Need a Website Host With Message Board
September 5, 2008 1:30 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to create a website for my book club. I'd like for it to have a message board, so we don't have to keep sending out mass emails to our 10 members. What is a reliable (and cheap!) hosting service I can use that will provide this?
posted by miltoncat to Technology (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like Yahoo Groups might work for you.
posted by timsteil at 1:37 PM on September 5, 2008

I considered this first. But, it still means we'd have to do mass email (even in a listserv format) and we really want a message board format.
posted by miltoncat at 1:43 PM on September 5, 2008

You could just use a blog and add everyone as contributors. The comments could work as discussion boards.
posted by Hildegarde at 1:45 PM on September 5, 2008

Google Groups? It's more of a message-board format.
posted by GuyZero at 1:47 PM on September 5, 2008

If by cheap, you mean free, WordPress will certainly be an excellent platform. Mostly used for blogging, it is advanced enough to be used as a message board and more. You can even install a Members Only plugin, which only allows certain posts or pages to be visible to registered members.

If you want to host your own domain, I'd suggest MediaTemple as a reliable host. They have one-click install of applications, like WordPress, which makes life so much easier. A basic account costs $20/month, and you can get discounts if you pay for 6 months or more at a time. Dreamhost is another reliable and affordable choice.
posted by colorproof at 1:48 PM on September 5, 2008

Ning will allow you to create your own group with discussions and events and such. You could also all sign up with goodreads and run your group through there--they have message boards and reading lists and other goodies geared towards book clubs.
posted by logic vs love at 1:50 PM on September 5, 2008

Book Sprouts is designed for book clubs and has a discussion forum.
posted by booknerd at 1:52 PM on September 5, 2008

Oh yeah, and it's free. :)
posted by booknerd at 1:52 PM on September 5, 2008

I forgot to mention LibraryThing Groups.
posted by colorproof at 1:58 PM on September 5, 2008

You want a forum. I have a book club and host it in my own forum, which I host on Dreamhost. But I have a site, podcast, etc. and you don't want all want a forum.

I use phpBB forums. I like them, they're easy, they're everywhere. Lots of places have free phpBB forum hosting for small groups of people. Here is one I found from a Google search. I know nothing about them, don't endorse them, but there they are. There may be others. Search "Free phpbb hosting" and you'll find them.

Good luck!
posted by arniec at 1:59 PM on September 5, 2008

Seconding Wordpress. Get a host with Fantastico (I recommend bluehost very strongly) and install the simple:forum plugin.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:37 PM on September 5, 2008

If you're going to install a forum then my own recommendation would be Vanilla.
posted by xchmp at 3:31 PM on September 5, 2008 has a $3 per month hosting plan that features a push button install of Wordpress and a message board system. I host 4 sites with and I've been nothing but happy with the service.
posted by COD at 3:57 PM on September 5, 2008

I agree that you need a forum. Vanilla seems to work fine from what I have seen, but I personally like the Invision based forums.

If you just want to set up a forum, without the website, I would recommend InvisionFree. It's a free (i.e. ad supported) forum that is pretty easy to set up and run.

I am the admin for a forum there where we (300+members) have been posting for about three years without any problems. The only bad thing are the ads, but you can pay a nominal fee to remove them. It costs $0.15 per 1,000 page views to remove ads, which would mean that your $5 minimum purchase would mean ~ 33,300 ad free pages.

The support forums are pretty good, there are lots of fun pre-made themes/skins, and if you know CSS you can skin your own forums however you want.
posted by gemmy at 4:00 PM on September 5, 2008

Cheapest and most reliable host I know is, on which you can install just about anything that uses mysql and php (which I imagine most message boards need). People have mentioned wordpress here, but nobody's mentioned bbpress which is forum software created by wordpress people to integrate with wordpress; it can stand alone, too.

Another option would be something like a facebook group; I've never particularly liked the interface, but it'd allow everyone to post links and events and public messages; since everyone needs to be a facebook member to use it, you'd also get private messaging and the rest of facebook's features, too. Facebook would also probably be the least intensive set up.
posted by msbrauer at 5:19 PM on September 5, 2008

For hosting, I'd suggest either (usually less than $5/month) or's $25/year plan (but you only get 75mb space...) I'm not sure about forum software but Wordpress seems like overkill.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 6:41 PM on September 5, 2008

If you're mostly looking for something to help communicate and organize, have you considered using something like Backpack or Basecamp?
posted by systematic at 10:22 PM on September 5, 2008

I tried Invision and found it unbelievably techy and baffling (and I have a tech background). It's one level of abstraction up from the wire. Not recommended unless you love slogging through endless tech admin pages.

My recommendation would be phpBB hosted on Etelos or one of the many other companies offering phpBB hosting.
posted by worldshift at 10:33 AM on September 6, 2008

Seconding Ning if you want all kinds of webby 2.0 social networking crap, but any old mailing list will likely work better for those that don't want to log in to yet another site. Google groups allows you to create a mailing list and the interface is better than Yahoo's stuff.
posted by benzenedream at 3:20 PM on November 10, 2008

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