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Vanilla Reviews

Reviews summary

Pros

By distributing badges, we reward our top users and most engaged people and makes the platform a little more fun. The support team is super reactive as well, whenever there is an issue.

John M.

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I recommend Vanilla forums to anybody who wish to launch an online community. Vanilla is simple, stable, and having excellent add-ons compatibility and this is going to exceed your expectations.

Sreekumar J.

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Our forum moderators and the majority of users have found it simple and pleasant to use. Account management has been very good and fairly responsive to issues.

Anonymous Reviewer

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Cons

It was unclear what changes would happen with a recent update, it's been left down to the forum owner to find the weird behaviors (such as filters not working correctly).

Julian P.

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The only flaw I have experienced with Vanilla is in countering spam farms (Not bots). There is no option to enforce a captcha for posts which would help in some circumstances.

Paul C.

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Default themes haven't been thoroughly tested on different browsers and devices, resulting in complaints from our users. There's not enough customisable options for automatic moderation.

Katie R.

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Overall rating

4.4

(62)

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89%
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98%
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62 reviews

recommended

Overall Rating
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  • Likelihood to recommend10/10

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For building a strong and engaging community, Vanilla has THE platform!

Reviewed 6 months ago

My experience with Vanilla is amazing! As market leaders in our field, we do want to provide the best Community experience for our users. We therefore are very demanding customers and always try to push Vanilla's platform to it's maximum!

Pros

In addition to the most basic features (discussions, comments...) that work perfectly, here are a few things that I love about Vanilla Forums: We have been able to personalize our community platform with our own designed theme. We are also using the SSO feature that allows users to jump from our main platform (Contentsquare) to the community. It helps us along with the custom theme to maintain a...

Cons

There are several pain points that I encounter however on Vanilla Forums. The group feature has not been working well although a many improvements have been made in the past year. As groups are an important part of my adoption strategy in community building, I have been struggling to make the most of what we could expect from such a feature. Also, Vanilla Forums sometimes have some technical instabilities - but they are resolved very quickly. Last but not least, Vanilla isn't as flexible as we initially thought it would be. For any changes in the structure of the community, we have to use Vanilla's professional services.

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  • Likelihood to recommend10/10

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An excellent base forum platform for online communities

Reviewed 3 years ago

It has made it easy for us to create beautiful, effective forums with awesome community management features to boot.

Pros

Our agency helps other companies manage and build online communities so we've encountered a lot of community platforms. Vanilla is by far our favourite though, for a few reasons. First, it's incredibly customisable. The theming architecture in particular is incredible and allows us to create beautiful forums that integrate with seamlessly with our branding. Second, it's actively developed and open source. You can watch its development openly, suggest ideas for features, etc. Third, it has a killer API which allows you to make cool app integrations, software extensions, etc. Finally, the company's support is incredibles. The support team and customer success managers are amazing at answering questions and will help you implement all kinds of awesome ideas. Vanilla rocks!

Cons

Most of my issues are with super technical details nested "Smarty" tags in Pockets would be nice to have, I wish "reactions" and other gamification features were available in the open source product, etc. Overall though those are nitpicky things the base platform itself is awesome even without them.

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  • Likelihood to recommend8/10

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The support has been great, the implementation process was easy and simple.

Reviewed 3 years ago
Pros

- The product is easy to use from a user perspective. - Requests are taken seriously and if it's something they can't currently do but recognize it's a good idea, they will add them to their Road Map. - Great comms from the person assiting the project, very responsive and on top of things

Cons

- It's hard to make changes sometimes. The HTML isn't accessible to forum owners so you'd have to write an entire section to make changes to anything other than the landing page. CSS is great to customize theming, but things have odd names so it's not as straightforward as it could be to make changes using it. - It could be clearer what VF will and won't help with from the very first moment - There...

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  • Likelihood to recommend10/10

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Vanilla is a great choice for your new community!

Reviewed 9 months ago

Amongst several other reasons, we chose Vanilla because of their company values, focus on customer success, sustainable growth and commitment to providing ongoing value. Vanilla offers a Success Community for community managers to connect and share best practices, presents great webinars and holds regular networking events. You can tell they really want to engage with their clients. I am a Community Manager of One and have no problem managing my daily admin checklist and community "maintenance" with Vanilla's platform. And anytime I need support, ideas or inspiration...I know Vanilla is there to help!

