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Is a Message Board (Bulletin Board) Right for Your Site?

In my opinion, message boards are a mixed bag.  When they are useful, in very active support communities for example, they are a God-send.  Too often, though, I see them implemented badly.  Small groups try to use message boards to drum up activity on their websites, but all they get in return is the first three "planted" postings (which they themselves added), no actual participation by their "members," and then an ever-increasing load of spam and porn on their site.

Before you consider adding a message board to your website, I encourage you to really think it through.  Are you overestimating the popularity of the site?  Is it really going to be so well received that it will be worth slaying all of the spam bots that may come after it enmasse?  If the answer is "no" then consider another more appropriate option.  (If you need ideas, please call or email your Urangatang advisor at 1-888-872-6428 ext. 707.)  If your answer is "yes," then simply choose and install your bulletin board with care.

Depending upon where you host your website, you may have a variety of prefabricated bulletin boards available to you at no charge, with an extremely simplifed installation, courtesy of your webhost.  In addition, here are a few that I find an appropriate fit for different types of situations.  Some of these are "open source," which means that you can use them freely as long as you do not alter or delete certain trademarked and protected bits of code on the site.  Others are paid software, which usually involves a one-time fee.  Depending upon what you’re trying to accomplish, I encourage you not to permit the "free vs. fee" sway the direction in which you go.  A good bulletin board, properly implemented, is usually worth the money.


Paid Bulletin Boards

VBulletin (http://www.vbulletin.com) - $195 - This software is compatible with both Linux and Windows servers.  It is written in the PHP programming language and uses a MySQL database.  It offers CAPTCHA technology to help miminimize spam and porn postings.  It allows multiple posting categories, the detection of duplicate threads (to minimize spam and erroneous secondary postings), and supports both private and instant messaging among its active users, poll creation, and an online calendar.  Given its wide array of capabilities, the administrative panel may feel somewhat intimidating to new site owners upon first installing the bulletin board.

UBB.threads (http://www.ubbcentral.com) - $139 - This software is compatible with both Linux and Windows servers.  It is written in the PHP programming language and uses a MySQL database.  It offers CAPTCHA technology to help miminimize spam and porn postings. It allows multiple posting categories, and supports private messaging among its active users, poll creation, and an online calendar.

Free (Open Source) Bulletin Boards

Simple Machines Forum (SMF) (http://www.simplemachines.org/) - FREE - This software is compatible with both Linux and Windows servers.  It is written in the PHP programming language  and uses a MySQL database. It offers CAPTCHA technology to help miminimize spam and porn postings. It allows multiple posting categories, and supports private messaging among its active users, poll creation, and an online calendar. Make sure that the installation process is completed by someone who is extremely comfortable reading and following computer-configuration instructions.

Zoho Discussions - (http://discussions.zoho.com) - FREE - This software is actually hosted by Zoho.com, so there are no software or hardware caveats to consider, no installation processs, etc. It offers CAPTCHA technology to help miminimize spam and porn postings. It allows multiple posting categories, and supports both private and instant messaging among its active users.

Zeta Boards - (http://www.zetaboards.com) - FREE - This software is actually hosted by ZetaBoards.com, so there are no software or hardware caveats to consider, no installation processs, etc. It offers CAPTCHA technology to help miminimize spam and porn postings. It allows multiple posting categories, supports private messaging among its active users, poll creation, and an online calendar.  One thing to be aware of; the Zeta Boards do not currently support database backup and restore, so if there is a significant problem on your message board, you may have a considerable challenge working through it.

Phorum - (http://www.phorum.org) - FREE - This software is one of the most flexible I have seen.  A good programmer can bend it and shape it in a variety of ways, including practically any formatting you have in mind. This software is compatible with both Linux and Windows servers.  It is written in the PHP programming language and uses a MySQL database.  It offers CAPTCHA technology to help miminimize spam and porn postings.  It allows multiple posting categories, the detection of duplicate threads (to minimize spam and erroneous secondary postings), and supports private messaging among its active users, poll creation, and an online calendar.

MyBB - (http://www.mybboard.net) - FREE - This software is compatible with both Linux and Windows servers.  It is written in the PHP programming language and uses a MySQL database.  Its administration panel is extensive and allows you to control every aspect of your discussion board. It offers CAPTCHA technology to help miminimize spam and porn postings.  It allows multiple posting categories, and supports both private and instant messaging among its active users, poll creation, and an online calendar.

Lefora - (http://www.lefora.com) - FREE - This software is actually hosted by Lefora.com, so there are no software or hardware caveats to consider, no installation processs, etc.   It offers several technologies, including CAPTCHA technology to help miminimize spam and porn postings.  It allows multiple posting categories, and supports both private and instant messaging among its active users, poll creation, and an online calendar.  It also offers very fast, strong, and simple customization abilities.


This material is Copyrighted. All rights reserved. Linda C. Uranga-Norton, President and Founder, Urangatang Web Design. To obtain reprint permission or engage the author for speaking engagements, please contact the author at . All reprints must include a link to the author's website at www.urangatang.com.

If you have an idea for an educational or informative article that you believe would be of interest to others as well, please email us at or call us at 1-888-872-6428 ext. 707 to discuss your idea.

 

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