Tag Archives: Forum Software

ProBoards Review – Best Free Forum Host

ProBoards – Best Free Forum Host

What is ProBoards? ProBoards is one of the leading free forum hosts on the Web; they have over 2 million customers. Of all of the free forum hosts on the Web, ProBoards is, by far, the best free forum host! ProBoards is the best free forum host because of their customer service, easily customizable forum software and easy administration.

Customer Service

When you try a new software for the first time, majority of the time you have absolutely no idea what you are doing. You have a lot of questions and you want answers quickly. ProBoards Support, ProBoards’ Support Forum, is an amazing resource to get help with your forums. The customer service provided by both the members and staff team of ProBoards Support is both fast and accurate.

ProBoards administrators/creators tend to the support forums seven days a week excluding major holidays. Aside from the administration team, a select few members that were hand-picked for global moderation and support also tend to the support forum. Between the various staff team members and regular members who are knowledgeable about ProBoards form software, all of your questions can and will be answered.

Aside from general Proboards software related issues, the staff and members of the support forum help users with customizing their own ProBoards forums. A lot of the staff and members have created a variety of quality plugins, template modifications and themes that are all free to use. They will even help you with graphic designs if you need it.

Easy Customization

ProBoards forum software is fairly easy to customize, as opposed to many other types of forum software. If you do not have experience with HTML and CSS, ProBoards offers a theme generator directly through the admin control panel. Another option, for those who are inexperienced, is to browse the theme library and install themes directly to your ProBoards forum with a simple click of a button. There are hundreds of quality themes available. For those that are knowledgeable of HTML and CSS, the UI for editing your codes is very user-friendly and easy to use. When modifying templates, there are tons of short codes to help you on your way.

Template modifications, which change the way certain parts of your forum look, can be found on the ProBoards Support Forum. There is a relatively large database of template mods that users can choose from. You can change the way your info center looks as well as the information that is displayed there. You can change the layout of how your different boards are displayed, user profiles and mini profiles, and so much more. All of the template modifications come with written instructions to make it easier for the inexperienced to be able to add them to their forums. Both members and staff members of ProBoards support create template modifications that are free for forum owners to use.

Aside from themes and template modifications, you can also customize your forum with plugins. There are over a hundred different plugins available to forum owners and the amount increases daily. There are plugins for forum currency and a shop to purchase items with that forum currency, google analytics, posting templates, and a whole lot more. As with themes, plugins can be installed directly from the plugin library to your forum with a simple click of a button.

With the built in theme generator and/or vast quantity of quality themes, plugins, and template modifications available, ProBoards is very easy to customize. Other forum software, such as myBB, does not offer the same type of support or theme customization options as ProBoards does. In my experience, ProBoards is the easiest forum software to customize as I’ve used other software such as myBB, phpBB, vBulletin, and others.

Easy Administration

The admin control panel for ProBoards software is user-friendly and exceptionally easy to use. See the image below:

Each menu item at the top of the ACP will grant a drop down menu for easy navigation to administrative settings. With ProBoards, there are many settings that you can change and customize. You can have unlimited user groups and user ranks, you can create custom pages to give your forum a website feel, and you can upgrade your forum to ad free for reasonable prices based on page views. All forum customization and administration can be done through the admin control panel.

Aside from the easy, user-friendly UI, a lot of the admin options that you edit automatically save for you. This is a great feature if you forget to save your work as you will not lose all the work you have done. The only exception to this is when you are editing code directly.

All in all, in my opinion, ProBoards is the best free forum host on the web. If you have never created a free forum with ProBoards, I highly recommend that you do so; this way you can try out the many different features on your own. If you are not a fan of ProBoards, I recommend that you give it another try. With the release of V5 Hydra, options are limitless and I’m certain you will find that you like it a lot more than you did before.

Interview with Adrian @ Internet Brands

This article was first posted on our blog on 07/10/2010. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.


