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Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Way To Add Forums To a Website?

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the let-my-people-post dept.

Social Networks 259

First time accepted submitter DustyMurray writes "I am considering adding forums to my website, and am just getting confused by all the options. My first reaction is always DIY. You get better website integration, and it looks and feels 100% how you want it to look and feel. However looking at things like phpBB and Vanilla forums, I will be hard pressed to build a better user experience in a reasonable amount of time. Also these out-of-the-box solutions seem to be shouting 'Easy to integrate with your website.' So, considering this, how easy are these ready build forums really to integrate? I want to be able to insert stuff on certain pages, so it's not either the forums, or my site... It must be a mix. I do not want a second login system on my site. And last but not least, I definitely don't want to have this typical generic look that most forums sport. Can all that be delivered with the out-of-the-box forums that exist today? Which one is the most flexible regarding these wishes?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

vBulletin (5, Informative)

DevTecha (2772183) | about 2 years ago | (#41949459)

I would say that vBulletin [vbulletin.com] is your best choice. It has a huge amount of features you're going to love.

Seriously, building something like vBulletin would take you years with all the front-end and admin panel features. It is also customizable to every site so that it can look the same as your site (but maintains the usability users have adjusted to on other sites). This is also performance thing apart from features - you most likely lack the knowledge to make high performance forum as good as vBulletin guys have.

I've seen large sites that have connected their website with vBulletin, so it is possible. Not only that, but vBulletin actually has vBulletin Connect that lets you build your website around vBulletin. Some CMS (Content Management Systems) also support vBulletin directly.

One specific large site I use daily did convert from their proprietary system they had used for more than 10 years. vBulletin was their choice, and while it did take a few months to convert that old system, the forum now works much better and supports way more features that users like. If you are making a new site you can obviously do it correctly the first time and skip the conversion.
If you are doing this as work for a professional site, I would stay away from phpBB and other free solutions. While it's possible to use them, you don't get any support and they're hard to integrate exactly the way you want to. They also tend to lack on the features that something like vBulletin has.

vBulletin really is your best choice. It's a little pricy, but for what you get the price is more than justified.

Re:vBulletin (1, Insightful)

ravenswood1000 (543817) | about 2 years ago | (#41949481)

I would recommend vBulletin also. The skins are a bit difficult to work around but that is rather common. I run two different forums with about 10k users a peice. No troubles at all and vBulletin does have some pretty good technical support.

Re:vBulletin (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949541)

The other benefit of using a pre-done popular forum setup is there's already many mobile apps that integrate with the forum software to make the experience for mobile users even better than using the built in browser.

Two I can name are ForumRunner and TapaTalk. Both are free to integrate with your forum (IIRC), and offer a free, ad supported mobile app or a paid-for ad free mobile app.

Very nice

Re:vBulletin (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41949833)

The downside is it will be constantly full of porn+Viagra+poker spam.

The spammers have got their scripts for attacking all the popular bulletin boards down to a fine art...

Re:vBulletin (2, Interesting)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | about 2 years ago | (#41950083)

About 4 years ago I worked in the anti-spam industry. One of the groups (MAAWG) had a meeting that year and several large telco/ISP representives said that SMS and board spam was on their radar. It seems like it should be relatively trivial to run this stuff through the mail filter pipeline, wrap it up as a email (or even don't as long as your system treats the message like a mail body), grab the IP that it originates from and send it off to your reputation system and see if it pings. Anyone no of a mainstream vendor that has a product in this space? If not I could probably whip something up in a month or so :) I'm thinking redirect post requests through a REST service process the body through a spam engine, and if it is clean relay the request off the the real post on the bulletin server.

Re:vBulletin (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41950139)

I once tried blocking by IP address but with all the botnets out there it simply doesn't work.

Everything is relayed/proxied now. The days of being able to block Eastern Europe, Africa and most of Asia are long gone.

Re:vBulletin (2)

Khyber (864651) | about 2 years ago | (#41950175)

That's when you ban the entire internet by default and set up a whitelist.

Works just fine for stopping proxyfags in their tracks on Camfrog.

Re:vBulletin (2)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | about 2 years ago | (#41950331)

But wouldn't the proxies use a limited number of IPs? What happens with email spam is if you relay spam you get blacklisted. Hence people tend to close open relays and/or spammers have huge churn on the servers they can use. As for bots: throttling helps a lot with email spam wonder if it would work here. The company I worked for made an ISP grade anti-spam service that would throttle unknowns down to really slow connection speed, bots simply can't wait around for 10min sending a message. That said neither will the user of a webpage I suppose. You might have to fake it, act like you accepted it, refresh the senders view to show the new message so they think everything is fine but in the background you are verifying that the sender is trust worthy. A reputation system is nice for this because if a bot targets several forums you'll see the same IP showing up from different customers anti-spam systems and can block regardless of whether or not your site has seen the sender before. Mah.

