Forums are clearly one of the most standard ways of sharing knowledge on the net. With easy-to-use interfaces & strong community features, they are still very functional & popular.

They can be easily integrated into a website by customizing the look & feel or used as a framework which is sometimes a good idea considering the features they offer.

Here are 9 widely-used, open-source & free forum softwares, where most of them are built with PHP, that you may consider using:

phpBB (PHP)

phpBB

phpBB is one of the oldest & widely used forum softwares around. It is being updated frequently with improvements in speed, security & features.

It comes with a powerful administrator panel where all aspects of the system can be managed & supports almost any database.

The software has a very crowded community which makes it easier to get support.

MyBB (PHP)

MyBB

This free forum software works with MySQL, PostgreSQL and SQLite.

MyBB has nice features like calendar/events, mass mailing to members, a built-in theme editor & more.

Besides an admin panel, a moderator panel helps managing the system by multiple users.

 

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Answerbase

Answerbase

Answerbase is a powerful and hosted service for creating Q&A websites without any installation.

The front-end can be customized completely with the help of ready-to-use templates, ability to update every image/text and inserting custom CSS styles.

A feature-rich admin panel eases the management of the system, users and content.

Once the website is created, it gets a mobile-friendly version automatically and there is an API provided for integration with 3rd party products.

 

Simple Machines Forum (SMF) (PHP)

Simple Machines Forum

SMF is the PHP successor of the Perl-based forum YABB. It comes with a comprehensive template system, polls, groups, calendars & more.

The software uses MySQL for storing data & has 40+ ready-to-download language files.

Vanilla (PHP)

Vanilla Forum Software

Vanilla is an open-source, standards-compliant, multi-lingual, theme-able, pluggable discussion forum.

It is built on the Garden, a PHP development framework, which is easily extendible with a powerful plug-in architecture. And, there are already 450+ plugins that are ready-to-use.

Vanilla requires MySQL as the database.

PunBB (PHP)

PunBB

PunBB is a fast and lightweight forum application which aims to be less graphically intensive compared to other discussion boards.

It supports with MySQL, PostgreSQL & SQLite. The design can be easily updated with the theming support. It is multilanguage & can be extended with the extension support.

FluxBB (PHP)

FluxBB Forum Software

FluxBB is a fork of PunBB which supports both PHP4 & PHP5 with MySQL, PostgreSQL or SQLite.

It generates "XHTML 1.0 Strict" valid pages & can be easily translated into any language.

bbPress (PHP)

bbPress

bbPress is a forum software from the creators of WordPress which is plain, simple & fast.

It can be customized with templates & extended with plugins. And, it integrates perfectly with WordPress.

Phorum (PHP)

Phorum Forum Software

Phorum is also one of the oldest forum softwares. It has support for theming & modules.

The software uses MySQL for storing data

YetAnotherForum.Net (ASP.NET)

ASP.NET Forum

YetAnotherForum is a free application that is built with ASP.NET (C#) & uses MSSQL as the database.

It has a feature-rich administrator panel, supports unlimited categories/user groups, templating & more..

 

Which forum software do you think is the best one, do you have a favorite?

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