Having your own forums or bulletin boards can be a great way of creating a community where people with similar interests can come together and discuss ideas and have conversations.
If you’re looking to create a forum section on your site, you don’t necessarily have to write code to implement features. Instead, you can use any of these seven free online bulletin boards to host your forums in no time.
phpBB is one of the best free online bulletin boards that has been out there for about two decades now. The project is an example of what proper, well maintained and quality open-source development can achieve.
One of the biggest advantages it has is its popularity. With the extensive community support out there, there’s a good chance that someone has already tried to do something you’re thinking of, which means you save a ton of time.
There’s an extensive user-created extension database, making it extremely easy to install and manage add-ons. The admin panel itself is straightforward and helpful. You don’t require any coding knowledge at all to get started here.
You can check out phpBB here
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Another popular bulletin board software that has been around for quite some time and still evolving. MyBB is packed with features while managing to retain good loading speeds. It also makes sure that your databases are in good shape.
You get user reputation support, calendar features, quick reply, multi-quote, and so much more. You can even embed images and send personal messages.
Colour schemes can be edited using a simple online editor. If you can, you also can dive down into the CSS and take things into your own hands.
You can check out MyBB here
Simple Machines Forum
Simple Machines Forum, otherwise known as SMF, was launched back in 2003 as a spin-off to the now obsolete YaBB SE software. Despite being nearly 19 years old, it still receives frequent updates, and while the layout is a lot like older bulletin boards, it still has a fresh feel.
The default style itself is rather well made, and the admin panel will give you all the information you need in one place. There’s also a modification database with hundreds of add-ons that can add a lot of variety to your bulletin board.
You can check out Simple Machines Forum here
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FluxBB’s main advantage is its lightweight build and fast loading speeds. Yes, it doesn’t have many features other boards on this list do, but it does have everything you need to set up a fully functional forum.
There are moderation tools and a permission system in place to control users. You can customise the default themes but only at a basic level. However, many plugins are available, which should more than makeup for any lack of features you might come across.
You can check out FluxBB here
Vanilla’s primary target audience is business customers, hoping to lure in with its cloud-based infrastructure. Regardless, the open-source version is still a great choice if you need software to build your forum or comment system.
You get support for social media log-in, single sing-up and even the ability to import credentials from other forums. It might not have as many features, but it’s got everything you need to create a simple forum platform.
However, you do not get as many features as paid users do. While that’s understandable, you can compensate for it using the extensive community plugin library.
You can check out Vanilla here
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Discourse is one of the most modern bulletin board software on this list that has been made from the ground up for modern browsing habits. Forums or discussions are not broken up into pages. Instead, you get an endless scroll with a bar showing you where you are in the discussion.
There are dynamic notifications, single sign-on, social media integration, community moderation and mobile optimisation. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Customisation might not be as easy as traditional forum software, but you can use themes to get everything down to your liking. There’s an expansive plugin database available as well.
You can check out Discourse here
Codoforum is a free forum software built using PHP and MySQL. The creators have put their focus on user experience, features and speed. Hence the forums made using Codoforum have top-notch features, look amazing and load rather quickly.
Installation is super easy and is supported on any server running PHP and MySQL. The documentation is also rather concisely written, and you’ll have no time figuring your way around the build.
You can check out Codoforum here
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