If you do a search on this forum you should be able to find a fairly comprehensive discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of having your own forum.
Learner wrote:...you can outsource the control of your forum by using moderators. Does this give problems (for example: are they doing their job, what do they want back in return ?)?
I hire a part-time moderator and pay him an hourly rate. You can also use volunteers and "pay" them by giving them free publicity on the forum. I imagine it would be very difficult to find someone as dedicated as Wally. He's usually here 7 days a week, and if spammers are active he checks the board several times a day.
For a really busy forum, you might want three moderators, living in different parts of the world and splitting the 24 hours into three 8-hour blocks.
I've been really fortunate. Some truly wonderful people keep turning up and answering questions and helping people here. I hope you're as lucky as I've been.
A question to Allan: you have chosen phpbb.com for your forum software. I assume this was the best package you have found. What are the advantages/disadvantages?
I'm no expert on forum software. Since 1998, I've used only three systems. You can probably find more experienced people to ask.
We originally started with very simple software set up by my web host. A hacker got in and froze it, with links to "adult" stuff displayed.
We switched to Discus software, which was OK but fairly limited.
When I decided to upgrade, I hired a programmer to investigate the various options and phpbb was his choice. He found it fairly easy to install. I find it easy to use.
From a moderator's point of view, I have no idea how it compares with other forum software.
It's free, and I'm a little nervous about using free software because I wonder how long the support will be in existence.
I like the way the software automatically notifies people when someone makes a post on a thread they're watching, but I think most forum software probably does that these days.
A programmer has done a few modifications for me - a mod-rewrite to help Google index the pages (very successful), and just a few days ago he simplified the page titles for me, again with search engines in mind.
A problem with doing modifications is that you have to re-do them if you upgrade to a newer version of the software, and new versions come out fairly frequently.
I hope that helps more than it confuses.