What do you look for in a message board? Reliability? Lightweight and easy to customize as well as free? bbPress (bbpress.org) has these features and more! Here are a few of the reasons I chose them over the many other forum solutions available online:
1. Clean, crisp appearance – The bbPress forum is aesthetically pleasing; it has a clean and crisp look, is uncluttered, loads quickly and will blend easily with your site structure. It is lean so won’t increase your server load, and is additionally customisable to match and suit your web design.
2. No nonsensical URL’s – The program will put the thread title keywords into the URL, so you won’t get a mishmash of numbers, but instead a neat ending to your URL such as “/web-browser-advice” as opposed to “/showthread.php?t=58294”. This will also make for better search engine optimization resulting in better search rankings.
3. Familiar format – If you run a WordPress blog then you will feel right at home with bbPress when installing and upgrading. The dashboard feels similar to WordPress, but could be a lot better. As it is open source, though, it will improve continuously. Another bonus is how easily you can integrate it with WordPress (http://bbpress.org/documentation/integration-with-wordpress/).
4. It’s Open Source shareware – It’s completely free and costs nothing to try. As it is open source, the community improves it continuously.
5. Themes and plugins – There are loads of plugins that you can use to expand the functionality of your forums and to add additional features (http://bbpress.org/plugins/). It is also very easy to change your forum theme in a matter of seconds.
6. Lots of Feeds – bbPress has a ton of feeds for every feed need you could ever have. You can get feeds on front page topics, individual topic discussions and even just new comments.
7. Akismet Spam Control – Spam on message boards can be an annoying problem as well as time consuming to clear up and using a lot of man power. The Akismet Spam Control that is integrated into bbPress is a powerful solution to prevent spam. It can automatically mark spammers so their posts are only visible to themselves.
8. Integrated Gravatars – The integrated Gravatars will take care of avatar management for you, without any extra hosting needs, as well as making profiles more appealing.
9. Tag Navigation – Tags are a great way to navigate a site from a tag cloud, and bbPress gives you tag navigation wherever you want it. You can add tags to each topic making searching and indexing easier.
10. Brand Automattic – bbPress is made by the same developers who created WordPress, part of the Automattic brand, so you can expect a quality product.
Although it has a handful of flaws, bbPress has a bright future, especially as more investment is made from the community. WordPress is more advanced, but bbPress is at an unbeatably low price, being free, and promises to get better with each version as well as adding better features. It’s most recent release saw this happening.
If you use wordpress, you’ll feel bbPress is familiar, sleek and easy to use. It is intuitive and enables a fair amount of customisation as well as being a great forum tool and is definitely worth checking out. Remember it needs PHP version 4.3 or greater and MySQL version 4.0 or greater.