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Have you used free forum hosting services like Proboards or jcink? What are the pros and cons of using free forum hosting services? Do you think upgrading to premium services on these free forum hosting platforms is a good idea? Can you move these free hosted forums to premium platforms like Xenforo or even open source like phpBB?

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I have used free hosted forums as a user but I have never used free hosted forums myself. In my early days, I tried free blogging platforms and free website builders and based on my experience, I think using free hosted website is not a good idea. You do not have full ownership of your website and content. Getting traffic on a free hosted platform is also difficult. If you want to monetize, you might not be able to do so.

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If you want to upgrade your account on proboards you will have to pay at least $6 per month. This amount is less than what you would be paying for a subscription to Invision Community, additionally, you also need to pay for hosting. Therefore, upgrading an account on free hosting costs less and it is also easier to manage as you do not have to manage your hosting account and do not have to deal with forum customization.

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I have used free forum hosting services numerous times in the past and of the ones I have used which were Proboards, Jcink and Forummotion, I found Jcink to be the best one I have used with a lot of features available for free. 

If you are looking to build up a forum for revenue purposes or even to sell, using free forum hosting would not be ideal, I find that is more for building up a forum as a hobby. 

 

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I would be lying if I said I had not used free forum hosting options. Jcink was the one I checked out quite a few years ago just to see how much I could do with a free host and what was available. 

I do know there are other free hosting options out there for forums but I have only checked out Jcink out of curiosity. They are great for those who want to run forums for a hobby.

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Free forum hosting is perfect if you are looking to build up a community as a hobby. I know many who have used free forum hosting such as Proboards which is a popular one I see used to create a forum for their friends to be part of as a hobby. 

I wouldn't use free forum hosting myself but I am not against those who need to depending on their preference. 

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Free forum hosting makes me think that - and I say this candidly - you've been living under a rock for the last 10 years.  You're in your late 20's to 30's, you have a strong sense of nostalgia, and you probably went through a depressive period because your friends were all online internet relationships (kidding about this last point - but I may not be too far off the mark).  

There is no reason to be building a community on a free forum host, when there are free platforms that are significantly more modern, more user friendly, and certainly more well-known.  You can build communities on Discord, Facebook Groups, MeWe, Amino Apps, even Tumblr is launching communities.  All of these offer a more modern experience than JCink and ProBoards, which were useful 15 years ago when the web was a lot younger.  There are much better choices now.  

I'm not against starting free; in fact, I think more community owners should  go free and build up an audience before making the shift to paid and independent communities.  But within free, there's no reason to be using Proboards and Jcink versus more modern options.  

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