There are two ways to add a message board to a web site. The first is to find a message board script that you can install on your own server. The second is to "outsource" the hosting to a remote service that specializing in hosting message boards. Hidden restrictions in the TOS of most shared hosting services make remote hosting the way to go for most people. If you are just putting up a board for a few friends, a shared host will probably have no problem with it. However, a board that gets 50 or 100 posts a day and many visitors is going to use too much CPU time for a shared host and your hosting service with either make you shut the board down or move to an expensive dedeciated server (where your site is the only site on the server). You can have massive amounts of unused bandwidth and disk space and still use too much CPU time -- something most shared hosting services hide deep in their TOS.
Remotely hosted message boards used to be frowned upon due to all the ads free message board hosts would put on their boards. A board with pop-ups, flashing graphic ads, and the like not only looks awful but is impossible to actually use. Fortunately, most of the major providers have switched to text ads (like the Google Ads on this site). Even those who run boards on a their own dedicated server generally have text ads as they have to pay the server bills somehow. Another reason to go with a remotely hosted message board is doing so frees you from having to maintain the message board software so you can concentrate on building your community.
There are a large number of companies providing remotely hosted boards and their feature sets vary greatly. They fall into two major camps: complex message boards (like most message boards you visit on the web with multiple forums, categories, etc.) and simple forums (a threaded list of messages like the old wwwboard). Most will want the complex message board. You will want to try out the boards on several services -- and not just the support board which sometimes runs on a lightly loaded server to make the company's boards appear faster than they are -- to see how reliable, easy to use, and customizable they are.
Software Gadgets' List of Remotely Hosted Message Boards
List was last updated on: 25 April 2006
Software Gadgets Top Suggestions:
- Proboards -- One of the top providers of remotedly hosted message boards. They provide complex message boards using custom software.
- Runboard -- Another respected, major provider of remotely hosted message boards. They provide complex message boards using custome software.
- ExCo Board -- While not as popular as the above two, this provider of remotely hosted complex message boards has been in business a long time and hosts a number of successful boards.
- Forumer -- Another major provider of complex message boards, Forumer gives you a choice of a phpbb2 message board or an ipb (version 1) message board.
- VoyForums -- One of the top providers of simple threaded forums.
(Some) Other Simple Forum Hosts to Consider:
(Some) Other Complex Forum Hosts to Consider: