New Webmasters Guide to Hosting Bloggers and Bulletin Boards.

New Webmasters Guide to Hosting Bloggers and Bulletin Boards.

I came across an interesting thread on WebmasterWorld on Bloggers and Bulletin Board. It got me thinking about the use of weblog publishing tools (bloggers) vis-à-vis bulletin board (BB) software too. How are they different and which is better? And what do you need to host sites that need/want them?

But before all that, what exactly are they anyway?

Webopedia defines bulletin board systems as electronic message centers. Most serve specific interest groups and allow you to dial in with a modem, review messages left by others, and leave your own message if you want.

BBS are often free, although some charge a membership or use fee, and have its own culture and jargon. Many Internet access providers have BBS from which new Internet users can download the necessary software to get connected.1

These hosting forum threads offer ideas on the most popular BB software available:

WebHostingTalk – Best Free Bulletin Board Software?

WebmasterWorld – Putting a FREE forum on my site

These include (latest versions):

phpBB 2.0.8

vBulletin 3.0

Invision Power Board 1.3.1

Yet another Bulletin Board (YaBB) SP 1.3.1

Simple Machines SMF 1.0 offers some additional resources if you want to run BBs on your sites:

Free Bulletin Board/Forum/Message Board/BBS PHP Scripts

Free Perl Message Boards (Forums, Bulletin Boards, Discussion Boards) CGI Scripts

Free BBS or Forum (Message Boards, Bulletin Boards) Remote Hosting

Blogs, short form for weblogs, on the other hand, are frequently updated personal journals intended for general public consumption and generally represent the personality of the author or the Web site and its purpose. Blogger is the term used to refer to the blog’s author.2

There are a number of software packages for publishing blogs, and blog hosting sites and Web services such as Pitas, Blogger, LiveJournal and Xanga, provide editing via the Web. More advanced bloggers however prefer to generate their blogs using server-side software tools to publish on their own Web site or a third party site, or to host a group of blogs for a company or school.3

The WebHostingTalk forum thread blogs offer some software suggestions, the latest versions of which are listed:

Movable Type 2.661
pMachine Pro
Coranto 1.22
Greymatter 1.2
These software packages can be classified into two into two types according to John Hiler in his article The Microcontent News Blogging Software Roundup (Part One of the Weblog Industry Report).

Weblog Publishing software lets users generate and publish static webpages that aren’t personalized for each user and is a cheap way to serve a lot of pages. (ex. Blogger and Movable Type)
Weblog Community software automatically generates personalized dynamic webpages on the fly, and works better for community features like comments and moderation. (ex. pMachine, and LiveJournal).
Although Movable Type is one the most popular, a WebHostingTalk thread offers some insights as to Why some hosts don’t support Movable Type? Which blogging software do hosts prefer?

frequent updates and different authors cause server drain

it is easy to exploit and mass flood which could kill both script & server

possibility of comment spammage

So, which do you use?

According to the thread I cited originally, a blogger is best if you just want readers to view your messages, although blogging tools also have comment systems (which some suggest can be misused by reviewers) and have the ability to generate newsfeed (rss.xml or rdf.xml). They’re organized around a calendar and previous posts are archived. BBs, on the other hand, are best if you want some interactivity on your site as readers can also post content. Unlike blogs though, BBs allow you to determine whether visitors can post or not.

For the most part, I think preferring one over the other comes down to personalities.

Blogs are more like diaries and thus better for individualists. Love of writing and personal dedication to continuously come up with new content is needed to make a successful blog.

Running a BB on the other hand is like watching over a family. In order for it to succeed, you need to encourage member participation but you also need to have strong moderation in order to keep bad posters out and reward thoughtful contributors. You also need, among other things, to delegate responsibility.

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