Computer/Internet Issues & TroubleshootingAnyone with questions about the terribly complex world of computers or the internet should try here. We will also try and help with troubleshooting any technical problems you may have with the forums.
thats the software used on this (and many other) forums Its free You just need to learn to use it, and then decide where to host it You'll probably find a local internet service company is going to be able to do you a deal on registering a domain, and getting a rent on a virtual server somewhere. Don't try hosting it yourself - your broadband connection won't cope
I've ran numerous forums, the software PPRuNe use is fairly pricey considering. The forum software Milo posted is fantastic, you can find plenty of skins on the internet and customise a banner (or ask somebody nicely to do it for you). It has everything you need like restricting access to certain people and you can add Google ads if you want a bit of advertising.
As for web hosting, it's fairly cheap. Some charge a quid a month, my experience is they work but it tends to be teenagers running it from their bedroom. Someone like 123-reg are great, been with them for many years. I'd say their basic hosting will be fine for you, you can always upgrade. Most web hosting will include the forum posted above in their hosting with an installer, much easier than uploading it yourself.
Choosing moderators was fine, I either chose people I knew and trusted or I kept an eye out for sensible posters. Never seemed to go wrong, especially with smaller community forums.
No idea about legality, never seemed to come up. Not sure what you could be held legal for unless you're forum broke the law or promoted law braking. You're users agree to terms and conditions, you could make a thread listing some general rules and ban members as necessary. I wouldn't worry about legality on a small forum tbh, you're fine.
If you're a novice with running forums or websites it can seem a bit tricky at first and you'll get lost in the forum's control panel a few times but it's easy when you know how. But if you struggle with anything, you will always find a tutorial on YouTube or Google.
but have no idea of the set up/running costs (if any), good templates to use, etc.
Most of the suggestions made so far are references to software that you need some IT skills to implement (e.g. database backend etc).
If you really have two left hands when it comes to IT, then you are better off finding an off-the-shelf hosted platform that you can just point your domain to. You can then leave the boring, but important stuff like backups and software updates to someone else.
I'll second phpBB software, but as said it does require a bit of 'fiddling' with databases etc - not too difficult, but maybe a Wordpress site or a simple dedicated ********* page would do and be a lot easier to set up and run?
Don't know about 500 users, but with around 100 I used just the simple blog-format (bl0gspot, started years ago). First got gmail addresses from expected participants, which was 'kinda complicated', then made a 'collective gmail' with shared password & email (and the ones who wanted to were invited as authors, and access limited to 'authors only'). People post and comment willingly. With tags and links it's easy to manage - for someone not ready to get into software intricacies .
One issue with off the shelf forum software seems to be that it is constantly getting hacked.
P p r u n e is about the only forum which I use (of several, mostly non aviation related) and which has not been hacked (recently). A lot of it is trojan infections which tend to get picked up by my AV (Kaspersky) but which are obviously infecting loads of user PCs. The forum admins are reluctant to advertise this after the fact, too.
If I was running a private forum I would have it behind a login, implemented with htaccess. A very simple solution...
As regards speed, for about 45 quid / month you can get 8M down and 800k up "business" ADSL (from e.g. ZEN) which is probably easily fast enough for a light use forum. Especially if you correctly enable server compression and browser caching of everything possible.
Mr Minderbender has nailed your biggest headache. Spammers, spammers and yet more spammers. On another forum I moderate, the spammers never let up, and often launch massive attacks one after another. China is a large source of spammers.
You need to have a registration process that weeds the spammers out, because easy registration is exactly what the spammers want. Put in a registration process that needs several fields filled out as standard format. Time-consuming registration processes slow up or deter spammers, and numerous necessary fields to be filled out, enables you to note shonky registrations quickly.
Delete spammers as fast as you can... within minutes if possible. They will try to log on right at your local bedtime, so they can get overnight exposure, before they are found and deleted by you the following morning.
Avoid automated registration, or put in place a convoluted automated registration that takes up spammers time. They love unattended websites and forums, and automated registration that gets them inside the forum within a minute or two.
Manually examine every new forum users registration if you have to, even if it takes you a week, to sort them out and allow them through. Spammers forget where they registered when they encounter delays of several days... or they forget what shonky free email address they used... so serious delays stuff them around.
Apart from that, you need to moderate the forum yourself, or have someone else moderate the forum, so abuse and uncivil behaviour doesn't proliferate. On forums, many people often show their nasty side under the cloak of anonymity, they often tend to become uncivil... and numerous users will post whilst drunk. You need to weed out the troublemakers.
Unattended forums (no moderator) are a recipe for disaster, they will deteriorate into a shambles within weeks. Good luck, and be aware there is more work in running forums, than at first appears.
I've got admin duties on a couple of forums hosted by freeforums.org . It does all that you ask (including restricted access subforums) for free. Tech support is dire, nothing is ever their fault, but significant problems are relatively rare. You can use your own domain name or save a few £$€ by tagging your label onto theirs.
Last edited by CelticRambler; 14th Feb 2012 at 12:54.