This is a general, community wiki catch-all question to address "I need a forum script that does x, y, and z..." questions.

If your question was closed as a duplicate of this question and you feel that the information provided here does not provide a sufficient answer, please open a discussion on the Pro Webmasters Meta.

I have a list of features that I want for my website's forum script: where can I find a (free or paid) script that includes all of them?


The Webmasters FAQ outlines the nature of acceptable questions for this site: researching available solutions and providing anecdotal advice falls outside the purpose of this StackExchange site, so this type of question would be better-suited to chat or another discussion forum.

That being said, there are a variety of free and open source content management systems, as well as licensed software and paid services, which may meet your requirements.

Some of the most popular forum scripts include:

  • PHPBB (php, free and open source)
    • Pros: it's been around for a long time, so there are lots of documentation and mods for it. Has lots of features.
    • Cons: installing mods is not easy.
  • Fluxbb (php, free and open source)
    • Pros: very lightweight and simple
    • Cons: hard to install mods, not a lot of features.
  • vBulletin (php, pricing varies by suite)
    • Pros: very robust and powerful, widely used
    • Cons: very expensive
  • Vanilla Forums (php, free)
    • Pros: easy to use, with a great user interface
    • Cons: isn't like a traditional forum, and some of the features, like badges, aren't free.
  • BBPress (php, free and open source)
    • Pros: plugin version integrates really well with wordpress, simple, seo-friendly urls built in, easy to modify and hack if you know wordpress.
    • Cons: often need to integrate bbpress with your wordpress theme.
  • SMF (php, free and open source)
    • Pros: great mods, and a great community
    • Cons: can be hard to customize if you aren't used to the admin interface
  • MyBB (php, free and open source)
    • Pros: tons of features
    • Cons: amount of features can be overwhelming
  • XenForo (php, commercial)
    • Pros: lots of great features, such as badges.
    • Cons: it's not free.
  • Ninja Post (php, commercial)
    • Pros: hosted solution, real time updates.
    • Cons: Not free.
  • nodeBB (javascript, open source)
    • Pros: superfast and realtime, built on nodejs & redis
    • Cons: Does't integrate with existing website/user system and difficult to customize.
  • Codoforum (php, free)
    • Pros: Modern, Unconventional with rich content support
    • Cons: It is still a very new forum
  • IP.Board (php, commercial)
    • Pros: Modern, flexible
    • Cons: Requires core package which is very expensive
  • PlushForums (php, commercial)
    • Pros: Easy to use, real-time updates, hosted
    • Cons: Not free
  • Flarum (EsoTalk successor) (php, open source)
    • Pros: very sleek and simple interface
    • Cons: early beta

All of the forum software listed above are built around the concept of mods (plugins) which extend the application's functionality - there are many mods, with new mods authored every day.

Sites like forum-software.org can help you compare different forum software, and have forum comparison tools and in-depth reviews.

If you have researched different forum software and available mods but cannot find anything that will meet your needs, you should consult a developer (or do it yourself) who can build something to your specifications either as a mod for an existing forum script or as a stand-alone application.

Discontinued software

Formerly listed here, and for sake of completion moved down instead of removed:

  • EsoTalk (php, open source)
    • Pros: Simple, with a sleek interface
    • Cons: ?
  • SMF forgotten – Lazy Badger Feb 12 '12 at 8:59
  • @LazyBadger this is a community wiki post: you can edit it and add SMF – user6901 Feb 12 '12 at 14:40
  • I'll leave work of writing "Pro"|"Contra" to anybody – Lazy Badger Feb 12 '12 at 16:11
  • Drupal Forum/AF is not mentioned. – AgA May 17 '14 at 11:18

I like the Xenforo forum software. It's built by these guys who left VBulliten and decided to try and build a cooler forum software. It's sleeker and looks newer. It doesn't have as many extensions seeing as it's only a couple years old. But, Xenforo definitely worth checking out.

  • Consider merging your answer with the one above, as your points will get more attention that way. Also, I removed the link to your site: it isn't relevant to this answer. – user6901 Mar 5 '12 at 1:36

If the question you want to answer is genuinely "Where can I find a CMS/forum that has these features." then CMSmatrix has a search facility that enables selecting from over 1000 CMS by choosing the features you want.

In addition, you may then want to then use opensourcecms.com which allows the trialling of around 350 different popular CMS without installing.

Most of the major CMS have live trial installs to look at without having to do an install yourself.

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