The Central Outpost
The Complete Guide to Setting Up a Successful Clan Forum
by l2k-Warrior of l2uthless Killers
July 23, 2006

What is a forum and why should I bother with one?

Simply put, a forum is the best possible way for your organization's members to keep in touch with one another. Forums will be able to provide each clan member with their own unique account, which can be used to post messages about clan updates, game updates, or just misc small talk. The beauty of it, is that members can view and post messages at times that are convenient to them.

How do I go about setting up one of these forums?

The first thing you need to do is decide which brand of forum software you are going to run. There are hundreds of different organizations out there creating forums that have their own unique features. However there are three groups which stand out over the rest. These three are: Invision Power Board, Vbulletin and phpBB.

In this guide I am going to be using phpBB because it is open source and free to all users (where as Invision Power Board and Vbulletin require licenses, which means $$$) Before we actually begin installing this forum, make sure that your web host has the following services installed: PHP, Database Storage (MySQL, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Access are all supported) In this guide we will use MySQL, because it is the most common with web hosting companies. Also take note that having FTP access is also very handy.

Before you even begin doing a manual installation of phpBB, many web hosts that have access to Cpanel can install phpBB for you within seconds. Consult your web host before continuing with this guide

The first step is to download the software from the companies' homepage, the link for phpBB can be found here: http://www.phpbb.com/downloads.php Select the appropriate download link, and let the download finish. To uncompress the file using any Windows operating system select the .zip installation. If you don't have a compressed archive manager Windows XP comes with one by default. If you still need one you can check out http://www.rarlab.com/

With the files uncompressed and sitting on your hard drive, the next step is to upload those to your web host. This is where having FTP access comes in handy. Open your preferred FTP client and login to your account with your web host. A smart idea is to create a directory specifically for the forums (a simple /forums is best) Select all the files within the phpBB directory and upload them to your desired location.

(Note: Image files should be uploaded in Binary, all others in ASCII, if your FTP client has an auto detect just switch it to that.)

Once all the files are uploaded we will need to set the right permissions for the file “config.php” You will need to set the permissions to 666 (haha I know, of all the numbers out there) Each FTP client's CHMOD is in a different location so refer to your client's help files if your having problems.

Now that the forums are uploaded, our next step is to install them. Open your web browser and enter the following link “http://www.yoursite.com/whereverthef...l/install.php” Of course entering your site's details in there.

Here you will be presented with a group of configuration settings that need to be set to match what your web host provides. You will be asked what language you want to be the board's defaults, what type of database storage you will be using and if you are installing or upgrading the forums. If your following this guide you will be installing not upgrading.

After that, you will be asked to input your database information. That you will have to get from your web host. You will also be asked to fill out fields for the default administrator account and where you want your forums to be installed. Fill these fields out appropriately and select “Start Install”

If all goes well you should get a message saying that everything has gone well. Click the “Finish Install” button to continue. If you received any kind of error, go back and check over every field to ensure the appropriate information is given.

Now to finalize everything open your FTP back up and CHMOD config.php to 664. While your here delete the “/install” and “/contrib” directories. You must do this before you can finalize your forum. Why must you do this? Leaving these files intact leaves a potential security threat so that anyone can reinstall your forums to default, losing all information!

Return to your forum's main page and login with the details you gave during the installation. After that, pat yourself on your back and enjoy your new message board.

But Warrior, my web host doesn't stay up to date with the latest services and doesn't provide php or databases, woes me!

Don't cry just yet! What you can do is create a remotly run message board. The best example I can give you is http://www.invisionfree.com. This is a fully functionial message board run on a different server, it is also a good way to learn the basics of running a message board.

Warrior, how do I give my forum a different look?

You will want to install a forum “skin”. A large list of free phpBB skins can be found right here http://www.phpbb.com/styles/ As for installing those http://www.phpbb.com/support/tutorials/ has a great step by step guide.

I have questions regarding a specific issue with phpBB

First visit http://www.phpbb.com/support/, your question will probably be answered there. If not, then you can post on the Central Outpost forums here, or the official phpBB forums and someone there will try to help you out.