Best way to create stand-alone discussion forum

Hello,

What is the best platform and approach to creating a basic stand-alone discussion forum?

By "stand-alone" I mean a forum that is not associated with a particular website. Obviously the forum would need its own unique URL but it does not need an associated or separate landing/web page.

I've looked at a couple of places like WordPress, Blogger, Blogspot, etc, but their main focus seems to be blogs. I haven't spent a lot of times on blogs but they seem to be structured chronologically (ie showing a list of dates) rather than by topics.

I am really just looking for a simple way to enable someone to post a question/comment to start a thread where others can respond.

Thanks
WeThotUWasAToadAsked:
Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

x
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
What you are describing is Bulletin Board software.  But simple?  No.  Any site where people can post, even after having to join, is a big spam target that must be monitored daily or even hourly.  Experts Exchange is a big spam target.  They spend a lot of time blocking it and removing the ones that get thru.  Many 'forums' have shut down because the problem became too large to manage.
WeThotUWasAToadAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the comment Dave.

What I've got in mind is very small scale with an obscure (actually random character) name which would be shared with only a limited number of people (3-4 dozen). I'm sure with time it may become inundated with spam but hopefully it would be useful for some productive conversation. Also, it's only intended as a temporary thing anyway.
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
Hi Steve,
I can't say what is "best", as I haven't tried everything out there, but there are several good ways to do this. Two of the most popular (and easy) methods are Google Groups and Yahoo Groups (both are free). I'm an Owner/Manager/Moderator of groups using both, but at this time I prefer, and recommend, Google Groups. You may create one here:
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!creategroup

There are are four types of groups, as you can see in the "Select a group type" drop-down. It sounds as if you're looking for the "Q&A forum" group type.

Here's an example of one of my groups (but it's an "Email list" type):
https://groups.google.com/group/paperport

One of the problems with Google Groups is that you can't upload files, so I also created a "wiki" for the group using Google Sites (also free). You may create one here:
https://sites.google.com/site/sites/system/app/pages/meta/dashboard/create-new-site

Here's an example of a site that I created (to go along with the group mentioned above):
https://sites.google.com/site/wikipaperport

I set it up so that a member of the group is a member of the wiki, with full posting privileges (non-members may view, but not post).

Hope this helps. Regards, Joe

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
CompTIA Cloud+

The CompTIA Cloud+ Basic training course will teach you about cloud concepts and models, data storage, networking, and network infrastructure.

WeThotUWasAToadAuthor Commented:
Thanks Joe. That sounds like an excellent solution. One thing is that I don't want people to have to register before posting a comment. Do you know if that's doable on Google Groups for example?
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
I don't know, Steve. As you can see at the create-group page, there are three basic permissions: View Topics, Post, Join the Group. The drop-down on all three have "Public" as a choice. However, even though the public may join the group and post, it's possible that registration is required to do so. My advice is to try it. It should take you just a few minutes to create a group. Then sign out of your Google Account and try posting at the site to see if it lets you do it without registering (and without being signed into your Google Account). But I warn you...if that is possible, it means that anyone who finds the group can post there...you are likely to be inundated with spam. You can try to avoid that by using an an obscure/random-characters group name, as you mentioned earlier, but the bad actors are likely to find the group. My strong advice is to require joining the group in order to post, especially since you say only a limited number of people (3-4 dozen) will be involved...does not seem to me like a big burden to have them join the group before posting. Regards, Joe
Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
I would also look at creating a private group on facebook. Your members would just need a FB account and an invite from you as the group admin.  The rest just works as expected.

You may also want to check out some of the modern chat software like slack and look-a-likes.

https://slack.com/
https://rocket.chat/
http://sdelements.github.io/lets-chat/
https://about.mattermost.com/pricing/
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
Facebook won't work if you want Elon Musk in your group. :)
Lucas BishopClick TrackerCommented:
As Dave Baldwin mentioned, it sounds like may be looking for a forum/bulletin board system. For example: <http://flarum.org/> or <https://www.discourse.org/>.

Based on what you've described though, there is also the "group" concept that could work. You could create a private group and only allow certain people in. Many different communities offer this functionality.

Experts Exchange (groups), Google (Joe detailed this) and Facebook (Scott mentioned this) offer private groups functionality:
https://www.experts-exchange.com/groups/
https://www.facebook.com/help/1629740080681586/?helpref=hc_fnav

One thing is that I don't want people to have to register before posting a comment.

If this is a requirement, you may not have many options. Almost all forums/groups require some form of user-registration, as a means of security. If you're worried about requiring users to register, your best bet may be using a group system on a site where your users are already registered  (ie. Google(+) or Facebook (groups)).
WeThotUWasAToadAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the great comments.
Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
You're welcome, Steve...best of luck with your new forum! Regards, Joe
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Web Development

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.