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Recommendations for discussion forum software?

Hi folks. I was wondering if anyone could recommend discussion forum software?

I'm currently inclined towards finding a cloud-hosted service if a good one exists, as opposed to reinventing the wheel myself, or downloading/buying software then self-hosting (though if the best candidate is self-hosted, I would consider it). There's only so much time to specialize, so I'd rather leave this to a 3rd party *if* an affordable cloud-based plug and play option is available.

I was imagining something like UserVoice meets Twitter in terms of interface, and it would be important that it integrate with my existing authentication and user profile data, so from a user perspective the login/identity/avatar would feel seamless. The use cases are pretty simple - topic-based discussions forums that I would like to present either(1) singly- where users enter directly into a discussion category or thread, or (2) the typical top-level browse/search entry point.

Any thoughts? Endorsements? Complaints?

Thanks a ton!

10 Replies

David Chouinard
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David Chouinard Entrepreneur
Product designer
Check out Vanilla Forums (which has both open source and hosted versions and is very easy to integrate).
Jesal Gadhia
1
0
Jesal Gadhia Entrepreneur
Full-Stack Developer
I would recommendhttp://www.discourse.org/
Bill Kelley
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Bill Kelley Entrepreneur • Advisor
Business Mentor
If you go tobig-boards.com, you'll find out about 80% of the largest forums use vBulletin.

There are quite a few others as well, like phpBB.

vBulletin is large and complex, with over 200 plug-ins available. Having only been a user, but not hosted, I cannot make a recommendation.
Dmitri Zagidulin
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Dmitri Zagidulin Entrepreneur
I would second the recommendation forhttp://www.discourse.org/-- those guys are amazing.
Douglas Tarr
1
0
Douglas Tarr Entrepreneur • Advisor
Entrepreneur and Software Architect
I've been playing with Discourse. It is cool and innovative. But it is not ready for primetime in many ways. In their own words...


First of all, it is not really advisable to install a live Discourse forum in the first six months after launch. This is atbestbeta software, and very very early beta. We plan to maketonsof changes after lauch in the process of hosting our "rule of three" white glove special friend forums here on our servers. Seehttp://www.discourse.org/buy/
Etienne de Bruin
0
0
Etienne de Bruin Entrepreneur
Partner & CTO, Monk Development, Inc.
I would highly recommend Realtidbits: http://www.realtidbits.com/

Joseph Hsieh
1
0
Joseph Hsieh Entrepreneur • Advisor
Growth Marketing & User Acquisition Specialist
Valerie, there's definitely no "shortage" of forums/discussion software. But so far, I'm quite impressed with VanillaForums.com which is hosted in the cloud with full API, plugins for popular CMS, and single-sign on (SSO) integration with your authentication. They also have an open source version for self hosting without the bells/whistles: Vanillaforums.org Joseph Hsieh http://twitter.com/webjoe
Kristann Orton
1
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Kristann Orton Entrepreneur • Advisor
Helping clients design at the intersection of business goals and technology needs | Innovation Catalyst
Valerie, the discussion forums suggested focus on tracking conversations rather than building a knowledge base. But reading between the lines it seemed that in your use case you wanted to engage in topical discussions, where you were presenting the topics for discussion. Kinda like blog commenting but with a twitter engagement style. Is that right? If not, can you give a deeper use case example?
Thx, Kristann
Valerie Lanard
0
0
Valerie Lanard Entrepreneur
Senior Software Engineering Manager at Salesforce
Thanks guys. David or Joseph, have you tried Vanilla Forums? Certainly looks polished so I was wondering if anyone had first hand experience on ease of setup/maintenance.
And I'll check out Discourse! Hadn't heard of that one.

Kristann - some topics will be seeded and tied to a page (e.g. about a specific exercise program users are involved in), other topics will be user-generated. I hadn't thought through the implications of cloud hosting on having full access to the data, though it's a given that I'd need to own and be able to export the data as needed with a cloud provider. Important point.
Valerie Lanard
0
0
Valerie Lanard Entrepreneur
Senior Software Engineering Manager at Salesforce
Bummer that Discourse is so early on in development, looks incredibly promising.
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