Any advice for starting a brand new private forum and keeping it private?

I just recently discovered XF and decided to use it to for our brand new private membership forum that consists in about 600 members. I will not be importing anything from a previous forum.

Before I go through the whole install and setup process, I was just wondering if anyone has advice for starting a new private forum?

Is it possible to create an XF forum that is completely private, where the only thing a guest (non-member) can see is a login screen? Where the categories and posts are completely hidden?

I was also wondering if I could do one of the following:
a) Completely turn off the registration process and import a user membership list of usernames/passwords/emails? Maybe a CSV file import or something like that?
b) Send out invitations and have only the invitees be allowed to register.

Basically I want a closed-garden approach where only members can register and view the forum. Any advice or pointers?


XenForo moderator
Staff member
You can set all permissions for the guest usergroup to "Default" and they won't have access to anything.

You can also enable manual approval for registrations so you can control who can sign up.
Thanks Brogan. I figured there would be a way for me to have manual approvals, but what I want to avoid is having to review and delete a ton of random (non-member) registrations. I'd rather just import my userlist or restrict it to invitees. Does that make sense? Is anything like that possible?


XenForo moderator
Staff member
There isn't really an easy way to do that, although I suspect if you have them in a vBulletin database you could just import users.
I think that would work but I haven't tried it.

You could do it via SQL but you'd have to write the queries - not a major task but it would take some time to create them.
Using Excel and the concatenate function is what I do when I need to create queries from a list of data.

The other way of course is to enter them all manually...
I may just let my members know to register as quickly as possible so I can get them into the forum.

Is there a way to completely turn off registration after, say, two weeks, and then switch to a process to manually add new members as they join?

Sorry for all the basic questions, I'm just trying to get a feeling for how I'm going to integrate XF into the normal workflow of the group and what communication will be required. Thanks for being so helpful. I'm so impressed with XF, both the program and the support!


XenForo moderator
Staff member
Registration can be disabled completely, yes.
It will need to be enabled to manually approve new registrations though, or you can create new members directly in the ACP.