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Project Beehive Forum is an Open Source forum application that provides a unique frame-based user interface and a number of other interesting features that make it an excellent option for running an online discussion forum.
An online forum is a application that allows users to interact with each other by posting public messages which other forum members can reply to. They are have been an important part of internet culture since the beginning of the web, and continue to be an influential part of the online world even though many other alternative community platforms, such as social media sites, have developed.
Benefits of Running an Online Forum
Online forums are almost always topic-specific, and successful forum develop a dedicated community of participants (posters) who write about many topics related to the overarching theme of the forum.
This has several potential benefits:
SEO Strength of Forums
There are a large number of factors that go into Search Engine Optimization, but the number one priority it generating content. The best content for SEO is natural-language, topic-specific, and authoritative. These things naturally happen when people converse on forums.
Rather than having to research and prioritize keywords, and then generate (or pay for) content, hosting a well-trafficked forum guarantees a steady stream of new, on-topic content. A wide range of relevant keywords are constantly used, in completely natural ways. People tend to ask questions ("How do I...?" "What is the best way to...?") in ways that mirror the way they use search engines, creating a close match between on-page content and potential relevant search terms. The dynamics of unfolding conversations means that each individual piece of content (at a specific URL) is constantly being updated.
Most forums, if they achieve any amount of success, develop a core group of high-level contributors. These people tend to be thought-leaders within the community and are very loyal. Because they tend to see the success of the forum itself as an extension of their own success, they will help promote the forum and maintain its integrity and quality — often without even being asked to do so.
Popular forums become central hubs for the larger community involved with whatever the topic of the forum is. For example, a forum dedicated to Coin Collecting or Church Music, will have an impact on the larger communities involved in those activities, even though only a fraction of the larger community will ever become forum members. This is because it is precisely the most influential members of the larger community, and those wishing to become influential, who will participate in online forums.
There is no shortage of good, free, open source forum software available, so why choose Beehive?
The developers of Beehive began as avid forum users. When the proprietary system they had been using (Delphi) changed its practices, they launched the Beehive project. The Beehive development team runs their own forum on the platform, and so they are intimately familiar with the needs and issues of forum software. This has resulted in Beehive being a somewhat unique system with features that are uncommon in other forum systems.
Beehive Forum Features
Beehive has the typical features you would expect from any fully-matured forum software. This includes multiple posting methods, topic subscription, marking topics as high interest, email notifications for replies and followed posts, private messaging, file attachments, advanced search, guest accounts, displayable public stats, the ability to ignore topics, and multiple sub-forums
The software also has a number features to enhance accessibility, such as frame-based layout, multiple display options, dyslexia support, and internationalization/localization.
A number of features are unique to Project Beehive. These include robust HTML-based posting, advanced word-filtering (including Perl-based Regular Expressions), user polling (with anonymous voting and public ballots), lite mode (for PDAs and mobile devices), and a link library.
There are also several unique aspects of the User Profile, including the ability to add an arbitrary number of admin-customizable fields, and an opt-in public birthday list. Along with the user profile system are several features related to how members relate and interact. Among these are user-options to ignore other users' posts or just their signatures, friends networks, friend-based thread listing views, and the ability to completely ignore user
The makers of Project Beehive use the software for their own forum administration, so they have put a lot of effort into their admin features. Highlights include: a tool that automatically finds possible sock-puppet accounts or user aliases, the ability to ban users by login or IP address, a way to delete all posts from a user, sticky threads, a style creator, flexible user permissions and custom user types, category-level settings and permissions, admin activity logs, and gzip encoding for saving bandwidth.
Beehive can be run on almost any web hosting platform, as long as it meets the following basic requirements:
- PHP 5.3.0 or above
- MySQL 5.1.41 or above
- PCRE 6.6 compiled with — enable-utf8 —enable-unicode-properties
Some web hosting providers have a one-click installation wizard for Beehive Forum via the Softaculous installer.