One of the oldest forms of internet communication, message boards and forums are just as popular today as they have ever been.
As of 2016, there were an estimated 110,000 separate forum and message board providers across the world, ranging from social media style sites like Reddit to free bulletin software built on phpBB.
Market Share Of Various Popular Forum Platforms
[Credit: BuiltWith.com via Quora]
However, there has been a marked growth in the amount of open source software which enables discussion board creation, and many developers are creating their own message boards for commercial, social and personal use. We take a look at the top free platforms on the market today, tried and tested by industry experts.
Five Of The Best Free Forum Platforms
Experts agree that you will struggle to beat phpBB for functionality and ease of use. This simple PHP bulletin board application is perfect for fan discussions, photo threads, advice pages and general messaging between users.
WordPress has been the leading platform for blogging for many years. There are millions of sites across the Web which use the publishing software for their business sites, blogs and even e-commerce – and now the team is adding forum sites to its range of products. bbPress Forums is a WordPress-style bulletin board creation tool, which has the smooth and seamless transitions and roomy capacity that keeps the site fast and user-friendly.
Don’t let the name fool you – YetAnotherForum is anything but, with its quirky and innovative approach to forum development. The managed open source platform is designed specifically with ASP.NET in mind and is compatible with the fourth C# generation and above.
Sometimes the old ones really are the best. Phorum has been around since the 1990s and it played a big role in the rise of forum sites. The free-to-use platform is based around PHP and MySQL development, and it is still one of the best pieces of software for forum creation that you can use free today.
If you need a platform that scales up as your service grows and is easy to develop and change as you do, Discourse is a great choice. There are three tiers of membership available – free, paid and premium – and all options are pretty budget-friendly.
Ten More Top Free Forum And Bulletin Board Programs
Haven’t found what you need among our top picks above? Not all programs suit everyone – but there are hundreds of options on the market, so keep searching for your perfect platform. Find the right match for your forum vision, and get creating thanks to these amazing open source programs. Here are some more of the best forum development programs for 2017:
- Vanilla Forums
- Simple Machines
- MiniBB Forums
- Plush Forums
The Best Of Premium Forum Software – At A Discount!
If the free tools do not meet your needs or you want the added support and security of a premium service, there are plenty of platforms to choose from – including vBulletin, Burning Board, XenForo and IP.Board. Paid-for tools often require a subscription, so take advantage of the deals available online at OZCodes.com.au. Voucher codes can give big savings on the cost of software subscriptions through leading providers.