Adding a forum to a website is a great way to build a community and encourage users to revisit your website. However, there are several difficulties new users come across in the process of creating a forum. In this book I will show you how to create a forum for your website, group or for a specific topic.
There is a confusion in terms of boards, forums and sub-forums. Each "forum" has several "forums" inside it which I will be referring to as "sub-forums" although this could also refer to the forums inside of those - which I will not be referring to at all in this tutorial.
In this tutorial the forum you register for I will call a "forum" and the forums inside it I will call "sub-forums".
This tutorial assumes that you are familiar with forums and have used them before. This tutorial is intended for people who have posted in forums in the past and want to know how they can create one.
Registering for a forumEdit
Instead of hosting the forum on your own website or even your own server, I suggest you use a free forum hosting website as this will make things easier. In this tutorial I will be using FreePHPBB3.com, but for other forum hosts, the process should be similar. To find other forum hosts, try a quick Google search. Once you are beyond Preparing to build your forum it should not matter which host you are using.
So go to the website and click the signup link at the top of the page. Then fill in the details of your forum including the name, address and category. Read through the terms of service. If you agree check "I agree with the terms of service" and then click "Create My Forum". After that wait for the confirmation email. When you get the email there should be a link you have to click to activate the forum. Click it and then move onto the next step.
Preparing to build your forumEdit
After you have clicked the link it should say your forum has been activated. Depending on the service it may ask you to click a link to "create your forum". If so, click it and then go to the address of your forum which it should provide a link to.
Next, log into your forum and if you are the only person who uses your computer check "Log me on automatically each visit.
After it redirects you back to the main page scroll down to the bottom of the page and click "Administration Control Panel". If your browser supports tabbed browsing I suggest opening the link in a new tab. You will then be asked to enter your logon details again. Do this and click "login".
You should now be redirected to the phpBB3 control panel, where most of the editing of a forum is done. At first you may be overwhelmed by the options - but you will soon get used to them. While we are creating this forum it is a good idea to disable new registration - to stop anyone finding the board, registering and posting while we are still creating it. So, on the left hand side you should see a link called "User Registration Settings" underneath "Board Configuration", click it and next to account activation click "disable". Then scroll down and click "Submit". It should tell you that the details have been updated. Click the link to go back to the previous page.
Every forum hosting service I have used has provided a "test" sub-forum when I first register. To delete this go into the "forums" tab and click the red "x" next to the sub-forums you want to delete. Click "delete sub-forums and posts" and click submit. Then click the link to go back to the previous page.
Creating a sub-forumEdit
Now we are ready to create some sub-forums to go in our forum. The first sub-forum you need is the forum rules. This is an absolute must so that users know what they are allowed to do in the forum and what is prohibited and may get them banned. So at the right hand side of the page you should see a textbox with a button next to it entitled "Create new forum". Enter "Forum Rules" and click "Create new forum".
Under forum type make sure "forum" is selected. In the description type in "Please read before posting..." and ensure the password textbox is blank. Then scroll down and click submit. But this time click "Set permission". Here we will specify who can access this sub-forum. Under "Add Groups" you will see a number of types of forum users. Select them all and click "Add permissions".
Now you need to specify the forum permissions - that is who can do certain things in a certain sub-forum. You will see that next to each type of user there is a combobox, allowing you to specify what they can do in the forum. Give administrators and global moderators full access - this means that they can do almost anything in the sub-forum (edit posts, post things, etc). In most sub-forums registered users would have standard access or standard access and polls - but this forums is the rules (something we don't want any member of the forum to be able to modify. So we will give them and guests "Read-Only Access". Lastly we will give bots "bot access" as we will give them in most of the sub-forums.
Creating the mod-only sectionEdit
Before we start adding the sub-forums that will contain the main content of the board we should add a mod-only section. This will help the mods discuss private moderation topics such as whether to ban user x.