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best Message Board Hosting recommendations?

by PhxKen / February 2, 2006 9:48 AM PST

I've been charged with creating an online forum message board (like we have here with Cnet) for our neighborhood association. Help! Where do I even start?

Hosted, preferably free, good reviews, members only... any words of advise or recommendations?

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Your options are...
by Sovereign Forum moderator / February 2, 2006 11:24 AM PST

First note that Free = advertising. So if you're getting anything free, there will be much advertising, pop-ups, etc and that will (a) be really annoying for your visitors, and (b) it doesnt seem professional. So, you can host it anywhere you like. Go to google, type in "free hosting" and research a little to find what you need. Also, the problem with free hosts are that they don't allow you too much control, so personally I would recommend getting a paid host... someone like www.totalchoicehosting.com. I've been using them for years now, and they have never disappointed me. This brings us to your second questions... the message boards. Well, if you host with totalhoice (or other hosts offer that too), they're using something called a CPanel... it's like your interface for doing things... like installing a message board. With 3-4 clicks you can install a whole forum on their host within CPanel... that's nice and easy. They offer one of the best two message boards (well, I believe they are one of the best two... and so would others): Invision Board and phpBB. The difference is Invision Board has millions of settings where you can customize each things... it's a little more complex, whereas the other one, phpBB is very easy, but still pact with features... so from what I understand you need, phpBB would do just fine. If you have any questions, let me know.

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phpBB the best option?
by PhxKen / February 3, 2006 1:43 AM PST
In reply to: Your options are...

Thanks for the input. Question: Totalchoicehosting.com hosting (not free) utilizes an interface called ''CPanel'' that offers a choice of two of the best message boards, in your opinion, Invision Board or phpBB. But Invision or phpBB do NOT host? They are simply ''plug-ins'' for web sites? phpBB offers a choice of SQL database servers? Any recommendations on that front?

Below, I've cut and pasted phpBB's INTRO from their website, as an educational FYI for others for this thread. I appreciate the quick learning curve you're already providing. Thanks!!


What is phpBB?
phpBB is a high powered, fully scalable, and highly customizable Open Source bulletin board package. phpBB has a user-friendly interface, simple and straightforward administration panel, and helpful FAQ. Based on the powerful PHP server language and your choice of MySQL, MS-SQL, PostgreSQL or Access/ODBC database servers, phpBB is the ideal free community solution for all web sites.

Who are phpBB?
phpBB are a group of individuals based internationally who believe in Open Source software. The project has been stable since its creation in June 2000 without changes in licensing, leadership or corporate associations. Our goals remain unchanged and clear, to continue developing and supporting a stable, free, Open Source forum system.

Key Features
Supports popular database servers
Unlimited forums and posts
Multiple language interface
Private or public forums
Powerful search utility
Private messaging system
Complete customisation with templates
See the complete feature list...

phpBB version 2 has been completely re-written since the first version. Version 2 focuses on a professional-quality modular design, high security, multiple-language interface, support for a multitude of databases servers and complete layout customisation, all with a low execution overhead.

phpBB is based on PHP, the fastest growing server-side scripting language on the web, which results in one of the fastest, feature-rich bulletin board systems available anywhere.

In addition, phpBB is open-source software so it has no fees, no subscriptions, and no restrictions on modifications. Couple this with a thriving and friendly phpBB community and you have a killer solution for creating communities on your site!

* Simple installation that will have you up and running in minutes
* Complete upgrade from V1.x

Database Server Support
* phpBB uses a database abstraction layer to enable seamless support of several database servers:
** MySQL 3.2x,
** PostgreSQL 7.x,
** Microsoft SQL Server 7/2000
** Microsoft Access (via ODBC)
** ...with more databases available in the future.

* Designed with security as a priority
* Powerful and extensive authorisation system
* Strong encryption to keep passwords safe in the database
* Support for both cookie and URI-based sessions

Unlimited Forums & Categories
* Unlimited forums can be organised into as many categories as you like
* Private forums and those only for specified user groups
* Powerful search facility

Posting Messages
* Message formatting with various font styles and sizes as well as allowing quoting, code display, image posting and automatic URL linking
* Support of standard and extended BBCode tags and controlled HTML tags
* Polls can be simply added to posts
* Email notification of replies to your topics
* Powerful topic subscription capability
* Original emoticons to portray emotions

Versatile User Groups & Forum Permissions
* Powerful forum, user and group permission management
* Control forum access to specified user groups
* Control all aspects of the posting experience
* Allow limited access to viewing, posting, replying and many other options

Member Features
* Unlimited members
* Personal profile creation
* Post counting and administrator-definable ranks for users
* Email-like private messaging system
* Supports local, remote and uploadable avatars

Moderation Features
* Topic editing
* Mass delete/move/lock/unlock of posts
* Topic splitting
* Option of auto-pruning of old or unanswered messages on a per-forum basis

Easy to Use Administration Centre
* General configuration
* Forum & category setup
* Easy database backup and restore
* Disallowed usernames
* User authorisation
* Word censoring
* Complete member management
* Emoticon setup
* Optional account verification
* Extensive ban management, ban by email address, username or single/multiple IP address or hostname
* IP tracking of posts and posters
* Mass emailing of groups and users by the administrator

Style and Customisation
* Multiple styles available for the user to choose from
* Templates separated from the PHP code so that new layouts can easily be created or integrated with your current site design
* Complete control of fonts and colours with cascading style sheets (CSS)
* Active community creating addons and specialised modifications
* Default style compliant with XHTML 1.0 and HTML 4.01 recommendations from the W3C

* All this is supported by an increasingly large, thriving and friendly community of members from all over the world ready to help with any problems, suggestions or just for general discussion!