Pros

My favorite thing about the Vanilla platform is its simplicity and intuitiveness. It was my top choice after the first demo I did, after seeing the admin view. It is uncluttered and logical. The member-facing community is customizable by choosing a theme or doing some custom CSS work. We did both, and based our design off another Vanilla customer's community we admired. We also have subcommunities built into our agreement, allowing incredible flexibility for future growth with new audiences.

Cons

Vanilla has been very responsive to feedback and feature requests. The three things I'm most looking forward to are the development of a Member Directory (to more easily see who else is in the community), the refinement of search results, and additional notification preference options.

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  • Likelihood to recommend10/10

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Vanilla is an excellent, easy to use but versatile forum software system

Reviewed 3 years ago

Incredibly quick set up which was absolutely vital with the development speed of our company. We've been able to set up our new forum and get it fully customised within a very shot space of time.

Pros

Vanilla software is incredibly easy to use but with lots of customisation available. It also features a variety of handy plugins to expand your forum capability further including the 'Mark as Troll' plugin which is hands down the best feature of any forum I have used. Managing categories and forum groups is a straightforward task and the features can easily be explained to new staff members so they can get up and running with the software without any lengthy training period.

Cons

The only flaw I have experienced with Vanilla is in countering spam farms (Not bots). There is no option to enforce a captcha for posts which would help in some circumstances. However, Vanilla makes cleaning up spam very quick and easy and you can use user roles and forum settings to limit the impact spam can have on the forums, switching it from a problem to a mild inconvenience.

Overall Rating
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  • Likelihood to recommend9/10

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Flexible platform that allowed us to quickly get a customized Community up and running

Reviewed 3 years ago
Pros

Vanilla has allowed us to customize almost every aspect of the Community experience: content organization, moderation, additions of new spaces when the need arises, gamification - all of these components can be built out and tweaked by a team without coding experience. The ability for our developers to own and push changes to the code allows the next level of customization we needed to get our community off the ground.

Cons

The analytics is one place that is lacking a bit. Their advanced analytics dashboard gives insights into some useful metrics but doesn't allow any form of filtering (except for the date) or examining side by side comparisons of different user groups / content sets. The analytics API gives a bit more useful information but it still takes a bit of work to really answer some of the more complicated aspects of the value the community is providing to the organization. Additionally, their documentation is significantly lacking - once you know how to do something in the platform, you find that it can probably do what you are looking for but many times you have to rely on your CSM to help get you that information (which they are normally great at!)

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  • Likelihood to recommend10/10

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Vanilla has satisfied all of our Community Forum needs for over 5 years and has yet to disappoint.

Reviewed 3 years ago

Experience in managing a Community with thousands of users and creating an engaging ecosystem for our customers to call home.

Pros

The simplicity of the overall functionality, as it is clear on how to navigate and manage all aspects of the software. I began managing our company's Community Forum without prior knowledge or experience. The ease that comes with Vanilla, has allowed me to gain the confidence in my ability to learn, grow, and excel as a Community Manager.

Cons

I believe that Vanilla can become even better if they improve their analytics system which at times does not reflect accurate data and appears to be buggy. Although, to be fair this feature is relatively new on their end so I'm sure this will become up to their overall standard of providing flawless service.

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  • Likelihood to recommend6/10

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Vanilla Review

Reviewed 8 months ago

We started out a little rough with Vanilla, and it taking a very long time to implement the software, but now that we have it up and running it has been a great experience and a great partnership.

Pros

Love the features it has to offer to our sellers using the Community.

Cons

The time it took to implement this was a really long, drawn out process and the communication wasn't always the best.

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  • Likelihood to recommend8/10

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We have had a really good experience working with Vanilla. Our account manager has been invaluable.

Reviewed 3 years ago
Pros

It's pretty straightforward to use, but once you're comfortable with the basics there is a lot of room to customize the tool to fit your needs. We needed a solution with a robust API and Vanilla has done a really great job on that front. Our account manager has been easy to work with and very responsive. She's knowledgeable in many aspects and not afraid to connect me with her team members if they have a deeper understanding to share. I'd recommend Vanilla for managing a support community.

