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

PhpBB is a very long running project and while they have modernized it over the years most recently with phpBB 3 it still is missing many of the features that you'd expect a modern web app to have. Things like a good WYSWIG editor, out of the box mobile support, animation, callbacks to allow you to submit data or do actions without reloading the entire page are all missing. The structure of the codebase is also a bit dated.

The entire application feels like it was written mostly procedurally with object orientation tacked on as an after thought, that's not entirely bad however but it feels like the project was designed as a personal project for fun that got made into something wide scale rather than something that was designed by professional engineers. The plugin system is non existent with the only way being able to install plugins (called MODs) being through editing the core files (what would be called "hacking core" in something like drupal). This is terrible ...more

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.

Easy to install and Manage, Open Source and Free. Recommended for start up community Projects!

Great and free

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2 MyBB

Love this software :D

Good Forum Software with good Support!

Take a try!

The software is easy to use and relatively fast.

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

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3 Vanilla Forum

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.

Most flexible, best looking

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

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4 XenForo

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

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

Even it cost money this most be the best forum system out there.

Fast and easy to use

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5 Simple Machines Forum

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.

Very Simple yet powerful and secure forum software, easily customizable and great support.

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6 vBulletin

Version 5 is full of bugs and missing components. Previous versions were great. Support does not want to discuss version 5 problems. They do not support previous version unless you buy or upgrade to version 5. Blackmail!

Total waste of money. Literally, I would have been better giving it away.

The install didn't work. No refund!

Amazingly, I got an email from support saying that they had seen the problem before, that it was common, that they wouldn't be able to make the software work for me, but NO the would not give me a refund!

Criminal!

DO NOT BUY unless you are in the habit of betting $200 on the flip of a coin! - DavidThomson

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.

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.

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7 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.

Customizable an user friendly.

The best and easiest Bulletin Board to use.

All in one - not just a forum

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8 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!

By far the only viable asp.net forum software. Most other.net platforms are either very low quality (few features, not modern looking) or the developers are no longer actively developing them (outdated).

Visit Website9
9 Moot

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.

Any website preview?

BEST

V 1 Comment
10 Flarum

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

A simple forum with elegant user-interface.

Simple & Awesome...Love the Script

It is just awesome!

V 3 Comments Visit Website9

The Contenders

11 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.

Amazing Design

best

V 1 Comment
12 Codoforum

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

Love the new refreshing look

Best simple, modern forum EVER!

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

V 3 Comments
13 YaBB

Great forum easy to use

14 Discuz

It combines both the social networking and forum functions together.

15 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.

Great Forums program

Excellent program

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

16 WebWiz forum

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.

17 Tal.ki
18 DSS
19 Zendesk
20 DIY

Probably the best option, but takes coding knowledge.

21 bbPress
22 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.

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23 Zzbulletin

Zzbulletin is a powerful forum software that has a built in bug tracker for your website. zzbulletin loads fast and has a nice side menu and top member display.

24 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?

25 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.

26 PunBB

Easy to use

27 NodeBB

Best modern forum software

28 Luna

Nice and useful script

One of the best!

Luna is incredible - fairly complex. But if you want a highly comprehensive forum with all the features (customization over the menu, which is pretty neat) and stuff I think Luna is would be great!

It is open source and (if I am correct) anyone who has coding knowledge could, like, make there own version all together!

I am in no way affiliated with Luna, but I am a new greatest fan!

In my opinion, the first options in this top tens should be:

1. CodoForum or Luna

2. EsoTalk or Flarum

3. I don't mind PHPBB but it isn't as modern (or cool) as I like, though it has quite a few customization.

Fast, Respnsive, Beautiful and Powerful forum software powered by FluxBB...

29 PantherForum

Panther is an open source forum application released under the GNU General Public License (GPL-3.0), Version 3, 29 June 2007. It is free to download and use and will remain so. Panther was designed to be a fast, user friendly and very secure forum application with a variety of features that are all fundamental when creating a new community.
Panther is a fork of FluxBB 1.5.7, adding various functionality and security improvements, such as the use of PDO prepared statements, more advanced hashing algorithms, and salt for user passwords. In 2015, FluxBB 2.0 was merged with the Flarum project, which was not very popular among community users. Development is still ongoing under the direction of Franz Liedke, but only until Flarum is fully released at which point development will cease.
Due to the unforeseen and changed circumstances, FluxBB was forked into Panther, which includes many improvements and enhancements to the software.

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