After doing extensive research on which bulletin board to install, I'm more confused than ever! I'm somewhat handy with basic website maintenance but I am by no means a programmer. So, the simpler, the better. Essentially, I'd like to just "set it and forget it" when it comes to a bulletin board (aside from posting content and promoting the board).
- bbpress: I don't really need a Wordpress site with an attached forum, though that would be nice. But it seems bbpress requires a bit of manual installation and is fairly basic and no-frills. A lot of people recommend Simple:Press as an alternative, especially since it's a plugin, but worry about ongoing support and the future of it, plus potential integration issues. However, since having a blog or regular website along with the forum isn't 100% crucial, I'm willing to forgo this option. Plus both have potential issues with the username being active on Wordpress as well as the bulletin board.
- SMF: there seem to be a lot of people in favor of SMF bulletin boards due to ease of use and less vulnerable to security issues. However, (and this is subjective), some people are concerned that its appearance is too bland and themes aren't that good. Plus, potentially a bit less support than phpbb, though still pretty decent.
- PHPBB: the undisputed long term leader in free bulletin boards. Might be more familiar to the general public, though rumor has it that it's less secure than other bulletin boards. Potentially more support and many good themes.
- VBulletin: good, but you pay for it. At this point, I'm not prepared to spend money on the bulletin board. Perhaps in future, if/when the community builds up and can justify the cost, I may consider switching a paid bulletin board.
My hosting includes Fantastico, so it will install SMF and PHPBB, hence that part is easy. Not sure if I'd need to customize much, but if it's too far beyond my level of expertise, I'd have to outsource the work, which somewhat defeats the purpose of a free bulletin board. It's a toss-up between SMF (potentially more stable) and PHPBB (more common and easier to get support and themes). In the past, I've set up both of these bulletin boards and they both got overrun with spam from automated bots, so neither one is immune to this.
The community I'm setting this up for will be mostly for a small group of people. Of course it's hard to estimate how many users there will be, but it's for a niche topic that will apply to apply to a narrow range of people. I estimate it will start slowly, but could have a few hundred members in a year or two. And if I'm lucky, maybe a few thousand. Again, I want to just set it and forget (as much as possible) as far as installation and maintenance. For my situation, which do you think is best?
If possible, I'd prefer to be able to set this up myself and not need to outsource any of the work, though if needed, I may consider doing so for an otherwise great all around bulletin board.