We’re very excited to announce Adrian Harris who works for Intenet Brands as Senior Operations Manager – Internet Brands is the company which owns vBulletin, the most widely used forum software on the Internet. We asked him a few questions. This is the third in the series of interviews with commercial forum software developers, check out our interviews with Kier Darby and Matt Mecham too.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule for us Adrian. Here is the interview,

So firstly – what’s up? Give us a quick bio.
It’s all up =D

I am 26, single, I like good food, motorcycles, the outdoors, people… it is starting to sound like an eharmony profile!

In all seriousness, I stumbled into forums about 6 years ago when I was researching an issue when I worked at Ford Motor Company (I was able to find an answer quicker on a forum, than I could from our engineers!). I kind of got hooked on the “community” and continued to participate, and interacted with some great people. I eventually was made a moderator, then a “super” moderator, and then an admin of the site. I met some great people, and loved the community (still do!), and in late 2007 the forum was purchased by Internet Brands.[more] I was fortunate enough to be offered a position in early 2008 to oversee all of Internet Brands auto communities… given it involved a move to the other side of the world (I was working in Melbourne, Australia at the time), and it would be a big jump from being an engineer, I wasn’t sure how it would work out, but thought I would jump at the opportunity. Fortunately that opportunity has worked out really well, and now I get to interact with over 70,000 great communities, not just 1!

How is life over at Internet Brands?
Its good – it is a relaxed, but focused environment. I don’t think I have worked in a place before where people are so passionate about what they do, nor a place that is so “fast-paced”.

We have stupid Friday shirt competitions (see below), but ultimately we are all here for a common goal, and as enjoyable as the job may be, we try not to let that get in the way of getting our job done.

Image

What do you see in the future for vBulletin – what can we look forward to in vBulletin 5?
Well the forum “space” is evolving, we need to with it – I don’t want to get into specific features, but in general things that we feel will be important with vB5

  • Interacting with other social spaces in a much improved fashion
  • Enable interaction in a more social and rewarding fashion

Will vBulletin 5 be a complete rewrite? When can we expect to see it?
vB5 will not be a “complete rewrite” per se, a significant portion of the code will be refactored, however, there will be aspects of vB4 that will carry over. As for timing, that is completely unconfirmed.

Do you accept that mistakes were made with vBulletin 4? What will you do to make it up to your customers for these mistakes?
Could the release of vBulletin 4 gone better? Sure. Could our product be better today? Sure. I think it is fair to say that all software could be improved upon.

It is also fair to say that there has been a lot of commentary about vB4. Our obligation to our customers is to continue to build on vBulletin 4 and provide the best product we can. We have a number of features we have planned for vB 4 which we have shared with our customers here: http://www.vbulletin.com/forum/showthre … in-Part-II

We are also providing bug fixes to reported issues, and completing development updates at a much greater pace currently than we were earlier in vB4’s development cycle, we have expanded the development and the management team to further increase our ability to try to meet our customer requests and support our vision of where vBulletin should go.

What’s your favourite vBulletin modification?
I think either the post thank you modification or the Sub-Forum Manager plugin – both pretty simple, but effective in my opinion J

As we’re a promotion forum – how would you recommend new webmasters go about promoting their websites?
Well some of the “more conventional” marketing techniques for webmasters (if you will) that are still very effective, actively seeking out link exchanges with other similar and reputable websites to increase referral traffic and your search engine rank is always going to be valuable. Maintaining an active social media presence (facebook, twitter, youtube etc.) with appropriate referral links back to your website can be very beneficial as well. The biggest thing in my mind however is, content, content, content. We have found that the best way to build both search, referral and direct traffic is to have frequently updated and high quality content published on your site. I understand for newer webmasters that may not have a userbase to leverage to build that content it may be more difficult, but if you seek out a couple of professional, or semi-professional writers that can write relevant articles on a regular basis and upload them to your Content Management System it is a great way to attract users that might be interested in whatever topic you are discussing.

