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What Forum Software should I use?

I'm currently using vBulletin along with a bunch of plugins like vBSEO, shoutbox and others for a sports discussion site. I just don't have the time to keep up with the upgrading of the vBulletin software (and then all the plugins). And I'm not crazy about vBulletin in general. Last I checked there was no good single sign on mechanism to integrate it with other systems and the social aspects of the site, of which discussions are really all about, seem lacking.

Are there good alternatives which are easier to manage (ideally hosted systems), easier to integrate and more social? I'm more than happy to pay, but this community is only about 4,000 strong... so anything above a couple hundred $$ per month will have to be pretty spectacular.


5 Answers 5


check out ForumMatrix to compare forums. It will let you search numerous features and compare the results against each other.


  • 1
    You can also try forum-software.org for forum comparisons: I find it's much more easier to use than forummatrix.
    – user6901
    Jun 12, 2011 at 15:17

I've used vBulleting since Fall of 2000 on a number of sites as large as a few hundred thousand members. I still used it today. I'm not bragging, just giving you some background.

While my suggestion is not a hosted solution, I highly, highly recommend XenForo. It was created by most of the original developers of vBulletin. They left vBulletin due to disagreements after Internet Brands acquired them.

I'm not using it yet, but am closely watching its core and module development. It's everything that was good about vBulletin without as much of the bad. I don't know if you are running vB4 or have tried to used their mobile suite, but they are releasing products with major bugs now and have had at least one major security gaffe. I won't touch vB4 with a ten foot pole.

The UI is impressive. You'll notice it just by navigating around their community forum. The theme system makes it much easier to modify the look of the forum. It is much more social out of the box with news feeds, trophies, and a like system. It offers sign on with Facebook, possibly OpenID, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, etc. in the future or with a mod. I imagine the upgrade process has been improved as well.

Someone has already solved the very important issue of switching over from a vBSEO site to XenForo and redirecting all the old URLs: http://xenforo.com/community/threads/redirects-for-vbseod-urls.5098/

Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • Very interesting, I'll check this out.
    – at01
    May 30, 2011 at 9:06
  • I'd just like to update that I'm moving away from vBulletin now and considering Xenforo or a hosted solution from Invision Power Board (so I don't have to worry about managing the server or the software).
    – Drew
    Dec 10, 2011 at 20:35
  • And I'd like to provide another update. Vanilla Forums is oopen source forum software that is very customizable. For example, the forum homepage could be the traditional list of forums (which is what I and I know my community users want), but also you
    – Drew
    Mar 18, 2012 at 0:38
  • Another update! Vanilla Forums 2 is open source forum software that is very customizable and has a growing community of people providing addons to customize it a lot. I'm not using the software, but I wanted to point it out as an option. Biggish forums are running on it: Mozilla, O'Reilly, CarTalk, PennyArcade, Hubspot, and more. Some of the core developers provide hosting for it and they will help you transition from a vBulletin/vBSEO forum without 404ing all your links. I know because I was considering it, but decided it was out of reach for us price wise.
    – Drew
    Mar 18, 2012 at 0:47
  • Blerg! I hope a kind moderator can delete this comment and the comment that ends mid sentence above. I made a mistake and thought I was editing.
    – Drew
    Mar 18, 2012 at 0:48

I would recommend Vanilla Forums. Simple, easy to use and not all the bloat that comes with vBulletin and it's open source.

  • I love that Vanilla Forums is a hosted solution. But XenForo looks nicer.
    – at01
    May 31, 2011 at 4:38

My company, Ninja Post, is a hosted forum solution that integrates with your URL (e.g., "forum.yoursite.com"). Ninja Post uses OpenId (Google/Yahoo), oAuth (Twitter), and Facebook Connect for user registrations. In addition, threads update in real time, like a chat so there's no need to constantly refresh the page to check for new posts.

  • Why was this answer down voted?
    – mikey_w
    May 31, 2011 at 1:18
  • 2
    Probably because you are new here and advertised your website. Generally speaking it is frowned upon to promote yourself in your answers unless you've been an active member here before doing so.
    – John Conde
    May 31, 2011 at 11:48

You could set up a wordpress site with a bbpress forum. They're very good at trying to simplify the upgrade process.

I've predominatly used phpBB but I don't think this has much over vBulletin.

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