Host a good looking, highly interactive ad–free forum with Invision Power. Their forum product, IP.Board effortlessly glides into our top spot.
Invision Power (IP) can host any kind of forum. IP.Board can be hosted on your site or on their servers and can be displayed in a variety of formats, including threaded, non threaded, semi–threaded or in a simplified version for portables.
Hosted boards on Invision Power’s servers are low priced and ad free. We feel that IP has created a product that is suitable for business applications, yet economical enough for anyone. IP has included excellent forum protection features to keep your message board spam free and member information safe.
IP offers numerous hosting choices. You can host your message board on your own site with their software or choose IP hosting that comes with a software license. Their standard software license is $149.95, which requires PHP 4.3+, PHP 5.0+, MySQL 4.0+ or MySQL 5.0+. Or, Invision Power offers hosting for as low as $10 per month and includes an IP.Board license. All forums are ad free.
In terms of presentation you can choose threaded, semi–threaded and non–threaded types, or a “lo–fi” option (a simplified version), which is suitable for portable devices like cell phones and PDAs.
Invision Power offers other web services also, such as gallery, blog and download managers and website hosting, from simple hosting to dedicated server hosting.
IP.Board has a clean looking, highly functional text editor. Posters can switch between editor types and can easily access BBCode if needed. The editor can create unique posts with a variety of fonts, font sizes and font colors. Members can also include smilies, images, links and email links. Paragraph and quote blocks can be formatted and you can easily expand the text box.
This service offers networking type tools including profiles, buddy lists, private messaging, private emailing and images. You can search for members by name, gender and member rating or you can just display those that include a photograph. The member lists display name, image, star rating, join date, links to profiles, posts and views.
IP.Board has a really great editor, except they do not have a spell checker. So, if you are prone to typos you have to compose your post in a word processor and transfer the correctly spelled version to the forum. We hope that their future version will include a spell checker.
This forum program has every administration tool we were looking for, from registration requirements, to post content control and tag support. Registration settings can be configured to require potential members to register and provide a valid email address, or it can be set to administrator-approved members only.
Administrators have full control over content. They can edit and delete posts, lock threads, start new topics and apply language filters. Plus, managing members is easy. Members can be grouped and ranked as well as compiled into email lists for bulk emails. This program also includes an attractive and functional calendar for posting single events, ranged events and reoccurring events.
For SEO purposes, this program supports content syndication and meta tag support and provides visitor stats.
Forums can be password protected and administrators can ban IP addresses and email accounts, but we did not see a user name ban, except in private messaging. To keep posts under control and of good quality it has powerful spam fighting elements, so your forums will not get loaded down with spam posts, which will happen without good spam blockers. It can also watch for excessive, invalid login attempts, which is another tool for preventing spam posts, spam flooding and email grabs.
You can contact Invision Power by telephone or email. In our experiences they answered our emails right away, through our corporate email as well as a private hotmail account. They also host an active user forum and a client area. The forum program itself includes searchable help topics for members.
We were really impressed with IP.Board. After looking through numerous forums and message boards it was exciting to see a well–designed, clean interface and spam free forum.