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phpBB is a very popular widely used forum software that has millions of installation all over the internet.
phpBB has had a bad reputation for quite a few years as many people always think of phpBB being un-secure and not safe to use. Because of that people tend to not use it and go on to use other forum software solution like SMF, Invision Power Board (IPB) and vBulletin. The reason why phpBB has this bad reputation is because of a massive security problem with a release in the phpBB 2.0.x series where hundreds of phpBB2 forums were exploited. Because of this people always assume phpBB is unsafe. phpBB was built and made in the days were security wasn't as much of a problem and hacking were rare. The internet and the way people use it has changed rapidly since the time phpBB2 was made which was back in April 2002. Nowadays people set out to hack and cause damage and even code bots to crawl the internet to hack and find exploits.
phpBB's newest release (phpBB3) was really built with security in mind and features second unlike phpBB2. There has been no security issues in phpBB3 since it was announced as stable and even before it was classed as stable there was no major security issues found. People still think of phpBB being unsafe to use.
The main reason i like phpBB is that they quickly release fixes for security problems and they don't release bug fixes too often which can be annoying for forum owners if they have to update all the time just to fix a handful of bug which you don't normally notice. They also have a big community of members that like to provide support. Also because of the large user base there is alot of modifications (mods ) for phpBB which can be added to improve the forum and add new features. There is more then all the other forum software's around. Also because of the very large user base there are alot of styles for the forums to personalize it.
Out of all the Forum Tools i have used, Such as invasion Power Board, SMF, and VB. PhpBB has got to be my favorite. The First thing which is noticeable to the user is the easy layout to find forums.
phpBB is highly mod able, and simply done, unlike other Forum tools you can install from the admin panel and change the settings.
Setting up forums and there permissions couldn't be easier with phpBB, you simply goto the admin panel and locate the add new forum link and in the page which you create the forum has all the tools to setup permissions without going to seperiate links to configure.
One of the greatest things about phpBB is that you don't need to be a professional web designer to use it, its simple to install and even easier to use, for admins and for users.
For Web masters looking for a forum i recommend phpBB
Sometimes its nice to gather a group of people with similar interests into one place and get everyone to interact. It doesnt matter if this is down at the pub, at someones house or even on the World Wide Web, a great deal of fun can be had discussing your mutual interests with others.
On the Internet there are many ways to accomplish this. The more technically minded might fancy Newsgroups where practically anything can be discussed if you can find the correct Newsgroup. On the Web, there are loads of different websites, messageboards and tools that can be used such as YAHOO, Google and, more than likely, your favourite website on whatever your preferred topic or hobby is.
Sometimes though, its nice to have a little more control than these sites can offer. Perhaps the sites you frequent dont offer the focus (or flexibility) in topics that you prefer. It could be a simply case that you dont get along with the people that are present on these messageboards or youre not happy unless youre in charge. Whatever your reasons, theres a solution. Run your own message board!
phpBB is a free message board system offered at www.phpbb.com. It's approximately a 700kB compressed download, so download time is only a few seconds. What it does is provide you with a basic system on which you can create your own message board. Everything you require to start a message board is included in the download apart from a hosting account. You choice of hosting account is another matter, but I currently recommend Compila, having used them for a few years and found them to be good value for money and extremely helpful. As the name might suggest, you need a hosting package that supports php rather than asp or asp.net. Hosting companies can offer both, so if in doubt, ask them.
Assuming you have your hosting account up and running (not free, but can be found for less than £20 per year if you shop around), its only a matter of installing the phpBB software to the relevant directory on your hosting account. Ease of installation will depend on the host you choose, and at its easiest, its simply a matter of copying the files across to a specific folder in your account at your hosting company. I do have a certain amount of technical experience, so I found this step of the installation a breeze.
Possibly the trickiest part of the whole process is the initial board set up procedure. This is when youll need to have various items of information at your disposal of a technical nature. Dont panic, though. If you get anything wrong, the entire process can be restarted from scratch losing nothing but twenty minutes of your time. Help is always available and if your hosting company cannot provide any help, then the support forums at phpBB.com will surely yield a response. Once you have the basic system up and running (which should take only a few minutes barring any problems) then youre ready to create the actual message board, complete with administrators, moderators and forums.
Setting up the message board is something that is a lot easier if youve done a little preparation beforehand. I certainly found that the initial setup work was a lot easier with some notes and decisions already made. For example, planning what forums I wanted on the board meant that I wasnt sitting there trying to make that decision on the fly (although changes can be made later, so dont worry). If you can, visit some other message boards to see how they've been set up. They don't have to be phpBB boards as the theory behind all boards is roughly the same. Having some content ready to go is also helpful. In the case of my messageboards, I usually try to have a set of rules ready to post immediately (though these are usually nothing more than a re-wording of the standard netiquette rules). My personal preference is to have a few mates join up immediately and give feedback on what works and what doesnt. Things that may need changing are forum names, forum descriptions, the number of forums (there is such a thing as too much of a good thing) or any other aspect of the forum that any user might use. These can be changed at any time, not just immediately after your board is created so dont worry if none of your mates are interested or available to provide instant feedback.
