I've been dabbling with this for a while now, I don't know if I want to start up a forum for my website or do something similar to what SeoClerks did and have a Community Discussion.
I want that member feel that you get with a forum, but you get that with the Community Discussion too. One of the main things I've noticed with the Community Discussion is that there aren't any signatures, which I personally love lol I don't see a ton of ads that look annoying because people can customize them however they want with BB code and make your pages look odd. The Community Discussion is much cleaner than a forum and most websites are pushing towards cleaner designs to stay cutting edge I guess.
One thing I've noticed that the SeoClerks Community Discussion doesn't have is a feature that shows how many "like" your topic or posts have gotten. On a lot of forums there is a reputation system and it basically shows who is there posting often and how many times someone has came to give them a digital high five by liking their post lol. The downside of a reputation system is that it can be gamed fairly easy if the reputation amount is considered "rep power". I know that on a few forums I've been on there have been groups who just like and thank other group members posts to increase their rep power. There's no monetary gain to this, it's just a number that shows up on your profile. But what I have noticed is that people who see a high rep power from a service provider, they will buy more willingly because the seller is suppose to be one of the better people on the forum. I was never a rep power abuser, but I did have over 1,500 at one time (that's a good amount for people who don't know what I'm talking about). I would post and get thanks/upvotes/rep from users who liked what I posted.
In the end both a forum and a community discussion have their benefits, but which do you think I should go with?