin developers, who were at the company when VB products where still good.
1:27 pm on Sept 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Phpbb has many features that can be added on as mods.

This isn't aimed at you in particular but I'd warn anyone to be careful about major modifications and future consequences. In particular if you are clueless about programming, it modifies the core database structure or the mod is not available on phpBB.com. That's not to say offsite mods are bad but the ones on phpBB.com should not compromise future upgrades.

There was a lot of broken forums becsue of mods when phpBB3 came out and if the mod causing the issue was unpopular you were pretty much stuck fixing it for conversion yourself.

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