Open Source Forum

PunBB Bulletin Board System

I guess my title is a little redundant. Isn’t saying PunBB bulletin board a lot like saying ATM machine? 🙂 Anyway, I found the PunBB software while visiting the forums of another script website I visit on occasion. I find a lot of great software this way.

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PunBB seems to have done it right for forum software. It’s not bogged down with excessive features to try and make everyone happy. Instead its focus is on the basics which has kept it a more responsive bulletin board system.

While I couldn’t find an official demo on the site, you don’t have to look any further than the PunBB site forums to get a good idea at what the default style looks like. It’s got a very clean and attractive layout that makes every newb like me start to imagine running their very own forum using PunBB right out of the box.

Just because PunBB wasn’t built with every bell and whistle imaginable does not mean you can’t add on to it or change its appearance. There’s an entire website dedicated to PunBB resources called There’s a number of mod projects and styles to browse through, although at the time of this writing the style previewer appears to be having some technical difficulties.

The PunBB site itself lists a number of extensions so I’m not sure what the difference is between those ones and the mods on the resource site. Perhaps the on site extensions are the ones officially created by PunBB and the resource site is done by PunBB enthusiasts within the community.

There’s also a link to a pretty cool PunBB skin generator that I found impressive. Having never personally used the software, I don’t know how easy it is to change the skin, but it certainly seems like this neat little tool would be a giant help in simplifying and somewhat automating the customization process.

I always like to add my own disclaimer to posts about forums because overall I’m not a big fan, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally get caught up in it all while playing with a new forum demo. I like what I’ve seen so far and if I were to take the plunge into launching a new forum, I’d be much more apt to try PunBB over the more popular (and more exploited) pbpBB software.

Phorum Bulletin Board Search Issues

A couple weeks ago I posted about Phorum which is an open source bulletin board script located here. In that post I explained my frustrations with searching, although my experience with Phorum may be skewed  by unfamiliarity since I only search the Sphider search engine forums on occasion.

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Brian Moon from Phorum was nice enough to stop by and comment and inquired about the search terms and results when I experience these problems. I had to admit I could not recollect the specifics, but it just so happens that I experienced the same issues in the last few days and decided to document it. Perhaps it’s a mistake I’m making, or a configuration by the site admins, or a problem with Phorum itself.

I figure this would be a great opportunity to gather some facts, discuss a possible issue, and hopefully figure out what’s wrong, if anything.

My problems with searching a Phorum board have all happened over at the two Sphider forums. For this experiement I will search the Sphider Mods forum.

Next I fill in the keyword phrase sponsored ads and click Search. I selected this keyword phrase for a specific reason and that’s because I already know it exists in this forum in both a post title and body. I figured this would be a good way to test the search functionality.

Here is where I get the “No Results Were Found” page, so I retry the search again twice; once with All Words selected and once with Any Words selected with Search All Forums highlighted for both. I also tried switching the date option for All Dates and got no results for that either.

I get zero results for both inquiries. Now if you follow this link, you will see that the first post in this thread contains the exact phrase I was searching in the title and in the body of the post.

Knowing that there was indeed a post titled sponsored ads, I was able to tweak my search to find it, but this shouldn’t be the norm. I searched the Sphider Mods forum for the term sponsored and it returned three results. The only result from that thread was one post near the very end of the thread that does not even include the word sponsored in the body of the post.

Something definitely seems a bit off here, doesn’t it?


If the name or the logo of bbPress seem a little too familiar, it’s probably because it’s the open source forum software from the folks over at WordPress. If you’ve ever visited the WordPress forums, you’ve already experienced what bbPress has to offer.

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of the WordPress forums because I always thought it was difficult to find answers. In defense of bbPress, it certainly could be a combination of the massive number of posts over there. With hundreds of thousands of posts, you have to really be selective with your search terms to get the results you want.

Speaking of a whole bunch of posts, the WordPress forums have well over a million of them, so I’d have to say it works pretty well under heavy use. It also integrates well with your WordPress installation with a simple bbPress integration plugin.

As far as the visual aspects of bbPress, I really like the style they have over at the bbPress forums. It’s a very basic design with not a lot of flash, but I really like that kind of simplicity. If the default doesn’t do it for you, there’s also a number of different themes available with designs that appeal to just about everyone.