I’ve used MyBB several times throughout my years of experience as a forum owner and I’ve never been disappointed with what it offers. Don’t get me wrong, it has a few issues ranging from its software to community, but out of all the forum software that I have had an some sort of experience with (as an administrator), it comes out on top easily.
Let’s get the first reason most people use MyBB out of the way. MyBB is an open source software therefore it is absolutely free. This is a forum software that can rival both XenForo and IPB easily, come out on top and still be offered for free for its millions of users. Of course this all depends on who you ask. There are several features that both XenForo & IPB have that I would love to come out of the box with MyBB such as notifications or the like system. However these are available as plugins on the MyBB Extensions site. But then you would expect such features to come out of the box for a software that will cost you $140. Spending $140 on MyBB could get you a forum with a unique look and unique features that no one else would have.
There is nothing complicated about using MyBB, either as a visitor or an administrator. The forum structure is basic yet exactly what is needed. Visitors will have no trouble finding exactly what they want, from the user control panel to replying to a new thread they have just read. Administrators and moderators need no experience at all as both the moderator control panel and admin control panel are extremely easy to navigate and use. Let’s start with the moderator CP – there might as well take it out. The only time I have ever had to go to the moderator CP is to read any reports submitted by the users. MyBB offers in post moderation which means that if you need to close, delete or move a thread/post it can all be done through the post. The admin CP, unlike other software (pointing at you phpBB) was easy to get around when I first began to use MyBB. Everything is broken into 6 categories: Home, Configuration, Forum & Posts, Users & Groups, Templates & Styles and Tools & Maintenance. This means that you know exactly where to go if you want to find something specific. One of the most important parts of a forum is of course the different categories and forums that house the various discussions. The developers at MyBB have done a great job with the “Forum & Posts” section of the ACP. Forum permissions can be confusing sometimes. Do I tick this box? Do I turn this setting on? The permissions feature has made it extremely easy – so easy that it is a simple drag and drop system. Drag this group here so that they cannot view the forum. Drag this group over here to ensure only they can start a new thread in this forum section. But it isn’t that basic. Experienced administrators can choose to set custom permissions which is more advanced.
Similarly to themes, plugins are easy to install on to a forum. Just upload a few files to the forum directory and activate the plugin through the forum. And that’s it. There are hundreds of plugins available for MyBB both on the official MyBB website and through other MyBB resource sites. Want to have a currency system? Then there is NewPoints. Want to have a betting system for NewPoints? A quick search on Google will give you a plugin for exactly that.
However, like most forum software there are some parts which need improvement. Although the available themes are great, there is a real lack of them for MyBB 1.8. The current themes all feel over used and if you want a completely unique theme then you will be required to hire a custom designer. You could visit a hundred MyBB forums and most likely you will see the same theme several times. Furthermore, although plugins can be extremely easy to install, they are an absolute pain to uninstall and remove completely. If you want to remove them completely, you will need to find each and every file throughout your forum directory and delete them. Or you can do what I do most of the time and just leave the files there to take up valuable space on your server. Spam is another real issue. The default CAPTCHA system is just not sufficient as bots will always end up getting past it. To stand a chance you will need to find a good anti-spam plugin.
My experience with phpBB a long time ago was short. I was, in the end, frustrated at how confusing it was* and that was what made me find MyBB. I am delighted that I found out about MyBB as if I hadn’t maybe I wouldn’t have gotten into forums. Maybe I wouldn’t have found out about Forum Promotion. There are a few cons of using MyBB but the advantages of using it heavily outweigh them, and that is why I recommend you to use MyBB.
* This is solely my opinion. This opinion is based on an experience a while ago and I’m sure phpBB have improved since then. This may not represent the phpBB experience now.