WordPress is without a doubt the best blogging platform ever built however, there is one section of the internet which is one of the oldest way of building the community and that is forums. Forums are amazingly good when it comes to user generated content and the sense of community flows around them much more than the blogs.
After a blog is launched one of the next step which bloggers take is to integrate a forum with the service as user generated content is something which any webmaster would love to have. There are some of the good blogs which have integrated forum with their blog.
Well, I’m sure that most of us have either tried or have given a thought of integrating the forum with the blog, so that the sense of community can be created around the blog and that we get our hands on free user generated content.
Now, the big question comes that which forum software should be ideal to integrate around the blog and why that particular forum software should be considered over others.
Forum software which make a mark -
1. vBulletin – vBulletin is a commercial forum software and one of the most acknowledged forum software. However, the price tag attached to it definitely gets you thinking if you are interested in making that investment. $ 180 for an owned license and $ 100 for 1 yr. leased license. Although, without a doubt this is the most comprehensive forum software.
2. Invision Power Board – IPB is another commercial forum software which has gained lots of praises from the web masters around the world. It’s feature packed and there are thousands of plugins available for it too and that helps in extending it to further levels. It also comes with a price tag of $ 149.99 or you can go for a hosted solution at $10/month.
3. Simple Machines Forum – SMF is a free and much powerful forum software and can be easily compared to vBulletin or IPB. It’s got lot of features and can be ideal for anyone who is interested in running a forum but don’t want to shell out some bucks for getting the software.
4. Vanilla – Vanilla is a free and open source forum software. It’s still at early stages, however it packed with Ajax and the developer community is pretty active around it. It’s very simple and easy to use and configure too. So, if you are looking for a no frills forum software then Vanilla can be your choice of the forum software.
5. BBPress – BBPress is a free and open-source software from Automattic the company behind WordPress and is one of the serious candidate as far as forum software are concerned. The benefit of this software is that it’s one of the lightest forum software and is easily extendable too.
Which one should I choose ?
Well, this is one of the trickiest question around as choosing a software isn’t easy when the choice is huge. The above listed options are some of the most known ones, although the list doesn’t seem to end at all. All these software are powered by PHP & MySQL and making a choice isn’t that simple as it can depend on lot of factors.
1. Support requirement : If you run a blog or a website which gets quite decent amount of traffic and that you want instant support for technical stuff then you should consider going for the commercial software.
2. The money factor : Both the commercial software comes with a price tag and if you are a small publisher and don’t think you can invest that much or are unsure about how the community will grow around the forum, then you can go for the free ones and then later you can change the forum with any of the paid alternative.
3. Resources matter too : Both the commercial software are good however, are not as light as Vanilla or BBPress, so if you don’t have huge webhost account then you should consider using Vanilla or BBPress.
Do you use any forum on your blog ? If you do, then which one you suggest and why ?