There were no huge reasons that I chose phpBB over any other board software (and there are LOADS out there) other than I was recommended phpBB by a friend for my original website, but I liked it, found it easy to use and it did everything I required it to. I have used it ever since.
The main reasons I like it is that its customisable both for the look and feel (through the use of styles) and functionality (through the use of modifications). Both of these are freely available on the internet, although its advisable to check on phpBB.com first to see those that are used by other board owners. Styles (or templates) offer you the chance to personalise your own board further with new colour schemes and minor changes to the layout and can sometimes be an attractive alternative to the default style, subSilver. Your own art skills can be put to good use and there's functionality there to allow you to use your own logo, if you have one or know someone that can design one for you.
There are plenty of other options to help you create a unique(ish) board including the ability to have several 'levels' of member to help you run the site (moderators and administrators) or even posting levels, reflecting how many posts you've made. These can be tailored to whatever you want and on Opinionators.co.uk, the levels are set to children's TV characters from our youth ("Bod" being the highest because Bod rocks). I say that you can create a "unique-ish" message board because most message board systems will eventually produce a system that operates in the same manner and the bones of the systems are pretty similar.
The important thing is the ease of use for the members. Both members and moderators/admin members alike are both well catered for. "Ordinary" members have plenty of tools at their disposal for communicating with other members, including access to formatting codes for text and the ability to post pictures, external links and, at the administrators' discretion, the ability to use HTML code as well. Message posters can be contacted via email if any of their messages have replies, smilies can be added to messages (and administrators can add extra smilies should they choose) and polls can be carried out on any topic. Messages can be edited by the message poster, or in the case of any rule breaking, by admin or mod "staff" members. phpBB also comes with a built-in (and rather effective) private messaging system. These are only basic tools, but they're more than enough to allow people to communicate with each other, which I believe is the most important part of a message board. Admin members have options for changing user's permissions (e.g. restricting people's access to the PM system if they aren't acting appropriately or members access to a forum or set of forums). Admin members also have access to a few tools for making sure that trouble-making users are kept under control.
If I'm being brutally honest, as far as the feature list is concerned, phpBB doesn't really seem to offer anything more than any other board software out there (e.g. vBulletin), or at least currently (version 2.0.21). There is a version 3.0 on the horizon though and beta-testing has been in progress for some months now. Where I do like phpBB is that the software is stable and I've not had any issues with the software falling over and dying. Any issues I have had have been with the hosting company, but these were minor. Support for the software is excellent and while you might not get an answer from any of the development team, one of the support board's 284623 (and rising) members will probably help you out. Additionally, phpBB is supported by a huge community and some of the really clever ones have created mods (modifications) to add cool stuff to your site, if that's what you want. It's important to realise that most, if not all, of these mods are not officially supported by the phpBB team.
While its easy to get carried away with adding styles and mods to your board, Id advise being careful. At the time of writing, the phpBB software is often updated, usually with security fixes and the like. Each update requires new version of the code to be uploaded to your hosting account and an update to your database. These updates are only for the original version of the code and the default theme, subSilver. If you have a lot of added mods or styles as part of your own board, these will have to be updated which could be a problem for non-technical users and is inconvenient for everyone. This is only a minor gripe though and there is a system available (EasyMOD) to automatically making these changes to your site, though I don't actually use this and make my changes manually.
I'd hazard a guess at phpBB being the most popular message board software currently available, but that does bring disadvantages. The main one is that it's a target for spammers who will attack board with automatic bots to create false accounts and make posts. If you want to stop spammers from doing this to your board, it's possible that you might have to install an anti-spam mod or two. That's not definite though and I suspect half of my problems are because Opinionators is ranked fairly highly in Google and as such attracts spammers. Unknown boards may simply get overlooked. However, that's just speculation on my part.
There are a few quirks with the software meaning that some HTML coded messages won't display correctly unless all line breaks are removed and, when creating polls, a blank option has to be created or else the last option in the poll isn't included once the poll is published. From memory, the phpBB team welcome any kind of bug report so it's possible that you could find yourself amongst that community before too long.
phpBB is a system that's been used, not only by individuals and small groups, but by business of all sizes. It's a system that's extremely capable of supporting large numbers of posts and members. To see a good example of this, check out the support forum at phpBB.com.
Apart from the spam problem (fixable, but still annoyingly present at installation) and one or two minor quirks (which you won't encounter that often), phpBB is a super solution to those looking to get a bunch of people together as quickly as possible with the maximum amount of control and a decent amount of customisation. The spam issue stops me from a complete recommendation and I'd see what issues are present on other board systems before making a choice, but phpBB is still very worthy of consideration.