What impact will the growing popularity of social networking sites have on the usage of discussion forums?
They are both a competing entity, and an opportunity for further growth at the same time. It is definitely a tougher “marketplace” on the web, competing with users who have to buy a new tractor on Farmville, upload their photos of their trip to Spain to flickr, Facebook and Picasa, tell everyone via foursquare and Gowalla that they are at Starbucks, comment on Hugo Chávez’s twitter feed and watch the latest Ken Block video on youtube… when is someone going to have the time to even think about the topic that your forum is on, let alone post on it and visit on a frequent basis? I strongly hold the belief that forums need to adapt to the burgeoning social media entities and leverage them to provide enhanced exposure to your forum. Forum software offers a number of tools and optimization for SEO, why-not the same for SGO (social graph optimization) too?

Where do you feel vBulletin and Internet Brands will be in 10 years?
I think it is hard to tell. Ten years is a long time for the web and the Internet for a product or organization. However, I would venture it will be more intra-connected. What I mean is that there will be little differentiation as far devices go in terms of accessing content and services. We want both vBulletin and Internet Brands to be in the middle of that.

Now let’s ask a few questions about your newest competitor. Do you plan to update ImpEx for XenForo -> vBulletin conversion?
There are hundreds of forum software’s out there, we typically provide Impex support for those that have the greatest market need. If there is a need for a xenForo to vBulletin converter we certainly will provide it.

Recently you published some details about a lawsuit against XenForo. Why did you make the information regarding the lawsuit public, did publishing the information actually work to promote XF?
We made the information public so to inform our customers. We have made a concerted effort recently to be more transparent in how we interact with our customers, and sharing details such as these goes in part with this policy. I acknowledge that this attempt to be more open may expose us to being the recipients of a greater level of criticism in the court of public opinion, however we feel that ultimately that approach is in the best interests of our customers.

Many vBulletin users actually oppose the lawsuit. Do you think it’s actually bad for business?
I can understand the sentiment expressed by some of our users. It is difficult to comment on its affect on our business until an agreement or verdict is reached, and I think that myself, or anyone else forming an opinion before the court does would be jumping to conclusions.

3DS Pedia Review – Review Spotlight

3ds Pedia
Full Review by Subz

You can access 3DS Pedia to see for yourself what it looks like, by clicking here.


Scoring:

Image First Impressions & Appearance – ( 19 out of 20)

I like the template and the backgrounds, its very Nintendo orientated. I can see that your forum is very active and I like the chatbox at the top of the forum, which gets members chatting and being active while not posting on the forum.

You have a nice light theme, which works very well with your theme. The forum icons for each forum works well with your forum genre too.

I like the member of the week addition, which helps get people posting and wanting to earn triple coins, which they can use in the shop to buy things.

Image Site Layout – ( 19 out of 20)

The layout of your forums is really good, which allows a lot for discussions like current Nintendo discussions and past Nintendo Console and Gaming discussions.

I like how there is a wide scope for Nintendo related discussions too; given as your members have a lot of room for discussion. Also if your not a Nintendo fan you can just go into the media, anime, and graphic design and including other consoles boards for more different types of discussions, which is good as there are more gamers that use PS3 or Xbox as well as Nintendo.

Image Statistics and Activity – ( 19 out of 20)

I have been online a few times browsing your forum and your forum has been active, 30+ members online throughout the day. You have done very well for the amount of time your forum has been online for; almost 80k posts and 1300 members, I would be very pound of the forum if that was me. This is quite good for a year, there are not a lot of forums which gets this many members or posts within a year.

You have done great, I wouldn’t change what you have been doing.

Image Content – ( 20 out of 20)

I think its great that you have staff and active members making topics around the forum, as a new member I like that its not just the staff making topics throughout the forum. I would get me more involved in the forum and willing to make topics and get discussions started as I know other members would get involved and get more discussions started. I think that is quite important to see that members are also making threads and getting involved in currents discussions, as it makes the forum more active, so that when members log in they can see there are fresh topics to reply to, since their last login. All members love to see that.

Image Spelling/Grammar & Professionalism – ( 19 out of 20)

The forum grammar is very good throughout the forum, by members and staff! I like how everyone is posting with proper grammar and punctuation.

Professionalism is great by everyone.

There is nothing I would change here, which will help new members when making posts and topics. Also it will help newer members in using better grammar and punctuation themselves in their posts and topics, instead of slang or shortened words.

