Best Options for Small but Heavily Trafficked Online Forum
June 29, 2012 5:08 PM   Subscribe

I'm part of a 25-member private message board. We've been using pHpBB for years, hosted on one of our members' private website, but her space is limited and we have periodic issues with the database crashing as a result. What are our options?

We are a pretty active group and like to keep a fairly substantial set of archived threads, and we definitely do not want to deal with ads.

Is pHpBB hosted on a private site the best option? Are there any other DIY programs or hosted sites with basic message board functionality that aren't too expensive? We do have several fairly tech-savvy people but would prefer not to have to put a bunch of work into the site on a frequent basis.

posted by something something to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe the "mini" plan from Ning? Very inexpensive, lots of features (not sure if you need them), and little effort to set up.
posted by maxim0512 at 5:18 PM on June 29, 2012

Dreamhost is inexpensive , has an easy install one click phpbb setup. I've had no issues & used this combo for nearly ten years.
posted by tilde at 5:23 PM on June 29, 2012

What about setting up a private Google Group? Completely free and you don't need to worry about it going anywhere.
posted by shivohum at 5:59 PM on June 29, 2012

SMF is decent forum software, very customizable and free too.
posted by cmyk at 6:45 PM on June 29, 2012

I'm on three very heavily trafficked message boards and we've all shifted to facebook in the last year -- their groups functionality take a little getting used to, but it's almost conversational now, and refreshes live, and while I know that I'm not in complete control of the board and the search is for shit, the live-updating and integration with facebook and chat and the complete plug-and-play of it all has made the groups go from "This is a place we check in sometimes" to "This is a place where we all hang out all day." We're all known by our real names, and we've all become tighter-knit as a result. I hate suggesting facebook because really, do we want to give Zuckerberg even more of our lives? so just know I wouldn't suggest it unless I thought it was a great option.
posted by incessant at 6:53 PM on June 29, 2012

Similar situation here (although, moved from phpChat, not phpBB), and we recently transitioned to Hipchat and love it.
posted by spinturtle at 6:58 PM on June 29, 2012

We've been using facebook for a week and really dislike it a lot. Super hard to keep up with active threads, especially on a phone or iPad. And then there's always the risk of accidentally posting something private to your wall!

Ning is looking pretty promising, but if you have more ideas please keep them coming!
posted by something something at 8:27 PM on June 29, 2012

Before your DB crashes completely, make sure you do an export to keep an archive of your old threads.

I'm a member of a bunch of message boards based on PHPBB, but they're all free hosting with ads. I've been on Dreamhost for like, a decade, and they've always been cheap and 99% rock solid. I think private PHPBB with their one-click install is a great option.
posted by xyzzy at 10:45 PM on June 29, 2012

I was in the same exact situation - I set up a phpbb install, private, for about 25 friends about 10 years ago.

I had a few requirements for the alternative:
- I didn't want to administer a database/php install on a remote server or deal with database backups.
- I wanted to import the existing messages into whatever we were moving to and be able to search them.
- I wanted it to be faster and more pleasant to use on a mobile device.
- I wanted to be reasonably in control of the content, in that if I had to move again it wouldn't be impossible.
- Had to be private to the current members.

I ended up going with Google Groups and writing a script that would go through the phpbb messages and send them as emails to the Google Group, so they were all kept nice and threaded and searchable.

If members select the 'all emails' option when they subscribe and then set an inbox filter for all messages from the group, it's really, really nice since everyone can reply to messages right in their email client (solves the mobile requirement) and there's no logging in.
posted by nattyd at 6:39 AM on June 30, 2012

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