Looking for decent PHP-based (or hosted) web forum software
June 22, 2016 7:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for good, open-source PHP forum / message board software. Or a straightforward hosted solution.

I'm an experienced LAMP developer, so I don't mind mucking around on the command line to set up databases, install packages, etc.

But I do want something simple, modern (e.g., actively maintained and built with modern development practices), secure, and easily skinnable.

Specific features I'm after:
  • Standard forum hierarchy / structure (a list of broadly thematic forums, each containing a list of threads on specific topics, each containing a paged, chronological list of posts)
  • Support for responsive themes (ideally, support for completely custom HTML/CSS/JS, via a good templating engine)
  • Easy moderation (deleting comments or threads, blocking problematic users, etc.)
  • Preferably not too many features beyond these basics – lightweight is good
I know that PHPbb powers a shit-ton of forum sites, but I wonder if it satisfies my "modern" criterion. Every PHPbb site I see looks like a relic from 1998.

I'm also aware of bbPress. The forum site I'm building will be associated with a WordPress site, so maybe there's some advantage to be gained there. I'm not really a fan of WordPress' spaghetti-like development philosophy and amateurish ecosystem, so that gives me a little pause – but I'd consider bbPress if folks say that it's easy to set up and maintain.

Like I said, I'd also consider a hosted option, if there's one that folks recommend. I just don't know much about that area.

posted by escape from the potato planet to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I should add: I do not need comment threading. It's fine if a platform supports it, as long as I can turn it off.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:26 AM on June 22, 2016

Are you dead set on PHP? Because Discourse might work out for you.

I'll take flak for this, but I also think that "uses PHP" and "is actively maintained and built with modern development practices" might be mutually exclusive at this point, at least when it comes to forum software.
posted by destructive cactus at 7:58 AM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd anti-recommend bbPress; it's a very lightweight forum that is clunky to administer. Maybe check out Simple Machines Forum? Their Responsive Curves theme was first developed a year ago, last updated a few months ago, which is probably close enough to "actively developed" for your purposes.
posted by instamatic at 10:58 AM on June 22, 2016

Vanilla is modern, php and os
posted by slobebop at 1:26 PM on June 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Vanilla is what I ended up picking when I went looking for forum software that meets similar requirements. It has its warts, but it feels so much more modern and usable than phpBB.
posted by Aleyn at 9:23 PM on June 22, 2016

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