A friend of mine wanted to team up and buy a photography web site. The main thing this site currently does is forums. It uses a really ancient script that is exceedingly ugly. It also takes you strait to the forums with no other functionality easily available.

So we have a few goals we’d like to have the site do.

1. Better forum software.

Needs to look better and be more flexible. Right now there is only one forum. We want multiple for different topics. We’d also like to have PMing between users. I’d like to have some RSS functionality as well. It would be nice to handle add images easily.

2. A useful home page.

What we’d like on the home page is a few lists, top posters, new topics, recent or hot topics. It would be really cool if we could have list of thumbs of recently uploaded images.

3. Image rating and limited access

We’d like to have the ability for users to rate their photos using MPAA ratings. Then non registered users would be limited from seeing images with nudity. This is actually in the current site. I’d like to handle it like PhotoSig does.

4. Announcements as a blog on the main page.

5. And of course flexibility for future growth.

6. Email notifications configureable by the user.

It told my friend it would be easy to do this and we could use free software to do it. I know Dreahost has a one click install or phpBB and I thought I could hack into it to get the stuff for the front page.

I did the install and it was easy, but when I started looking at themeing it started getting to be a pain. Plus getting content on other pages doesn’t look easy. And in the end it is just a forum.

So then I looked at Drupal. Theming, which included basic layout, is a royal pain. It looked good because it does so much. But it also has week forums, being based on weblog comments. It seems kind of new and still need work.

I looked at pMachine, but it is far from free if you want forums. And everything looks good when you read the site, but install it and try to customize it and you discover it isn’t easy. On the plus side we could complain to someone when it is a pain.

Invision forums is another popular engine, that I need to evaluate. As is InfoPop/Ubb.

Any suggestions would be great.

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