15 Best Online Forum Platforms

15 Best Online Forum Platforms

You’re planning to launch a new online forum, but have no idea which forum platform will comply with your demands? INXY has done the entire hard job for you: we’ve compiled the list of Best Free and paid Forum Software solutions, both free and premium. Read overviews of 15 superb web-forum platforms to decide which one suits your needs.

Best Free Forum Platforms


This is open-source free software that can be exploited to stay in touch with a group of users, or to create your entire website. Its large database contains numerous user-created modifications, style and image packages for total customization of your board. phBB is superb for creating lightweight and responsive websites even without much technical knowledge.


Phorum is open-source software with a focus on speed. Its hook and module system allows for designing modules for deploying external authentication, changing message data before it’s archived, adding extra information about users and messages and so much more.

Simple Machines Forum

Simple Machines Forum is a professional free software package that enables you to set up your own web-community in a few minutes. Its template engine allows fully managing the layout of the message board and lets your forum interact with each other. The platform is written in PHP and exploits a MySQL database: it was created to provide you with all necessary features from a bulletin board.

Vanilla Forums

Vanilla Forums is an open-source community forum platform for creating discussions. The software comes with a row of useful features, such as automatic correction of content, rewarding of positive participation, moderation by members, etc.


PunBB is a PHP-based discussion board that’s more responsive and less graphically cluttered than many other discussion boards. Although it has fewer functions than many other boards for discussions, its overall speed is higher, and it generates smaller, semantically correct XHTML-compliant web-pages


This is a quicker alternative to some traditional resource-intense forum apps. FluxBB is easy to use and comes with a myriad of useful features, such as admin panel plugins, User style selection, reading of topic tracking, forum and topic subscription, post review, announcements, and so on.


Zetaboards is a great option for free forum hosting that’s created in the form of a website for creating and developing online communities. Your forum communities are not limited to members, posts, and even bandwidth. Like many of its alternatives, Zetaboards features total CSS customization, custom profile fields, joinable groups, free support for custom domains, integrated spam blocking, pinned topics and many other options.


If you have a WordPress.org-based website, bbPress is the option for you! It’s designed for easy integration, simple use, total compliance with web standards and loading speed.


PlushForums is a community service that enables real-time discussions, integrated blog, advanced modern design, private messages, member directory and superb mobile support. There’s even the possibility to get PayPal subscription for monetizing your content. The platform is very fast and easy to use – developers don’t need to be tech-savvy to understand its features. Plugins aren’t required, as well.


MyBB is a free MySQL and PHP-based discussion platform that comes with a comprehensible discussion board structure so that subscribers could easily create and reply to discussions and markup their posts. Administrators and moderators can exploit MyBB’s inline editing and various features for moderation to keep forums free from spam and inappropriate content.


MiniBB is a free open-source software solution for creating your own online forum. PHP-based bulletin board script provides users with a reliable and simple message board that allows customizing the layout of your website and synchronize the existing membership database.


Those who want to set up and manage a bulletin board should try YaBB forum software package. It provides a real-time chat and customer support platform for subscribers. YaBB allows building a large community and attracting visitors to your discussions, chats, and supports.

Premium Online Forum Platforms


Our list should be started with vBulletin – a popular forum software that’s praised by many web-developers. Its default applications allow for creating discussions and forum, groups, calendar, polls, blog, event management, and photo galleries. You can select from one of three versions: a classic forum, a mobile forum and a publishing suite (their cost differs according to your demands).

WoltLab Burning Board

Woltlab Burning Board is a responsive and convenient tool for creation of online forums that comes in three paid versions: Burning Board, Burning Board Lite and Community Framework. Each has its own peculiarities, and you can extend its functionality with the help of numerous plugins.


XenForo is a commercial PHP-based software package that was created by former vBulletin lead developers. It has some inbuilt SEO features, useful add-ons, functions for social engagement and recent activity stream. A perfect choice for advanced web-developers!


Premium software IP.Board provides a wide scope of comprehensive instruments that give users the opportunity to be engaged in discussions and helps to attract visitors again and again. It allows subscribers share and promote the content from your website.

Each of these 15 software solutions is worth your attention. Choose one of these variants to create your own online discussions right away, but before that, clear up your requirements. You should know exactly what you want. For instance, those who plan to design a lightweight and easy-to-exploit solution may opt for phpBB – a free open-source platform. Developers who dream big and strive to build large forum websites like 4Chan and Digital Forum should consider more powerful options like vBulletin.