This area has crickets chirping

Discussion in 'Free Hosted Forums' started by BarneyL, Aug 17, 2014.

  1. BarneyL

    BarneyL Enthusiast

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    And yet, I still think many people would find free hosted forums just fine and suitable for their purposes, if it doesn't involve making $ or a lot of deep-wide features.
    So are there any out there NOW folks of some level of expertise would recommend using for people who don't care about, for example, the inability to pick it all up and move it later, etc. like I have read here over the years?
    Or are there social networks cheaper than Ning or SocialGo that you find useful for such purposes and that are not too awful-looking or operating?
    Just curious;-)
     
  2. pclinger

    pclinger Aspirant

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    As the owner of the largest host of free forums (ProBoards), I'm biased. But we have a fantastic platform, amazing technical support, and we do not have platform lock-in any more. We launched Forums.net a few months ago, which you can upgrade to from ProBoards (6 month contract required, prices start at $9.99/mo).

    Our forum software is better than anyone in the hosted market.
     
  3. BarneyL

    BarneyL Enthusiast

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    Really? I'll go look, but none of the free hosted sites thrilled me when last I looked. They felt... well, cheap. And the lack of action in this area of TAZ - well it could be because others feel the same, or it could be the site is somewhat insular, perhaps even snobby in some respects about 'you get what you pay for" etc. But I'll surely go give it another look!
    PS - seems to me one of the biggest problems free boards have is in getting the word of their elements OUT there. How would I have known? Are you high in Google rankings when one searches?
    PPS - wow, the forum I made 2 years ago is still there! So what do I get for $9.99 from the new site one doesn't get from the free one? Is there a page to look at?
    Any independent reviews of either/both recently online to look at?
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  4. pclinger

    pclinger Aspirant

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    Hi Barney,

    You can see our plans at www.forums.net/plans for the differences. With Forums.net we are more targeting businesses, but we have a plan designed for personal use. Some of our features include phone support, all data over SSL, Service Level Agreements, single sign-on, etc.

    We are ranked top 1 - 2 across many search keywords, including free forum (#1), free forum hosting (#1), forum host (#1), forum hosting (#1), free forums (#2 due to freeforums.org domain match). Thousands of new forums are created every week on our platform.

    While we have many great features with our ProBoards v5 platform, a few of my personal favorites:
    -Live Search. When you are viewing a board, type something in the search box. All the results will update live on screen. You can also click on the search icon to add filters to refine your search even more (again, updates live)
    -SEO Optimized. Breadcrum navigation, proper meta tags, friendly URLs, etc. Our forums perform great on search engines.
    -Plugins. We created a robust system that makes it really easy for developers to create plugins, and simple for users to install and manage
    -Global Login. You only have 1 account to access all of your ProBoards forums, including our Forum Dashboard (when logged in at www.proboards.com) that tells you information about all your forums: how many participated topics have been updated, any messages that are waiting for you, updated bookmarks, etc.
    -AJAX pagination. You can click through multiple pages of a thread without the whole page reloading. Similarly, you can select a post on page 1, go to page 2, select a post, go to page 3, click quote on a post -- you will quote all 3 posts even though they were on separate pages. You can also perform other moderator actions this same way (move posts, delete posts, etc)

    Patrick
     
  5. BarneyL

    BarneyL Enthusiast

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    Thanks for all that! Will have to play before I make the call. As I said in a note to sales, still not sure what Forums.net has that free ProBoards doesn't - for example, can one log into ProBoards forums via Facebook?
     
  6. R44

    R44 Asperger's Network? Absolutely.

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    That's the point; they're free.
     
  7. pclinger

    pclinger Aspirant

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    Barney,

    Some of the key differences between Forums.net and ProBoards are:

    -White label (you don't need to pay hundreds of dollars to remove our branding, this is included with all plans)
    -SSL encrypted for the entire forum (rather than just logins)
    -Single sign-on support to integrate with your existing login system. ProBoards does not allow Facebook login, but you could make one yourself with Forums.net using our single sign-on option
    -Fully exportable - Again, you can get a full copy of your forums' database
    -Import data - We can work with you to import data from an existing forum
    -Phone support
    -Ticket support
    -InSite Forwarding - This is our service that allows you to proxy requests from your-domain.com/forum to your forum that is hosted by us, providing you the full SEO value of the forum content in your primary domain name

    Patrick
     
  8. BarneyL

    BarneyL Enthusiast

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    And to others, I'm curious - other than the issue often raised of woes moving 'your' data to another site - what are the in-general or specific downsides you want to warn a newbie about on a free or cheaper forum solution vs. the IPS etc. option?
     
