5 SMF Forums
1 Some other BB which I now forget
A number of Invision Power
Various free/web alternatives.
As well as being admin/mod on numerous others.
I recently added a Xenforo (XF) forum to my list.
Also, if this is in the wrong section, my bad. I'll also keep this short.
Forgot add this, I wasn't asked to do this. I just have been using XenForo for the last few months and realized that I love it. And as such, I'd like to share with other potential XF owners, my realizations and opinions.
And if you've seen me edit this or random changes, that would be because when it comes to grammar and spelling, I can't let it just sit there. I must fix it. Except when it comes to commas, I'm horrible with commas.
By most means, I wouldn't call myself a newb to the game. I've done a number of forum installs, and administrations/moderation jobs. Note, I will say, the majority of the forums of which I have staffed on, are smaller scale. Usually ranging from 200 users to a few thousand. I contribute to big boards, but I've got enough on my plate.
Now, that being said about the smaller boards, the majority of the ones I have run/staffed on were gaming boards, which is inherently full of trolls, small children and insanity. No offense to any of those groups, as I love you all and keep going to my boards.
The following commentary I'm going to make, is to support my statement that of all the Forum Softwares I have used to date, I've found that XenForo comes in the lead.
Now sure, there's things I miss about SMF, vBulletin, and the like. And yeah, it is a question of personal preference but I'll give my opinions and let you judge.
Ease of Use (Users):
Now, being that I host forums for gaming, which if any of you do, you know children ages 0-15 come out of the woodwork. Now, I won't make an overreaching stereotype, as I know individuals in their 50s who give me the same amount of trouble. But in any regard, there are always going to be less site/forum savvy people on the Internet and therefore, possibly in your community.
As a forum owner, I've had to teach many a person how to post in a forum, or do this button and by far, I've found XenForo allows me to carry this out easily. While there may not be too vast a disparity, XF oftens give me the luxury of simply indicating to them the general area and doesn't hide the option within an option within a menu. It also allows me things like notices for certain groups, or help options I can establish easily. And when I'm dealing with a multitude of tasks, having that done easily is paramount to me.
For users, XenForo isn't another headache or something to master, it's just a simple matter of plugging into my community.
Ease of Use (Staff):
If you were to ask my staff, you'd find they generally hold me in high regard. That being said, I absolutely hate, with a burning passion, when someone can't find a menu option that I find obvious. And in the past, I'd end up having to take a screenshot or a video to show them the option I wanted. Or sometimes I'd be the one at fault and forgot to fix their permission or etc. And during many of these occurrences, you may find that, that staff member does not hold me in that same regard, if only for a few minutes.
With XenForo, that hasn't been an issue. I haven't had to take a screenshot to teach a mod or an admin where to ban someone, how to change a mask, or etc. With the ability to test permissions, I don't forget to mask someone or correct this or that. With XF, I have the ability to do it once, and do it right. Plus, the documentation on features here, a simple search and if you had any questions, they're answered.
Now, yes, for many experienced users, this may be a non-issue. But for those new to XF or used to a certain software, it's nice to be able to just pick it up intuitively. There's no convoluted or troublesome menus, it's just the features you want. Which in the end, makes it better for my users, my staff and my vocal chords.
I'm not going to give you a breakdown of what XF has over the other guys, because you can read any website to find that out. You can read manuals, and support sites, but I will tell you this. XF provides the major features you want. If they don't have it, check the Addons. They'll have it. And in the unlikely case, they don't have it, suggest it, and if it's valid and understandable, it gets added. Now, I don't know if many of you have suggested features in the past to forum software, but many times it's like shooting yourself in the foot.
I've had to jump through hoops before, deal with developers telling me that the current way of changing 15 settings, and modifying the code manually is better than the suggestion that has 1000s of support posts, even a few from coders who say it shouldn't be difficult, because it can done now, just with modifications and amble understanding of coding a forum from scratch.
Here, I've found everything I've wanted either in XF's default abilities, or the addons. And of the few things I haven't found, sure enough, they'd be suggested and implemented shortly thereafter. I don't get a forum software so that if I want something added, I have to sit at my computer, learn their source code and then mess around with it til I find success or need to restore my forum. Here you have a community, and a responsive development team.
XenForo allows for you to be a part of its software. My members feel that XenForo allows them more integration into the board, with its features, its addons and its fluidity. My staff find that XenForo allows them to make moderation and administration an extension of their forum experience. Where they are able to see an issue or a spammer or whatever the case may be, fix it and move on, not going through hundreds of menus and options. And finally, as a forum owner, I feel integrated into both the easy administration for my board, and here, where members of the community help one another, where developers, coders and staff all give you advise, where addons are updated and discussions are lively. Just take a look around you, this forum is filled with discussion and whether you know coding or not, the discussion is happening and that means a great deal. I'm tired of the other guys where my unanswered questions sit there idly like their software.
I won't give you the "I no longer have to do anything or any work!" BS. Because no matter what route you take, you will have to do work. If you don't want to, don't host a forum. But I will say, for the work I have to do, it's smoother, faster, easier and yields nicer results on XenForo.
Thanks for Reading,
Joe / Eoj Nawoh
Also if you want to know anything about my experiences with XF vs. Any of those softwares above, I can weigh in. Although my knowledge may be fuzzy.