Recommend a Forum Platform
July 21, 2021 8:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm setting up a new private forum for a 501c3 organization I'm involved in and I'm interested in hearing from anyone that can recommend a forum platform that's not too difficult to set up and can be handed off to someone else to administer in the future.

The forum will be for photojournalists and photographers working in the documentary tradition so the software will need to handle images easily. It needs to support tags so it's easily searchable. Currently, I'm looking at vBulletin as it seems to be the easiest and most robust solution to implement. I'm also interested in hosting as well. Open source and a positive, inclusive company or support is a priority.
posted by photoslob to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you elaborate about the purpose of the platform? Is it to build community, have a photo stream, or discuss topics and events?

Forums by and large are replaced by the following two sites: Reddit (private reddits exist) and Facebook groups. Neither are open source but both handle images easily. It may be a hard sell to get people to sign up for a forum these days.
posted by bbqturtle at 8:55 AM on July 21, 2021

Response by poster: The purpose is to support an existing community and build upon it. It needs to exist outside the realm of the social media companies. We tried FB groups and it was a disaster. Everyone has agreed no FB or IG.
posted by photoslob at 9:01 AM on July 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I help mod a vBulletin-based forum. It's a pretty easy-to-manage system, and there's a good bit of customization. It handles images easily.

Speaking of images, we do not host members' images ourselves. That can chew-up server space pretty quickly, and I imagine it would be doubly-so for a forum aimed at professional photogs. We require members host their own images and link to them. We have a short list of approved image hosts which they can use.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:27 AM on July 21, 2021

Response by poster: Thorzdad, would you mind sharing your list of approved image hosts? We anticipate the vast majority of our hosting bill to be from images. The community used to be email-list based but the biggest user complaint was the sheer number of emails they would receive each day.
posted by photoslob at 9:32 AM on July 21, 2021

I've been impressed with Discourse based forums. Never administered one-- but as a user, I've found them the easiest to use/navigate and follow long discussions with their neat little thread handling and posting is a breeze, including images.
posted by Static Vagabond at 10:05 AM on July 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

vBulletin has a long history of security vulnerabilities. It's fine if you keep it up to date, but a lot of places are running years-old versions of the software and can be very vulnerable to hacking. So I think vBulletin is fine as long as your organization can commit to updating it frequently, or finds a hosted solution that will update it for you.

I've also heard good things about Discourse lately, but I'm not sure how well suited it is to lots of image posts as I've never tried to administer it myself.
posted by JZig at 11:25 AM on July 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Anyone know if Discourse can even do images? I'm not seeing anything on their features page.
posted by photoslob at 1:58 PM on July 21, 2021

Found this
posted by johngoren at 2:22 PM on July 21, 2021

Best answer: I used to manage a very active Discourse forum that migrated from vbulletin, my husband now manages a different community on the Discourse platform, and I’m active in a few other forums (also on Discourse). I would absolutely go with that option.

Images can be used in posts, here’s info on the Discourse blog
posted by third word on a random page at 2:27 PM on July 21, 2021

Response by poster: How hard is Discourse to install and host?
posted by photoslob at 2:47 PM on July 21, 2021

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