Today is Halloween here in the United States, so I figured to celebrate the holiday, I would switch from the usual content post and instead solicit input from the WordPress Hacks readership.   I enjoy doing this from time to time to see what kind of discussion we can get going and the comment often end up offering a wealth of knowledge. 

The question for today is for our readers who either run their own forums or enjoy visiting and commenting on forums.   Which forum software do you prefer?  Do you prefer PHPBB forums or VBulletin forums?  

I’ve always loved forums because an active forum allows you to interact with a large number of people and get help quicker than commenting on a post or even doing a Google search (sometimes).  I actually have experience being an administrator and a user of both forum types.    Here is my experience with both types:

PHPBB Forums


  • FREE. 
  • Easy to setup.
  • Easy for just about anyone to use. 


  • Options are limited.
  • Not very SEO friendly (as of version 3.0).

VBulletin Forums

VBulletin Pros

  • Generally better looking.
  • More features. 
  • Plugins/Addons available.
  • More SEO friendly than PHPBB

VBulletin Cons

  • Costs $100-$180.00 per license. 
  • Constant Maintenance/Updates required.
  • Targeted by Spammers.

Both forum types have skins available for free and for sale, so I didn’t mention that above.  It is also important to mention that you can easily convert your PHPBB forum into a VBulletin forum (I’ve read this, haven’t personally tried it).

In summary, as a user, I’ve always felt that to be considered a serious forum, you need to be using VBulletin.  It just looks more professional, has more options, etc.   From an administrator’s standpoint, however, I’ve enjoyed running PHPBB forums more.   VBulletin forums seem to attract a ton of spammy posts and sometimes moderating posts and banning users can be overwhelming (in my experience) and I feel like I have to update the software every few weeks.  It also seems to almost have to many options! 

So that is my experience with both PHPBB and VBulletin.   I would love to hear about your experiences and preferences between the two.  Have any pros or cons to add to the list?  You can write from the perspective of running either type of forum or from the user perspective (reading/posting) on either type of forum.  If you haven’t used either, you are welcome to share your experiences with BBPress.

Kyle Eslick is WordPress enthusiast who took his passion for WordPress to the next level in 2007 by launching as a place to share hacks, tutorials, etc. Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleEslick!

  1. EmmaB says:

    I like phpBB because it is free and there are mods to make it SEO friendly. But I personally prefer myBB because it is free and very similar to vBulletin.

  2. Garrison says:


    I prefer Vanilla.

    Have a play around with it at:

    Tons of great add-ons (plugins), lively community and some great has been produced using this forum script.

    To see it in action:

  3. One Stop Game News says:

    I myself enjoy VBulletin. I have been using it for 2+ years so I know how to work with it. I tried dabbing into PHPBB but I realized why when I can use VB. Sad I know.

  4. Jeffro2pt0 says:

    Although Vbulletins price tag is becoming more and more of a turnoff for me, I still love the way it uses Ajax where I can pretty much do forum administration without actually going into the admin panel to do it. Plus, it has quick reply and most of the features I need out of the box.

  5. anak medan says:

    its depends on your pocket…the both of software is good for me…

    Not very SEO friendly (as of version 3.0).

    there are PHPBB seo for knwo… and yeah, i thing its simmilar that vbulletin without vbseo is still the same…

    Targeted by Spammers.

    I thing its depends how you can manage them.. I have blacklisted email + ip adress that have using by spammer.

    thats all… and honestly… Vbulletin is strong … But phpbb can do the same thing to you… 😉


  6. Goob says:

    Invision Power Board all the way for me 😀

  7. Monika says:

    many years ago I had my first *website* a star trek forum –
    with one of the first vbulletin..

    the star trek forum is down but vbulletin is “my” software 😉

  8. Henry H. says:

    Same as Goob, I prefer Invision Power Board. If your aren’t aware of it, you can test the demo of both of them. Because of that I was sold when I used SMF. I have also used a bit phpbb3 but Invision Power Board is the best choice for me.

  9. MRQ. says:

    Agree with Henry & Goob – IPB is one of the easiest to use and IPB3 is shaping up to give Vb a run for it’s money at last!!

  10. Wayne Luke says:

    First off, I want to say that I work for Jelsoft and have done so for the last 8 years. So I should be considered biased.

    However I want to point out that newer versions of vBulletin can tie into the Akismet and Typepad Anti-spam systems in order to control this on the forums. Akisment is standard in 3.7.0 and higher while Typepad was added in 3.8.0 (in beta now).

  11. Jeffro2pt0 says:

    Now that is a cool feature for Vbulletin to have. Fighting forum spam with Akismet.

  12. I run the phpBB board on our website, mainly because it comes included in our hosting plans, however I have to admit sometimes it’s a little difficult to work with when it comes to add ons.

    I don’t have much experience with vB but it does seem to look a little cleaner and easier to work with from what I’ve noticed.

    The nice thing about phpBB is there are legions of people out there improving it with add-ons like they do with WordPress plugins.

    I like Vanilla also.

    @ Goob or Henry H. – could you provide an example or two of a Invision Power Board. I’m not too familiar with that one. Thanks.

  13. Ewen says:

    What about Simple Machine SMF –

  14. Singapore Property says:

    I previously used phpbb, then recently converted to vbulletin. What I’d say is :
    1. I lost lots and i means lots of indexed pages
    2. Gotta love the admin feature in vbulletin. I’ve been looking for phpbb plugin for mass-delete from search result without any decent solution. In vbulletin it’s enabled by default.

    Singapore Property Classifieds

  15. francerays says:

    I was thinking about purchasing Fap Turbo. Has anyone used it or heard anything about it? Sounds to good to be true. I found this following review site about it as well
    Thanks for stopping by.

  16. Apple App Tips says:

    I think Vbulletien is far better. It has really cool template now.

  17. Daya says:

    I like vbulletin…..its coding is complex but many options we can get from the admin panel……..

  18. Nick says:

    I like vbulletin too.

  19. Jack says:

    I set my site with phpBB and switched to vbulletin as it looked more polished & professional.. I find though that i prefaired phpBB.Given the choice again i would have stayed with phpBB.

    VB is bloated and slow,

  20. ID Safairis says:

    Prefer vBulletin. Many options, better seo, many themes to choose from, easier to config and many other things. Prove, used by some great forums like DigitalPoint forum.

  21. rumah jogja says:

    I prefer vbulletin, if we want serious forum

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