Re:vBulletin (4, Interesting)

Khyber (864651) | about 2 years ago | (#41950167)

My bulletin board/forum is spam-bot secure. Why? Video captcha of animated .GIFs. No spam bot can get through, you *NEED* a human to answer the captcha, as it's a question related to the GIF itself (example, display a short clip of Hajime no Ippo, where Ippo is performing the Dempsey Roll. The question will ask "What move is being performed here?")

Have fun making a bot with knowledge of every manga/anime ever made with enough horsepower to OCR everything.

Re:vBulletin (4, Informative)

somersault (912633) | about 2 years ago | (#41950335)

Uhm.. well I'm guessing it must be a forum about manga/anime, but as someone with more than a passing interest in anime, I still have no idea wtf you're talking about. And after Googling it, it doesn't look like one that I'd watch since I'm not that interested in boxing.. so yeah. Maybe you should choose something that any human could answer, rather than get so specific? Very few people are interested in every single manga/anime out there, considering that a lot of them have very different target audiences.

Re:vBulletin (0)

Khyber (864651) | about 2 years ago | (#41950463)

Actually the board is more oriented towards discussing everything in general. We just use a more complicated system to weed out idiots.

As such, we have no problems with shitposting, trolling, or spam. Smart people will be able to figure things out. Idiots and spammers simply give up.

Re:vBulletin (3, Funny)

stevenh2 (1853442) | about 2 years ago | (#41949619)

If you want to have the vBulletin look but free and open source, take a look at MyBB. It basically copies the front end of vbulletin. It's also open source.

Re:vBulletin (5, Informative)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 2 years ago | (#41949687)

As a user I would say don't use vBulletin. Sure it has some great features, but I hate using it.

phpBB has everything you need, a very active "addons" community, and is much nicer for users. Added benefit, it's free - takes about 10 minutes to get installed, and has enough features and options to keep you busy customizing/configuring for a while.

Re:vBulletin (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949715)

you'll also be updating it frequently as it gets hacked regularly

Re:vBulletin (2)

sstamps (39313) | about 2 years ago | (#41950015)

Hate to break it to you, but vBulletin gets hacked about as often as anything else out there. In the past 10 years, I've cleaned up about as many hacked vB forums for people as several of the other popular forum packages combined.

Sure, the primary issue is that people don't keep their software updated, but that is true no matter what software you use. I've setup and ran dozens of phpBB forums, and I have yet to have one hacked, but then I keep them (and the servers they run on) up-to-date.

Re:vBulletin (3, Informative)

wmac1 (2478314) | about 2 years ago | (#41949935)

Much more slower than vBulletin, less scalable, uglier, less user friendly and almost non-existing support.

Almost every phpBB I installed was ridden by spam and got hacked several times. I have given up on phpBB after 10 years of trying.

Re:vBulletin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949997)

I rather hate vBulletin, too. At least its archive mode, which google always finds (it fails to mark people's quotes!)

Invision Power Board seems to be the vBulletin that does not suck. Well, sucks as little as something written on a PHP/MySQL combination can minimally suck. (Mind you, I haven't been an admin or even much of a user on one, so take this advice with a grain of salt.)

Re:vBulletin (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 2 years ago | (#41950007)

phpBB has everything you need, a very active "addons" community...

If by "addons" you mean security holes, sure. phpBB is legendary for the number of SQL injection holes that it has.

Re:vBulletin (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about 2 years ago | (#41950475)

It WAS legendary for SQL injection, but with the push for greater security in phpBB 3.x, it's a thing of the past.

Obviously, any user made mod in any system risks opening a security hole, so I recommend checking over the code for anything added.

Re:vBulletin (5, Informative)

Cheech Wizard (698728) | about 2 years ago | (#41949815)

I would suggest that you really think about vBulletin and read about the history. It was great when Jelsoft owned it, but it was bought out by Internet Brands and is now a mess. The last "good" version was 3.8.7. Version 4 was a disaster. Version 5 is being sold and is in beta but it really sucks. vBulletin is no longer a "best choice". It was some years ago but these days it isn't. I've been running vBulletin forums since 2001 but stopped "upgrading" at 3.8.7. To make it worse, the Internet Brands people have terrible technical support and - Well, vBulletin used to be the "gold standard". Today, not by a long shot.