  9. BarneyL

    BarneyL Enthusiast

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    But I don't LOVE the look of, say, IPS front or back end any more than the free forum stuff. So it's about the plumbing, and ... well, I'm not sure how much of the plumbing I'll actually need/use.
     
  10. R44

    R44 Asperger's Network? Absolutely.

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    That's the advantage of building the house yourself. The plumbing is all yours :)

    I get what you're saying though - nothing on the market is simple enough for you.
     
  11. BarneyL

    BarneyL Enthusiast

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    No it's not that R44 - the simple ones can look 'simple' (cheap) - or really good but for example, it is SO easy to change widths, colors, images at ProBoards with a single click - preview it right away, change it back, etc.

    For every forum expert at TAZ who loves diving deep there are 100s of us folks out here doing forums 'on the side' who LOVE that level of simplicity and ease of use, as long as we're not sacrificing too much, ya know? There's ALWAYS tradeoffs - some want to spend hours customizing, tweaking, nudging and adjusting - others just want to get on with the OTHER part of forums - conversing with others!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2014
  12. R44

    R44 Asperger's Network? Absolutely.

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    You want it simple, or you want it feature packed. Can't have it both ways.
     
  13. BarneyL

    BarneyL Enthusiast

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    I disagree R44 - it's not binary, either-or. There can be a happy medium. ProBoards claims to offer that. Nothing is for everyone - everything is for someone (whoa, that's deep;-) There's a matrix actually - fairly simple, fairly inexpensive, fairly good-looking with a fair amount of features. It can be done;-)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2014
  14. R44

    R44 Asperger's Network? Absolutely.

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    Not in your lifetime, or mine for that matter.
     
  15. BarneyL

    BarneyL Enthusiast

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    Whatever R44 - not here to argue.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2014
  16. Tracy Perry

    Tracy Perry Opinionated asshat

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    I've never come across one that is "simple" but looks good and is customizable to much of an extent. The two do NOT go hand in hand.
    The more customization, the more the complexity. Most stuff you can't make where it's a "check here for this, click there for that" by it's very nature.
    Thinking you can with current technology is being a tad bit wishful.

    The point he's making is you are arguing a viewpoint that is not achievable. I know it sounds like it should be to a neophyte, but to anyone that has been dealing with it for quite a while on the administration end (and I've been messing with this stuff way back before the internet - we are talking BBS days), you cannot have what you are wanting. You WILL have to either go with something simple that looks plain or break down and learn.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2014
  17. R44

    R44 Asperger's Network? Absolutely.

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    Thank you.

    BarneyL - You're on a forum admin community, and you're talking to admins who have been doing this longer than yourself.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2014
  18. BarneyL

    BarneyL Enthusiast

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    I know, and I turn here for advice of value - and get it - but I think the fact the free hosted forums area of TAZ has had barely any activity in years indicates a sort of pre-bias against anything simple that MIGHT work for some without major demands. Does http://highdesertforum.freeforums.net/ look SO much worse than http://highdesertforum.invisionzone.com/ ? Maybe to 'experts,' but when I see little bells-whistles touches like ... right within a forum post, being able to use a drop-down in ProBoards to send something to Facebook - without me as admin having to create it or go through 1,000s of options to find it ... I think there ARE advantages to the free stuff for some, and I mean from the END USER perspective - not the board creator, necessarily. But that may not be a winning argument at TAZ, where folks have clearly invested much blood, sweat and tears to get where they are and... I respect your views, just asking for a little in return, that's all.
     
  19. R44

    R44 Asperger's Network? Absolutely.

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    That is not it at all. It's that you want a fully-featured BB system, and you want it to be easy to use, from an admin standpoint. That is never going to happen. Have you ever tried to program something? Do you know how hard it is to make an easy to use UI for an admin panel. Hate to break it to you, but older foruming people are not thought of by big companies (xF, IPB, vB, etc).

    You're asking something that is not in our jurisdiction. We don't develop the software, and we have no say in how they develop it.

    In short, you're asking in the wrong place.
     
  20. BarneyL

    BarneyL Enthusiast

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    R44 -- I've already said I'm not a programmer - I don't have the patience, logic/math skills or time (reporting is my day job) - and I've said many a time that I know very well simple is THE hardest thing to do. I just don't see this as a case of 'I want to have my cake and eat it too.' There's all sorts of cakes out there. I love much of what I've seen in IPS 4's YouTube videos and probably will stick with it. Call me indecisive, but I AM respectful of the views being shared here, and I know you folks don't create the software, just use it to deep levels ... just seeking insight from you and others who have more experience and are willing to share some of that with newbies such as myself, since I think I do ask nicely (and we all know THAT's not always true in forums;-)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2014
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