Customizing SMF > Building Your Community and other Forum Advice

Newbie Here

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Tiggy:
Hi everyone   :)

I shall be honest and say I am a complete ignoramus when it comes to anything to do with computers.  I've been a member of various forums and am now thinking of starting my own.  I see many of the forums use SMF.  I honestly thought SMF is where you can host your own forum, but from surfing various threads I'm getting the impression that SMF is in fact a package which enables you to start your own forum.  Well I know I have my homework cut out for me, even downloading SMF I was having problems so I shall surf around for video tutorials etc....

However, what I should like to know is do I have to have my own website first before I can start a forum?  Is SMF compatible with Proboards?  Do I have to find a host site first?  I came across a site called SiteGround which appears to also incorporate SMF.  Is this a good site?  On average how much should I expect to pay for a hosting site?  Do I then have to pay not to have advertising both to the host site and to SMF?

Sorry if all these question seem all over the place, but I am determined to do this and need a kick start.  Also, I notice that in the community support pages there are a number of posts which explain how you can download SMF, but the problem for me is the computer talk. 

Please help.  By the way, is their a contact for SMF to ask them any question I might have or should I always pose my questions as a topic?

Thank you

JohnS:
Its a bit tricky to get started but just requires a little care.
Proboards is a free forum system the main thing with 'free' systems is that they may not charge directly but you pay in other ways, normally through advertising on the forum which you have no control over. They have also been known to close down free sites when they get 'too busy'. It is also not possible to move your forum away from them should you decide to do so later, you can obviously set up a new forum wherever you like but the Proboards terms and conditions prohibit you taking your board data with you.
SiteGround are a hosting company, so they provide hosting for a domain and that domain may well have SMF running.
SMF is a software package that is provided free but you need a server to run it on and SMF do not themselves provided hosting, though there are many hosting possibilities listed in the hosting area of this forum at http://www.simplemachines.org/community/index.php?board=4.0
Other than the advertising the main difference between free hosting and using SMF is that with your own hosting you can choose your own domain name and not be  restricted to something like xxx.myname.freehostingname.com.
If you are a total newbie then I would recommend going for a complete hosting package which includes domain registration as well as hosting. Many hosting packages will have a control panel that has automated installation of SMF and other software applications by a program such as Softaculous, this makes the installation of SMF a two or three click operation, this gets your forum up and running but it does not carry out any customisation or setting up of parameters and boards to get it the way you want.
Hosting comes in many forms, for a simple forum with only one domain name you should be able to get hosting and domain registration for less than $75 a year, there are even free hosting offers, but they usually come with payment via advertising or some other limitation. Unless you are really on a very tight budget go for a paid hosting solution you tend to get what you pay for and you don't pay a lot for free hosting:) If you are up to it register your own domain, this will give you some protection should your hosting company suddenly disssapear or you have to move for other reasons.
Remember with hosting in most cases any support, and support is vary variable, will only be for the main server functions and will not extend to any help with your forum or its installation and running or any other application that you want to install and run. It may cost a little more but in your case it may be better to go for a specialist hosting solution that provides support for applications as well. I have had hosting with many providers and the support can range from very helpful to a curt 'not our problem'. If possible go on recommendation from someone you know who is happy with service, and make sure you fully read the terms and conditions, whilst they are all very similar some have some nasties in them, be careful of anything that limits you moving away from them and taking your domain name with you. The last thing you want is losing the domain of a popular board.
Good luck with your forum.

Tiggy:
 :)  Thank you so very, very much for all that advice and thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my query.   :) ;D

Tiggy:

--- Quote from: JohnS on February 20, 2012, 03:57:19 AM ---
If you are a total newbie then I would recommend going for a complete hosting package which includes domain registration as well as hosting. Many hosting packages will have a control panel that has automated installation of SMF and other software applications by a program such as Softaculous, this makes the installation of SMF a two or three click operation, this gets your forum up and running but it does not carry out any customisation or setting up of parameters and boards to get it the way you want.
 

--- End quote ---

Just one more question if I may?  From what I understand by your answer I shan't necessarily be able to choose the colour I want and not even set the size up of my forum.  Is that right?

Basically what I am looking for is something which looks like this:  royalgossip.forumprofi.de/index.php    and I liked the look of it and was hoping to simulate most of it.  Would this be considered basic stuff?  And if so would a complete hosting package allow me to do this?

Also, is it possible to find a free host which will allow me to download SM2 just as a way of testing the package and to give me some experience?  What I am suggesting is a test board prior to launching the actual forum?

I've looked at this in the link you were kind enough to provide me, but it already looks like a forum set up.  http://www.simplemachines.org/community/index.php?topic=46107.0

 

Mstcool:
ill teach you thwe easiest way for a newbie
Go to serversfree.com and for referr right mstcool
2nd
scroll down and go to Auto installer
install smf
done there u go
lol
Or go to SMFNEW
to start and then when ur familar to SMF
then u can make it using smf
and if u join SMFNEW
tell them Mstcool referred u

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