Top 10 Best Forum Software Programs

Forums are a great way to build a community website around a theme, create a support tool around a product or service, or add an extension to your existing site so your visitors can interact with each other. Selecting the right forum software is an important first step in making sure your forum will be able successful as possible. You'l want to find a software package that combines stability, security, usability, and flexibility. To help you get started, below is a list of the best forum software.
The Top Ten
1 phpBB

The most popular forum software out there and it's free. Completely open source so you can do anything you want with the code and because it is so popular, there is a ton of documentation and support out there to help you out.

phpBB is a long-running project, and while they have modernized it over the years, most recently with phpBB 3, it still lacks many features that you would expect from a modern web app. Things like a good WYSIWYG editor, out-of-the-box mobile support, animation, and callbacks to enable actions without reloading the entire page are all missing. The structure of the codebase is also a bit outdated.

The entire application feels like it was primarily written procedurally, with object orientation added as an afterthought. That's not entirely bad; however, it gives the impression that the project started as a personal project for fun and later turned into something on a larger scale, rather than being designed by professional engineers. The plugin system is nonexistent, and the only way to install plugins (called MODs) is by editing the core files (similar to "hacking core" in something like Drupal). This is a terrible design because multiple plugins may interfere with each ...more

Best free forum software and it tops the list! However, if you'd like more features I'd recommend IP Board since it is more customisable, easier to use and It also saves a lot of time

I'm using it right now and it's the best one! VBulletin and phpBB are the best ones, but phpBB is for free so I decided to vote for this!

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2 XenForo

XenForo is great for forum software. It's cheaper and much better than vBulletin. It feels like it was built for the modern web with things like modal popups, AJAX, animations, and out of the box responsive design for mobile devices. phpBB is probably your best free option, XenForo is your best overall option.

One of the forums I used changed from vBulletin to XenForo a year or so back. Its like night-and-day, a huge improvement in productivity for regular posters and enjoyment by members. Very slick

Just fantastic, fast easy to use and really gone forward with the most important features you want for a forum.

Modern, sleek, very stable. Extremely easy install process, and continued, growing support of the product.

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3 MyBB

This is amazing software with unbelievable support in their user community. Very stable and easy to install. Looking forward to the next version. 100's of quality and well thought out mods, plugins, and themes are available!

I have a myBB forum. It's fine but not as good as my paid forum software. MyBB is good enough for a free software low traffic site.

They like to use weird looking default themes. I wish it was more sleek and modern.

The software is easy to use and relatively fast.

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4 Simple Machines Forum

The best solution, for tiny or large foruns. powerful tools and Noob friendly. On the Official Website you can download MODs to create new functions or implement new features. This plataform have the best security options on all over other plataforms. I Recomend!

Secure forum software, with easy mod/theme install options. Supporting lots of local languages translation done by official teams inside the SMF itself.

Powerful, Noob friendly, Has a lot of Modifications you can put on, looks Very nice with some themes, works Perfect.

Best forum software out there, definitely worth using time on getting into.

5 vBulletin

We've been running vBulletin for over a decade. Recently went from in the past two years, upgraded from 3 to 4 an this summer upgraded to 5. It's a solid product with good features and well implemented. Support is spotty and design changes made with vb5 have killed the developer community so extensions are few and far between.

If you're satisfied with the product as is, it's a good choice but if it's missing features you need, expect to code them yourself... or move along to another product.

Not free like some of the other software on this list, but definitely worth the price. Recommended by administrators of some of the largest, most popular forums on the net. Powerful and secure forum software.

Been visiting vBulletin sites for over 15 years. Seems to be associated with professional operating systems.

I have two forums Vb 4.2.3 and Vb 5.2.1 Been using vb5 for a year now and actually I like vb5 a lot and would recommend it. I may upgrade the vb4 to a vb5 as well soon.

Granted vb5 was a little buggy at first and there is still a lot of room for improvement but I like it a lot now.

6 IP.Board

Powerful solution. Is not free, but you can have the license included free with an Invision Power (the guys who made the program) hosting account starting at $5 a month. The nice this about having them host it is that the handle the installation and upgrades so you don't have to worry about it.

The best and easiest Bulletin Board to use.

I like this Software I'll get one today!

The best! We use this platform from 2008.

