I've searched this site and see no obvious place to post this--so if I'm in the wrong place, I'll welcome correction
I'm looking for a very customizable, high-end forum system--but hosted by a service so I don't have to deal with maintenance! It must be free, since this is purely a fun/hobby site--and so banner ads are OK. I'll just drop it into our site's frameset. Traffic will be LOW, so limits on that are OK too, if necessary.
There are TONS of options out there, but I have no idea which are tried-and-true and recommended. We've switched forums 3 times already and would really like to settle down Many thanks for any advice! (Or advice on where to ask!) I've had some offers by individuals, but I want a service that has been around a while and is less likely to vanish our from under us as has happened sometimes before.
I like PHPBB or similar "fancy" systems. High priorities:
1. Ability to assign our own moderators and run things on our own.
2. Ability to subscribe to threads by email.
3. Ability to have multiple forums--and to have some be private, inaccessible until that user is manually approved.
4. Customizable colors/appearance
5. New replies bump topic to top--with moderator ability to pin a topic on top.
6. Custom avatar upload has been popular in the past--not strictly a necessity!
About 100 members... maybe 20 truly active. And the offer is appreciated! But we have to choose a proven, recommended, "big-name" service this time, since individual and "small-name" hosting has fallen through for us in the past. Nothing personal, but we need to be sure we can forget about this and it will "just work" this time I can take NO risks on that account, since our members will ride me out of town on a rail if I tell them they must register for a new forum system AGAIN