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It also appears that only the forum index page is capable of passing PR and showing up in a backlink check. But viewforum.php and viewtopic.php pages are still showing up in the Google serps for searches.
Backlinks are no longer showing up from the memberlist (the URL listed by members used to show in their backlinks from that memberlist page) despite the page being PR4+ - not sure if PR is still being passed though.
phpbb.com has a ton of information on using mod_rewrite on these boards, altough I have not tried it myself. And I am not sure how it would handle any upgrades and/or adding mods/hacks.
Modrewrite would be hard to implement on a standard basis in a release such as phpBB, but certainly not impossible. At a minimum it would be nice to have a decent tutorial on the subject, as most of the ones out there specifically for phpBB are pretty convoluted.
Normally, there are no problems with this kind of dynamic pages (Of course, it depends on the number of parameters and names used.). They get PR, back links are shown and they are ranked as normal.
This isn't the case with phpBB (although it is in most others). phpBB appends a variable called "sid" to the end of every url to pass the session id which pretty much everyone agrees will divert Gbot to greener pastures. I'm not saying that Gbot WON'T spider them at all, I'm just saying it's a bit leary of them. Any variable with the letter combo ID seems to trigger this behavior. Every site I've seen that quit using id as a variable had a significant improvement in spider activity and depth of crawl after the change.
IMO getting rid of sids is essential to getting decent rankings on a forum. Look at this forum for heavens sake. Do you see many (if any) dynamic urls? Why do you think it ranks so well and has great PR when other boards just as large and popular don't?
As far as the viewtopic and viewforum files.... who knows? Some people believe that dynamic pages are automatically weighted less heavily than static just as a function of being dynamic. GG says they're not penalized outright so maybe that portion is simply a function of the dynamic url problem. Nobody knows for sure. In either case, modrewrite fixes it.