Creating a private forum page

I have been asked to create a private forum area on a website. (Kind of like this one!)

There seem to be many differnt ones and all quite $$$.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what I should use?


I have the chat stack, but I need more.

Sitelok gets a lot of recommendations for the software and customer support

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I totally agree with @pmjd and would add @joeworkman Sitelok integration stacks - Sitelok Stack for RapidWeaver

Combined, both are brilliant at helping you create a secure multi-level ring around a whole website, individual pages or groups of pages. All with unique login details for every user, free or within a payment process.

But for the heavy lifting you should explore an open-source social channel. For example, take look at Discourse Discourse features | Discourse - Civilized Discussion

You could set up your unique Discourse server, integrated with your RW Stacks created website. (Something I’ve been scratching at for the past few months.) Let us know how you get on. 🙂

@Domino Hmm … I don’t think anything is needed beyond Discourse. And I’d definitely recommend it. It’s free if on your own hosting location. If I remember correctly, Discourse has it’s own login procedure so I don’t think Sitelok is needed. That said, Sitelok is fantastic … so if I’m wrong that’s definitely the product to use to provide security or auto-login to Discourse.

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Hej Can I ask what is that char stack?

Kind Regards


Sorry its actually comments stack

Thanks Geoff.
Will keep you posted on what I find

Thanks Mitchellm.
Discourse looks perfect but Chillidog hosting says Discourse won’t run on any shared hosting.

Chillidog told me this info:
There’s loads of forum software choices, with Discord being amongst the most paid popular models. If you look in the Softaculous App installer via cPanel, you’ll see others that are also highly rated and quite a few that are also free.

Anyone had any luck with any of these? I looked in the CPannel but weirdly cant see any of the demos … I get all dead links

Vanilla Forum. I think it’s on Softalicious.

Be warned though that all forums will require a database and a reasonable level of technical know how and understanding to get up and running, customised and maintained. No matter how much they all claim, none are “click and play”.

Also be warned that running any large scale forum software will open you up to malicious players, put a drain on your server resources and essentially be a PITA to you.

Personally, I would never put any open source software on a mission critical server. I’d always put them on a bit of separate shared space. But each to their own.

When clients ask me for a forum I always offer my own in-house solution, which is basic but functions. If they want something more like Discourse or Vanilla I first try to get them to go with a hosted paid version. For some clients though I will install on my servers and run it for them. But prices start at €150 per month. Because I know it’ll cause me headaches.

What I’m really saying here is that it’s best avoided!


@Domino Good points made by @TemplateRepo . Here’s an article on forum options that gives you a very quick overview: 12 Best Forum Software to Build an Online Community in 2023

My guess is several of these options are available to you via cPanel. My host (which specializes in supporting educational institutions) has a few easy to install forums (including Vanilla) but they’ve also restricted the choices a bit. For example under their “featured applications” they list:

… so phpBB is their only “featured” one. I’ve learnt that featured apps are ones that my host can provide better support for. I’ve used phpBB before and have been happy with it. I’ve used Vanilla also and it was pretty good. However I’ve not used a forum for over 7 years now.

Whatever forum I was using I would definitely restrict the users who could sign in. This was easy for me to do … after all this was for a college course and I knew who was in the class. In more open-ended situations this might be much harder.

As @TemplateRepo mentions … you do need to learn/do some key basics to get something like this up and running. It’s not that hard but it did take me awhile (2-3 hours I’m guessing) to set up my first one. After that it was much quicker … but there’s a lot of fiddly stuff to set up and that “fiddly stuff” is important.

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Thanks so much for all this info.
Souns like I am best getting them to start with a paid / hosted version of something.
When you say I always offer my own in-house solution, which is basic but functions. Is that something you create with stacks ? Or a secret recipie of your own!?

Thanks so much for this priceless info. This is for a doctor who wants a forum so I think I should be able to limit to only her clients. Just need to figure out how.
Certainly is more to adding a forum than I had thought, so I’m so glad I asked here!

It’s a customised version of this…

As I say, it’s basic, but works really well for simple applications.

Thanks so much. Definately looks too hard for me! I think I’ll try to send them the Discourse paid way.
This might be a very stupid question, but is it possible just to create a group on facebook and embed that page on my RW site?

That script is really easy to install and setup. Far easier than the open source solutions. I’ve no idea about FB groups. That said, I doubt you can do much as FB want the traffic on FB, not your site.

@TemplateRepo PHP Forum Script looks very good. It may fit my needs for an upcoming project. Why do you say it is “basic”? What features are missing that would make it more useful for you?

Also, what version did you purchase? User or developer license? I don’t need to start my project until June … but it’s useful for me to consider this product now.

I did not realize this was for a doctor. I don’t know what country the doctor is located in but typically there are very strict regulations in terms of protecting patient privacy that goes well beyond a forum for fly fishing enthusiasts. So choosing an option that will be great at protecting privacy (especially from hackers) is likely the most important feature.

From memory… No perpetual login. No DM’s. Minimal motivations, simple threaded view. Etc. it’s basic. I use it in a few places for support requests.

Many thanks for your quick reply.

The “no perpetual login” would probably be the issue for me. (The other things would be much of an issue) I have Sitelok … do you know if there’s a way of combing Sitelok with the PHP Forum to create perpetual logins?

The other feature that would be important is the ability to upload “stuff” (e.g. a screenshot). Can this tool allow for that?