What is the biggest forum on bbPress?
We are looking for a new bb-platform for our online community which has over 20.000 registered users and our phpBB has now 1,2 million posts on 52 forums. There are 30.000 new posts every month and about 1,2 million pageloads per week. In the rush hours there have been over 500 users online at the same time.
I find bbPress very interesting but will it be able to handle the load our bulletin board will have?
There have been a couple performance related discussions on these forums as well:
That’s a really high number of posts and pageviews!
My bbPress forum is # 12 on that top100 list. It’s not nearly as large as your phpBB site but I’ll share the scaling problems I’ve come across, in case it’s useful.
Probably the biggest problem I face is that the Google Sitemaps plugin doesn’t scale very well. I believe the most popular Sitemaps plugin regenerates the sitemap upon every publish; this hangs my site every time someone comments on a post. I’m actually exploring the possibilities around upgrading or programming the existing sitemap plugins, to provide a more scalable solution here. But without a good solution here, my content isn’t as Google friendly as it could be.
Also, the Akismet spam solution is decent… but the bbPress moderation management tools aren’t as robust as they are on WordPress. So moderating the spam queue takes a decent amount of time a day, especially as the site has grown larger. If the problem continues to grow, I’ll look into plugin solutions to help out here.
Finally, the account management tools on bbPress aren’t very robust. For example, I get emails every day from users saying they forgot their username, or would like to reset their password. bbPress doesn’t currently have easy ways for users to retrieve a forgotten username or to easily reset their password (they can reset the password, but first they have to put in a username/password and fail a signin attempt). I’m actually working on plugins and theme changes to address this one now, but it currently creates a decent amount of work answering emails from confused users.
My final concern actually is around bbPress 1.0. I am very happy on bbPress 0.9, but version 1.0 is around the corner and seems to be a lot less lightweight than the current version. I’m also concerned about the lack of backwards compatibility with some 0.9 plugins. This wouldn’t be a huge issue, but bbPress 1.0 is currently necessary to ensure cookie/signin compatibility with the latest version of WordPress.
If you are considering bbPress as a standalone forum for a huge site, I’d definitely recommend it – as long as there are plugins for all the features you currently support on your forum.
If you’re considering bbPress in conjunction with WordPress, I’d hold off until bbPress 1.0 comes out of beta and/or a plugin supporting bbPress 0.9/WordPress 2.7 cookie integration comes out.
Just my two cents… hope that helps!
Thanks for the replies.
We have had some performance issues also with phpBB so far, especially with the latest topics and phpBB2′s search system. Also phpBB is too complex for our usage because we need to customize the board for our needs and integrate it into our webzine and other scripts we will use in our website’s next version.
Our combination would be a wordpress installation for a webzine which will be managed by only a small number of our editors but it would be nice to have all our registered users to comment the posts logged in with their accounts.
Then the bulletin board should be readable by all visitors but posting is for only the registered users. We should have our 52 forums categorized in 5 or 6 different groups. And there are also various private forums which should be readable and writeable only by a certain user groups. I guess this is not fully supported by bbPress or it’s plugings yet?
Then we would customize the user profile page and user registration and management system into our own, because there will be paid “VIP” members and free registered users and users should be also categiorized in different groups. Also we have our own solution for the private messaging. I guess all this could be done outside the bbPress.
There are also few scripts of our own such as event calendar, classified ads, galleries etc. which would use the same user management / login system.
So the main usage of bbPress would be handling the forum posting, editing and basic forum stuff and together with WordPress and our own extensions they would make a nice platform for a social networking online community. Maybe some of these customizations and extensions of ours would even be possible to publish as a plugins when they’re ready and working.
We have studied also vBulletin and SMF but so far bbPress seems to be the best bb for our needs.
There’s an excellent Private Forum plugin:
And the ability to create and define custom user groups to access a particular forum:
You mentioned a few social networking type plugins… have you checked out buddypress, the social network extension to WordPressMU?
It might be overkill for what you’re looking for, but at least some of the feature/plugins do exactly the sorta things you mention (galleries, pm, etc.).
Let’s put it this way, if you have decent income from a forum of that size, you should not waste another minute your time (or anyone else’s) and just pay for vbulletin and the extra hardware it will need at that size (dedicated mysql and email servers). Seriously, it’s the best for a reason, but you will have to pay for everything once you go down that path, addons, etc.
