Friday, October 31, 2008

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PHPBB vs. VBulletin: Which Do You Prefer?

Posted: 31 Oct 2008 03:00 AM CDT

Today is Halloween here in the United States, so I figured to celebrate the holiday, I would switch from the usual content post and instead solicit input from the WordPress Hacks readership.   I enjoy doing this from time to time to see what kind of discussion we can get going and the comment often end up offering a wealth of knowledge. 

The question for today is for our readers who either run their own forums or enjoy visiting and commenting on forums.   Which forum software do you prefer?  Do you prefer PHPBB forums or VBulletin forums?  

I’ve always loved forums because an active forum allows you to interact with a large number of people and get help quicker than commenting on a post or even doing a Google search (sometimes).  I actually have experience being an administrator and a user of both forum types.    Here is my experience with both types:

PHPBB Forums


  • FREE. 
  • Easy to setup.
  • Easy for just about anyone to use. 


  • Options are limited.
  • Not very SEO friendly (as of version 3.0).

VBulletin Forums

VBulletin Pros

  • Generally better looking.
  • More features. 
  • Plugins/Addons available.
  • More SEO friendly than PHPBB

VBulletin Cons

  • Costs $100-$180.00 per license. 
  • Constant Maintenance/Updates required.
  • Targeted by Spammers.

Both forum types have skins available for free and for sale, so I didn’t mention that above.  It is also important to mention that you can easily convert your PHPBB forum into a VBulletin forum (I’ve read this, haven’t personally tried it).

In summary, as a user, I’ve always felt that to be considered a serious forum, you need to be using VBulletin.  It just looks more professional, has more options, etc.   From an administrator’s standpoint, however, I’ve enjoyed running PHPBB forums more.   VBulletin forums seem to attract a ton of spammy posts and sometimes moderating posts and banning users can be overwhelming (in my experience) and I feel like I have to update the software every few weeks.  It also seems to almost have to many options! 

So that is my experience with both PHPBB and VBulletin.   I would love to hear about your experiences and preferences between the two.  Have any pros or cons to add to the list?  You can write from the perspective of running either type of forum or from the user perspective (reading/posting) on either type of forum.  If you haven’t used either, you are welcome to share your experiences with BBPress.

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