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Six Myths About Vanilla Forums Debunked

3 minute read

July 11, 2014

Vanilla Forums Myths

There's a lot that is different about Vanilla compared to other forum platforms and this has lead to some misconceptions. To help you get the facts, below are five common myths we encounter:

1- "Vanilla's cloud product is identical to the open source product, except that it's hosted by Vanilla."

Vanilla's open source software (OSS) shares the same core code as our cloud version but they are different in many ways. The OSS product is meant to be easy to install on the ubiquitous and inexpensive LAMP stack and easy to administer. The cloud version runs on an enterprise grade-infrastructure that provides greater stability, security and speed. This infrastructure allows the cloud version to offer more advanced features and plugins. We go into greater depths on the differences in Vanilla Forums Cloud Hosted vs Vanilla Forums Self-hosted.

2- "Vanilla is too simple and is not suitable for a large forum."

Simplicity and scale are not mutually exclusive. One of our objectives is simplifying the user experience for both members and moderators. Our cloud solution is used by several communities that are serving up tens of millions of pageviews per month.  We can even handle customers who have massive spikes in traffic due to certain planned or unplanned events. In short, we are able to handle forums of all sizes. You can check our showcase to see some of the customers that have chosen Vanilla to power their community.

3- "I can’t dismiss announcements (sticky posts) or messages."

If you come across a site with too many announcements, or you just don't wish to see them, you can "dismiss" them, by clicking on the gear icon. As you can see in the following gif:

announce discussion dismiss

As for messages, that may be at the top of the forum, alerting you, they can only be dismissed if the admin who created them set them to be dismissed.


4- "I dislike that Vanilla has no categories when I load the forum."

Most users coming from a traditional forum software are used to seeing a home page that shows a category list. Vanilla's home page can be set to show categories but by default, the home page is set to most recent discussions. This helps better engage new visitors and it gives regulars a way to quickly get caught up. At the end of the day, the choice of appearance is up to you and can be set in the appearance section of the Dashboard:


You can learn more about appearance choices in the following video:

5- "I can't remove or move the sidebar location."

You can have a sidebar or no sidebar. Sidebar theming can be achieved by customizing your theme HTML and CSS. It's also possible to show the category list in the sidebar by enabling the option on the Categories setting page:


6- Vanilla Forums are full of spam.

There are tens of thousands of Vanilla installations out there and unfortunately, some of those have been targeted by spammers. There are several tools to eliminate spam from polluting your forums. There is a Recaptcha for sign-ups, Akismet (free for all cloud customers), a StopForumSpam plugin and other more advanced techniques like tying Ranks to member permissions. If you are having trouble with spam, make sure to review our 9 ways to eliminate spam in your forum. We host forums of all sizes and when they follow these recommendations, they remain virtually spam free.

Now it's your turn. Do you have a burning Vanilla Forum Myth that needs busting? Ask away in the comments or try us out with a free 30-day trial


Adrian Speyer

Written by Adrian Speyer

Adrian Speyer is the Head of Community and Lead Evangelist for Vanilla Forums. Besides spending many years in digital marketing, Adrian has been building communities of all sizes for over 20 years.


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