Re:vBulletin (3, Insightful)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 2 years ago | (#41950053)

I've always built my own forum software by hand because that way I can build it as a completely integral part of the website, including features that I need and omitting features I don't need. That said, in general I still agree that it's better to go with a pre-built forum software like e.g. vBulletin -- they most likely know a lot better what they're doing than you do. There is, however, one thing I really feel like pointing out here: always disable all the features you do not need. The more features there are the more likely one or another attack point is available. If you don't need e.g. remote administration then disable it, don't just leave it hanging around.

Be Careful (2, Insightful)

stewsters (1406737) | about 2 years ago | (#41949489)

They arn't particularly easy to modify without making them hard to update. And updated common web software like that makes you an easy mark for hackers once they put out the next revision. I record all the 404s to our website and you would be surprised how many go to addresses of admin pages on things like WordPress. So if you do go that route to save time, but it on a different box and make it a priority to keep up to date.

Re:Be Careful (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41949849)

Yep. If you modify anything in the code your life will be a constant battle of re-integrating your changes into every new release that appears.

Re:Be Careful (1)

patchouly (1755506) | about 2 years ago | (#41950027)

Not true with phpBB. The update automatically looks for changes in the coding and then integrates those changes into the update package. I've updated my forum, many times, including a major upgrade (from 2-3). I've never lost any of the customizations or mods.

Use a pre-built (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949505)

Writing forum code is time consuming and dull.
There are plenty of perfectly fine open source options.
Last time I used JForum which is fine although they have no idea how Java's exception handling works.

Re:Use a pre-built (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 2 years ago | (#41949969)

Why not. Most of forums are based on templates derived from other templates... Creating a forum from those templates will give a déjà vu feeling. If you have the competence in CSS+your-scripting-language-of-choice, build a new and original forum

Begging the question (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949519)

Should you add a forum to a web site? Are you ready to moderate it, defend it against spammers and irate users, manage lost passwords and deal with intellectual property disputes? A forum doesn't sleep, a forum doesn't go on holiday.

Re:Begging the question (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#41949557)

A forum doesn't sleep, a forum doesn't go on holiday.
I think you might be new here, on Slashdot. :-)

Dupes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949697)

But there aren't many dupes posted on weekends and holidays

Re:Begging the question (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41949963)

Should you add a forum to a web site? Are you ready to moderate it, defend it against spammers and irate users, manage lost passwords and deal with intellectual property disputes? A forum doesn't sleep, a forum doesn't go on holiday.

This.

I once ran one for about two weeks then turned it off in disgust. It wasn't worth the effort for the return it gave me. Bulletin boards bring out the worst of the Internet.

(Especially the popular ones - the spammers are constantly scanning for them and have attack scripts lined up and ready to go. Captchas won't help...they have minimum-wage people sat all day long solving captchas)

Re:Begging the question (2)

kenh (9056) | about 2 years ago | (#41950087)

It's his website, he apparently already requires users to log in ('doesn't want another login on his site').

If it were a public site I'd agree with you, but as a somewhat protected area on the "intertubes" he should be OK.

No (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949535)

Having done all of this a couple of times: No, it can't all be delivered with an out of the box forum. So what you do is pick the simplest one which offers most of the stuff you don't want to develop yourself, with the least-byzantine code, and then you make it yours. Rip out its authentication infrastructure, see if you can work with its templating solution or substitute your own, etc. PunBB [informer.com] has been my go-to forum for this reason in the past; though I'm no particular fan of its rather outdated coding style, it's at least very readable and easy to get started with, something which definitely can't be said of phpBB.

Drupal (4, Informative)

cultiv8 (1660093) | about 2 years ago | (#41949549)

Drupal core forum [drupal.org] combined with the advanced forum [drupal.org] will meet your requirements. We used this approach for IFC, see it here [smefinanceforum.org] .

info8mative gNaaGNAA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949551)

community. The EFNet serverS. ul7imately, we as WideOpen,

Here is an example of.... (2)

3seas (184403) | about 2 years ago | (#41949561)

...what you may have to deal with.... This forum board has been closed for quite some time and still I get tons of registrations....
http://abstractionphysics.net/phpBB2/ [abstractionphysics.net]

Maybe consider contributing to a honeypot should you chose to pursue a forum. https://www.projecthoneypot.org/ [projecthoneypot.org]

Take all the recommendations you get here ... (4, Interesting)

tlambert (566799) | about 2 years ago | (#41949565)

Take all the recommendations you get here ...and then:

(1) Get the number of CERT advisories for each of them
(2) Get the percentage market share of each one of them
(3) Calculate (#2 * 100) / #1
(4) Whoever is left with the largest number, pick that one

For example, the calculation above for bbPress, which is a WordPress plugin, would also need to take into account the number of WordPress only CERT advisories, plus those for any plugins besides bbPress you felt it necessary to use, and the resulting number would let you write off using bbPress. Likewise, anything that used Java as an implementation detail would probably get written off due to the number of security holes which have been found in Java. Anything with an SQL back end would have to take into account SQL injections for the other components you intended to use, and so forth.