Total Score –
(
96 out of 100)

 


Final Remarks:

Image Strengths:

[one] Great Activity by members and staff
[two] The grammer all over the forum, looks very professional
[three] Member of the week is great as it gets members to stay active and be able to buy things from the eshop

 

Image Weaknesses:
[one] The chatbox may take away from having more active posts around the forum
[two] I would look into getting a better logo for the forum as the current one could be better.
[three] I would add a general discussion forum as that would get members and staff talking about non Nintendo genres and could get more discussions going.

Interview with Matt Mecham @ IPB (Invision Power Board)

This article was first posted on our blog on 07/10/2010. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.


Invision Power Services Chieft Software Architect and founder of the forum software, Matt Mecham has accepted an interview with ForumPromotion. We’re thrilled to be interviewing this highly skilled software developer. IPB is currently leading the commercial forum software market in the eyes of many, and has remained loyal to it’s customers where vBulletin and Internet Brands hasn’t.

Matt’s a busy guy but he managed to answer these questions by working around his busy schedule. Cheers Matt.

Did you think ever IPB would get as big as it currently is?
When Charles and I started IPS in 2002, we never dared to think that we’d end up employing over a dozen people and doing something we love doing for a living. I still had a full time job at the time and I couldn’t see that changing. We feel very fortunate to have been able to turn a small PHP script into a business that continues to grow.

Of course, we’re never complacent and always strive to improve. I don’t think you can really take too long to enjoy the scenery. There’s always competition nipping at your heels and that drives you on. I get up every morning and can’t wait to get stuck into the day’s challenges.

Where do you see IPB in 10 years?
That’s a very good question. If you had asked Apple that question 10 years ago, I’m not sure they would have said “Leading the way in portable music players and smartphones”.[more] With this industry trends change dramatically over a short space of time so you have to always be willing to adapt and change. 10 years ago the notion of ‘social networking’ was still in its infancy so few could have predicted the impact Facebook and Twitter have on the web today.

For IPS, I would like to see us continue to grow and still pushing the boundaries of community software. As long as there are people, there is a need for a centralized community.

What do you do to help the mod community?
We love our modifications community and we continue to work with the community to help nurture it. First and foremost, almost all of the IPS staff are very active on the forums. This includes all the senior developers. I think this is important for many reasons but in regards to modifications it means that we can listen to feedback on how to improve the built in systems in our products.

We host a ‘community resources’ section on our own site that allows modification authors to list their mods. We give them a ‘contributor’ badge on the forums if they have modifications listed. We also have ‘contributor’ forums so that modification authors can ask direct questions to the development team and each other.

We’re always trying to improve documentation on our systems. IP.Board 3 was a huge step up for modification authors because it introduced applications and hooks which makes writing modifications much easier.

Both Brandon and I come from a modifications background, so we appreciate the challenges and needs that it brings.

Developing such big software must be very time consuming – do you ever feel like giving up?
It’s very much a team effort but I never feel like giving up, not even for a minute. I can’t express how much I love what I’m doing. I love the challenges and the people. I am constantly thinking of new ways to drive our products on. Development can be time consuming and frustrating but I thoroughly enjoy it. I’m lucky to do something that I enjoy for a living.

How would you recommend new webmasters go about promoting their websites?
It largely depends on the community. The basics are the same for everyone, though. Harness social networking, don’t be afraid of it. IP.Board comes with Facebook and Twitter integration. Allow your members to share links to these sites so that their social circle can discover your forum and content. I’ve tweeted links to our community forum and that topic can have a few hundred guests on within ten minutes. I’m not saying that those guests will register and become long standing members, but you have to admit that it is a powerful tool when used correctly. I’d say that you have to make it as easy as possible to register and join in. Enabled Facebook Connect. It’s reasonable to assume that most people have a Facebook account so being able to register simply by clicking a few buttons will increase registrations.

Even if you intensely dislike Facebook, don’t underestimate its reach. Facebook may be a short lived fad but it currently has 500 million users. It’s fast becoming a ubiquitous sign in method. I love forums and websites that allow me to sign up using Facebook.

