Beehive Forum .5 Online Community Software

By Jim Lynch  |  Posted 2005-02-15 Print this article Print

Review: If you're running a small web site, and want to add discussion support, you need good discussion software. We take a look at Beehive, an open source, GPL licensed forum package that includes frame capability, similar to what you see on Extr

DIY (Do-It-Yourself) is one of the most important things we cover at ET. But DIY is not limited to just building computers. For example, you can build an online community yourself. The key to having a community, rather than just a web site, is to engage people in discussion. If you run your own site, youve probably considered adding a message board at some point. But picking the right forum software for your forum is not always easy. In this review well take a close look at the new release of Beehive, a free and open source forum package. You can use Beehive without paying a cent, and you can customize the code until your hearts content. Beehive requires PHP 4.1.0 and MySQL 3.5 or above to run. This is all included in the readme.txt installation instructions. Users simply need a web browser to participate in a Beehive forum. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Mozilla all work fine with Beehive.
Why Bother with an Online Community?
Before we get into the meat of the Beehive review, its helpful to note why online communities in the form of message boards are important to a sites well being, traffic, and business model. Here are a couple of reasons why you might want to add an online community to your site:
• Stickiness & Loyalty—Well-run forums have the potential to be quite "sticky." They bring users back again and again and again—even if the sites regular content hasnt been updated for a while. Posting in a sites forum never stops so theres always new content for users to read. Forums also have the potential to create & inspire loyalty among a sites users. They can have a powerful impact through "word of mouth" when users mention the site to others that they know offline, in email, and in other forums on other sites. Referrals to others from loyal forum members can have an important impact on a sites traffic and reputation. • Ad Revenue—Forums also have the potential to generate advertising or even subscription revenue for a site. If a forum is not moderated, then this potential is lessened since most advertisers dont want to run ads on sites with lots of flames, profanities, etc. With these thoughts in mind, lets take a look at Beehive. Continued...

Jim manages the PC Magazine and ExtremeTech forums, and is responsible for building community in the forums on both sites. He started managing PC Mag's forum on ZiffNet on CompuServe many years ago. He then transferred the staff and expertise to the Web. He left ZDNet when it moved to San Francisco and came back to Ziff after the split from ZDNet, right before ExtremeTech launched. You can get more background at his personal site:

His favorite movies include Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Three Musketeers (1973 version), Dune (Sci Fi Channel version), and gobs of others. He can't live without his iPAQ Pocket PC—,he uses it at the gym and everywhere else—,and his DVD collection features more than 200 films. His favorite game is Tribes (PC), which is more than three years old but he still plays it all the time.

Jim likes interacting with the folks in the forum and the content. 'I Love both of 'em,' says Lynch. 'It's what makes the job fun and interesting.'

You're welcome to visit Jim's site for more information about him.


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