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FREE MESSAGE BOARD ALTERNATIVES!

Fed up with remotely hosted message boards? Good!
 
 

THE PERILS OF USING FREE REMOTELY HOSTED MESSAGE BOARDS
One of the greatest freebies for webmasters on a budget are free remotely hosted message boards. With very little programming and hassle, you can have a live board running up on your site in minutes. You just sign up with a service, create a user name, and voila-- you're good to go!

However, remotely hosted message boards come with a price: for one, because you're using a service, you will most likely have to put up with lousy pop up ads and obtrusive ads asking your visitors to check out the latest online casino. Two, with rare exception, it is very hard to get a message board to blend in with the design, look, and feel of your site. Three, most free message boards are-- well, to put it indelicately- fugly. They're not cool looking or professional. Worse yet, they don't offer a lot of options, like allowing visitors to have their own avatars, for example.

So is getting a free cool, professional, and customizable message board on your site a hopeless cause? No, not unless you're the unadventurous type. But if you are the adventurous type-- and wouldn't mind getting your hands dirty in a little programming-- then there's an alternative worth considering:

INSTALLING YOUR OWN BOARD
Luckily, some very kind companies and people have created free user-installation message boards that you can upload to your own server. That's right-- you can actually have your very own, professional-looking message board on your very own server without the hassle of pop up ads or lack of designing and administrative options.

But as with any sweet deal like this there, of course, catches. They are not major, but they are worth considering before you jump in there and decide to install your own board. 
 

  1. First, depending on the type of script that runs the message board, your web host must have certain capabilities enabled-- for example, Php or Cgi. If you would like to upload Phpbb-- a popular board, for example-- it won't work if your web host doesn't have php. 

  2.  
  3. Secondly, if you are not at all comfortable with tinkering with code, FTP'ing, and the more developmental part of web building, setting up a message board might be a daunting task. The process is not difficult in itself; but might be a little intimidating to newbies who can't tell their cgi from their php.
CHECK THIS OPTION OUT, NEVERTHELESS
Luckily, this making the jump into user-installation is worth more than its weight in gold. For one, you will learn a tad bit more about programming, and you can never know too much in terms of web design. (In fact, installing boards might even whet your appetite into expanding your webmastering skills). But secondly, with a message board installed on your server, you get more control and don't have to worry about visitors being chased away by the latest Gator pop up. 

So, are you ready to go? If so, below is a list of sites offering free boards and web hosts that will support them.
 
 
CURRENT FREE MESSAGE BOARDS

Phpbb
Currently the most popular user-installation message board on the net. Comes complete with hefty documentation and support. It's a large install, though, so if you're a bit intimidated, you may want to try a simpler board.

Invision
A latest entry into free fully customizable php-driven message boards which might give Phpbb a run for the money.
 
 
RELATED RESOURCES

Hotscripts
By visiting this directory, you can find a plethora of free cgi/ php-driven message boards to install on your server.
 
 
FREE HOSTS SUPPORTING PHP/ CGI

Tripod
One of the web's oldest free web hosts. Offers cgi, along with 25 MB of storage and limited bandwith.

TripodUK
Tripod's European sister site, and one of the few free web hosts offering 50MB of storage and unlimited bandwidth. Offers php and mySQL.
 

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