Cons

Some functionalities are a little unwieldy and certain workflows are cumbersome to maintain when we're seeing a lot of volume. When moderating our Community as a team, we sometimes stumble over each other and do the same work twice because it's difficult to tell where your team members are working in the community when.

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  • Likelihood to recommend10/10

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Great Value for Money with all the bells and Whistles

Reviewed 3 years ago
Pros

- Easy to customize - Dedicated Success manger that is very responsive and helpful! - Cost effective with all the features that very high costing solutions have - we trialed 10 different solutions before selecting vanilla as they winner - New features rolled in all the time - Gamification between users have kept customers engaged and excited about what we do

Cons

I would have once sent integrations between other products, however the new API v2 solves this. So no cons :)

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  • Likelihood to recommend10/10

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Best Forum Software

Reviewed a year ago

I have nothing but good things and great times with Vanilla. Back in the day over 10 years ago i used Vanilla to learn more about integrating forums into my site and others and these guys were the #1 software to use. They didn't have everything they do now but i learned so much about forum, and Q&A based website software just using it. Today i became a PRO because of using the Vanilla software and i especially use it now for Gaming Websites where community interaction is a major part of the site. The software can also be tailored towards whatever your site is about. It has so many features that can be used for personal and business solutions.

Pros

I been integrating Vanilla forums into my site for years. I use Vanilla Forums as a Q & A for a lot of people that need help forums on their site so people can ask questions and get answers to anything related to their content and services and it works beaut full. You can also create your own custom Q & A so if someone is on your website and needs help the answers to their Question are already there and by chance they are not they can always ask. With the notification feature the admins get real time feedback as well as its members. The forums feature, the highlight of the software allows you to build a better community around your product and service to all everyone to be connected and have discussions on a beautiful and simple layout.

Cons

I miss the free version ..those were the times but the paid version puts together more enhance tools and added features that you always wished was around. They took all the feedback over the years all the features and fully went over them again and revamped it all. When you use Vanilla now its like a whole new brand of company with everything you need to put a community together on your website.

Overall Rating
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  • Likelihood to recommend9/10

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We have had a great experience so far with Vanilla. The customer service particularly is exceptional

Reviewed 3 years ago
Pros

Moving to Vanilla was a great decision for us as we were provided with many more features, customization areas, and settings than we had with our previous forum software. We have been able to implement our own themes, enable plugins, add moderation rules and permissions and also apply stronger security than we had previously. The migration process with Vanilla was very smooth and we have had contacts...

Cons

Due to the high number of extra settings, plugins, and options available, it's a lot to take in and learn, especially if you're coming from another software where there was a limited amount of settings to use. We're grateful to have our wonderful Customer Success Manager on hand to guide us through these, send over the best guides to read and explain how it all works.

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  • Likelihood to recommend10/10

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Vanilla Forums for the win!

Reviewed 2 years ago

The sales process was awesome. My CSM is awesome. Support is very impressive. I really love Vanilla as a company. They're tuned in and know the secret to their success is mine. It's evident in every interaction I've had with them.

Pros

It's easy. There are a few small areas that could use more robust documentation, but overall I feel like I could have launched this platform in my sleep. Which is a huge win for our org. We're fairly small, growing really fast, and we've all got to put on additional hats to keep getting stronger. Vanilla forums provided a tool that could be spun up quickly without sacrificing how powerful it is. Having...

Cons

Just that the permissions are so granular they can get a little cumbersome. It just required really taking our time and testing. Not such a bad thing when it comes to permissions. Like I said, the current analytics built in are a great jumping off point. But we're leveraging google analytics as well to fill in the gaps. One "for instance" is what our customers are searching for. But this was easily solved leveraging the pockets and throwing in a GA tracker.

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  • Likelihood to recommend10/10

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A cute online community solution with amazing flexibility and scale

Reviewed 3 years ago
Pros

For our startup in online solution space, I was looking at a stable and easy to manage community solution and I found vanilla as the perfect solution to meet our requirements. It is pretty simple for Administration. We took a few hours to create and organize our online community. Building it up is easy. I found the solution, extremely flexible - a handful of options,and business rules. The...

