If you have a website, you may want to allow your users to interact with one another. A message board (also referred to as a “forum”) is a great idea! But which software to use? If you want to go the free route, there are several choices. Perhaps the most popular is PhpBB, which is powerful, but basic. It will allow you to have different categories, and subforums within those categories. You can also ban users, and allow access only to those who register.
Another free option is Simple Machines Forum, which is also a basic forum package. With it, you can set up categories and forums, and you also have the ability to easily censor words and links. It also offers strong user management and permissions administration. Among its many other features, it also allows you to ban users for as little or as long as you need.
Another choice is vBulletin, which is strictly pay software. There is no trial version, and the license is currently $100 a year, while an owned license is $180. With the leased version, you have access to all upgrades for that year. For the owned version, you have access to upgrades for a year, and if you want to continue to get those updates, you’d have to pay either $40, or $60, depending on when you purchase the extension.
vBulletin definitely gives you your money’s worth. You have powerful tools at your disposal, which includes the ability to moderate a new user’s posts until they satisfy certain criteria, which you can establish, based on posts, reputation, and days registered. You can also control which users can see which forums, and you can turn registration on and off at will, not to mention the fact that you can also manually moderate new users, to help weed out the trolls.
All of these packages are fine in their own right, and as for which one is right for you, that depends on your needs and budget. No matter which one you choose, you will need access to the SQL administration (easily found in Cpanel), and the ability to set up a new database, which is remarkably easy with Cpanel.
By setting up forums, you can add a whole new level of interactivity to your website, and that will keep visitors coming back for more.