After doing a bunch of research on different types of discussion boards, I went ahead and decided to try out PunBB. It got good reviews as a small and easy-to-manage bulletin board system. I thought it would be a real challenge, but actually it wasn’t bad. Even the installation was fairly simple. The file itself was under 300k. I had to create a MySQL database at my host first, and I wasn’t sure what to use as the database server hostname (I left it as “localhost” and it seemed to work). It went surprisingly smoothly and I had a discussion group before long.
Also, in the control panel for the website I set up a subdomain so that visitors can go to:
Right now it is very plain. And I don’t think it has a lot of options. One thing I wanted to do was to approve members manually so that I don’t get interlopers or robots visiting. It seems the only thing I can do is require a confirmation e-mail. That should help anyway.
I got kind of mad at first because I told it not to show my e-mail address in my posts, and when I went to look, there it was plain as day. But it turns out I could see it because I was a moderator. When I logged out and viewed it as a guest, I could not see the e-mail address.
I wrote this up for ASO’s website in case someone else wanted to set up a PunBB there:
First you need a MySQL database. This is very easy. You go to cPanel:Databases:MySQL Database Wizard and create a database with whatever name you want. It will put your domain in front of the name (e.g. “punforum” will become “mydomain_punforum”). You will get a username which will also have your domain in front. It can be like mydomain_admin if you want. Write down the names and passwords. That is all the MySQL you have to worry about.
I used SmartFTP to do most of the FTP work like creating folders, changing CHMOD properties, and moving files. I created a folder in public_html called forums.
If you want to have your forum’s web address something like forums.mydomain.com then you will want to go to cPanel:Domains:Subdomains and create a subdomain “forums” that will point to the “forums” folder.
Now you can download the software. Go to http://PunBB.org and download the latest software in .gz format to your PC. I used SmartFTP to upload this file to the “forums” folder. Then I used cPanel:Files:File Manager to extract the archive which it puts in a folder by the same name. (If you have some other way of moving files and extracting an archive, have at it). Back in SmartFTP I moved the contents of that new folder up to “forums” and then moved everything in “upload” to forums as well. Now the archive folder and upload folder should be empty and can be deleted. You can delete the .gz file too if you want.
Now you can follow the installation directions for punBB. In your browser go to your site: http://www.yourdomain.com/forums/install.php (or http://forums.yourdomain.com/install.php if you used a subdomain) and enter the name of your MySQL database and password along with other information you are asked for. The database server can be left as “localhost”. It will give you some text that you have to paste into an empty text file, save as filename config.php, and upload to your forums folder. Make sure the CHMOD permissions for config.php are set as 644 so nobody can read the file (this is the default for SmartFTP).
Once you’ve done that you can visit your new forums website at http://www.yourdomain.com/forums or http://forums.yourdomain.com, log in as the administrator and start changing options by clicking on Administration.
One setting I changed right away was to hide e-mail addresses. But when I tested it out, I could see e-mail addresses on my test posts. This is because moderators and administrators always see the e-mail address. Visitors and regular members will not be able to see it.
Another key change is to change the sign-up type to require confirmation by e-mail which may reduce spam posting and ensures people are using a valid e-mail address.