Cons

So far, our experience with Vanilla is perfect and hence no dislike. If get more deep in to functionalities, probably analytics portion is something which require further improvement.

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  • Likelihood to recommend10/10

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Vanilla has been great from initial setup/launch to daily use & support. We're very happy.

Reviewed 3 years ago
Pros

Vanilla is easy to use and navigate, and the tools/options/add-ons are explained thoroughly in the dashboard. This was very helpful to me, especially in the beginning when I was fairly new to forum software. When we were just getting started, having several design options/layouts to choose from helped us get the look we wanted. The webinars I've watched were very helpful, and I've downloaded and read just about every eBook Vanilla has published (from their resources) to get advice and roadmaps for different aspects of managing a forum. Technical support has been outstanding throughout. Whenever we have an issue large or small, I can always count on a quick response and a solution or at least an explanation.

Cons

The only cons are that there are just a couple of specific features that we would like to have but they're not available for us: When starting a New Poll, options are limited. For example, a "select all that apply" option would be beneficial to the types of polls we take. In the theme we are using, we're unable to sort discussions based on number of views.

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  • Likelihood to recommend6/10

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Vanilla is a robust software, with plenty of add-on options.

Reviewed 2 years ago
Pros

While searching for ways to create a private intranet for my author friends and I to utilize, one option I looked at was VanillaForums. It has some great options out of the box, with the ability to create groups of interconnected forums, subforums, and discussion boards based on topics. The ability to add reactions and to include files and photos in our posts was also a big draw. I loved that as it has an open source option, I could host it myself and save a lot of money, as we are starting with only a few users.

Cons

Unfortunately, a lot of extras are add-ons for Vanilla. To fully customize your site, a knowledge of CSS and HTML is almost mandatory, as there aren't really any options for simple customization like adding color codes to a pre-built theme or uploading a background to the same theme. When bugs are posted about in the Vanilla forums, they aren't handled very quickly. I understand that a lot of times...

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  • Likelihood to recommend8/10

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Experience has been largely positive, though we have encountered some technical challenges.

Reviewed 3 years ago

We replaced user forums successfully and configured them to easily. Overall users were pleased and felt it was an upgrade on the previous forums.

Pros

The product is fully featured and relatively straightforward to configure and set up. Integration with SSO has been very easy and appears to work well and there are a number of plug-ins available which enable further customisation. Our forum moderators and the majority of users have found it simple and pleasant to use. Account management has been very good and fairly responsive to issues.

Cons

As a managed service there are a few hidden costs (migrations in particular). Some of the technology seems a little outdated and a bit inflexible - changing simple headings etc should be fairly straightforward but is in fact a manual task by the account manager, who has to root about in the code for the relevant strings. Also, the migration from staging to live is manual and open to user error. Image compression (or the lack of) has been a big issue for us as our sites are very visual and performance has suffered. I am hoping that some of the infrastructure changes they are making will improve this though.

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Good forum software with great customer service

Reviewed 5 years ago

I'm a moderator on a community that switched to Vanilla three years ago from a heavily hacked-together vBulletin. I was initially ambivalent about the switch - even though our old software had become hopelessly inadequate to our needs, it was super-tailored to the needs of our community - but Vanilla won me over, primarily on the strength of their support staff, who are not only pleasant and helpful, but are engaged in the community in a real way. As participants in our forum, they've come to know our needs as well as we do, and not only have all our old favorite features come back in newer, spiffier implementations, in a couple instances they have added entirely new features that addressed needs I didn't even know I had but now couldn't live without.

Pros

It's a slick, modern forum implementation that is heavily customizable (as a cursory flick through the diverse kinds of communities running the software can illustrate) with some features I really welcome in 2015, particularly the Minion, which automates a lot of tasks that used to require babysitting by moderators or community managers. This was something Vanilla provided us because they saw the kinds of things we were dealing with and they anticipated the need - that's service I appreciate.

Cons

The customer service is excellent and the team is eager to help find software solutions to community problems, but it can take a while for requested fixes to make their way through the pipeline.

