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When all else fails; talk to your visitors

A forum is an online discussion group. Online services and bulletin board services (BBS's) provide a variety of forums in which participants with common interests can exchange open-ended messages.  Forums are sometimes called newsgroups (in the Internet world) or conferences.  Forums are becoming a popular community element on many websites.  Below you will find what Webmaster Techniques Magazine has identified as the top three free forum CGI scripts: 

BoardMaster is a very nice forum that rivals some of the professional "for sale" forums. This CGI forum script is highly customizable and can hold up to 100,000 registered users.  Registered users also have profiles that other users can view.  In addition, you can use icon images similar to those in some of the more popular "for sale" programs.  We are very impressed by this free script and the possibilities it offers to webmasters looking for a high-quality and highly-customizable forum that users will like.

DForum Version 1.1
DForum Version 1.1 may not appear to be an ultra-cool forum at first glance, but there is more than meets the eye.  Be sure to check out the Dynamic Duo demonstration site to see what some customization can turn your DForum into.  It's a great script with an nice graphical interface which gives it a very professional look. 

RobBoard Version 1.0 offers two different forum styles and is fairly easy to set up.  The program is customizable and allows you to ban users and delete messages.  While this free script has a lot of room for improvement, it is currently one of the best free CGI forums solutions around.

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