What's the best option to go with for a forum today free or paid?
Hello all. I know that this is something that's been asked a lot and if you search for something like "What's the best forum software" in Google you'll find tons of top 10 lists and forums and blogs and things where people have asked that question before. And from which, is more than enough to go on to know all you'll ever really need to know and more when it comes to what the best option to go with for a forum is today whether it's a free forum script or it's a paid one.
I know from just what I know from the top of my head that some of the best forum softwares today are some of those longest running ones. Simply because they've had so many updates to them they make for great, comprehensive forums now. That goes for free forum software like BBPress, MyBB, phpBB, SMF, Vanilla etc. And for paid forum softwares like vBulletin, IP Boards, XenForo, Woltlab etc.
Now what if I'm talking about what I would want to be a large, professional forum made up of thousands of users. A forum where I'd like the users to have a lot of features and bells n' whistles etc that I could also build things into later on down the road like rewards/awards systems, ability to connect/register with social media Facebook/Twitter etc etc.
Would it be better then to go with a paid forum software from the start? Or, what if you just wanted to "test the water" so to speak and start off small. Is it okay to go with a free forum software and then migrate/convert to another later on. If so, how easy or complicated is it usually to migrate from one forum software/script to another forum software/script? Is there anyone here that's ever done anything like that? What forum software did you start with and then move to? What was the progress/experience like of doing that? Is that sort of thing still a headache today or has someone refined and optimized the process?
Obviously you wouldn't want to lose all your members accounts, posts and things if you had a lot that you valued. You'd lose a lot of members if you just had to ask them to re-register again. Although those that did would surely be your hardcore users!
But yeah, what's the best option to go with for a forum that is intended to be a busy, professional forum?
Should I / could I go free to start with then migrate to paid one later?
Or is that just a headache to deal with if you do get big and best to go paid from the start for this reason?