Ideally, you would probably put your forums on an isolated machine, rather than hosting everything on one machine, which would drastically reduce the attack surface -- and this would become pretty crystal clear to you after you performed the calculation exercise.

Re:Take all the recommendations you get here ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949879)

Likewise, anything that used Java as an implementation detail would probably get written off due to the number of security holes which have been found in Java. Anything with an SQL back end would have to take into account SQL injections for the other components you intended to use, and so forth.

Security vulnerabilities in Java applets have nothing to do with web applications written in Java running on JBoss, WebLogic, Tomcat, WebSphere, etc.

SQL injections? Well, no matter what technology is used, it requires the programmer to validate input. Always!

Re:Take all the recommendations you get here ... (1)

Threni (635302) | about 2 years ago | (#41950061)

Er..no - you just don't write your SQL in such a way that SQL injections are possible.

Re:Take all the recommendations you get here ... (-1)

hackula (2596247) | about 2 years ago | (#41950499)

or use noSQL like mongodb or couchdb

Re:Take all the recommendations you get here ... (3, Insightful)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about 2 years ago | (#41950477)

1) You seem to know nothing about Java and JVM security. It is immaterial what language you are using on the server-side, Java is no more or less secure than any other.

2) What difference does it make what the market share of a piece of software is. It is either SECURE or NOT SECURE. If it is not secure then it doesn't matter if one person uses it or 3 million, it is still not secure.

When evaluating the security of a web application there are many considerations (I've actually taught web app security courses and done all this stuff). You should certainly look at how many advisories there are on a given product. You should also see when these happened, how they were resolved, etc. It may be better to use an application that has had numerous issues that have been promptly fixed for instance. How easy are updates to roll out? How soon do fixes come out? Can you review the source code to look for good coding practices and engineering? As for SQL does the product EVER use anything but bind params? If it does construct dynamic SQL that's a red flag, but it MAY be OK if ALL input parameters are carefully cleaned (bonus points of something like perl's taint mode is in use). Ideally you'd also want to run a full security scan against your test install with a good fuzzer and see what happens. If you can easily shake out bugs yourself then that's a red flag too.

In other words you really can't sort out the security of an application by any simple formula, and certainly you need to use the right considerations. Anyone interested in getting more detailed advice would do well to start with something like OWASP https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Main_Page [owasp.org]

Invision (3, Interesting)

xQuarkDS9x (646166) | about 2 years ago | (#41949569)

In the last decade I was using Invision forum software not only because it was a very nice alternative to vbulletin and phpBB but it also seemed quite popular as well. They do have a demo for the Community Suite here - http://www.invisionpower.com/demo/ [invisionpower.com] if you want to try it out.

phpBB (2)

patchouly (1755506) | about 2 years ago | (#41949571)

I've set up several forums on my home server and I co-admin on a professional forum. The pro forums are running UBB Threads. Great software, but a little limiting. For my forums, I run phpBB. The software is easy to install, easy to upgrade and easy to mess around with. There are "mods" for practically any feature you'd want to add and with the easy integration, it's as simple as pointing the control panel to the installation file for the mod you want. Their forums are top notch and pretty much any questions you may have are there, already answered. If not, they are quick to help out. Best of all, phpBB is completely free. One thing I'd recommend is a basic, working understanding of HTML, CSS and some PHP. If you can't program in these languages, at the very least, you'll need to be able to edit existing code if you want to change your look. However, it should be noted that there are thousands of "skins" out there, all of which can easily get you really close to the look you are going for and then minor changes (like switching out the logo) are easy. Read through the forums, have a look at some of the forums people have built and, if you want to give it a try, download it and mess around for a bit. Because it's free, if you don't like it, there is no loss!

Re:phpBB (1)

patchouly (1755506) | about 2 years ago | (#41949615)

Oh, one other thing. Try to stick with one of the two, major versions/styles: Prosilver or Subsilver2. Most of the mods are created for one of these two styles. If you are adding a mod to them, it's very easy with the "Automod" feature.

