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