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Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Way To Add Forums To a Website? 259

First time accepted submitter DustyMurray writes "I am considering adding forums to my website, and am just getting confused by all the options. My first reaction is always DIY. You get better website integration, and it looks and feels 100% how you want it to look and feel. However looking at things like phpBB and Vanilla forums, I will be hard pressed to build a better user experience in a reasonable amount of time. Also these out-of-the-box solutions seem to be shouting 'Easy to integrate with your website.' So, considering this, how easy are these ready build forums really to integrate? I want to be able to insert stuff on certain pages, so it's not either the forums, or my site... It must be a mix. I do not want a second login system on my site. And last but not least, I definitely don't want to have this typical generic look that most forums sport. Can all that be delivered with the out-of-the-box forums that exist today? Which one is the most flexible regarding these wishes?"
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Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Way To Add Forums To a Website?

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  • No (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 11, 2012 @11:26AM (#41949535)
    Having done all of this a couple of times: No, it can't all be delivered with an out of the box forum. So what you do is pick the simplest one which offers most of the stuff you don't want to develop yourself, with the least-byzantine code, and then you make it yours. Rip out its authentication infrastructure, see if you can work with its templating solution or substitute your own, etc. PunBB [informer.com] has been my go-to forum for this reason in the past; though I'm no particular fan of its rather outdated coding style, it's at least very readable and easy to get started with, something which definitely can't be said of phpBB.
  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @11:31AM (#41949565)

    Take all the recommendations you get here ...and then:

    (1) Get the number of CERT advisories for each of them
    (2) Get the percentage market share of each one of them
    (3) Calculate (#2 * 100) / #1
    (4) Whoever is left with the largest number, pick that one

    For example, the calculation above for bbPress, which is a WordPress plugin, would also need to take into account the number of WordPress only CERT advisories, plus those for any plugins besides bbPress you felt it necessary to use, and the resulting number would let you write off using bbPress. Likewise, anything that used Java as an implementation detail would probably get written off due to the number of security holes which have been found in Java. Anything with an SQL back end would have to take into account SQL injections for the other components you intended to use, and so forth.

    Ideally, you would probably put your forums on an isolated machine, rather than hosting everything on one machine, which would drastically reduce the attack surface -- and this would become pretty crystal clear to you after you performed the calculation exercise.

  • Invision (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xQuarkDS9x ( 646166 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @11:32AM (#41949569)

    In the last decade I was using Invision forum software not only because it was a very nice alternative to vbulletin and phpBB but it also seemed quite popular as well. They do have a demo for the Community Suite here - http://www.invisionpower.com/demo/ [invisionpower.com] if you want to try it out.

  • The Forum Matrix (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thenendo ( 523849 ) <bane.uchicago@edu> on Sunday November 11, 2012 @12:45PM (#41950065) Homepage
    I recently had to select a forums solution for my company, and this site proved extremely useful: http://www.forummatrix.org/ [forummatrix.org]

    It catalogues tons of closed and open-source forum products coded by dozens of variables, and lets you compare them in a big matrix. Very useful if you have constraints/preferences like "works with SQL server" or "isn't PHP", etc.

    My main complaint about it is that some of the data are out-of-date, but it is still a great starting point.
  • Re:vBulletin (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ILongForDarkness ( 1134931 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @12:48PM (#41950083)

    About 4 years ago I worked in the anti-spam industry. One of the groups (MAAWG) had a meeting that year and several large telco/ISP representives said that SMS and board spam was on their radar. It seems like it should be relatively trivial to run this stuff through the mail filter pipeline, wrap it up as a email (or even don't as long as your system treats the message like a mail body), grab the IP that it originates from and send it off to your reputation system and see if it pings. Anyone no of a mainstream vendor that has a product in this space? If not I could probably whip something up in a month or so :) I'm thinking redirect post requests through a REST service process the body through a spam engine, and if it is clean relay the request off the the real post on the bulletin server.

  • Re:vBulletin (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Sunday November 11, 2012 @01:03PM (#41950167) Homepage Journal

    My bulletin board/forum is spam-bot secure. Why? Video captcha of animated .GIFs. No spam bot can get through, you *NEED* a human to answer the captcha, as it's a question related to the GIF itself (example, display a short clip of Hajime no Ippo, where Ippo is performing the Dempsey Roll. The question will ask "What move is being performed here?")

    Have fun making a bot with knowledge of every manga/anime ever made with enough horsepower to OCR everything.

  • Re:Drupal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @02:38PM (#41950817) Homepage

    I'd warn against Drupal. Since it leverages the rather hefty node structure in Drupal, it's very hard to scale up properly. For a forum like what you've linked, with less than a thousand posts, that's fine, but a forum with tens of thousands of posts slows down to a crawl where phpBB or other dedicated forum solutions have no issue running.

    I'm sure you can optimize Drupal further, but it requires a lot more work than using a straight, if not integrated, forum package.

  • Re:vBulletin (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thesis ( 1983882 ) on Sunday November 11, 2012 @04:15PM (#41951473)

    As a long time owner of a vB license, I second the motion to read about the history of vBulletin before making a decision to use their software. When IB bought Jelsoft, it went downhill rather quickly. Many would say, and I have to agree, that vB jumped the shark after the acquisition. Many of us who own and operate boards also agree that version 3.8.7 was the last good version. The management at Jelsoft/IB attempted to morph the software into a catchall social networking solution akin to Facebook, in my eyes anyway. Many of us who have or had "owned" licenses feel that we got screwed, for the terms in licensing changed dramatically beginning with version 4. It turned into a huge money grab in the eyes of many, including myself. Many customers went with other options, and some of us never updated beyond 3.8.7, and are looking for other solutions. Yes, I have tried versions 4 and 5, and they are horrid IMHO.

    It should also be mentioned that some key vB developers left the company as well, for they agreed with many of the customers at that time, that Jelsoft had lost its way. Those developers who left, started to build their own forum software solution from scratch, which is called XenForo ( http://xenforo.com/ [xenforo.com] ), and is offered to the public as a paid option to forum software. IB got quite pissy over this, and filed multiple court cases against them, which has thus far proved to be fruitless, and appears to be simply a way to make XenFro bleed financially through litigation. http://xenforo.com/community/threads/a-statement-regarding-the-current-litigation.7567/ [xenforo.com]

    I will say that I personally do not think that XenFro is quite yet up to snuff, when compared to older versions of vB, or other paid solutions. I do hold hope that one day soon it will be.

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