[su_label type="success"]Bump[\/su_label]A key feature that is slowly disappearing nowadays is having a forum for your community given the community is big enough to support it. In this article\/guide (it\u2019s a mix I guess) I will explain the importance of having a forum for your community and which one might be suited for you and your community along with mandatory plugins.\nWhy should I have a forum?\nThe forum functions as a vital organ for your community. It will be the main hub for when you, your staff team and the players are not playing on the server. Outside of the your game\/voice server(s), the forum is a place for bonding with your community. It\u2019s the platform where you post (in-depth) announcements, receive feedback from the community, handle reports, open staff applications, organise events and of course discuss whatever you want to discuss.\nThe great thing about having the forum, is that you got all the information in one place. Besides that, it\u2019s a great tool for getting to know your community.\nDid I also mention having a forum is great for when you are bored at work\/school?\nBut we already have a Discord!\nDiscord is great (despite not having a stereo codec like Teamspeak), and it\u2019s (almost) a must-have nowadays due to the voice and chat combo. Depending on the size of your community, a forum might not be viable yet. If you have a small group then just stick to your Discord for now since that is more convenient in your situation. If your community is growing or already have a fair chunk of a player base it might be wise to switch to your own forums. Don\u2019t worry, your Discord will be fine!\nTo increase the use of your forums I would suggest limiting the chat channels on your Discord to just announcements. This way your users are kinda forced to use your forums. Keep in mind that the voice channels remain unchanged.\nOne of the strengths of Discord is that it\u2019s easy to sign up and join servers. This also needs to apply to your forums. Nowadays users don\u2019t want to go through a whole registration form with unreadable Captcha\u2019s and fields that have to be filled in bla bla bla. We will discuss this later on in the required plugins\nWhich forum platform should I use?\nOn to the more technical stuff (not really). I will divide the platforms in two sections, one being free and the other being payed. I will not go in-depth with all the platforms, but will be giving (my personal) pros and cons, no more than 2 for each.\nFor the record: These recommendations are based on my own experience. If your favorite platform isn\u2019t listed feel free to let us know in the comments why you think it should be included on the list\nFree\n\n\n\n\n\u2714 Lots of plugins and themes\n\u2716 Needs plugins to be modern\n\n\n\u2714 Advanced permission system\n\u2716 Permission system can be overwhelming\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\u2714 Active community\n\u2716 Needs anti spam plug-in\n\n\n\u2714 Portal option (transform your forum into a website)\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\u2714 Lots of plug-ins and themes\n\u2716 Feels outdated\n\n\n\u2714 Logical admin panel\n\u2716 Needs customizing\n\n\n\n\nBe sure to keep an eye on this one since it might be the next big (free) thing. Currently, it is only available for servers with access to the console, so I recommend to wait for the next update where they will include an installer.\nPaid\n\n\n\n\n\u2714 Robust and stable\n\u2716 Relies on 3rd party plug-ins to stand out\n\n\n\u2714 Lots of add-ons available aimed at gaming communities\n\u2716 Overhyped\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\u2714 Robust and stable\n\u2716 High price\n\n\n\u2714 Secure and fast\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\u2714 Free core (cms)\n\u2716 Not a lot of themes available\n\n\n\u2714 Stable and secure\n\u2716 Installing takes (too) long\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\u2714 Lots of built in features\n\u2716 High price\n\n\n\u2714 Stable & Lightweight\n\u2716 Rely on (premium) add-ons\n\n\n\nRecommended plug-ins\/settings\nThe most important thing is that the users have the best experience when using your forum. This means easy and fast registration, slow loading times, ability to style their posts, quick posts, logical arrangement, post prefixes and a spam free board (bots).\nHere are some plugin (categories) you have to take a look at to provide a quick and efficient navigation experience for you and your users:\nOAuth\nThis lets your users register\/login via Steam, Discord or Social media platforms. With just 1 click they can register themselves. Besides that if you decide to go with a \u201cSteam only\u201d registration policy, this will also get you their steam IDs which might come in handy with automated donation systems or scoreboards.\nPost prefixes\nSome platforms have this as a default features like IP board and Flarum. Having prefixes in your posts is a great way to navigate and keeps your style intact (as long as you don\u2019t add random images). A must in my opinion.\nHave a sidebar\nBy having a sidebar you make your forums way more organised and make it easier for users to see the latest posts\/topics.\nBoard announcements\nAlmost all platforms come with some kind of announcement system. Make sure you reserve a spot on a visible location (mostly on top) and style it the same as the board.\nForm templates\nForm templates come in really handy when it comes to ban\/unban requests and staff applications.\nStyle\/Template\nFirst of all, use a style that matches your community. Secondly, don\u2019t use a template that\u2019s too dark. Don\u2019t be afraid to use an existing template and modify it a bit to your liking. It\u2019s better to use one that\u2019s working then a ugly template sticked together with ducktape.