Re:phpBB (1)

patchouly (1755506) | about 2 years ago | (#41950049)

Sorry to keep adding to my own posts, but... I've seen a few folks complaining about upgrading and losing your mods/hacks/customizations. With phpBB, the update packages scan your code and automatically integrate any changes, into the update package. All changes are easily and automatically, assimilated into the new update.

look for automated spam detection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949581)

I've used several forum softwares. In addition to the criterion you mention, a huge maintenance problem is getting spam. So also keep an eye out for forum software that uses one or more means to help you detect and remove spammy posts.

Content Management Systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949605)

I have been bashing around several CMS over the last several years.
Any one of which would be fine to set up a Forum.
http://www.cmsmatrix.org/
Pick one from the CMS Matrix and have at it.
---
I personally use Joomla but there are many with similar features.

IPB (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949625)

1. We use InvisionPowerBoard IPB http://www.invisionpowerboard.com/ . It is commercial. However it comes with services like spam IP check and regularly upgrades.
2. The default skin looks very modern and my user loves it.
3. They provide very responsive support service, very important for me running a pretty busy site.
4. Our major concern about this forum product is the lack of a Mobile iOS / Android app as yet.
For this mobile era, don't overlook this, your users will demand it.

5. You can take a look at our site http://www.blowingwind.org/forum/index.php , but be warned it is a LGBT site.
So don't look if you are concerned.

Re:IPB (1)

ZenMatrix (1299517) | about 2 years ago | (#41949711)

They do have mobile specific css which works pretty good, I've looked at our site punetworks.com/pulounge and it looks nice.

Re:IPB (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950445)

Our site BW [blowingwind.org] uses the mobile skin on browser. But readers and members are asking for a REAL mobile apps. Work pretty good isn't enough anymore. Mobile is important.

Forums are starting to die off (1)

DJRikki (646184) | about 2 years ago | (#41949635)

...unfortunately. Facebook groups seem to be the in thing for convenience with users. That said phpBB and vBulletin are the way to go.

Wise? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949689)

I won't debate whether this is accurate or not.

I will debate(state) that putting your stuff on Facebook is good for them and bad for you. Not to mention that Facebook's "forums" suck as do most blog/CMS forums.

You could enable Facebook authentication on your forum, if you wish. But, giving them your data is stupid!

are you on a sheared box for you web hosting? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#41949641)

are you on a sheared box for you web hosting?

If so they and it's forum with a lot of users can slow things down a lot / get you kicked off.

Re:are you on a sheared box for you web hosting? (1, Offtopic)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#41949895)

are you on a sheared box

You mean a Brazilian? [wikimedia.org]

watchout (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949649)

everybody from /b/ about to attack your forums with ponies or whatever

Google Groups? (1)

ihistand (170799) | about 2 years ago | (#41949659)

How bout something simple like Google Groups? Excellent support for.....just about everything. Tie it up to your domain (Also excellent support to do that) and it all works.

Re:Google Groups? (1)

galaad2 (847861) | about 2 years ago | (#41950041)

+1 for Google Groups, it removes A LOT of the hassle of managing forum for a site, especially for spam management (spam prevention logic is global across all the forums they host, if someone is detected spamming in one forum it can be nuked from everywhere at once).
I use it quite successfully for a few sites.

Google even allows EMBEDDING the page via an iframe, with an url that will not load the usual Google Groups page header:

use this in iframe src:

hxxps://groups.google.com/forum/embed/?place=___INSERT_FORUM_PATH_HERE___?showsearch=true&showpopout=true&hl=___INSERT_THE_UI_LANGUAGE_CODE_HERE__&parenturl=___INSERT_HERE_THE_URL_OF_THE_PARENT_LOADING_PAGE

(replace hxxps with https)
https://support.google.com/groups/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1191206 [google.com]

Re:Google Groups? (1)

ConfusedVorlon (657247) | about 2 years ago | (#41950419)

can you post any example implementations?

one thing I can't see immediately is the ability to manage subgroups.

e.g.

My company
-product1
-product2

would you have to set up multiple groups to do this?

Depends on what you want (1)

dark12222000 (1076451) | about 2 years ago | (#41949665)

Most of it depends on what you're after.

PhpBB has a ton of features, but is a bit slow and bulky. I feel it's easy to work with, but it's probably not the easiest out there.

VanillaForums are extremely simply but lack some features (though many of these can be "bought").

vBulletin has a lot of niceties, but can be a bit of a hog and doesn't come cheap.

There is also SMF (Simple Machine Forums) which I've been told is a cross between phpBB and Vanilla Forums, but I haven't personally used it.