If you are trying to cut corners and do it on the cheap, bbPress 0.9 is lightweight enough to handle it (wordpress.org has many times the traffic you do) though a dedicated mysql server can always help, and keep in mind bbPress has no caching plugins available yet. The money you save will be spent in hours of customization and tuning and creating your own fixes for problems.
You can always turn to lighttpd or nginx if you know your stuff and have days to fiddle with it or the almost instant installing litespeed, if you want an apache replacement that will double the capacity of your server.
The only cloud on the horizon is bbPress 1.0 as I estimate it in some cases will be roughly 30-50% slower than 0.9 (with still no caching plugins) and at this time roughly half of my plugins will not work with it (and won’t for quite some time, assume the end of 2009 at the soonest).
After 1.0 stabilizes and someone ports WP Super Cache to it, that will change the picture again but that kind of caching only helps visitors that aren’t logged in.
Oh and bbPress isn’t going to solve your search problems. It will only make it worse. bbPress’s search is completely non-indexed, and has virtual no options. My Super Search plugin might eventually cache searches but that’s not going to solve the problem of 1000 users searching for different things at once. I mentioned http://sphinxsearch.com a few months back and amazingly they are now using it on wordpress.com so there is hope that one day there will be a plugin for wordpress/bbpress to use it for searches on larger sites which will completely solve the performance problem.
Your groups of forums will require bbPress 1.0 and the downside of that again is half the plugins for bbPress 0.9 will not work with it. If you do install 1.0, don’t install anything more than 1.0 alpha 5 to use with my plugins.
ps. the top 100 list hasn’t been updated in 90 days and many of those forums are much bigger now – next update will be sometime after Firefox 3.1 is released
Thanks for the very informative reply _ck_,
The reason I got interested in bbPress is not that we are trying to cut corners or find a cheap solution. It’s more like we would like to find a very simple and a lightweight bulletin board without built-in options we actually do not need. And somehow bbPress 0.9 looks much like what we are after.
Our forum has been running on phpBB since 2001 and the software has had it’s well-known problems. We have also tested the vBulletin – we have even the commercial license and have used lots of time and effort to make our other extensions work with it. But at the end vBulletin has too many options and it is too complex for our needs. We don’t need all those options it offers – we need a simple solution which would integrate nicely into our website.
We have already two dedicated servers (actual machines, not virtual ones), one handles the www-stuff (running apache…) and the other serves as the database server. Right now we have only the phpBB running with a couple of scripts of our own so I guess there’s resources more than we need.
The search issue would be solved by using Google’s search, that’s what we use right now with the phpBB but the lack of caching may be an issue.
Maybe we should keep searching the ultimate BB solution for us or try to customize the phpBB3 to fit our needs and figure out some non-WP solution for the WordPress post commenting.
Top 1000 gets updated with Top 100, sometime in April, maybe end of March if I have time, not before then. Look for the Firefox 3.1 release date as a guide since 3.1beta has a bug I need to wait for them to fix.
Actually, in bbPress 1.0 you can drop in the memcached object cache plugin from WordPress. This cuts out a lot of MySQL queries. There is no page caching solution that I know of, although we get by without it on all our installs (wordpress.com, wordpress.org, etc.).
Also, a plus for bbPress is that it has built-in user integration with WordPress – which as far as I know doesn’t exist on any other platform.
If you have the coding resources in-house and are familiar with WordPress development, I think you will find bbPress quite comfortable and flexible. However, in it’s current alpha state, bbPress is not for the faint of heart, there are known bugs and missing functionality in the current releases. But if you have people willing to fix them, submitted patches will be in core before you know it.
We still haven’t given up with this, after taking a look at the BuddyPress plugin this combo seems even more interesting and maybe even something we could put some extra effort and coding resources to get things sorted out and working in a way that fits into our plan. I’ll keep you informed.
I was going to recommend BuddyPress as soon as I read this. I’ve got bbPress fully integrated right now and highly recommend it for someone looking to do a pseudo-social networking site, or even an e-zine with some basic social abilities. (Sam, I’m interested in the memcache plugin though, gotta look into that. Thanks!)
It would nice to get links to your BP & WP intergrations.
whitewall, check this thread: http://bbpress.org/forums/topic/del-sol-owners-club
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