The Vanilla Community Forum is the forum software that I use on my very own Web Development Forum. I think that Vanilla is really nice and elegant, even if it might be lacking a big community behind it, to support it along the way.
Unfortunately, lately there hasn’t been a whole lot of activity happening within the community, which I believe is due to poor marketing efforts and generally “giving up” attitude. I could be wrong, but nothing says I am.
My intention is not to badmouth Vanilla, rather, give you a list of popular plugins that in some way may enhance the user experience for people visiting your website.
Quotes are meant to quote on what someone else has said, without quotes it can sometimes be hard to understand who is addressing who. The default Vanilla installation comes without the quotes functionality, and that is why this plugin is so useful to anyone looking to enhance their forum experience.
I’m not a huge fan of voting systems for forum communities, as it can sometimes get really biased with people standing up for the wrong side of the story. I’ve seen it happen on big forums where trades and selling of stuff happens, it’s horrible and can be devastating. Though, it’s a great plugin for giving some users the respect they deserve. Everyone has their own liking.
Signature is the part that comes after everything you’ve said, and it’s going to be there wherever and whenever you leave a comment on a post or create your own. Like with quotes, the default Vanilla package comes very stripped down and don’t have plugins like Signatures, which other people might consider essential.
Love this plugin, great way to see how many posts a member has made, can always be traced back to if need be to verify a user of the community for his validity. I’d rather take advice from someone with 1,000 posts, than from someone with 1 post, right?
Search Engine Optimization is so important, especially now that guest blogging is dead. For a forum community, you’re dealing with thousands of users, posts and threads. Having the right SEO practice put in place can really help you maximize your potential.
It’s sometimes nice to know who are the most contributing members of the community, and perhaps give them a seal of approval time to time.
Another important plugin for SEO purposes, if you want your pages to be crawled fully and completely, you should consider getting this plugin to have a fully functional and Google valid sitemap of your forum content.
There are no integrated social sharing buttons for vanilla community forums, so you’ll have to depend on a plugin like ShareThis. Instead of having to put in place for yourself though, there has been a plugin created which will do it for you, quickly and easily.
I’m not a big fan of imagery smileys, but I know that many webmasters love them, so here is a plugin that will integrated emoticons into your forum.
Stop Forum Spam
Although there is a re-Captcha function integrated within the vanilla forum, sometimes bots to get to signup to your forum, and before you know it – populate it by thousands of junk posts. To avoid this issue further, install this plugin that will check against common bot information on reliable spam websites that help people avoid bots using their site.
These are some of my favorite and go-to Vanilla Forum Plugins that are not only helpful, but in some cases essential and requested by the community. I’d love to see your list of plugins and even your forum if you’ve got a special design like I have on mine :)