If you're new to this sort of thing, go for Vanilla. It's free, extremely easy, and has a lot of nifty features out of the box.

Re:Depends on what you want (1)

kenh (9056) | about 2 years ago | (#41950147)

And this might be a great way to "try out" Vanilla Forums - Turnkey Linux Vanilla Forums appliance [turnkeylinux.org] ...

Wind up a VM, give it a shot, and see if it works for you.

There are similar VMs for punBB [turnkeylinux.org] , phpBB [turnkeylinux.org] , SimpleMachines [turnkeylinux.org] and other messaging forums

Ip.board from Invision (1)

ZenMatrix (1299517) | about 2 years ago | (#41949667)

We use ip.board from Invision and I think it looks good, we have a subsection for the forum and our main site is seperate but the membership information is combined.Look at http://punetworks.com/ [punetworks.com] and http://punetworks.com/pulounge [punetworks.com] if you want to see how we did it, its a site about cars.

Re:Ip.board from Invision (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950495)

I also use IP.Board and like it. Is it the best product ever? No. But it is sufficient for a nice forum, easy to install and maintain, has good support from both the company and the community, etc.

Rolling your own would be ridiculous.

comment (1)

Robert Goatse (984232) | about 2 years ago | (#41949673)

Why bother rolling your own? It's like developing your own encryption algorithm - probably a bad idea. A commercial (or open source) forum suite has had way more eyes looking at it than your home-brewed solution. That being said, for $$ vBulletin is good and if you wanna go free, try phpBB 3.0.11.

Re:comment (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | about 2 years ago | (#41949795)

A commercial (or open source) forum suite has had way more eyes looking at it than your home-brewed solution.

That's both good (theoretically better code) and bad (large-scale attacks when some exploit is out in the wild). In practice, a decent programmer can write a safe, simple forum for themselves easily, while they will get hit regularly by exploits in phpBB etc. if they just trust such solutions instead.

Re:comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950009)

I'd +1 this if it wasn't for the fact that many just don't know how to keep information secure. Plus, people like eye candy these days. A lot of time is spent on the look and feel of a UI. A simple text forum such as those offered by sites like network54.com is often not desired a lot. I must admit, however, that something like phpBB is probably a decent temporary solution until something home-rolled is in place, assuming that is desired of course.

you're posting this question on a forum... (2, Funny)

magarity (164372) | about 2 years ago | (#41949721)

Do they no longer give away slashcode?

Re:you're posting this question on a forum... (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 2 years ago | (#41949789)

They probably do, and even if they don't, you can always get a snapshot of the time they distributed it (if so, you can go all the way back into the time it used to work). It is free software, what means it can't be just revoked.

Now, why would he choose to run slashcode, I can't even imagine.

Re:you're posting this question on a forum... (1)

kat_skan (5219) | about 2 years ago | (#41950329)

Considering there hasn't been a release since 2006 [sourceforge.net] or a commit since 2009 [sourceforge.net] I'd say no, they don't really.

Depends (3, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#41949729)

There are multiple very good forum software projects, and I have no clear preference. phpBB and SMF are good standalone solutions; Drupal is powerful if you're looking to have much more than a forum. LAMP (as in PHP/MySQL) is by far the most popular technology. Ruby and Python might be more stylish, but most of the PHP software has had years of continual improvement. Best get several of them (Wikipedia has a complete list) and try them out locally for comparison.

Only two things I'd recommend against:
- First, on absolutely no account try to write your own from scratch. The best projects now available have been in development for almost ten years (more in some cases). This is an extremely complex application with many pitfalls in design, database architecture, extendability, and security. If you were the best programmer in the world, it would take you months of constant testing and bugfixing before you had anything approaching stability; and you'd spend the coming years finding security holes and fixing design mistakes.
- Second, avoid commercial solutions if possible. They're not usually better. Also, you should factor in not just the purchase price but the continual costs of upgrades and user-contributed addons. One good commercial board I've worked with is IPB, but that's only in recent versions after years of development - and I still prefer phpBB.

Re:Depends (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#41949843)

SMF has been the most error free of the various systems I've admin'd over the last decade. The only time the entire forum went down was when I forgot to renew the domain by accident.

Re:Depends (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950141)

First, on absolutely no account try to write your own from scratch. The best projects now available have been in development for almost ten years (more in some cases). This is an extremely complex application with many pitfalls in design, database architecture, extendability, and security. If you were the best programmer in the world, it would take you months of constant testing and bugfixing before you had anything approaching stability; and you'd spend the coming years finding security holes and fixing design mistakes.

