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What is Phorum Hosting?
Phorum is a forum and bulletin-board system. It is billed as the "original" PHP and MySQL forums script because it is one of the oldest continuously maintained PHP-based forum systems available. It is a quite popular, and is used by a number of well-respected forum administrators, including the MySQL development team and the Nginx support forum. Several major factors contribute to its popularity:
- High extensibility
- Rich feature set
- Overall speed and performance
- Clarity of code and inline documentation
Phorum is Free, Open Source software, and the ethic of "freedom" drives the development of the core codebase, which is deliberately flexible and expansible. It is built with a well-documented (in the code!) hook and module system that allows for unlimited expansion of features through plugins.
Important Phorum Core Features
- Unlimited forums
- A single install of Phorum on a single server can run a large network of independent or related forums, with Super Admin and individual admin moderation access.
- Organize forums
- Multiple forums on a single install can be organized into groups called "folders."
- Banning IPs/Names/Emails
- Forum admin can cut down on spam and remove bad actors by blocking access at multiple levels.
- Control permissions on a per-user/per-feature basis
- Create classes or tiers of user types with different display options and permissions. This feature allows for the creation of Free and Premium user subscriptions with different access rights (such as hidden content, or ad-free mode).
- Multiple languages
- Menus and UI elements can be displayed in a number of translations, which can be toggled at the user level. Forum messages can support a wide variety of language character sets.
- Duplicate Thread Prevention
- New users of a forum often don't bother to search for existing threads before asking a question. This leads to thread duplication, which negatively impacts overall forum quality. (The community pile-on of long time users insulting the newcomer doesn't help morale, either.)
- When a user creates a new thread in Phorum, it is compared to other threads to make sure it is not a duplicate.
- Email verification of new registrations
- One low-overhead, high-impact way of cutting down on spam posting is to require new users to have valid, verified email addresses. Phorum provides this functionality.
- Moderate registration
- Newly registered users can be approved automatically, or sent directly to a moderation queue.
- Moderation from message list
- Moderators can approve or disapprove of new threads from the list of messages, rather than having to open each one individually or go to a separate moderation area.
- Move threads
- Threads which are appropriate to the overall forum, but in the wrong topic or list, can be easily approved and moved to their correct location.
- Email notification
- Users can elect to receive email alerts when threads they actively participate in get new messages.
- User selectable timezone
- Admins can allow individual users to customize the timezone offset of all date/time displays.
- User selectable template
- Admins may allow users to select from a set of templates or color schemes, customizing their own experience of the forum.
- File storage area
- Files linked within messages can be uploaded directly to the forum and stored on the forum server. (This can also be disallowed.)
- Private Messages
- Users can communicate with each other directly.
Popular Phorum Modules
A number of popular forum features are not included in Phorum core, but are provided by modules that take advantage of Phorum's robust and well-documented hook system. Many of these modules are maintained by the Core development team, and the larger Phorum development community is encouraged to create their own. Some of the most widely used Phorum modules are:
- Impersonate User
- This module allows an admin or moderator to log in as a user, posting and sending messages under their name and seeing their user experience. Very helpful when dealing with user-centric issues (both technical and personal).
- BBcode Spoiler
- If you run a forum for fans of popular culture, the Spoiler module is a requirement. It allows posters to hide sections of their messages with SPOILER ALERT warnings.
- Embed Images
- This module allows users to easily embed clickable thumbnails in their messages.
- Auto Hide
- This moderation module automatically hides messages once they have been flagged or reported. The number of allowed reports before hiding is configurable.
- Topic Poll
- Allow users to create polls and surveys with this module.
- Banner Manager
- Monetize your forum, or just provide announcements, with this module that adds support of self-hosted and third-party banners.
- Search Engine Friendly URLs
- This module rewrites the URL structure of the forum to include key words from the topic and title, instead of computer-generated ID numbers. This can have a strong impact on Search Engine Optimization.
The recommended system requirements for Phorum are:
- PHP version 5.2 or greater
- MySQL 5.0.15 or greater
While the application may work with older versions of either, it is not tested for use with those older versions.
You may install Phorum on your server yourself by downloading it, unpacking the file, uploading to your server, and then handling the rest of the installation through the browser.
Some hosting providers offer Phorum as a simple one-click install from the control panel. Technical support, site backups, and transfer assistance are other helpful features offered by some web hosts.