Good Open Source Traditional Forums Software in 2019?

Discussion in 'Forum Software' started by Apparition, Dec 22, 2018.

  1. Apparition

    Apparition Neophyte

    What are actively maintained, good, open source, traditional forums software in late 2018/early 2019? I currently have two forums running SMF 2.0, but SMF is increasingly becoming no longer an option. The last version of PHP that SMF 2.0 supports is 7.1, which reaches EOL next year. It's been stated by SMF developers that support for PHP 7.2 or higher is not coming until SMF 2.1, which has been in development for several years now with no end in sight. Who knows when (or if) SMF 2.1 will see release. It's a shame as I've been a SMF charter member for years, but it is what it is.

    I try to use and support open source software where possible, so are there any actively maintained, good, open source traditional forums software to transition to? From what I understand, phpBB has been plagued by security issues for years, and does not really support mobile devices well, (much like SMF 2.0). Also from what I understand, myBB has been in the same state of inertia as SMF. There's Discourse, but that's not really "traditional." There's also Flarum, but it's still in beta and again is not really "traditional."

    I own licenses to both IPS and WoltLab Suite Forum, so I don't mind spending money. Worse comes to worst, I'll just transition both forums to either IPS or WoltLab Suite Forum. But, again, I'd rather try to use and support an open source forums software if possible.
  2. salem

    salem Adherent

    No idea where you're getting your information about phpBB from but it's inaccurate.
    It's been independently security audited since phpBB 3.0 and has no serious issues
    It does support mobile devices pretty well (Responsive by default)
    it's been actively updated since 3.1.0 was released and is now at 3.2.5
    Plenty of styles and extensions

    :edit re 3.2.5 released
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2018
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  3. haqzore

    haqzore Habitué

    Was wondering and thinking the same.
  4. koraldon

    koraldon Aspirant

    Yep, I’m using phpbb 3.2 and it is maintained and is a good piece of software.
    The development pace is not very quick, but it does get updates regularly
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  5. palhanow

    palhanow Participant

    If you want a open-source Forum software, go for MyBB.

    I had a Forum for a couple of years on MyBB and generally speaking, in terms of free software, have all the tools and features most paid system have.

    Open Source is great but came with a lot of issues too, it's they nature. You have to understand that is a free software

    I really recommend, but you must have patience on the updates. Sometimes, one minor upgrade can mess up with your plugins, themes, etc.

    I had little problems with MyBB. But, when i did a upgrade this year, i did manage to broke all my DB and lost everything. Is better to have some 'technical' background on your skills, because you gonna need it.
  6. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

    If SMF feels frozen in time for you, check Wedge. It doesnt have much of an ecosystem but suits classic forums well, massively improving the creaky technicals of SMF (think of it as their unofficial v3).
    Its biggest negative might be that its not versioned, so you just keep installing a newer snapshot of the files. Also, since its relatively niche, a webmaster will lack an escape path to other scripts if they eventually plan to switch to another script.

    Features (incomplete)
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  7. Arty

    Arty Developer

    That is blatantly false.

    phpBB 2.0 had security issues. That was over a decade ago. phpBB 3.0 has nothing in common with phpBB 2.0. Furthermore, phpBB 3.1 and 3.2 have almost nothing in common with 3.0. phpBB 3 is one of the most secure forum systems by design.

    phpBB 3.1 and 3.2 work very well on mobile devices. Older versions did have issues with mobile devices, but those are old.
  8. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

    I like both Wedge and Elkarte but one of my concerns to run a production site is their lack of third party and community. While the software itself may be better developed, don't you think they're really niche?

    For all the lack of development and slowness on SMF or MyBB, they have robust communities which makes them a better overall choice I think.

    Also, discourse is probably the leading open source choice. It's modern, actively developed and maintained.
  9. Dan18

    Dan18 Fan

    Agree :tup:
  10. Paul M

    Paul M Limeade Addict

    The OP kinda dimissed it already.

