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Battle of the Forum Software


memoryproblems

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I've often wondered how the different forum softwares stacked up as compared by usage by Cyber Nations alliances. Often we see announcements of alliances moving forums, changing softwares, etc, and there really is no unified answer of which software is generally preferred in this game. Over the past hour or so, I've taken upon myself the task to look up the forums for the top 100 alliances as sorted by score, and note the forum software they used.

There were a few issues with the top 100, including:

1) Athens forums presented a domain issue.

2) I could find no information as to the forum location of AcTi

3) World Task Force Applicant is currently ranked #97th.

To resolve these issues, I've added the forums for alliances 101-103 in this record to provide an even 100 forums as a basis of comparison. Before we begin, a few notes, I've grouped IPB v2/v3 together, v2 isn't very prevalent anymore, I don't know if any CN alliance forums actually use it, but I didn't really pay attention to distinguish between the two, and they are rather similar from my understanding. Furthermore, I found most alliance forums from the Alliance/IRC combo list as it linked alliance forums, however some I had to find other ways (through the wiki), some I remembered reading about changing and went to hunt down the new addresses. I think that the collected data is mostly correct, but mistakes or inconsistencies may exist.

Starting with forums of the top 20 we reviewed.

1) Invision Power Board v2/v3 - 8 (40%)

2) Simple Machine Forums (SMF) - 4 (20%)

3) phpBB3 - 3 (15%)

T4) Invision Power Board v1.3 - 2 (10%)

T4) vBulliten - 2 (10%)

6) myBB - 1 (5%)

The first twenty shows IPB pulling out to an early lead with 8 SMF with half as many and phpBB3 not far behind with 3

Forums 21-40

T1) Invision Power Board v2/v3 - 6 (30%)

T1) Simple Machine Forums (SMF) - 6 (30%)

3) phpBB3 - 4 (20%)

4. vBulliten - 2 (10%)

5. phpBB2 - 1 (5%)

6. ZetaBoards - 1 (5%)

IPB performs well again through the second set of 20 forums, but SMF holds on and prevents losing ground, with phpBB running in third.

Forums 41-60

T1) Invision Power Board v2/v3 - 5(25%)

T1) phpBB3 - 5(25%)

T3) Invision Power Board v1.3 - 3 (15%)

T3) Simple Machines Forum (SMF) - 3 (15%)

T3) ZetaBoards - 3 (15%)

6) ProBoards - 1 (5%)

For the third straight round of 20, IPB is at the top of the list, but phpBB ties them for this round. So far IPB has 19, SMF has 13, and phpBB3 has 12.

Forums 61-80

T1) phpBB3 - 7 (35%)

T1) Simple Machines Forum (SMF) - 7 (35%)

T3) Invision Power Board v1.3 - 2 (10%)

T3) ZetaBoards - 2 (10%)

5) Invision Power Board v2/v3 - 1 (5%)

IPB goes from being at the top of the first three rounds to being a distant 5th for the fourth set of 20, and loses ground as phpBB3 and SMF together power 70% of the forums in this group. With 20 forums left, the standings are tight, IPB and SMF tied at 20, with phpBB3 right on their tail with 19

Forums 81-100

1) Invision Power Board v1.3 - 6 (30%)

T2) phpBb3 - 4 (20%)

T2) ZetaBoards - 4 (20%)

T4) Invision Power Board v2/v3 - 2 (10%)

T4) Simple Machines Forum - 2 (10%)

T6) myBB - 1 (5%)

T6) ProBoards - 1 (5%)

The final round comes with Invision Power Board 1.3 (Invisionfree) powering 30% of the forums, but overall a very distributed round.

