For awhile it seemed like vBulletin was the forum of choice for site owners looking to implement a community bulletin board system. For the longest time I saw forums running this software everywhere. Even my brother chose vBulletin for his website despite my best efforts to persuade him in giving open source a try first. He had his mind made up on vBulletin, so this is where I got to get my hands wet with the software. I’ve never owned it myself, but whenever he had a question, I got to log in and poke around, so I became somewhat familiar with the ins and outs of the back end.
I had used phpBB at this point, so I did have something to compare it to, and I don’t think it was that much better to warrant paying nearly two hundred dollars for a forum, but my disinterest in forums might be making me a bit cheap about it. I do remember finding features that made me think this was like a premium version of phpBB, so it’s definitely not inferior by any means. It’s probably as good as a forum can get at the moment, but there are just so many other options for building communities that it’s hard to justify spending the money when you can get a similar alternative for free.
The folks at vBulletin must realize this because they now have a Publishing Suite for sale for a few bucks more, but it has the forum included with the addition of blog and article publishing as well. This covers more options and I believe it was a very smart move of them. Having a forum as a stand alone site might work at times, but you’re allowing your visitors to leave when they seek more in depth information on the same subject being discussed in your forums. By having articles and blogs with a community of users, you can keep those visitors right there on your site clicking pages and earning you additional revenue.
Whether you’re thinking of starting a forum or an entire community, vBulletin may be an option to consider depending on your budget. I do have to admit that the list of features is quite immense, so it’s certainly worth checking out. The forum is definitely tops as far as being built out. I will say that despite my indifference to forum software, if I desperately wanted to start a forum and spending money on a license was not an issue, vBulletin is definitely the one I would choose.