What is needed to start a forum site?

I’m considering creating a small web-based forum discussion site, and wonder what is needed and how to get started without having the skills of a system administrator/programmer?

I know that some sort of forum software (phpBB etc.) has to be installed on a server, and someone has to host that server. Are there hosting companies that have ready-to-use forum setups, or do you really need the admin skills to install and run all of that?

Is this expensive? Are there free (but still reliable) or low cost options available? I won’t be making a dime on this, and it’s all on my free time.

This forum runs on Discourse, which is hosted by Discourse itself for a monthly fee, or you can install it for free on your own server (I believe, although that would require some programming know-how, no doubt). Worth looking into.

Thanks for your suggestion.
It seems their cheapest option is $50/month which I think I can rule out, so I’ll see what it might cost to have it installed on a server.

What kind of programming and level of know-how is needed for installing it on a server? I’m familiar with UNIX/Linux on a user-level for doing simple things, and can follow a step-by-step guide (if there’s one). I also have some experience with programming, but again it’ll be more of following a step-by-step guide as I wouldn’t know where to start if the instructions were something like “compile and install the following file…”.
I might even know someone who already has a running server and can let me use some of its capacity for this, but I suppose this means doing it myself -so again it depends on how hard this is to achieve for a non-admin person.

I did a little web-searching for free forums and came up with ProBoards, Createaforum, Forumotion, BoardHost and CreateMyBB.
Are these worth looking into? I suppose the free deal involves ads, but are there other downsides that need put into consideration? On the upside I wouldn’t need to get into (possibly) complicated installations/administration and without the economic outlay…

Discourse is Rails based, and their Supported installation is Docker Based. So it wouldnt be so much know-how (Follow the guide…), as it is you’d need a host that will allow you to build a docker container.

To do it directly, you’d need Ruby and *Nix shell know-how.

I had a look around at some options with an eye to ease of installation, and CodoForum seemed worth a look in that regard: https://codoforum.com/documentation/installation

To start a forum without difficulty, use a hosted discussion board platform like Discourse (loose plan to be had) or Flarum (free). These cope with server stuff, letting you cognizance on your community.
For more manipulate but with some technical setup Use self-hosted software program like phpBB with a web website hosting provider of Arz, Hostingar, etc.

I’ve just checked out the Flarum forum demo and didn’t like its user-interface, and realize that I need to figure out which forum software I think will work best for my audience.

I want to rule out the ones which rely on BB-codes for adding links, text styling etc. as it’s confusing for inexperienced users. Instead go for the ones with a WYSIWYG user-interface. Some forums are also very limited with options for adding smilies and text styling.
Also, I need to have the ability insert images (both link to online images and uploads) in the message itself without too much trouble, and the ability to attach files to a posting.
Finally, the forum software should have a clean, uncomplicated, neat and tidy look, and nothing too radically different from the usual online forums. I see some forum software likes to do things their own way, with the result that you need to rethink the whole experience and you get confused about wow to post and if you’re in a sub-forum or if it’s just a complete mess with all messages spread all over the place.

I’ve tried to notice which forum software has been used in various forums I visit regularly and like, but that kind of info isn’t always displayed. I have however noticed that phpBB is a common software which is generally simple and easy to understand, but I don’t like the BB-codes when posting.

So based on the above, which software would you recommend?

To partly answer my own question:
I’ve noticed recently that a couple of forums that I participate in, and I like the look and feel of both run on XenForo.
Unfortunately it’s quite pricey (for a hobbyist user as myself), so I’ll keep searching for something similar but cheaper/free. Is there anything else with a similar user interface which I could look into?