Starting a New Forum Website

TheFoxRocks

New member
Hey guys and gals,

I was hoping this community could help me. I have been reading on here a little to try and figure things out and understand that some things have recently changed with the XenForo platform if I understand correctly. I am nearly new to website design and the only way I can accomplish it is with software that helps you do so. I took some Dreamweaver and it is just not something I wanted to invest a lot of time learning. That brings me to my first question.

If it helps I would love my website to be similar to www.lawnsite.com for reference.

1.) If I reserve my own website with a domain provider can I simply implement the XenForo software/client over my website or do I need to lease my website at XenForo? I have no clue how this works.

2.) I am making this community because I and others see a need for it. However, with time I hope that I will be able to generate ad revenue and I heard that using XenForo has big advantages in this category. Is this true?

3.) I guess my final question is whether or not this is something that one person with limited knowledge will be able to figure out? Like most websites I plan to appoint moderators and such to help out but I guess a lot of the work will come from me using the software.

4.) Also I would like to know about cost, I did a little research and saw the plans seem to start at $60.00 a month. I saw there is also free software available as well. So could I start out with the free software and achieve what I want and if I begin to get more traffic or expand will I be able to easily transition?

You guys do not need to answer every question. It would be great if you knew something about a particular topic and shed some light on it for me. I appreciate any aid in advance.
 

Telesphoreo

New member
You can either do self hosted or use XenForo Cloud. XenForo Cloud is $60/mo and takes care of everything for you. You can also buy a license for $160 and host it yourself using your own server. That would entail installing Linux (most companies do this part), setting up a database, and configuring a webserver. That will likely be the hardest part. You would need to buy a domain and also a server (could be VPS or dedicated). There are plenty of tutorials you can follow, but you'll need to be familiar with how to use a command line interface. You could have someone else do that for you though if you have those resources. "Limited knowledge" is vague, I don't know your technical skill so I can't assess that. Appointing moderators and configuring permissions is not challenging.
 

Dragonfruit

Well-known member
1. You just buy the software, renewing after the year is over is optional. But when you do renew, you'll get access to the latest updates.
2. That's entirely on you and how you use the website. Ad traffic, link monetization, or using XF as a commerce platform is all possible. But it's not like magic, you have to put in the work to get people there, to use your site and services. If you can't retain people, then you probably won't make much or anything at all.
3. It's a learning experience, I think it's possible if you're open to it. The cost of a XF license IMO is worth the learning experience.
4. $60 a month is the cloud hosted plan. That's probably your best way to go anyway, rather than buying the license for $160+ if you're not sure how to install the XF software with a web host.

Lawnsite, is a Vertical Scope site, they have thousands of XF forums that look like that. I'd suggest either creating your own look, or browsing what's available on the Styles resources: https://xenforo.com/community/resources/categories/styles-2-x.45/

You'll find way better styles available.
 

TheFoxRocks

New member
You can either do self hosted or use XenForo Cloud. XenForo Cloud is $60/mo and takes care of everything for you. You can also buy a license for $160 and host it yourself using your own server. That would entail installing Linux (most companies do this part), setting up a database, and configuring a webserver. That will likely be the hardest part. You would need to buy a domain and also a server (could be VPS or dedicated). There are plenty of tutorials you can follow, but you'll need to be familiar with how to use a command line interface. You could have someone else do that for you though if you have those resources. "Limited knowledge" is vague, I don't know your technical skill so I can't assess that. Appointing moderators and configuring permissions is not challenging.

I am on the Information Systems Security side of things so I can figure some things out. I just remember when I was interested in learning about Dreamweaver I was immediately turned off because of how complex it looked up front. I had a computer with some version of Linux (Mint?) on it and just recently got rid of it because the hardware was too old to even run that efficiently.

So if I am hosting the webserver myself, traffic would be based off my internet correct? I have Gig Internet (1,200 mbps) would hosting a online community bog that down quickly? I apologize if I am asking questions that are hard to answer or are asked every day on here lol. I know how frustrating that can be sometimes.
 

TheFoxRocks

New member
1. You just buy the software, renewing after the year is over is optional. But when you do renew, you'll get access to the latest updates.
2. That's entirely on you and how you use the website. Ad traffic, link monetization, or using XF as a commerce platform is all possible. But it's not like magic, you have to put in the work to get people there, to use your site and services. If you can't retain people, then you probably won't make much or anything at all.
3. It's a learning experience, I think it's possible if you're open to it. The cost of a XF license IMO is worth the learning experience.
4. $60 a month is the cloud hosted plan. That's probably your best way to go anyway, rather than buying the license for $160+ if you're not sure how to install the XF software with a web host.