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About phpBB...
by Sovereign Forum moderator / February 3, 2006 6:27 AM PST
In reply to: phpBB the best option?

You need a host. phpBB is a script that you can install on many webhosts (but not all- it depends on if they have PHP enabled etc). So yes, they are "plug-ins". Don't be concered about the database server... most hosts (the ones you pay for) meet all the requirements to install a message board. To make sure you can always ask them. So it depends on how much you want to "play" with the board... how much control. In my opinion, I always recommend my clients phpBB because it is easier to maintain... with Invision Board you have to spend much time playing to see which settings exactly changes what.

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Help! My board was hacked!
by GunnyOz / March 13, 2006 4:17 AM PST
In reply to: phpBB the best option?

I am truly a novice at programming, etc but have been able to create a successful website which receives over 12,000 pagesviews per month. Part of the site includes a phpBB message board. Last night, the board was hacked... it appears to be only the index.php page. How do I undo this mess??? Are there any companies which can assist in programming?

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Some examples of phpBB message boards?
by PhxKen / February 3, 2006 2:18 AM PST
In reply to: Your options are...

Could you point to some phpBB message boards... to provide a first hand look and feel for their format, features? And for that matter, point to some Invision Boards as well??? Thanks.

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phpBB demo's...
by Sovereign Forum moderator / February 3, 2006 6:18 AM PST
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by pcd / February 4, 2006 12:14 AM PST

Try evosync.net

They offer free hosting services for forums and smaller websites. They host my site and I have not had any conflicts.

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Just installed SMF
by tradervic / February 8, 2006 6:08 PM PST

Found it to be simple and user friendly. Works great.

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by mmantei / February 8, 2006 10:39 PM PST

Dreamhost.COM is a great hosting service. They offer 1 click installs of phpBB and a lot more. You get 20gb disk (increasing 100mb per week) 1TB of bandwidth, a free domain name, 600 mailboxes MYSQL and alot more for $7.95/month (2 years in advance) or $9.95/month for 1 year. If you refer someone to the service you get a $97 credit. BTW-If you choose Dreamhost, please use me as your referral Wink

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by mmantei / February 8, 2006 10:45 PM PST
In reply to: Dreamhost

I should point out that I just recently setup a message forum with Dreamhost. You can find it at http://www.notmiracle.com then click on the Message Forum link. Note that I had this entire site up and running in under 30 minutes, including the design of 3 web pages to go wtih the message board. The board itself took about 5 minutes to install (sit and wait after clicking a button) and another 5 minutes to setup the discussion group and do all of the configuration. It's about as simple a process as it can get.

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invisionplus.net is the best for free forum hosting!
by alankru / February 8, 2006 10:55 PM PST
http://invisionplus.net using the famous IPB message board as mentioned earlier. Very powerful and much more secure than phpbb. Phpbb is very simple and you can't do alot with it IMO. It is always having security holes in it resulting in many forums being hacked and I know of a few as a result of the security problems. invisionplus.net is actually my site, we are one of the top 3 of IPB free forum hosts and support is exceptional. Please take a read of our feedback:
It goes on for a few pages. I couldn't tell you the advantages of our service compared to others in this post, the best way is to try it and you will soon find out for yourself, as you can see from the feedback we get from other's experiences.
I have been doing this for quite a while now, and I have investigated the market alot. IPB has quite a few ways of preventing troublesome users compared to phpbb. Advertising? All we have is 1 small Yahoo/Google (rotates) at the bottom. We have no spyware, popups or anything like that and we never will. The banner is unobtrusive. You can see it on our support board which i linked to earlier. All you have todo is fill out a form and you will have a forum in a few minutes. If something goes wrong with your forum, I will fix it for you. If you can't work out how to use something, the FAQ will most likely help you out, but if not, then you can post a support topic and ask us and someone from the team will answer your question in a professional and polite manner. We support many languages. If you had cPanel and installed IPB from there, it is an old version and we use a newer one. Also, if something goes wrong with your board, or you can't work something, you can no longer get help from Invision Power Services for free unless you are a customer. This is where Invision Plus Support comes to light and will help because as long as you have your message board hosted by us, we'll support, fix and upgrade it when necessary. Support is via many methods, you can IM me, email, use the forums, see the FAQs etc etc. You don't have to worry about any of the maintenance of the forum, you simply use and enjoy your board! I do offer a paid service as well where you get cpanel, IPB, NO ads, use a domain and FTP access and it is supported by me. Again, you don't have to worry about the installation of it or the maintenance of the forum if something goes wrong. Many webhosts don't support IPB forums which you have on your own private webspace, where I support and specialise in IPB if you are a customer of mine.
If you want to demo our boards, simply signup for a forum. You don't have to use it if you don't want to, and you can get it deleted at anytime. There are no catches and you are in control, 100% free.
Please please compare our boards and service before you use phpbb immediately and you take out a paid service. If you don't, you won't know what you are missing!
Something to think about..
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Check out Yahoo Groups
by timshau / February 9, 2006 3:03 AM PST

If you are looking for something free (ads, of course), easy and has little maintenance, check out Yahoo Groups <groups.yahoo.com>. It's not as flexible as the others, but may fit your needs.

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