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free message board?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I might be setting up a message board for a local radio talk show and I wanted to get some opinions on the best free message board service to use. (vBulletin isn't free, so I won't be using that.) I've got experience with Invision and phpBB as both a user and a moderator, but I've never set up a board, nor dealt with a board hosting service. I prefer the Invision software, but it looks like InvisionFree is in the midst of a transfer to new software, so the timing might not be too good. Any recommendations? Pros and cons? Features I should look for? Questions I should ask? Thanks......
post #2 of 25
I hope it's okay to post the link here... I've read the rules, but this seems like a rather unusual situation... Mods, if I'm wrong doing this, please just delete and PM me to let me know. Thanks!

http://forumotion.com has both phpBB 2 and phpBB 3 as options. I prefer phpBB 3, personally, as it combines some of the best features of phpBB2 and IPB. If I recall correctly from testing the service before getting paid hosting for my message board, it's also ad-free and has some interested add-on modules for you to play along with.

Several other services appear to give you a choice between phpbb and IPB. Here's the link to the Google Search I did:

post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks, I got the link. Isn't phpBB v3 still in beta?
post #4 of 25
It isn't a stable release yet, but it functions quite well and the security on it is pretty good.
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
OK, thanks. I must say, their boards really look fantastic.....great visual appeal.
post #6 of 25
I agree -- I really like the portal and with forumotion, the fact that there aren't any ads on the site. It gives it a much more professional appearance.

Which isn't to say that ads make a site such as TCS look unprofessional -- they are just ads specific to the content of the site, whereas often with free forums, you never know what you're going to get!
post #7 of 25
I have used a few different forum hosts and have been a mod on a phpbb support site as well.

Seems like they all have their ups and downs Right now I have had the least problems with proboards, it's similar to invision but you can customize it a lot more.

here's the link

post #8 of 25
Yeah I would also suggest Proboards. I use it in conjuction with my Paul Stanley Page, and it's free, and very reliable.
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks!! I'll check that out tonight.
post #10 of 25
Proboards has added extra advertising recently, though. Overall, I think that they are a fairly good service, but not the most popular. IPB is equally customizable, but one has to *really* know what they are doing. Proboards is a lot easier to find codes for and things of that nature.

If you choose to go with proboards, give me a PM and I can recommend some resources for you to help with getting set up.
post #11 of 25
I know you said VB isn't an option... but, if you could get a sponsor for the project, maybe the radio show itself, I do think it's the most professional option of all. With VB you get full support and there are tons of add-ons and hacks too. It's only $160, and then $30 a year, I think. Maybe a local shop or service can pay for that and have their link or banner on the forum in return?
post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
I'm still waiting to hear what they want to do. I agree, that's the best option. But otherwise, what I'll do is start out with a free board and see if it takes off. If it does, then I can see about transferring to a paid board. So being able to export the database is a must option.
post #13 of 25
Honestly? I agree wholeheartedly with Anne, and I'm *not* the one who made the forum software choice for TCS

I had a board once for which we got member donations to upgrade to IPB (couldn't quite get enough for VBulletin, unfortunately!).

Just reminds me that I need to start putting money aside to make some donations to my favorite sites, TCS included... It might need to be poker time heh
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
You know, I gotta say, paid hosting isn't all that expensive. Maybe I'll just download one or more of the free board packages and play with them to get a feel for what I like and then set up my own. One question I couldn't find answered: these boards run as a MySQL database application, correct? Does MySQL come with the download? Because I'd just be running it on my computer, not a web server, and I don't have MySQL.

later.....OK, I think I got an answer just by visiting the MySQL website. Obviously, if they're selling it for $600 I'm not getting it for free.
post #15 of 25
The price you pay for paid hosting is going to depend somewhat on the size of your forum. You can always set the forum to "auto-prune" (at least most softwares I know of have this feature), but depending on the number of members you get, it may be necessary to purchase a dedicated server. If you get to that point, chances are you're asking for, and getting, donations, though.

There's never anything wrong with starting small in terms of your hosting package.

mySQL should come with your *hosting package*. I've never seen one that doesn't include a particular number of SQL databases, and in most cases I've seen, they are unlimited. You'll probably only need one, though. It's nothing that you need to download and install on your own computer. It's installed on the host computer where your site is hosted
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks.....this is all new to me.....it takes a while to get the picture, but I think I'm getting it.
post #17 of 25
I know where you're coming from! Trust me... I've been there, done that. If you need any help, please feel free to let me know. If there's any questions I'm able to answer, I'm here for ya!
post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 
That's cool.....thanks!! Appreciate it.
post #19 of 25
Originally Posted by ghosthunterbeck View Post
I know where you're coming from! Trust me... I've been there, done that. If you need any help, please feel free to let me know. If there's any questions I'm able to answer, I'm here for ya!
I might be contacting you. We're dealing with rail strikes here: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/eu...kes/index.html , and lot of my students are having major trouble getting to school. I'm actually thinking of setting up a (temporary?) Web site where I can give assignments, and my students can post their answers.
post #20 of 25
My SQL doesn't come with all hosting packages, even with the ability to have SQL databases, so I would double check before choosing.
post #21 of 25
mySQL does come with *most,* but yes, you want to make sure to check. There are some great hosts out there and some not so good ones too. I've been through several before settling on my current host (Lunar Pages). I'm sure that there are others who can give recommendations, too.

jcat, feel free to let me know if there's anything I can help you with. If you're looking for something temporary and won't need CPanel access, I can probably set something up for you, too, as long as I don't have to code any php
post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 
I think I'm going to play around with Simple Machines to begin with. If I go with that on a paid host it has the advantage of being exportable to vBulletin. I'm finding that free hosts for the most part don't allow database exports.
post #23 of 25
SMF is also exportable to IPB. I'm not sure about phpBB though.

Note that there are some limits to its functioning. It's a great software in terms of security (and being free!) but if you don't want it to look the same as every other SMF forum out there, you need to know php in order to re-skin it and make it more attractive, amongst other things.
post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 
I'm pretty sure I'm going with phpBB3. I've been playing with it on a free forum site and it just seems to click with me, whereas it seemed I was fighting SMF all the time.
post #25 of 25
You either love SMF, or you hate it. At least that's what I've found. I've had it recommended to me because of the ease of installing add-ons (it is easy with SMF), but doing almost anything else is a lot harder than it is with phpBB3, which has much of the same functionality as VBulletin, but obviously without the price tag. No, it doesn't *look* as good, but you can always upgrade if that's what you choose to do
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