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Forum Moderators: phranque
Using a third party provider means that you should get a "plug and play" service with all the security issues off your shoulders and the bandwidth on somebody elses server. Personally I would go with a "free" hosted service to see if the forum was going to take off (many don't) and then either switch to a paid (ad-free) hosted service or install software on my server.
I have seen people complaining bitterly about forum providers because they expected particular features which hadn't been offered. As a rule of thumb if they don't tell you that a feature is provided then assume that it isn't.
Ah, that makes sense. I use punBB / phpBB myself. You can check out some of the free open source forums here:
They pretty much cover all the main free ones for you to test drive.
joined:Apr 13, 2002
There are other things you can hack yourself like removing memberlist file from the server, and all links to it, stop the display of websites in profiles, etc. It's easy to modify, whatever you don't like just hunt down the files where they live and ax them or improve them.
Having said that hosting is quite cheap and I agree with the other above. Get a host, installation and keeping them up to date are quite easy. Once you learn your way around, if for example you install phpbb3 to update a stock install to latest you only have to upload the new files overwriting the old ones then point your browser at the update script for the database. Takes literally minutes and requires no skill other than knowing how to use an a FTP program. It's when you start adding modifications to the scripts that it becomes an issue.
phpbb / punbb both are good but their anti-spam system is broken to death
The new image captcha in phpbb3 is quite good, no reports of any forum being spammed by bots. Other mesures have been taken to make it less desirable for humans to register, the memeberlist and profiles are hidden from bots.
As far as phpbb2 there is a big thread stickied in the phpbb2 support forum with about 20 mods listed for anti spam, the ones that ask a question are the best for fighting off bots. My experience is that it will eliminate them entirely. There's other mods for making it less desirable for human spammers to sign up..