I've Been M.I.A. Since 2006. What's Changed in the Community Forum Industry?

Hi all. I joined SitePoint back in 2000 or so and sold a busy vBulletin forum to a company in 2005. For the next few years I eased out of the website development industry. A decade later, I’m looking for a hobby and have thought about possibly beginning website development again—but after being M.I.A. for so long, I am sure I am very out of the loop on how things work now.

Are there any of you who worked with the big community forums back in the day (vBulletin 3/4) who might be interested in getting me up to speed, here, with a summary of how the industry has changed? If I understand correctly, vBulletin took years to come out with vBulletin 5, and it wasn’t very good. I believe the software is no longer as dominant as it once was, and forum software in general is giving way to social networks. Does this sound about right? What’s the new trend in community websites?

Thank you! Very much appreciated.

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Well a few weeks ago SitePoint abandoned vBulletin completely and switched to Discourse which provides a completely different interface and completely different ways for the community to interract.

That would be me. :smile:
You’re correct re vB. v5 was released early last year and IMO it is an absolute mess. Buggy, cumbersome and hard to negotiate. I run another forum on a cloud hosted vB platform and it’s the bane of my life.

You’ll see that we made the call to migrate from vB recently (you can read my reasoning behind the move here).

As far as other platforms go, Muut (nee Moot) gets mentioned but has some pretty major limitations when it comes to moderation. Vanilla is becoming a key player (I looked at it, but I have questions as to how well it scales) and then there’s Xenforo which is the big brother of vB. Lithium is also an option if you’re made of money.

Thanks. What happened with IPB and PhpBB?

They still very much exist but I’m not sure how popular they are for large upcoming boards. I have no experience with them first hand.