Opinions on phpBB vs. vBulletin

I’ve been working on a project where we implemented vBulletin a while back for the development forums, and are now getting ready to look at our external forums for the live site. I have issues with vBulletin which are largely cosmetic and aesthetic in nature, although I recognize a common feeling in the community that vBulletin may be the most secure of all the platforms out there.

phpBB seems to be the next-best solution, and given how popular it is I assume that the difference in security can’t be all that significant. The biggest complaint I think I’ve heard about phpBB is the fact that it is non-commercial and therefore support can be sketchier. Are there any forums admins on this board, or anyone who is familiar with the two platforms, who can advise? I still really, really like the look and feel of phpBB over vB and even after working with it for six months vBulletin “feels” very wooden to me.


To start over today with QT3, I would go with vbulletin and we might even migrate at some point. The problem originally was as we moved QT3 off discus (which was horrible flat files), vbulletin had a real performance issue with their then current version. So we went with phpBB.

Both have about the same number of must fix issues each year, the difference is in their approach. phpBB has fixed things that break things, don’t work with AOL etc, and then said it was the parties fault, whereas vbulletin understands it needs to adapt and tends not to break everything with every update.

They are close to equal in customizing and adding features.

Vbulletin does have a more robust backend for admins, but normally on QT3 we don’t need or use those functions. A favorite is the lost posting feature (it lets idiots post away and the posts appear to them, but to no one else, I liked this so much i used it in my own forum software).


Err, what would the point of that feature be? Is that like a stealth ban or to fool people into thinking threads aren’t locked?

I hope someone will ask chet what the point of feature would be, cause it sounds interesting.

I hope someone will ask chet what the point of feature would be, cause it sounds interesting.[/quote]

That does it man, I’m going to write a firefox phpbb killfile plugin just so I can filter you out! ;-)

If you have someone who continually keeps signing up with fake accounts to spam, only creating new accounts when they get banned - you can just switch it to this so the posts are seen by them, they continue and do not keep creating new accounts.

I hope someone will ask chet what the point of feature would be, cause it sounds interesting.[/quote]

Best post ever.

You have to pay for vBulletin. Yearly. That’s not necessarily bad, but you should know.

Helpful replies, thanks guys.

Any recommendations for making vBulletin look and feel more like phpBB? As a user, the phpBB experience is soooo much smoother for me.

You don’t have to pay yearly for VB, you can just outright purchase it.

I am sure if you poke around the vb forums you can find a skin for phpbb look.


From http://www.vbulletin.com/order/:
“The first step in the order process is to select the type of license(s) you wish to purchase. We currently offer two types of license: leased and owned. The leased license will allow you to run the software on your server for one year, and then you will need to purchase another license. The owned license will allow you to run the software on your server for an unlimited amount of time and allows access to all new versions for one year. After the year, you can purchase a renewal of this access.”

You have yearly subscriptions like a magazine. When you “lease” you get an annual subscription and have to throw away all your magazines at the end of the year. When you “own”, you can keep the old magazines as long as you want, but you don’t get new ones unless you pay again.

Since the OP expressed concern about the support for phpBB, I’d say bringing this issue of paying for yearly support in vBulletin is important enough. He would pay yearly for vBulletin.

I prefer phpBB because it has a very large community of users & developers who can provide support, it has a less restrictive license (GPL).

Also, with phpBB you can get “pre-modded” versions of the board (I’ve also seen a couple mods that include pre-modified files) which appear to be prohibited by the IPB license.

If you’re looking for an easy installation, might I point out that surpass also has a phpBB installer in cPanel.
Demo : free forums

Apropos of nothing!

Where is the lost post feature in the admin CP?

My wife and I each ran a moderately successful forums awhile back (different sites, yes we’re both nerds) and both used phpbb. Things were fine for awhile, then the hacking started. Seemed like there was a period where the script kids said “hey let’s screw over as may phpbb installs as we can!”. They even hacked into the main phpbb site/forum as I recall. Things got a bit better after a patch or two, but it sort of put me off phpbb though.

At this point my recommendation is always about budget. ie -
If you have one, get vBulletin.
If you don’t then go with phpbb.

EDIT: Another less well known option is Vanilla.

Yeah, our new friend appears to be a habitual (if not professional) VM’er of phpBB.

Yep, he goes in and necros ancient posts. Good catch.

That’s a pretty decent VM bot. It actually resurrected the right thread.

Aye, that was quite good. If it wasn’t such an old thread, and his first post, it would fit in.

It’s under the user banning options. It’s called Tachy Goes to Coventry.

Thanks! I always wondered what that meant :)