List of Free and Paid Forum Hosting Solutions

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Shriker, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. Shriker

    Shriker Shadowlack Owner RPGfix Admin Patron Game Owner

  2. Thief

    Thief Newcomer

    I know Jcink is really popular right now and I think it's for good reason. Before I went to self hosting I used Jcink and was reasonably happy, it was actually pretty easy to learn how to skin, I taught myself and there are a lot of resources and mods out there for it.
  3. SG2Tiger

    SG2Tiger Newcomer

    My community has just moved to Jcink, and though it's a little more on the complex side at a glance, it's extremely customizable and you can tweak it to fit most needs - as Thief said, there's a good reason it's currently very popular. I've also found that the staff on the support forums are extremely attentive and have responded quickly to any questions I've had, which is always a plus.

    However, before moving to Jcink, we had been on Zetaboards since 2008, and I'd recommend that as well. Out of the box there are tons of excellent premade skins across the various resource boards, a lot of great third-party codes and scripts for extending functionality, etc. The ACP is also much more user-friendly than Jcink. The tradeoff for the ease of use, however, is that it's not quite as customizable as Jcink, but if you're not asking for much the 'vanilla' service is easily one of the best free forum hosts out there. The community is also really great with a lot of friendly staff, coders, and graphics types spread across the popular resource boards.

    So it really depends on what you're looking for. If you want to be able to tweak every little thing to your liking and don't mind spending a lot of time fiddling around with codes, skins, and tons of options in the ACP, Jcink is probably the best. But if you just want something simple, functional and attractive but still expandable with lots of great skins and codes then its hard to go wrong with Zetaboards. I was actually rather sad leaving ZB behind to move to Jcink, but we felt that our community needed a fresh start after almost 7 years on ZB. I did grow fond of the service in my long time there, but it's time to move onward and upward, and I'm finding Jcink to be a great expereince as well.
  4. VirusZero

    VirusZero Resident Game Owner

    I haven't seen any Yuku boards advertised in a while, to the point I wasn't even sure if Yuku was even around anymore.

    Though for free hosts, Jcink Forum Hosting (JFH) is probably the best option.

    I mean it has all the features of InvisionFree (being based on the same original code) and can take all the same skins. But it has far more options and features that come standard. (Like an integrated/functional search aspect. Or a shop system. Or a sub-account system.) Plus it's one of the few free hosts (possibly the only) that actually lets you download a copy of your forum's database at any time for free. (A fact which is great if you ever intend to go self-hosted. Or even if you just want extra safety/security by having a couple backups handy before you make any large changes.)

    IcyBoards (IB) is another good host. They're based off MyBB and offer quite a number of plugins to install. (Like a shop mod.) I don't recall if they have a sub-account system or not (for some reason I thought there was an error in it that rendered it unsafe to use. But Spork may have patched that... So I'm not sure.) An interesting aspect with IB is that you get access to the templates and can really customize things up drastically for your site if you know what you're doing.
    Just watch out for the fact that leaving will cost you at least 10$ to get the database... (Though it gives you a MyBB 1.6 based database which can easily be slid into your own server if you know what you're doing so you can run your own self-hosted MyBB without losing any data.)

    Zetaboards is ok, but it offers nothing that JFH/IB doesn't offer for the same cost. And if you intend to move off then you'll have to abandon your work since there's not easy/legitimate way to get a copy of your database.

    As an aside, both JFH and IB have functions to easily add skins. (If memory serves they both have one click skin importers to easily load skins from their own selection. Plus the option to upload .xml files containing skin data to quickly/easily install it.)
    I know there are many skin designers on various resource sites that offer their skins as an easy install .xml file.
    Xexes255 likes this.
  5. I tried Zetaboards for two years and hated every second of it. I made it work because I didn't want to move my own RPG, but I think we suffered from it too. Skinning is not easy I found, even with the inspect element of FF. Using tables just... sucked. It was hard to get things to act the way you wanted it to, even with adding in additional classes and examining the DOM. It's not highly customizable compared to Jcink.

    I also did not have a very impressed outlook of the staff. The ticketing system I thought was very cool, but other than that, the staff really presses you to deal with your own issues unless it's out of control. They were always vague with me and I ended up losing my patience with the vague-replying staff and moved my game. If memory serves me right, there's a version of the shopping system... but it wasn't really worth it to me (unless they've improved it since). My community really stuck with me on Zetaboard and I thank them, but I always had a complaint once a week about the inflexibility of Zetaboards. >_<!

    Now this is my personal experience, but I believe Zetaboards would be great for a company forum, not a role playing forum. To me it caters more to the former rather than the latter.
  6. LithiYum

    LithiYum Newcomer

    Proboards always seems to be the way to go, I've found.
  7. Witcher

    Witcher Newcomer

    You can also get a free hosting account and install your own forum there to get more control, been on a few sites that did that. Not sure who their host was though, I'll try to check next time I go on there.
  8. Xexes255

    Xexes255 Newcomer Game Owner

    There is no such thing as a good free hosting account. Don't bother. You get stuck with ads, horrific support, terrible website speeds, idiotic restrictions, and so many website down-ages that you might be better trying to host it yourself on your Amiga machine. There is such a thing as getting piggy-back hosted for free from someone with an existing hosting account.

    There are so many softwares that it's hard to enumerate them all:

    Wetpaint - a wiki software that caters to chat roleplays and seem to niched in the very very young

    Webs - famous for its customizability that is niche-grounded in the extremes of unintuitive and nearly unusable websites. Their gimmick is not really have an "account" to deal with.

    Weebly - fast and free website builder - it's for websites - that doesn't want roleplayers using it

    Yuku - EzBoard reincarnation that died a long time ago but still has some straggler forums on it that just can't ever do well

    Forumotion - Infamous for people using its design generator to make eye-gouging "skins". It actually has some really nice features. Famous for its advertising frustration of no links allowed (an ACP setting often missed).

    Proboards - Has a few domain names now but it's known best for its fast and easy ability to get a forum going. Its account switcher is actually pretty nice, but everything else gamification is clunky. Proboards also has a design generator with the effect. There is somewhat of a software prejudice against Proboards and some people won't join because they feel it is for young people only. They are content nazis and will delete your board at the slightest mention of PG-13. They have a broad prefab skinbase to choose from at resource sites.

    InvisionFree - Horrible support but it has some skins to chose from at resource sites. People use it because... well because they've used it before.

    JCInk - The most awesome support ever, perhaps second largest skinbase at resource sites to choose from, awesome gamification features and account switcher and widely used and loved. This man and his service cannot get enough love. JCInk is based on the same software InvisonFree uses but has stunning improvements. They in beta with their premium service for sites that need less restrictive content ratings.

    IcyBoards - A MyBB software host with very good support.

    PhpBB - there are many PHPBB hosters out there but they're all little known and little used.

    SMF - same

    Xenforo - a pricey software that must be self-hosted

    InvisionPowerBoard 3.X - same


    I think I've covered almost everything.
  9. Will wlaker

    Will wlaker Newcomer Game Owner

    I've been with Bluehost for years and I love how easy they make everything.
  10. RachD
    Caffeine Fix

    RachD Resident Game Owner

    More recently - we've shifted from our Yahoo Groups forum (they don't care about the groups portion anymore and do nothing for helping with issues) to because it's free and is set up so much like a normal "Groups" format that I've been used to for years. The pictures do count against a specific limitation of space, so we're looking into integration of another site so that we can still have our picture albums but not take up too much space.