7 Vanilla Forum

Not worth the trouble. They lack the support community they say is there. Most of the new pop add ons are not there, the plug ins are old and dated. I say they went commercial and dropped the open source ball
Save your wasted time trying to use this

Modern, Flexible, Customizable. How can any others compare. Both a free self-hosted and cloud based version if you don't want to deal with hosting...

Vanilla is free, open source, sweet to look, easy to manage, easy to customise... All I wanted, just in Vanilla.

The hosted version is brilliant.

8 Muut

It is forums and commenting unified, a truly modern discussion platform unencumbered by the weight of unnecessary features and distractions. It places the conversation back to the forefront. The fast and clean realtime user interface, persistent content and deep integration to the site makes a more natural and meaningful discussion on topics the people care about.

The only forum script out there that doesn't burn my eyes.

They changed their name to Muut by the way… Muut really rocks as it's the only one that combines comments with a forum.

9 Flarum

Flarum may still be under heavy development, but it is the next generation forum software!

A simple forum with elegant user-interface.

I have saw their work, they have totally new concept. good looking and real time

It is just awesome!

10 WoltLab Burning Board

Looks nice but I wouldn't recommend it. If I could turn back the clock, I would probably use another software.

Nice, good support.

The Contenders
11 Codoforum

Codoforum is a refreshing take on the tired old forums we see again and again.

Say good bye to the old, cluttered and cumbersome interfaces. CF has a fresh UI which is simple, clean and impressive.

It has everything that a modern forum needs,
1. Markdown support
2. Drag-drop media in posts
3. Built in syntax highlighting
4. Login integration for existing websites and Social logins too
And many more

What I like about codoforum is that after a standard 20 second install it could immediately interface with my existing website built on Drupal.
Support has also been very good. For the price (Free) this is a no-brainer.
Highly recommended.

It is one of the best systems I have every come across, the documentation is what amazed me.

It's a great software and they always try to help with problems. It is easily customizable and works well.

12 ASPPlayground.NET

Great software and great support! Why bother with open source! I have two forums running this software and I am more than happy with it.

I use ASPP on two of my forums and it's great. Version 4 looks to be nearly perfect!

13 YaBB

Great forum easy to use

14 Discourse

This is a rock solid piece of modern forum software, has the best mobile support of any forum out there and many many little features to help members and admin. When it came to setting it up I managed to follow their guide for DigitalOcean hosting and get it up and running in 30 minutes. They also offer their own hosting, but otherwise this is free and open source.

Made by the founders of StackOverflow. Needless to say, these guys know what they're doing.

15 Discuz

It combines both the social networking and forum functions together.

16 Web Wiz Forums

Free and solid BB performer with rock-steady user-modifiable code (with licensed version) written in classic ASP (VB Script) supporting several flavors of SQL databases with chat functionality built-in and several add-on modules available.

18 ProBoards Free Forums

This software is the cutting edge cloud-hosted forum service. The guys behind the project have been at it for 15 years and are still updating it all the time.

It is currently the best forum software. Cheap and best. Only disadvantage is that you can't upload html files to the forum. 13$/annum! Who else gets you a better deal?

19 Zendesk
20 Get Satisfaction

Get Satisfaction is the community platform that helps companies create engaging customer experiences by fostering online conversations about their products and services at every stage of the lifecycle.

Get Satisfaction powers 70,000 active customer communities hosting more than 35 million consumers each month. From its inception in 2007, Get Satisfaction has been focused on building an intuitive, easy to use community platform that is designed to bring resolution to consumers; is highly discoverable by search engines and is implemented quickly and easily.

Companies of all sizes such as Flipboard, Intuit, Kellogg's and Sonos rely on the Get Satisfaction community platform to acquire new customers, provide better service and build better products.

21 bbPress
22 NodeBB
23 AnswerHub

AnswerHub is an enterprise knowledge management platform, built on a question and answer (Q&A) foundation. With additional features like ideation and knowledge base, AnswerHub is the perfect solution for capturing, sharing, and succeeding with shared knowledge. Some of the most successful companies in the world use AnswerHub for collaboration, social learning, customer support and online community, including GE, Epic Games, LinkedIn, Estee Lauder, eBay, USAA, Unity, and Thompson Reuters.

24 PantherForum
25 PunBB
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