  11. Karll

    Karll Adherent

    I had the same attitude when I was about to start my forum. But then I looked at the various open-source forum SWs and compared them to what you can do with proprietary forum SWs, and I decided to go for the latter. I wanted to 'wow' my users and outshine the competition. I took comfort in the fact the forum was running on top Linux, PHP, MySQL (now MariaDB) and Apache web server, all of which are open-source.

    Then there's also this to consider: people who spend their days developing complex software usually need to earn a living from it, somehow. Many open-source projects are dominated mainly by commits from employees of one or a few big corporations who realise it's in their interest to be part of the development. So those developers are paid.

    However, forum software development is perhaps a bit more niche, and yet requires a lot of skills, time, experience, magic spells ... What company would want their employees to spend their work hours developing open-source forum SW? Very few, if any, I would think. So then you are left with hobby projects, which are developed more slowly, often aren't as good quality, lack certain useful features and so on.
  12. DrCornFlakes

    DrCornFlakes Aspirant

    Unless your target audience knows what Usenet is, you shouldn't be asking for "traditional" forums software in 2019...
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  13. radu81

    radu81 Fan

    Have a look at, it's an SMF fork, and if you like SMF you will love elkarte. Check the add-ons list, and if you find what you need try it in localhost. It's already compatible with php 7.2 and the migration process is easy.

    Another free alternative which I like is phpBB, never been a fan of myBB. My suggestion: download, install them all in localhost and play a few days, then choose the one that fit your needs.

    I like Wedge for the gallery integration, but seems an abandoned project. As for elkarte I use it since 2014 and it's still supported and updated. I admit, it doesn't have a very active community with tons of active discussions, but almost every topic gets answers.
  14. Panupat

    Panupat Habitué

    Wedge looks really nice and clean. Love it. Not mobile compatible tho.
    Elkarte looks great on mobile. A bit too spacious on desktop but nothing some CSS edit can't fix I suppose.

    If Discourse let us use traditional pagination threads I'll be all over it. Sadly I don't think that will ever happen.
  15. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

    Discourse is heavily influenced by the infinite scroll design that's popular right now, which makes me think it's nothing more than a longform chat.

    With that said, they do include some stellar design features that are very nuanced to address the infinite scroll. You can do both replies to the topic and replies to prior posts, all of which get added linearly.
  16. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

    SMF itself will eventually break compatibility with its own addons, except not match those forks' quality. A clean break from legacy mods should not be dreaded, addons ought to be developped against modern smf versions, not abandoned years ago with their existence discouraging development and adoption of newer alternatives.
  17. Apparition

    Apparition Neophyte

    Why not?

    In any case, thanks for the advise, y'all. I went and bought a second WoltLab Suite Forums and Calendar license.
  18. DrCornFlakes

    DrCornFlakes Aspirant

    For the same reason you shouldn't sell old geezer stuff to young people.
    It won't sell.
  19. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

    I'd say because young forumgoers likely browse much more often from mobiles, so their high availability from mobile use goes unleveraged if you go for a traditional forum script principally targetting desktop users with large monitors and a mouse.
  20. DrCornFlakes

    DrCornFlakes Aspirant

    What platforms are most used by young people? Take a guess.
    Look at their interface and navigation.
    Now, look at a traditional forum's interface and navigation.

    The amount of clicks and scrolls needed for any task in a traditional forum is overwhelming when compared to any social media platform.
    The amount of useless information in a traditional forum is overwhelming.
    The clutter in a traditional forum is overwhelming.
    The navigation flowchart is complicated and tiresome.
    If you grew up in that environment, it's okay, you are used to it. Not only you're used to it, you want it.

    But, if you grew up with 2 possible actions on one screen, you'll be out of a traditional forum in milliseconds.

    Today's young people, are your tomorrow's audience.
    If you want to build something in the long term, you better watch them and adjust your offer to cater them.
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