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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?

4 Answers 4

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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:

CMS Price Language Pros Cons
PHPBB PHP free and open source it's been around for a long time, so there are lots of documentation and mods for it. Has lots of features. installing mods is not easy.
Fluxbb PHP free and open source) very lightweight and simple hard to install mods, not a lot of features.
vBulletin PHP pricing varies by suite very robust and powerful, widely used very expensive
Vanilla Forums PHP free easy to use, with a great user interface isn't like a traditional forum, and some of the features, like badges, aren't free.
BBPress PHP free and open source plugin version integrates really well with wordpress, simple, seo-friendly urls built in, easy to modify and hack if you know wordpress. often need to integrate bbpress with your wordpress theme.
SMF PHP free and open source great mods, and a great community can be hard to customize if you aren't used to the admin interface
MyBB PHP free and open source tons of features amount of features can be overwhelming
XenForo PHP commercial lots of great features, such as badges. it's not free.
Ninja Post PHP commercial hosted solution, real time updates. Not free.
nodeBB javascript open source superfast and realtime, built on nodejs & redis Does't integrate with existing website/user system and difficult to customize.
Codoforum PHP free Modern, Unconventional with rich content support It is still a very new forum
IP.Board PHP commercial Modern, flexible Requires core package which is very expensive
PlushForums PHP commercial Easy to use, real-time updates, hosted Not free
Flarum (EsoTalk successor) PHP open source very sleek and simple interface 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: ?
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    SMF forgotten Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 8:59
  • @LazyBadger this is a community wiki post: you can edit it and add SMF
    – user6901
    Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 14:40
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    I'll leave work of writing "Pro"|"Contra" to anybody Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 16:11
  • Drupal Forum/AF is not mentioned.
    – AgA
    Commented May 17, 2014 at 11:18
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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.

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  • 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
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 1:36
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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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Having an understanding of market share may help your choice. (I also added "free?", "inception" and "Language" columns as they seem useful

App Market Market share Free? Inception Language
phpBB 22 200 29% Yes 2000 PHP
XenForo 12 600 16% No 2011 PHP
Discuz! X 11 000 14% Depends 2010 PHP
vBulletin 9 200 12% No 2000 PHP
IPB 7 400 10% No 2005 PHP
Discourse 6 200 8% Yes 2013 Ruby
SMF 3 100 4% Yes 2003 PHP
MyBB 3 100 4% Yes 2002 PHP
Flarum 1 300 2% Yes 2010 PHP
Tiki Wiki CMS Groupware 1 100 1% Yes 2002 PHP

https://www.wappalyzer.com/technologies/message-boards