“ Internet's premier forum provider, hosting over 20 million members at 3 million forums! You can go ahead and create your own forum for free, or if you need help with your existing forum head on over to our support forum. „
Proboards is one of the biggest websites in the world owned by Patrick Clinger. Since it's fist day in business, it's gone on to host over 3 millions forums. Proboards is a message board service that allows people to create their own forums and make online communities. These forums can be about any topic you like ranging from The Beatles to cookery tips. Of course like every site, Proboards has it's own terms and conditions and they can be quite strict if you disobey their rules, and up until 2010 boards could be created in any language the potential admin wishes it to be.
You have to be 13 and over to use the service, weather you are a moderator or just a member and adult content is forbidden. I've been a member of a couple of proboard forums and was a moderator for five of these boards. A lot of them now are either dead or been deleted. One of the reasons they were deleted was because of adult discussions and there were members under 13 joining. Not all of them though. Some of the admins decided to delete the forums because they didn't have the time to run it and because they felt the forum wasn't needed anymore.
I am however a moderator for an active proboards forum called Advancers. We're lucky to have an active forum because having a forum on proboards can be very competitive so it's important that the forum you make has faithful members and has something that other forums don't. I'm lucky to be a part of the community and most of the staff there already knew each other through other forums and on fanfiction.net and then we decided to make our own forum.
Advancers started about June 2012, but I'm proud to have seen the forum grow into a really successful forum with lots of active posters. We often host contests, stories and talk about our daily lives there. As knowing what it's like to be on both sides of the forum world, I can say in my experience that Proboards is very easy to use.
It is very easy to customize pretty much everything in the forums. Including controling who you want to view certain boards such as password protected boards and boards that only members and staff can see. On the forum I'm a moderator on, there are a lot of password protected boards and some forums are only visible to users to encourage more members.
One of the big advantages Proboards has is advertisements. You do have to pay to stop advertisements on your page, but I think Proboards makes a lot of profit on this because there's millions of boards and there's bound to be some people who paid to block ads. These ads can be distracting and in my experience they often have nothing to do with the theme of the forum. However ad block for your browser usually fixes this problem for free.
My overall view on Proboards is that it is good for both beginners and experts and very user friendly. If you wanted to make a forum, then I would say this is a good site to start with. There is also a good support forum out there where you can get help with your forum.
Blogs are great when you want to communicate with like-minded individuals, but forums are even better. When you're tired of blogs where your conversation will get pushed farther down when the blogposter posts another topic, or chat rooms where none of the conversation is saved once you log out, forums are the best alternative.
First someone starts a 'topic', and this can be about anything at all. Everyone can reply to the topic, and every response is added beneath the topic starter's original post. Depending on the settings the forum administrator has chosen, you may be able to edit what you have posted for another month or for as long as the forum exists. Some websites allow you to delete what you have posted, but the time allowed to do this also varies depending on the administrator- the person who started the forum. Editing and deleting on Proboards can be done as long as the forum exists, but every forum has its own rules, so always be careful what you post.
If you want to see how different each proboard can look, just type proboards into google and see what comes up. Every forum has the same foundation, but the possibilities are seemingly endless. The only limit is you. You can change the colours, background behind the forum, font, banner, etc.
When you first open your forum it will be very bare- a blue and white scheme, no banners, plain black font and one area to post in. No need to worry, though, because the proboards forum has support for all its users. Visit proboards' official website and you'll find topics on problems others have had to solve. Feel free to join and post your difficulty if someone else hasn't already.
Besides technical problems and advice, there is a section dedicated to customising your forum. You can add many different features to make your forum work for you, for example, a banner at the top of the screen to welcome new users, automatic private messages sent to new users, a mass mailing function, and much more. If Proboards' official website doesn't satisfy your needs, many, MANY other forums and websites supply the codes for the job you need done.
The administrator has access to the administrator's panel. Everything is well set out and clear to find. The main sections are:
1. Boards (Create, Modify, Delete, etc)
2. Categories (Within the boards)
3. Customise (Avatars, Headers and Footers, Skins, etc)
4. Manage Members
5. Manage Posts
There are other sections which let your delete the entire forum, get rid of adverts displayed and more.
You don't get something for nothing, and that rings true here. Every forum displays a horizontal banner and a thin strip of Google ads. You can move the banner to the top or bottom of the forum, but are forbidden from removing it. Adverts support the company, which is why they can afford to provide the forums for free. If you want to benefit from adverts displayed on your website, you'll need to use a different forum provider.
To be honest, the adverts are not intrusive, and I forgot they are there. I only spotted the Google ads at the bottom of the screen when I looked at my forum while writing this review, so those are not 'in your face' obvious. Many websites who offer free websites without displaying adverts on your webpages go bust, taking your information with it, so adverts may be a good thing.
If you want the adverts gone, you must pay Proboards $7.00/£3.50 for every 50,000 views per month. Unused views DO NOT roll over, and if your popular forum goes beyond 50, 000 that month, you'll need to pay Proboards again.
A quick search on the internet brings up MANY different forum software and people saying other software is better than proboards. I have tried Invisionfree, and the control panel was a nightmare for me to handle, so I would not recommend it. If you intend to have the forum for many years to come, and eventually make money for its upkeep, which may lead to a nice income for you if it's very popular, I would not use a free forum like this. Having your own domain name and host means that you'll have your own rules, so you will not have to worry about the company going bust and taking years of conversations with it. Proboards would be a good start, possibly just for practising whether this is what you really want to do, but I would not start a long-term project on this. A hobby, yes, but something to make money, no.
At first operating a forum is a daunting prospect, but once you attract regular posters and get good support from return visitors, things will run more smoothly. Please remember that starting the forum is the easiest part- getting people to join and contribute is another matter altogether. Remember to link to other forums, blogs and websites to increase your exposure, and keep your forum full of content because empty forums are always off-putting to newcomers.
Proboards in an online service that offers anybody free forums, either to be hosted on their own or as part of your website. Proboards claim to be hosting over twenty million members at three million forums. Proboards have their own login system to go with the forums too and everything is hosted on their server on your behalf. However, they do place advertising on your forums to pay for them.
The home page is simple, clean and welcoming and contains a basic menu on the left, and four boxes in the centre of the screen each with a different category. All together the home page shows a welcome section, the latest news, featured boards/forums and quick stats including the number of boards hosted, number of registered users and the number of threads and posts made.
Registration is a simple and easy process, you can have your forums up and running literally within a couple of minutes. Once registered you have access to a control panel with an extremely wide range of functions. From here you can set the disussion titles and leave a description or guidelines for users to follow.
Security is also easily configurable from the control panel with just about every facility you could ever think of needing. This includes the ability to ban users, moderate offensive content like swearing, allow administrators to edit posts and close threads, add administrative users and much more.
Proboards is an excellent, effective, reliable and free way for anyone to get their own forum online and up and running within a matter of minutes and can run it exactly the way they want. Unfortunately, if your forum becomes popular you won't be able to make any money directly from it as you are not allowed your own advertising but it's free, easy and fun and can come in very useful, especially for those who don't have the technical know-how.