So I've had my guitar website up since Halloween last year and it's been going great so far - lots of great content (all written by me) and good amount of search traffic. I'd been considering getting a forum going on it (hoping to capitalize on the decent amount of visitors I was getting) and considered using phpBB. I've used it in the past and couldn't deal with the spam bots - nor did I want to stress of installing mods/patches or whatever to avoid them. For that reason, I didn't even give phpBB a second thought - although I do have a LOT of respect for the team that works on creating and maintaining such a decent open source forum software.
Anyways, I came to the conclusion that I needed paid software that would stand up better to all the spam-my crap and probably come with better support too. Naturally, my first thought was vBulletin. Ever since 2007 when I was in grade 10 and had my first introduction to the internet webmaster...umm...environment, vBulletin was THE forum software of all the big sites. Unfortunately, when I was checking them out a few weeks ago I found lots of warnings that their quality had deteriorated and that they had changed their pricing model to something that looked nothing short of greedy Not so much because of the price itself but the way you practically have to buy a new license every year.
That's when I accidentally discovered Xenforo on DigitalPoint. I think I was looking at a thread where someone was asking what was up with vBulletin lately and another guy told him to try Xenforo. Out of pure curiosity, I looked it up and landed on Xenforo.com and took a look around. The community forums just shocked me at first! It was soooo pretty! I swear that's the only word I can use to describe my first impression. The "eye candy" alone was convincing me that this was what I needed but I still looked at some other forums that used Xenforo and just couldn't believe how intuitive and smooth it was! It actually felt like a cross between a forum and a social network (and not just because you can "Like" posts)
Anyways, fast forward to me scraping the money together and buying my license. The installation was amazingly simple - I don't even think it took five minutes and it was like two steps or something Since then, not one spam bot and the handful of users I've got so far love the forum and how smooth it is! I haven't seen a single bug or found ANYTHING to complain about - and I complain a lot about tech stuff!
In short, I'm in love with Xenforo and I totally recommend everyone considering it to buy a license! That is all!
P.S. Check out my guitar forum in my sig!