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  • Likelihood to recommend10/10

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Outstanding community software and service

Reviewed a year ago

We've been working with Vanilla Forums since 2014 and have had a wonderful experience. Their team is responsive and the software has helped us grow our community considerably. We also appreciate Vanilla Forums' knowledge base and resources for community managers.

Pros

We love Vanilla Forums' user-friendly features and our community does too.

Cons

We don't have any cons and have been very happy with this software.

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Excellent Staff and Software

Reviewed 5 years ago

After many years of using vbBulletin, our site switch to Vanilla Software in 2011. The problem with vbBulletin was one of stability: we were having frequent outages in one incident we had to close the forum for about a month to deal with issues. The software was also not very flexbility, with each custom feature we added increasing vbBulletin's instability. With so many users, however, we need software...

Pros

The staff is excellent. They are in constant contact, and are very easy to contact in a moment's notice should something go wrong. In many cases they go above and beyond what we request, adding useful new features for us to test before deciding to fully implemented on our own forums.

Cons

Vanilla's strength is very strong and basic forums, and as a result it can take time for them roll out requested feature. This is typically not a problem, as the extra time is generally spent ensuring that the feature will satisfy our needs.

Overall Rating
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  • Likelihood to recommend8/10

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Great transition team, awesome support, easy to use product

Reviewed 3 years ago

Simple support forum solution, cloud hosting, and easy posting for our users.

Pros

After completing our transition to Vanilla and getting the community in place, the thing that makes Vanilla really stand out is how easy it is to use day to day. Tracking new threads, seeing new comments quickly, and being able to respond to our customers promptly make the product a great fit for our support forums. We also use Vanilla to host some locked knowledge content, a function beyond the scope of the product, but one Vanilla adapted to very nicely.

Cons

Some of the limitations in the text box can be frustrating. Our users often post written content and edit each other - previously we used a product with the option to change text color, something Vanilla lacks (outside of BBcode). A few other small functionalities of this sort are lacking, but on the whole nothing that has reduced the number of posts we get daily.

Overall Rating
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  • Likelihood to recommend8/10

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Vanilla is an easy to use product and their staff want you to succeed

Reviewed 3 years ago
Pros

Vanilla is intuitive and very easy to use. The support staff at Vanilla are easy to work with. They want you to succeed with their product and are willing to help in any way possible to see that through. Their integration with GitHub is a nice way to control the custom theme without having to worry about all the details. No complaints on downtime. Working with Vanilla for migrations from multiple products has been a breeze.

Cons

Vanilla is not as fully featured as other forum/community products. If running the hosted option, some configuration options are not readily available to administrators. Some options are only controlled by the system administrators at Vanilla.

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  • Likelihood to recommend9/10

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Simple, but effective.

Reviewed 3 years ago

Allows our users to engage and communicate in a fashion that was similar to previously used software, while simultaneously being a significantly more stable and less stressful product.

Pros

Vanilla provides simple forum software, but they still possessed the know-how to incorporate features needed by our community. Staff is friendly and quick to handle major problems and crises that occur.

Cons

Over the years, staff has been slower to fix bugs, with some minor ones persisting for years at this point. Communication could be better.

Overall Rating
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  • Likelihood to recommend9/10

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Great balance of features and ease of use.

Reviewed 3 years ago
Pros

The ease of using it both as an administrator and a user. The control panel is very clear, and while some other forum software has far more features, most of those features are bloat that most forums never need. I currently have five active sets of forums with Vanilla, after having used everything from Invision to Drupal, and Vanilla remains my favorite.

Cons

Nothing in particular stands out.

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Overall positive experience after migrating from a different forum platform.

Reviewed 3 years ago
Pros

The software is very easy to manage and it gives our community managers and moderators the tools they need to work easily and efficiently. The plug-ins give a good level of customization and the software has been relatively easy to configure to meet our business needs.

Cons

Coming from a different platform (Lithium) Vanilla is somewhat limited. There is no concept of custom HTML pages or custom navigation paths. As long as you can work within those constraints, this still delivers a very fluid and efficient forum experience for all of our users.

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