What Advantages Does Woltlab Offer over Free Forum Software?

Photo by Jed Villejo on Unsplash

Development and Security

We are used to the fact that many software programs that we use every day on our computer or smartphone are available for free. Nevertheless, there is a hidden cost: Paid teams of developers are behind many supposedly free software programs and the development of the software is paid for in other ways, for example through advertising, collecting user data or in-app purchases. Free forum software, on the other hand, is usually always a pure hobby project without paid employees, which is why only the fraction of the time and in irregular intervals can be dedicated to the further development. WoltLab employs several developers who work full-time to further develop the forum software.


As a result, the range of functions of free forum software is usually significantly less and updates often take longer. Especially in the case of older free forum software, technical modernizations are often postponed indefinitely, which would be particularly beneficial to security. The most recent example are several security vulnerabilities in a well-known free forum software that still does not use prepared statements for executing database queries and thus no longer meets current security standards. [Source]

In addition to development and security, legal issues play a much bigger role in recent years. In particular since the General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) is in force, data protection in forums has become a very sensitive topic. Copyright protection is another subject that has gained attention with the recent copyright reform (article 17). We have repeatedly sought legal advice on these issues from an appropriate specialist lawyer in order to prepare and adapt our forum software as best as possible.


In the case of free forum software, such a legal checkup is often missing altogether or has only been carried out by legal laymen. As a forum operator, you then have to deal with legal issues on your own and, in case of doubt, have to reckon with financial consequences in the form of fines or legal fees.


We have taken a closer look at the standard feature set of the popular free forum software phpBB and MyBB. A suitable privacy policy that comprehensively explains the data processing of the forum is missing. Also missing, for example, are functions to export the personal data stored about a user in order to make it available in the event of a request for information (pursuant to Art. 15 GDPR) or data portability (pursuant to Art. 20 GDPR). Due to the lack of a two-click solution for embedding external content, these forum softwares already violate the GDPR in the standard installation, making legally compliant operation impossible.


Support and Technical Help

In case of technical problems or general questions about the operation of the forum software, you are often left on your own with free forum software. With our ticket support we offer a contact point with guaranteed response times from expert WoltLab employees.

Conclusion

Free forum software can be a cheap entry into the world of forums, but you should be aware that you are often relying on a technically outdated software, especially when it comes to security issues. Also, when it comes to legal issues or technical help, with free forum software you are on your own in case of doubt and end up having to invest a lot of time or money to solve problems.


With our forum software WoltLab Suite we offer a technically modern solution for the operation of a forum, which is also well positioned for the legal requirements.