Online Forum Platforms

What online forum platforms are available for researchers?

There are a wide range of available online forum platforms. Several popular options are listed below.

When evaluating online forum platforms, it is important to consider if there are any restrictions that prevent you from hosting data on external cloud-based services. If in doubt, please check with the Research Office (Ethics).

Free hosted online forum platforms

The following is a selection of popular online forum platforms that are hosted for you. This option makes it easier to set up your online forum but may restrict your options should you wish to change platform in the future.


ZetaBoards offers free forum hosting and focuses on making it easy for users to set up and customise their forums.

Go to ZetaBoards website

Free online forum platforms

The following is a selection of popular free online forum platforms. Some of these solutions may also offer more advanced features via a paid subscription.


phpBB is one of the most widely-used free bulletin board software solutions and has an extensive database of community modifications.

Go to phpBB website


MyBB is a powerful and intuitive forum software that supports a large number of community extensions and plug-ins.

Go to MyBB website


PunBB is a lightweight discussion board that is designed to be faster, smaller and less graphically intensive than its competitors, at the expense of having fewer features.

Go to PunBB website

Simple Machines

Simple Machines Forum is a powerful forum software that offers professional-grade features.

Go to Simple Machines website

Premium online forum platforms

The following online forum platforms require a paid subscription, but generally provide more advanced features than their free counterparts.

Invision Power Board

Invision Power Board (IP.Board) is a commercial forum platform that supports a large number of plug-ins.

Go to IP.Board website


XenForo is a commercial forum platform that focuses on providing an intuitive experience for its users.

Go to XenForo website