And that Brings us to our Final Results

1) phpBB3 - 23 (23%)

T2) Invision Power Board v2/v3 - 22 (22%)

T2) Simple Machines Forum (SMF) - 22 (22%)

4) Invision Power Board v1.3 - 13 (13%)

5) ZetaBoards - 10 (10%)

6) vBulliten - 4 (4%)

7) myBB - 3 (3%)

8) ProBoards - 2 (2%)

9) phpBB2 - 1 (1%)

And thats that, with a slight advantage over the last 20 forums, phpBB3 squeaks out a narrow victory, powering 23 forums to IPB and SMF's 22 a peice. The top three collectively power 67% of the forums for the top 100 alliances, which is no small feat. Overall, the 100 forums we surveyed covered 100 of the top 102 alliances, 9 different softwares powered the forums, and overall, commercial (paid) forum software accounted for 26% of the total, largely made up of 22 Invision Power Board forums. phpBB3 and SMF led the way in showing that in Cyber Nations, free software is certainly thriving. When I first started compiling this, I expected phpBB3 and SMF to do very well, I didn't quite expect IPB to do as well as it did, and I certainly didn't expect that the top three would be separated by just one.

For those of you interested, a spreadsheet with the details of the forums related to this report is available here: https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AvDCiRBt9GOndDA1SEczZkJ3N1hvT2NveVVUZXhBbFE&hl=en&authkey=CMWEiuoM

Depending on the feedback on this (I know, it was primarily a poor use of time), I may do another version on forums for alliances 100-200 to provide an even larger collection of data to draw conclusions from.

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I think that more places would use IP.Board (Invivsion v3) if it wasn't a forum you had to pay for. That said, a common overlook here is that Invision Power Services has hosting packages for $15 that come with the forum, and you can make a full website. (You might need to spend more if you get a lot of traffic.)

In addition: SMF also has multiple versions in use and I think it's unfair to split phpBB and not SMF. That said, IP.Board wasn't split either.

But that's my rant on how IPB should have won. Good work memoryproblems. I don't know how bored you had to be to do this but it was very intersting to see, so thank you.

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I definitely prefer IPB3, it's a lot cleaner, and I love the skins for it. I'd say vBulletin (4) should be the second best, especially for customization. Unfortunately, those are both paid forums and it's hard to get a personal copy.

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I think that more places would use IP.Board (Invivsion v3) if it wasn't a forum you had to pay for. That said, a common overlook here is that Invision Power Services has hosting packages for $15 that come with the forum, and you can make a full website. (You might need to spend more if you get a lot of traffic.)

In addition: SMF also has multiple versions in use and I think it's unfair to split phpBB and not SMF. That said, IP.Board wasn't split either.

But that's my rant on how IPB should have won. Good work memoryproblems. I don't know how bored you had to be to do this but it was very intersting to see, so thank you.

As for IPB, that is true, although think about it like this, Between the domain and the web-hosting for for my alliance, Sanitarium's hosting, it comes out to about $75 a year for what I pay. 15$ a month for a year is $180, and you really don't have the same amount of freedom as you would if you were self-hosted.

I never thought about that with SMF, there is versions 1 and 2, but SMF is in the process of changing them over, I figured that I'd lump them together for the time being, had I not, SMF would have been a distant third to phpBB3 and IPB. AS for the lack of an IPB board split, to be honest, versions 2 and 3 look very similar, and because of security reasons, most people remove version information from the footer, which makes it very difficult to tell the difference.

While phpBB2 was great, but phpBB3... is just a piece of crap.

I thought the first thing when I tried the first beta of phpBB3 some three years ago, it was so different then phpBB2, but anymore Its grown on me and I absolutely love it.

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vBulletin is one of the best forums, if you know how to set it up and maintain it. Too bad it's not free. Otherwise, a very interesting study.

vBulletin is ok if you can figure it out, but IPB is significantly easier to use and cheaper, and is also a much better (and less buggy) piece of software imo. That and you don't get screwed by license changes when you want to upgrade. ;)

@OP: IPB3 was a complete rewrite; it literally shares no code with IPB2. The differences aren't too big from the user's perspective, but for admins, webmasters, etc., it's a huge difference.

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