While starting a forum, one of the tough choices many budding Forum Adminâ€™s face, is the dilemma of choosing the right forum software for their forums, out of the dozens of options available in the market.
Things get even tougher by the fact that not only are there dozens of paid solutions available in the market, there are a lot of good, free and open source software are also available.
So here are some tips to help you bring the choices down a little and help you make an informed decision:
1. Free vs. Paid: This is probably the easiest choice to make; do you want to or have the money to spend on a paid license for a forum software like vBulletin? While there are many good free solutions available in the market, usually the paid scripts are frequently updated to ensure there are no bugs, are more secure and they usually have more features. If you are serious about your forum and have the money and will be willing to spend money on it in future to renew its license every year, then my recommendation would be to go for the paid solution.
2. Platform (Linux vs. Windows): While Windows is the clear leader in desktop operating systems, Linux and Unix takes the lead when it comes to the servers. Unless your site/portal specially demands ASP, it is better to go with Linux, Apache, PHP and MYSQL combination. Not only is it more scalable and robust than Windows, ASP and MS SQL combination, it is also free and open source. Add to this the leading forum softwareâ€™s are written in PHP, so even if you are going for a Windowâ€™s Server, it might be a good idea to use a php based forum script for your forum.
3. Choose a famous forum script: While there are several forum scripts that are new and yet are quite good, however famous forum scripts such as PHPBB and vBulletin not only have a proven development record, they also have maximum numbers of hacks and themes available to help you customize your forum. Add to this, usually the new forum software development team consists of a handful of developers, who may or may not want to continue developing the software in the future. Also if the forum script is not so famous, then you might not find a converter to convert it to another forum script if you choose to switch platform in the future. Moreover majority of the experienced forum users are accustomed a handful of famous scripts and thus will be more inclined to join your forum, on the other hand if the forum script looks totally unlike what they have ever seen before, they will be a little hesitant to join in.
These are just few pointers that should help you narrow down your choice to a handful, which in turn should ensure that you have made an informed decision.