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Best forum product - advice needed

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Patient, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. #1
    Not sure if this is the right place for this post but I would like your advice on the best forum product before I leap into the dark.

    I am planning for the long term and don't mind spending a few quid. I guess my priorities would be:
    SEMrush
    a) Search engine friendly
    b) User features
    c) Robustness & reliability
    d) Ease of administration
    e) Look and feel

    Any advice gratefully accepted.
     
    Patient, Oct 28, 2004 IP
    SEMrush
  2. T0PS3O

    T0PS3O Feel Good PLC

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    #2
    This wouldn't have been the best forum if it didn't use the best forum software...

    Perhaps not entirely true but still, Shawn's a die hard coder and can pull off a lot of tricks with VB so I guess it has everything he likes. He wouldn't like it if it was crap or if there was a better one around.
     
    T0PS3O, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  3. Patient

    Patient Raider

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    #3
    Thanks TOPS30

    I wish I was half the genious Shawn is but.... I'm not. I can do enough coding to get by but if it takes a lot of coding experience to make a great search engine friendly forum out of vbulleting then I may be better off with phpBB.

    What are your personal experiences with vbulletin and others?
     
    Patient, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  4. schlottke

    schlottke Peon

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    #4
    vB is definatly the easiest and best out of the box solution available.
     
    schlottke, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  5. Patient

    Patient Raider

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    #5
    Thanks schlottke

    Do you have personal experience? Is it SE friendly (or good instructions available to make it so)?
     
    Patient, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  6. Fishing Forum

    Fishing Forum Active Member

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    #6
    VB as said above

    a) Search engine friendly
    The new versions have no problems in getting indexed ( Just remember to swith on your archive )

    b) User features
    Loads - but some can put a lot of load on your serve

    c) Robustness & reliability
    Yes - But with forums you need to back up daily

    d) Ease of administration
    Cannot be simplier - I can use it

    e) Look and feel
    You can hack it plus loads of skins out there . But remember when the upgrades come out (about 3 -6 months ) You will have to put all you hacks back in so keep it simple . Forums like web sites are all about content

    Support is good as well
     
    Fishing Forum, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  7. schlottke

    schlottke Peon

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    #7
    Yes, I use it. Out of the box its SE Friendly, but there are a lot of hacks you can do pretty easily to make it even better.
     
    schlottke, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  8. Patient

    Patient Raider

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    #8
    Does vb have an automated backup feature?

    What would you say are the minimum server requirements for an "average" forum?
     
    Patient, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  9. Michael

    Michael Raider

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    #9
    I don't think there is a best. It's horses for courses and what is great for one person wouldn't work with another.

    I can tell you though that for the last few years we have been asked with increasing frequency to incorporate some kind of forum on client's websites. We needed a product where we could give every client exactly what they wanted by way of functionality and have the look and feel of the overall site it was used with. Obviously we needed a product where this could be done very quickly and easily so our margins were maintained. Most importantly it had to be easy enough to be maintained by the client themselves. We chose and use ASPPlayground.NET and quite a few of our clients have well over 100k pages indexed. The largest has over 1,000,000 posts and 100's of users at any given time and it still works like lightning. I am not sure how much it costs because we have a special deal but it was under $300 for the latest .NET version last I heard.

    - Michael.

     
    Michael, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  10. Will.Spencer

    Will.Spencer NetBuilder

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    #10
    I am quite happy with phpBB on my forums.

    Unlike vBulletin, it's free.
     
    Will.Spencer, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  11. Percept

    Percept Peon

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    #11
    On the topic of forum SE friendlyness, the vbulletin archive is crap, I can't tell you how many times I've landed on one of those archive pages, just to get a very long list of links. I allways have to look for the thread matching my search query ... They should make the forums itself more SE friendly instead of just plugin in an archive.
     
    Percept, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  12. david_sakh

    david_sakh Peon

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    #12
    Is there an easy way I can migrate from IPB to phbb? I'm planning on doing so, but I've nevered modified or even managed the database before. I just want to know if I could transfer the posts and profiles.
     
    david_sakh, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  13. Trance-formation

    Trance-formation Peon

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    #13
    Check out www.theforumzone.com for forum specific advice... I was directed there by Nitin and found them very useful.

    phpbb works well for me and there are numerous modifications available from www.phpbb.com, including some to make the forum more google spider "friendly". I also found it very easy to set up.
     
    Trance-formation, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  14. GuyFromChicago

    GuyFromChicago Permanent Peon

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    #14
    The archives don't carry over links from posts, they convert everything to plain text. Usually the only links on archive pages are the ones that the forum owner(s) manually included in the template. Have you seen a vBulletin archive where this isn't the case? I'd like to check it if you can point me in the right direction.
     
    GuyFromChicago, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  15. Percept

    Percept Peon

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    #15
    I mean linkspages like this: http://forums.digitalpoint.com/archive/index.php/f-5.html

    I just realised these pages might be very handy in most cases but they were not for me.
     
    Percept, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  16. GuyFromChicago

    GuyFromChicago Permanent Peon

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    #16
    I see what you're talking about. I was referring to the archives a level deeper, like http://forums.digitalpoint.com/archive/index.php/t-8.html. Those pages (the actual posts) are 99% text.

    The archive is more like a site map imo. The search engine spiders love the archive pages and in my experience index more of the archive pages that they do the "normal" forum pages. A lot of the search engine traffic I get arrives via the archives, then the user makes their way into the "normal" forum.
     
    GuyFromChicago, Oct 28, 2004 IP
  17. Dodger

    Dodger Peon

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    #17
    I am working on (well, off and on) a phpBB hack that does the same thing that vBulletin's Archive feature does. Example of phpBB Archive hack as it stands right now, and as you can see -- I am using the vBulletin styling for it. ;)

    The point of my post is that phpBB out of the box is your foundation. You can build upon that foundation with hacks to give it any functionality that you can dream of. The phpBB community of developers have thousands (yes thousands) of hacks that are available for you to add onto your phpBB.

    vBulletin out of the box, has just about every bell and whistle you can think of in it, true. But IMO vBulletin code is bloated with unneccesary stuff that bleeds out onto the topic pages. With vBulletin, the opposite is true, you have to hack it into a state of SE freindliness and I am not just talking about SE freindly URLs either --- there are so many links on the VB page to useless crap and duplicated content, that your links get diluted big time.

    To some extent, phpBB is not impervious to this link dilution. The difference being that phpBB is easier to clean up with minimal effort.

    With all the VB bells and whistles, comes page code size that is generally much larger than phpBB page size. In general, there is about 9-12k worth of code (repetitive code at that) with each post in vBulletin. PhpBB runs at about 3-7k. Multiply that by the 15 post per page default, then add in the rest of the crap outside of the main posting table and you can see that after about the 8th or 9th post in VB the page will be considerably larger than phpBB.

    One unknown thing about phpBB that goes largely un-noticed is that there are precompiled versions available that have a lot of the popular hacks already modded into it. You can have the "extras" at no extra charge. Packages like Minerva and phpBB Plus 1.2 come to mind. These two are also "portal" solutions for phpBB, which in itself a big plus.

    I think the best phpBB hacked site that I have come across (in SEO terms) has got to be SEO Park -- hands down. This will show you the versatility that you have with phpBB. In fact, I think you will find that phpBB forums -- from one to another -- have more uniqueness to them. VB forums, from one to another, freaking all look the same. Maybe that is a good thing or a bad thing -- kind of like going across country to another town and having a McDonalds there (it is a comfort ing feeling, even though you are in a strange town).
     
    Dodger, Oct 28, 2004 IP