Lawnsite, is a Vertical Scope site, they have thousands of XF forums that look like that. I'd suggest either creating your own look, or browsing what's available on the Styles resources: https://xenforo.com/community/resources/categories/styles-2-x.45/

You'll find way better styles available.
Thank you for the detailed reply. It is obvious that I need to begin doing more research.
 

Telesphoreo

New member
Personally, I wouldn't host it off of your own internet. It could pose a potential security risk and if someone were to DoS/DDoS your site, your internet would be affected. Although, yes, a gigabit internet connection is plenty to host a XenForo site. You would also have to check with your ISP to make sure you can portforward. You'd likely need to port forward ports 80 and 443. 80 so you can get an SSL certificate from Let's Encrypt. It is better to buy a server from a company instead of hosting it from your house. If you buy a server, it is not based off of your internet connection at all.
 

TheFoxRocks

New member
Personally, I wouldn't host it off of your own internet. It could pose a potential security risk and if someone were to DoS/DDoS your site, your internet would be affected. Although, yes, a gigabit internet connection is plenty to host a XenForo site. You would also have to check with your ISP to make sure you can portforward. You'd likely need to port forward ports 80 and 443. 80 so you can get an SSL certificate from Let's Encrypt. It is better to buy a server from a company instead of hosting it from your house. If you buy a server, it is not based off of your internet connection at all.

Yes, I know a little bit about this lol. This is a question I should know but is it possible to find a tool kit or something compatible with a home webserver to protect against such attacks? So when I start a webserver can you just use a specific flavor of Linux as a webserver?
 

TheFoxRocks

New member
No, you would purchase hosting from somewhere like Hostgator, Dreamhost, etc.

Hey I have seen you around. I honestly did start reading other forums around here before starting my own account and thread.


Thanks for the response. So you are saying that if I had my own webserver I would still need to purchase a hosting service for it from a domain provider like you mentioned? Sorry I have done some of this stuff before but never hosted my own website.
 

Dragonfruit

Well-known member
Personally, I wouldn't host it off of your own internet. It could pose a potential security risk and if someone were to DoS/DDoS your site, your internet would be affected. Although, yes, a gigabit internet connection is plenty to host a XenForo site. You would also have to check with your ISP to make sure you can portforward. You'd likely need to port forward ports 80 and 443. 80 so you can get an SSL certificate from Let's Encrypt. It is better to buy a server from a company instead of hosting it from your house. If you buy a server, it is not based off of your internet connection at all.

The other thing is reliability. How often is ISP outages or power outages? Either one could take down your website. It's better to properly pay for something cloud hosted that is 100% online all the time.

Constant site disruptions will frustrate users.
 
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TheFoxRocks

New member
The other thing is reliability. How often is ISP outages or power outages? Either one could take down your website. It's better to be properly pay for something cloud hosted that is 100% online all the time.

Constant site disruptions will frustrate users.

Yeah and I am guessing this is something I could transition to in the future if I wanted and maybe even find someone or a service to offer redundancy if my web server went offline. So we live out in the 'boonies" as people like to say and we did have regular power outages and isp problems but it is much better now. We did loose internet for an hour or two recently when one of the hurricanes came through. Thanks for the recommendation!

So can I begin making a forum website for free using whatever software I select or do I need to pay for it upfront before starting my community?

Also as I said I firmly believe there is a need for a community that I am interested in creating but is there a way to get the word out? I am guessing if there is any place to ask about it, it would be here. I have been reading and found that some websites especially forum websites die fast because you never get the community to being posting or do not get enough users so they just post somewhere else.
 

Telesphoreo

New member
Yes, I know a little bit about this lol. This is a question I should know but is it possible to find a tool kit or something compatible with a home webserver to protect against such attacks? So when I start a webserver can you just use a specific flavor of Linux as a webserver?
I host XenForo for myself and the software I use is Ubuntu for my OS, Caddy for my webserver, and MariaDB for the database. You can host a webserver off of your own internet but I'd still recommend buying a server and hosting it there. As someone said above, a webserver is more reliable. You could use a free software and transfer it to XenForo later down the road. XenForo is an upfront cost and a yearly renewal fee. You'd still need a reliable computer on your home network to host it. You can get a VPS pretty cheap and I'd recommend doing so for the added benefit of reliability.
 

