When you’ve got a product on your hands, no matter if it’s physical, software, or something else, you’ll probably want to have a nice support community based on the product. Even if the product isn’t yours, you still might be interested in building an online community for it, no matter if it’s a support community or a fan community. In fact, people do this quite often, and occasionally get pretty successful with them (just look at all the Android communities out there!).
The best way to make such communities is through the use of forums. There are plenty of different forum frameworks out there that you can choose from, both paid and free. While a popular choice is phpBB, there’s another free contender that really gives phpBB a run for its money.
myBB is among the most popular choices for forum software, which can run on any server that uses a web service such as Apache in combination with MySQL and PHP. Most people who use it say that, among all the free solutions, myBB most resembles the paid vBulletin software in terms of aesthetics and features. However, because it is free, anyone can install it onto their server, and any programmer can go through the code to find bugs.
It has plenty of features that you’ve come to expect from forums. Users can enjoy private messaging, high quality post-editing tools, and many areas where user customization can occur, such as avatars, signatures, and so on.
The default theme may be a little bland for most users, but myBB is easily customizable with great themes you can simply install and use.
Moderators will get to enjoy some great moderation tools that also remind me of vBulletin, and in my opinion even surpasses phpBB’s moderation tools through good design. They will be able to edit posts, add warning points, or suspend a user like a pro. Unlike phpBB, myBB allows you to manipulate threads without having to use a separate moderator panel, although one does exist.
Simply put, myBB allows moderators do get tasks done quickly and easily without much confusion.
Administrators will get access to a great administration panel that I believe is the best out of all the free and paid products in terms of design and layout. Administration features also equals or surpasses phpBB. You can really control everything that you could possibly want, and the permissions control page is a joy to use.
When a new version of myBB comes out, you’ll be notified in the administation panel that you can update. While the software doesn’t offer an automatic update option like WordPress (yet), it offers links to any updated version of myBB as well as updated plugins. Yes, that’s right, myBB is also extensible via a large collection of plugins. You can then take these downloads, extract the contents from their .zip folder, and upload the new files onto your server. This process is very easy and shouldn’t be a problem to anyone running their own server.
myBB is a great choice for starting a forum as the code is clean, the design is fantastic, and it is very extensible and configurable through plugins and themes. For anyone who wants to start a forum, I highly recommend trying out myBB first before any other forum solution. You won’t be disappointed.
What’s your favorite forum solution? Why? What do you like or not like about forums? Let us know in the comments!