Forums have been one of the cornerstones of the web from the beginning, tracing their roots back to the original Usenet bulletin boards. They were among the earliest ways that web communities came together, but many assume that the web has moved on. The rise of social media has dominated how people talk about the Internet. But forums remain popular, especially as a way to bring together and manage a specific community. In certain subject-areas, forums remain the predominant way for communities to interact.
But that does not change the fact that forum users have become used to the features of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Many of the functions that make a social network work can be accomplished on a forum as well, but in a more engaging environment. This includes messaging, topics and sub-topics, ways for users to connect with one another, and the ability to easily search through and discover new topics. These features can be obtained by using phpBB to set up a forum. Many very large forums use phpBB and millions of users flock to forums running on it.
Forums still have growth potential, particularly within focused communities. This is illustrated by the fact that Steam, one of the top 100 most visited websites, still uses a forum-like structure for its networking functions. In just a few steps, your website or community can also have a fully-functional forum. Using the tools provided by your host, you can set up phpBB through a straightforward process.
1. Have a Web Host that Uses cPanel
It should not be difficult to find a web host that uses cPanel, as many of the most popular hosts use it. cPanel makes setting up a phpBB forum fairly painless. Without cPanel, you would have to make sure that the web host supported PHP and then compile phpBB files using MySQL and upload the files manually. This requires more technical knowledge that a good web host with the right tools can simplify.
To get started, navigate to the cPanel login for your domain and enter the username and password that the host provided to you at signup.
2. Find the Automated Installer
Among the top menu groups, find a group called “Software/Services”. This should be quite far down among all the other options available. Upon finding the group, look within it for an automated installer that will configure and properly place phpBB on the desired page. Both Quickinstall and Fantastico De Luxe should be available options in this group. Either will work and should require the same information. Regardless, pick one installer and continue to the next step.
3. Locate phpBB
After clicking an automated installer icon, find phpBB. It should be located under a section called “Forum Software.” After finding phpBB, click through continue and the prompts until you get to a query asking what subdirectory to install the forum to.
4. Fill in the Subdirectory and Information
The subdirectory determines what part of the website phpBB should be installed on. If left blank, this will install phpBB to the root directory and display it on the main domain page of the website. By placing it in a subdirectory like www.examplewebsite.com/forum, phpBB will install there and the forum would display when accessing that page. Make sure you have already created the subdirectory that you want to install phpBB in, which should be a simple process that can be done with the basic hosting tools.
Once you have chosen the subdirectory, the form will ask for some more information, including an e-mail address. Make sure to use an actual valid e-mail that you will remember to check, or else you risk losing some forum functionality.
5. Set Up phpBB Forum
The process should yield a login URL that contains the administrative tools for the forum, along with an administrative username and password. Make sure to record these so as to not lose control of the forum later.
If you visit the forum right away, do not be alarmed if you initially see a “page not found” error across the website if you have just set it up or switched hosting services. It takes time to every global DNS server to pick up on the domain change. Some users gain access faster depending on their location and what DNS server they are closest to. If everything does not work within 48 hours, then you know that something has actually gone wrong.
Once you go to the login URL provided, login with the administrative username and password. You can also go to the main page for the forum and login there. Once you do so, “Administration Control Panel” should appear near the bottom right. This panel allows the tweaking of the forum itself, with many customisation options available. Set up the forum according to your preferences and the needs of your new community.
With a phpBB forum set up, you have a great way to grow and maintain a dedicated community. The controls available mean that you can gear how the forum works toward the needs of your specific users. In the modern Internet, nothing has yet beat the community-building ability of a forum. It focuses on serving an involved community, and not just having a large audience that cannot be called to anything. The forum remains a vital part of how Internet users interact with one another, and now your website can be a part of this ecosystem as well.