M@rc

Well-known member
So can I begin making a forum website for free using whatever software I select or do I need to pay for it upfront before starting my community?
You have to pay $160 for a license to download the xenForo software.

Then you have to pay for a domain name and web hosting.

You can start off with a free forum software (eg. phpBB, etc) and later import into xenForo after buying a license, but I wouldn't recommend it.
 

Dragonfruit

Well-known member
I host XenForo for myself and the software I use is Ubuntu for my OS, Caddy for my webserver, and MariaDB for the database. You can host a webserver off of your own internet but I'd still recommend buying a server and hosting it there. As someone said above, a webserver is more reliable. You could use a free software and transfer it to XenForo later down the road. XenForo is an upfront cost and a yearly renewal fee. You'd still need a reliable computer on your home network to host it. You can get a VPS pretty cheap and I'd recommend doing so for the added benefit of reliability.

Additionally depending on the ISP, hosting your own website might be a TOS violation under a residential service plan rather than a business plan.

So when you factor the possible cost of a business plan which usually includes pricing for a static IP rather than a Dynamic one, on top of the lack of redundancy and self maintenance required for the hardware, IMO, it's not worth it.
 

TheFoxRocks

New member
You have to pay $160 for a license to download the xenForo software.

Then you have to pay for a domain name and web hosting.

You can start off with a free forum software (eg. phpBB, etc) and later import into xenForo after buying a license, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Okay so this was a big concern for me. Because my major concern is if I get the website where I want it with a free software and then transition it to XenForo will it need heavy modification that I could have avoided if I would have just started with XenForo in the first place?
 

M@rc

Well-known member
Okay so this was a big concern for me. Because my major concern is if I get the website where I want it with a free software and then transition it to XenForo will it need heavy modification that I could have avoided if I would have just started with XenForo in the first place?
You'd lose all of the modifications you made/installed in phpBB and your members will have to adjust to something "different" (xenForo) later.

So IMO, it's best to start with xenForo if you're confident your idea will thrive.
 

Dragonfruit

Well-known member
Okay so this was a big concern for me. Because my major concern is if I get the website where I want it with a free software and then transition it to XenForo will it need heavy modification that I could have avoided if I would have just started with XenForo in the first place?

This really depends, so if you build a forum style on another platform, that is not portable. It might be to an extent so you can re-use the graphics, but you would still have to re-create the style on XenForo.

Any features/addons you use on another platform like phpBB cannot be ported over. You can search the XenForo resource to find suitable replacements, but that's essentially it.

When I transitioned from vBulletin to XenForo, I manually re-created new styles based off XenForo. Found as many replacement addons as possible, and accepted we'd lose some vBulletin functions like the Social Groups, which pretty no one used anymore anyway.

Only the data will be natively ported in: user accounts, posts, private messages, etc.
 

TheFoxRocks

New member
So I do not know if anyone on here knows anything about ads but I think a conservative estimate that I would like to have as far as users go is about 10,000. This is a very niche thing and we are spread across websites, Facebook pages, etc. So it is hard to guesstimate how many I am going to have off start of after a year. Since it is so niche I also think that I am going to be able to target advertisers that want to get the word out to my specific community.
 

Dragonfruit

Well-known member
So I do not know if anyone on here knows anything about ads but I think a conservative estimate that I would like to have as far as users go is about 10,000. This is a very niche thing and we are spread across websites, Facebook pages, etc. So it is hard to guesstimate how many I am going to have off start of after a year. Since it is so niche I also think that I am going to be able to target advertisers that want to get the word out to my specific community.

Yes, because it depends on your ad service. Adsense has bidding for the advertisers, so they'll choose whether or not to bid to place ads on your site. Additionally what you're not accounting for is ad block. Many people use them. Of the 10,000 users, how many of those are using ad block? You just don't know.

And of course, you don't know how many of those 10,000 users will actually click the ads either. FYI, you cannot promote/ask users to click ads. That will get you banned from the ad platforms.
 

TheFoxRocks

New member
You'd lose all of the modifications you made/installed in phpBB and your members will have to adjust to something "different" (xenForo) later.

So IMO, it's best to start with xenForo if you're confident your idea will thrive.

I am fairly confident that if I make a good first impression with the website it will thrive. Like I was mentioning in my previous post that you probably did not see yet. We are a large growing number of people (equipment owners without saying much more) that have no real home so to say.
 
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