What impact will the growing popularity of social networking sites have on the usage of discussion forums?
When I want to go and see what my friends are doing, I check in on Facebook. I can see their status updates, videos and pictures about their weekend. When I want to make contact with my customers to get feedback on our latest products, I go to our forum.

This isn’t revolutionary but it underlines that social networking sites have a different purpose to forums. Of course, there is some cross over but you cannot replace a forum with Facebook and vice-versa. There is always going to be a need for organized discussion that focuses on specific topics.

More and more people are going from vBulletin to IPB – what does IPB3 have over vBulletin 4?
I think there are several factors in the mass migration from vBulletin. The biggest being that Internet Brands have completely destroyed their brand and customer loyalty in the past year. They have slayed their golden goose. Inertia will keep sales ticking over but the dinosaur is definitely staring at the asteroid.

Of course, disgruntled vBulletin customers are only a small part of our customer base. We do still keep an eye on the situation but we are now also paying great attention to other competitors with a more modern, stable platform we can focus our competitive efforts on

Personally I see the growth in social sites as a good thing. I can broadcast links to topics to my social circle who can choose to share that information on. I can sign up to forums without filling in a long complex form and waiting for an activation email. I can update my status updates from a single source. More people connected means more traffic if you leverage it correctly.

How do you compete in the competitive battle between vB and IPB? – are you winning?
We produce good software at a fair price. We treat our customers with respect and listen to their opinions and needs. I don’t think we need to do anything more.

What do you think about other free forum software alternatives e.g. phpBB, how do they compare to IPB?
I think there’s lots of great free software out there. I have a lot of respect for developers that donate their free time to those projects. I’d say the gap between commercial software and free software is growing wider as the web moves on and we adapt to it. In many ways simply having a ‘forum’ isn’t enough. Customers are looking for an integrated suite of applications they can use to built a complete and feature rich site.

Kier has begun development on a new forum software – XenForo – what are your thoughts on it?
I have a lot of respect for Kier. We only really started talking after he left vBulletin and we have a lot in common. He’s a very skilled developer with a lot of experience and an existing “fan” base which will be a fantastic boost in the early stages. Lots of new projects fail because they don’t offer anything new and are not significantly different from existing and well supported applications so it’s nice to see XenForo approach things a little differently.

XenForo has a lot of visual flair which is great to see. It’s certainly generating a lot of buzz at the moment. I really do wish Kier and Mike all the best and look forward to many years of healthy competition.

You can check out IPB here – http://www.invisionpower.com/products/board/

Dofollow Links for Specific Usergroups in XenForo

By default, links posted by users on a XenForo forum are nofollow. While these nofollow links will get clicks and traffic, none of them will pass on any link juice to the page being linked to. Now, there’s really no legitimate reason to offer this to all your members because you don’t want to be passing out link juice to every link that’s posted on your forum. But it is a nice little thing for those who are buying subscriptions, especially if they are allowed to promote their own sites in their signature and posts. If you don’t allow self promotion, then there’s really no reason to change members links to dofollow.

So in this post, we’re going to cover a simple way to give specific user groups dofollow links.

Setting up Dofollow Links in XenForo

Step 1) Download “Control Nofollow”

Step 2) Install “Control Nofollow” by:

Extracting its contents to your hard drive.

Uploading the contents of the upload folder to the root of your XenForo installation.

Complete install via the Admin CP using the provided XML file.

Step 3) Mess with the Settings

Once installed and enabled, you will need to go to: ACP home > Options > Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

In there you should see “Bypass “nofollow” attribute”, check all the user groups that you would like to have dofollow links. So, basically check all your staff and subscription groups.

Once you’ve done that, just save and you are done.

Conclusion

Dofollow links aren’t anything new, but it’s always something nice to offer to those who donate money or contribute a lot. Still, like I said before, if you don’t want users promoting their own site on your forum, then I wouldn’t encourage them to do so by offering dofollow links. We offer dofollow links to our vip members over at WebguruBB, but our niche is built on shameless self promotion … so the feature fits. Something like this might not be as fitting on an anime board, where a lot of members aren’t going to be promoting their own stuff. Anyway, enjoy spreading that link juice around!