6 Different Types Of Free Forum Software You Can Use To Build A Forum

6 Different Types Of Free Forum Software You Can Use To Build A Forum

One of the first decisions you will make when starting a forum is deciding on what forum software to use. There are many options, both free and paid. But that’s not to say that there aren’t some great free forum software option available. There is a respectable list of great forum software options out there.

Here are six of them:

#1 PHPBB

phpBB Forum Software
phpBB is one of the top free forum software options available. It’s open-source, but what is unique is that they provide a unique and helpful database which contains all user created plugins. Everything is organized well and easy to find. Like MyBB, there are several plugins to choose from to customize however needed so the two are close competitors. Deciding which is better would be based solely on preference.

There are few things that give phpBB an edge from my experience. One notable feature would be their support section, which is well put together and extremely informative.

As far as actual features go phpBB seems to have better security from the start. They also provide anti-spam tools. Other than that many of the features you start with are similar to that of MyBB, except for the reputation system which is unique to MyBB. This is where it becomes a matter of preference. Due to the many plugins available with both of them, it’s always possible to customize to your needs, but it all depends on how much you want to customize.

Get phpBB Forum Software

#2 XMB Forums

XMB Forum Software
XMB is a good place to start if you’re new to forum hosting. They provide all the basic tools you need to get started. You can edit administration settings, templates, add/remove topics, and member settings. There are other tools available, but for the most part, nothing too complex, just your forum basics. Great for beginners.

Get XMB Forum Software

#3 UseBB

UseBB Forum Software
UseBB has the simplicity of XMB, but with a little more to offer in terms of security and anti-spam features.
There are also extra features for users to customize their profiles like remote avatars for example.

Get UseBB Forum Software

#4 FluxBB

FluxxBB Forum Software
Flux was born after forking from PunBB after it’s founder Rickard Andersson left the project in 2008. For a long time PunBB was widely used for many open-source and commercial product’s discussion boards, and several currently use FluxBB due to many of the ported over features.

Flux prides itself in it’s ease of use, fast speed enabled through their superb code, clean admin interface, flexible permission system, and powerful moderator tools that allow for easy user and consequence/reward management.

One drawback is that adding modifications might not be as easy of a task as other forum software on this list, because doing so requires manually editing source code. There are still a few plugins available, but not as many as you would expect. There are plenty of features already available for discussion boards. Unless you want serious in-depth customization there is not much more that would need to be downloaded.

Get FluxxBB Forum Software

#5 MyBB

MyBB Forum Software
What is great about MyBB is that it is both free and open-source. As a result there are hundreds of modifications and plugins at your disposal. Unlike FluxBB, MyBB will not require you to edit a single line of code. There is nothing for you to have to add anything. You get ease of access and amazing versatility. It truly is the ultimate sandbox for forum enthusiasts.

Features available by default will give you all the basics. Convenient administration, built in templates and theme editors, a reputation/warning system, a tasks system which helps with maintenance, easy moderation, private messaging, calendars and events, a mass mailing system, and fast performance. It even has MySQL, PostgreSQL and SQLite database support with replication/slave support built in. Any other features you would need can easily be added using modifications and plugins.

Get MyBB Forum Software

#6 PHP-Nuke

PHP Nuke Forum Module
Unlike all of the other software on this list PHP-Nuke is more of a content management system. It’s interface includes features that are specialized for online news sites, making it the perfect choice for any professional online publication.

For example, there is a WordPress like editing system so that authors can save pending posts which editors can edit before publishing. It also includes several features many news sites have such as a “Top Story” section to display the most popular stories at the top of the web page, surveys or polls to gather reader opinions on political events (or whatever poll you want to create), as well as archives to provide access to older articles. The features would also work wonderfully for guest contributor blogs as well.

PHP-Nuke can be more than just a news content management system. It’s a cake walk to add a discussion board, and as the name implies, it is PHP based. This forum software is based on bb2nuke which is a popular open-source ported version of PHP-Nuke revamped as a phpBB discussion board.

There are several add-ons and plugins available for the software which would enable users to customize their site to be able to do just about anything.

Get PHP-Nuke Forum Software

The Top Paid Forum Software Options

The last two forum software providers on this list are not free, but they are both well worth the costs. Just imagine forum software that incorporates everything we have talked about so far, but better. Let’s just say they should definitely be options you should look into, and here’s why.

vBulletin

vBulletin Forum Software
vBulletin is written in PHP, works on any operating system, and uses a MySQL database server.

vBulletin has two versions, one that is just their classic forum client, and another that is not just forum software. It also an article-based Content Management System and blogging software. This is what gives vBulletin a bit of an edge over all the others. They provide the most versatile all-in one solution for whatever you need. But, if all you need is the basic forum essentials they have you covered with the classic version, which still has easy to apply plugins.

Get vBulletin Forum Software

XenForo

XenForo Forum Software
XenForo has several influences from vBulletin because a few of the developers from vBulletin also worked on XenForo. It is written in PHP and works on pretty much any operating system. Due to it’s popularity there are several hosts that support XenForo as well, including us.

Interesting features include a “like” system a little bit like Facebook or Reddit, and it also has a feature that rewards users with trophies for reaching certain milestones of participation. User features like these encourage social engagement and participation in a way that other forum software solutions don’t explore. There are also several unique SEO features built in which has probably contributed to it’s popularity. They also do a great job with security and anti-spam.

Many of the default features will probably be enough for whatever you will need to do with your forum, but just in case, there is also a huge database of modifications and plugins at your disposal. Not only are add-ons simple to apply, but XenForo framework makes them simple to build as well.

Get XenForo Forum Software

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Post Written by
Greg Middlesworth is the owner of URLjet.

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