Between all of the paid forum software options like XenForo and IPB, and all of the free options such as MyBB, it’s no wonder you are confused about what the best forum software is for your new community. However, even in my own research I noticed an abundance of recommendations for the same 3-4 solutions with no regard for the lesser known forum systems that are responsible for powering countless communities around the world. Today we would like to present you with a list of 5 lesser known forum software alternatives that are stable, secure, and still being actively supported by their creators. These projects may not all come packed with every single feature that other paid or free software includes, but they certainly offer the core functionality and management options we have come to expect from even the most popular of community solutions. These options have been specifically chosen due to their continued support, recent software release(s), active community/support forums, and having a reliable number of reviews and information found online.
Do not fear, these community solutions are rich with features, security measures, support, documentation, and backed up by one of the most important aspects of development you can hope for: dedication. While large projects are bogged down by disagreements, bureaucracy, deadlines, and public relations, many of the alternatives on this list benefit from smaller and dedicated teams of developers, realistic release expectations, focused and cohesive development, and offering priority support that other software creators simply cannot match due to the number of users.
This truly amazing forum software is not only free to use, but open-source and heavily documented as well. As the modern baby of FluxBB (not on this list, but still being actively developed) and esoTalk, this project has years of developmental experience to back it up. It is available on GitHub, so feel free to even go ahead and modify the core of Flarum to create your own software if you have some programming talent.
Of course, you can always opt for a more standard setup by following their specific Flarum installation guide. This solution is a little more difficult to install due to the requirement of Composer and some command line use, but is definitely a frontrunner in the race for the best forum software ever. The fact that it’s entirely free is obviously a major factor in this, but we definitely encourage you all to check it out even if you are willing to spend some money on your new community.
WoltLab Suite Forum
At one of the lowest industry prices, WoltLab Suite Forum is powered by an extremely diverse and advanced development teams. Their general philosophy is that every company, organization, or internet entrepreneur has unique needs and desires. With their WoltLab Suite Core at the heart of each installation, their clients can choose from a variety of apps or add-ons to use online, with a forum just being one option. Although this may seem like they could be distracted by other projects, it is a testament to their development and design standards. It allows them to use a strong code-base for each of their apps, such as the forum, blog, or file distribution platforms that can be added in.
WoltLab is a modern CMS (content management system) at its core, so we know that secure and efficient data sharing and management is their main focus. For that reason, this forum solution truly stands out as an incredible solution for webmasters in 2019.
Created by one of our very own members here on Forum Promotion, Gosora is a lightweight and modern alternative to free and paid forum software. We’ll let its creator Azareal speak for himself.
Gosora is an ultra-fast modern forum software written in Go (Golang), it’s not only far faster than many of our competitors, but it also has many of the modern features you’ve come to expect, and more (e.g. live alerts, live dashboard, etc.).
We feel that he has delivered on those promises while also offering support on his own website and many other forums dedicated to helping webmasters manage their own communities. With GitHub activity as little as 11 hours ago, the Gosora forum project is still actively being developed, documented, and talked about. Although it may not be as popular as the other forum alternatives on this list, there are a number of reasons it deserves to be mentioned. From core speed and code efficiency to its minimal and responsive design, Gosora offers the perfect foundation for any community. As an open-source software, the project can be forked or altered by avid programmers. For the average webmaster, this software offers plugins, frequent development, fluid communication and support, and all with the added bonus of being managed by the personable and intelligent person we are glad to have as a member at Forum Promotion.
It should be noted that Gosora requires a little bit of set up, such as ensuring the Go language is installed and prepared for use on your server. This may not be possible on all website hosting, but server administrators or users with command line access will find their documentation extremely self-explanatory.
Ultimate Bulletin Board (UBB)
UBB is a forum software that came to light in 1997. With over two decades of development, this solution can certainly give more modern forum software a run for its money. Jam packed with highly desired features, version 7.7.2 was released in the beginning of this year, 2019. Although it is a paid software, it comes at a reasonable price and is responsible for supporting thousands of communities. The height of their own community forums was in 2007 with just under 1,000 online users, but they have grown to over 12,000 members on their website since then. It is still a thriving webmaster community that focuses on transparent content updates, fairly frequent releases, and a significant focus on security and other important features. Although some users have disliked the look of UBB, this software has come a long way and can look and feel extremely modern with just a little bit of tweaking.
WordPress Forum Plugins
Although there are plenty of options, we did not feel that this list should include any of the incredible WordPress forum plugins that are available. Using a plugin on WordPress instead of a core forum installation has a lot of benefits, but also some downsides as well. We may release our own list or reviews of some of these plugin alternatives in the future, but in the meantime definitely encourage you all to do your own research.