22 Free Forum Software To Build Online Communities

One of the most powerful tools to run online communities is the onlne discussion forums. If you are a webmaster and you are struggling to interact with your visitors, or if you sell products online and want to provide online support in a free and open environment, or if you are a gaming enthusiast and want to host a gaming community, all you need is a forum software to realize your ideas.

There are a few paid forum packages you can use to run your online community, but why pay when you can get one for free? Yep, following is the list of 22 free forum software packages all equally robust, and each with its own unique features, that give paid forum software a run for their money.

1. bbPress

bbPress is forum software with a twist from the creators of WordPress.


2. Vanilla

Vanilla is an open-source, standards-compliant, multi-lingual, fully extensible discussion forum for the web. Anyone who has web-space that meets the requirements can download and use Vanilla for free!


3. Simple Machines Forum

Simple Machines Forum — SMF in short — is a free, professional grade software package that allows you to set up your own online community within minutes.

4. phpBB

phpBB is the worlds leading Open Source flat style discussion forum software. It includes all the features you expect to find in todays top of the line software.

5. Syndie

Syndie is an open source system for operating distributed forums, offering a secure and consistent interface to various anonymous and non-anonymous content networks.

6. SEO-Board

SEO-Board is a forum software that’s fast, free, and search engine friendly. It is the perfect solution for small and medium-sized sites.

7. Phorum

Phorum is a little different from the other web based message boards out there. It was designed to meet different needs of different web sites while not sacrificing performance or features.


8. Simpleboard

Simpleboard Forum Component for the Mambo Open Source CMS framework.

9. Ikonboard

Ikonboard is a comprehensive web bulletin board system. It transcends the limits imposed by other bulletin board software, allowing you to create a truly unique community on your website. From it’s extensive template and skins features to it’s complete multi-lingual support, your members will keep coming back for more.

10. MyBB

MyBB is a powerful, efficient, multilingual, standards-compliant and free forum package. MyBB places full control over your discussion board at the tip of your fingers.

11. The Snitz Forums

ASP based forum. Full online admin control. Fully customisable to suit personal or business needs. Free to download.

12. Vikingboard

Vikingboard is a PHP-based community board designed by the principle of “less is more”, and features a powerful web-based extension-system, a lighting-fast cache system and dynamic web update. Small, but incredibly fast and powerful.


Web Wiz Forums

Web Wiz Forums bulletin board system is the ideal forum package for your website’s community.

14. PunBB

PunBB is a fast and lightweight PHP-powered discussion board. It is released under the GNU General Public License.

15. UseBB

UseBB is a light and Open Source PHP 4 and MySQL based forum package, distributed freely under the GPL license. Developed with simplicity and usability in mind, UseBB is ideal for small to medium sized websites which need a clear and efficient forum package.

16. miniBB

Want to make your own discussion board? miniBB ( = mini bulletin board) is a free forum software, an original message board script written in PHP you can build an online community on. Security, speed and stability – three S’s of our conferencing software concepts.


17. nextBBS

nextBBS is an open-source Internet forum system written in PHP.

18. IceBB

IceBB is a powerful, fast, free, and open-source forum solution powered by the free PHP and MySQL. IceBB scales well, no matter how many users or posts, due to its clean and efficient code. It can also be fully customized to your needs with full skin and language support.


19. OvBB

Distributed under the open source MIT license, OvBB is a light-weight and fast discussion board system that mimics vBulletin 2.x.x in both look and behavior while incorporating new features and functionality.

20. Quicksilver Forums

Quicksilver Forums is a fast, secure, powerful PHP/MySQL based forum script. Features a robust 3D permission system and complete HTML template skinning engine. QSF is easily modified and is translated into 18 languages, counting English.

21. Think Tank Forums

Think Tank Forums Project is BSD licensed web forum software that uses PHP 4 and MySQL 4.1.

22. YaBB

YaBB is a leading FREE, Open Source community forum system (bulletin board, message board) written in Perl.

Do you run an online community? If so, do you use any of the above message boards?

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