Care to elaborate? I could write a bare-bones bulletin board in an hour if I wanted to, and as far as programmers go, I'm far from the best. I can understand potentially ending up with performance problems, yes, but overall I'm more confident that my implementation does not have security holes than some off-the-shelf OSS/commercial bulletin board software sprawling with features.

Re:Depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950401)

Forums aren't that complicated from a technology standpoint. If the best projects have been in development for 10 years or more then they've either spent a bunch of time trying to refactor crap or they've become so grossly over-built and over-complicated that they're difficult to deal with. After a year or two of development the code and feature-set should be mature enough to mostly leave it be. Telling me that something relatively finite like forum code has been in development for 10 years or more makes me want to run the other way.

For Geek's Sake DON'T (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949793)

For the love of all that is Geek, don't do it!

Web forums suck so hard. They don't work nearly as well as mailing lists did.

Re:For Geek's Sake DON'T (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950035)

AMEN!!!!

Re:For Geek's Sake DON'T (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950117)

Web forums suck because of improper/inexperienced usage of the facilities upon which they are built. Old skool BBS rocked. I wonder if there are any left...

"build a better user experience" (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41949809)

..."better website integration"

This guy/gal has posted no comments here. Both his/her submissions link a very suspicious site.

All this sounds like a nascent spammer to me.

One login (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949817)

Whatever route you take, be sure to use user's existing login, if there is one, for forum access.
No example of poor website planning has annoyed me more over the years than websites that make me sign up for a second account for the forums because they are not integrated.

PhBB FTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949819)

At www.bzflag.org we have a 3 way login for the website, forums and in game authentication that works flawlessly for us. Go to http://www.bzflag.org/ [bzflag.org] for the main page and to http://forums.bzflag.org/ [bzflag.org] for the forums. Our game clients are directly tied to the PhBB user database; no extra authentication needed.

I like Vanilla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949829)

I use Vanilla forums on bankofamericasucks.com and have for about 2 years switched from phpBB because it was always getting hacked and needing to be patched every week. Vanilla was easy to customize as far as the look, and is super simple to keep up with and manage.

Re:I like Vanilla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949931)

Heheh. You are right. Bank of America does suck, and not even that good.

Amazed nobody posted about Invision Power Board.. (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | about 2 years ago | (#41949837)

It beats the pants off of vBulletin in many, many ways. First of all, the original developers are still working on the product. It has gone through many revisions and huge code changes. vBulletin at its core is a very dated piece of software.

The extensibility in IPB is better. They have a feature called IPConnect that allows you to integrate different authentication points. They have a shopping cart program called Nexus, Blogs, and a CMS that's pretty good though takes some effort to figure out (IP Content).

It runs fast, it's a clean setup, easy to administer and there are plenty of plugins and skins for it as well.

Take a look, many, many people switched from vBulletin to IPB.

Ruby Toolbox Solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949847)

If you are feeling brave check out some of the stuff on the https://www.ruby-toolbox.com. Set it up with phusion passenger and apache and you are good to go. Of course you'd have to learn Rails, but still you can customize some of the forum solutions on that site to the nth degree. If you are using an existing login say with OpenID for example, you could just setup OmniAuth and it should just read the cookies from an existing session. I love RoR.

Post each page to reddit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949857)

Post a link to each page on reddit, and then update the page with a link to the reddit discussion about it...

PHP Fig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41949909)

Since several recommendations above are about PHP projects, (SMF, phpBB, Drupal, Wordpress etc) I think it's worth mentioning that http://www.php-fig.org/ will make integration between projects a lot easier, and it's worthwhile to look more at projects using common standards. Being able to use a common platform for a lot of boring low level stuff like dependency management, class autoloading and similar things, will make integration a great deal easier, regardless of exactly which projects you end up using.

Re:PHP Fig (actual link this time) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950239)

PHP Fig [php-fig.org]

Mailing list -- forums are lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950003)

Forums suck. Plain and simple. They are the worst group interaction mechanism out there. Mailing lists are way better.

Forums are heavy-weight -- too much graphic and bling to convey what is 99% of the time textual content. This could be said to be too low of a signal density.
Forums (usually) require polling to get updates. Yes, I know forums can "ping" you via e-mail when there is an update but at that point I am already in e-mail anyway and will need to context switch out to visit the web page the forum is at. If I am already using e-mail to get notified to go see an update, why not just do away with the low-density web-page and do all of the conversing in e-mail?
Forums typically require yet another username/password combination that I either have to memorize (yeah, right, along with the umpteen other username/passwords I don't remember) or write down or use the same as I use elsewhere, all of which are insecure.

I could go on, but I could also just short-circuit it all and say again, forums suck. They suck ass. Hard.

The Forum Matrix (5, Interesting)

thenendo (523849) | about 2 years ago | (#41950065)

I recently had to select a forums solution for my company, and this site proved extremely useful: http://www.forummatrix.org/ [forummatrix.org]

It catalogues tons of closed and open-source forum products coded by dozens of variables, and lets you compare them in a big matrix. Very useful if you have constraints/preferences like "works with SQL server" or "isn't PHP", etc.

My main complaint about it is that some of the data are out-of-date, but it is still a great starting point.

If you're serious about growing it... (1, Informative)

toygeek (473120) | about 2 years ago | (#41950123)

then vBulletin is your only way to go. SMF, phpBB, Yabb.... I've seen forum owners start with all of them, and when their forum is actually successful, they end up migrating to vBulletin because it just works. The pricing is reasonable, the features are there, and so is the support, which you'll eventually need.

On the other hand, if you are just opening a small support forum for a product you sell or if you intend specifically to keep it from growing too big, then sure, look at phpBB, its pretty good.

Forum for the JVM? (1)

wer32r (2556798) | about 2 years ago | (#41950151)

I see there are a lot of suggestions about PHP-based forums, but out of curiosity, are there any forums that would match the OP's requirements but run on the JVM?

Can't believe this got through submission queue (-1, Troll)

Ultra64 (318705) | about 2 years ago | (#41950187)

Re:Can't believe this got through submission queue (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950373)

You're a dick. We should ban people from posting LMGTFY links on Slashdot just like we did on stackoverflow.

IPB? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950195)

Maybe something like this..IPB? Linux Mint Serbia, http://forum.mint-srbija.com

My Little Forum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950253)

http://mylittleforum.net/ [mylittleforum.net] - For when you just want web forums.

first step... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950255)

look carefully at the boxed product, most have security issues you do NOT want to discover after you have integrated and launched. If you do not have UBER skills with the language used in the source - go hire someone who has hacker skills to give you an honest appraisal of the security of your choice.

No offense to the other posters, I'm sure you all have some level of confidence in what you are recommending, but some of the suggested boxed systems recommended here are so rife with holes I would not recommend you anything except vett all the code yourself or by means of a TRUSTED hacker-wise UBER-coder.

Try BuddyPress (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950281)

I had good luck with BuddyPress a few years ago, and I see it's still around. You may want to take a look. http://buddypress.org/

It incorporates forums (bbPress) but also many social networking features like Friends lists, groups, activity streams, private messaging, etc. It feels much more comprehensive than a forum because it offers features that social networking users have come to expect. I replaced a phpBB site with BuddyPress and wouldn't go back.

If you're going to go with a straight Forum solution, I'd go with vBulletin.

bbPress (1)

mouse_8b (854310) | about 2 years ago | (#41950379)

I put bbPress on my site a while back. It doesn't have all of the features of some other boards, but it is free and pretty easy to customize. I was able to integrate the logins of my site, my blog, and my boards without too much hassle.

Re:bbPress (1)

werewolf1031 (869837) | about 2 years ago | (#41950497)

I put bbPress on my site a while back. It doesn't have all of the features of some other boards, but it is free and pretty easy to customize. I was able to integrate the logins of my site, my blog, and my boards without too much hassle.

I second this, especially the integrated login which is quite nice. Additionally, bbPress is very easy to customize the appearance, if you're willing to get your hands a little dirty in the process. As an example: Asylum Walls [darkicon.com] , a forum I rebuilt for a friend, just to illustrate that you can change every tiny graphical detail. That forum was previously a plain, ugly black-on-white "theme" (to use the term loosely). The limits, as with anything that is heavily customizable, are your imagination and time.

Yeah, that forum could've been made even better, but the "time" constraint caught up to me. It's just one example.

Interesting joelonsoftware article on this... (3, Insightful)

snowball21 (2186378) | about 2 years ago | (#41950413)

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/BuildingCommunitieswithSo.html

DIY? (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 2 years ago | (#41950487)

My first reaction is always DIY

So, when you got your first car, you first thought was to build it yourself?

The first rule of building stuff is, Don't Reinvent the Wheel. That is especially true in software development, a field that has more than its share of really great wheelwrights.

Obvious choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950493)

Half u treid fasebook coments? their awsum!

FUDforum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41950513)

FUDforum [fudforum.org] is interesting: free software, e-mail and NNTP gateways built-in. Now, that would be different and give everybody the choice of the client to use -- not to mention actual, real discussion threads that other software lack.

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