Forums, message boards and online communities have become an essential part of the web sphere. They are the hubs where people can interact, share information, and offer advice while overcoming physical barriers like geographical locations.
Online communities are gaining popularity as more people tend to depend on them more often. However, with the increase in the number of these forums and community sites, it is paramount for us to be able to sieve them and select only the best and most popular sites.
So, I did some research to get the list of the top 30 forums, message boards and online communities online, I excluded the big social media websites (social media websites are technically community websites as well, but I chose to focus on forums and message boards instead, since most social media platform need no introduction), and I hope this ranking turns out to be useful to you as it did to me, so enjoy!
Reddit is a news aggregation website that allows discussions and ratings of web content. Participation is restricted to registered members only. The website allows the member to post content e.g., links, texts, images, and even videos. These posts are then voted on by other members to rank them.
So, Reddit covers a wide range of topics, these are sub-classified communities or “subreddits” which refer to user-created boards usually named in the following format “r/topic” e.g., “r/programming”. It was founded in 2005 in the USA, and it has loads of STEM related subreddits, so techies will have their fill of active communities in their domain.
In 2020, it was estimated to have +500 million active users every month. 52 million daily users. With the majority of the users from the USA at around 222 million per month. It has +130,000 super active communities and approximately +2.8 million subreddits in total.
Reddit allows for do-follow links, so you can use it to build your back-links profile, but most subreddits have a strong anti-spam and anti-self promotion stance, so you must provide real value to the communities, not just spam them with your links.
Quora.com is an online community that works on the basis of questions and answers. This community was founded in June 2009 by two former Facebook employees.
Currently, Quora has approximately 300 million active users every month with google trends showing it to have an upward trend in its profile. This means the popularity of the site is still growing. On a day, questions asked on the online community can range from 3000 up to 5000.
Most of the questions posted on Quora get responses within 20 to 30 minutes with the questions stated more clearly getting quicker responses. Currently, the online community does not offer do-follow links. It is however one of the best sites currently for content marketing, and a decent source of traffic.
GitHub is an online code repository host for its members’ content. It allows its members who are mostly software developers to share the projects that they are working on. GitHub’s membership is approximately constituted of over 65 million software developers who have created over 200 million repositories. Github is now owned by Microsoft
This repository website supports all file types ranging from text to videos. It is a very good option for developers who want to collaborate on projects. It allows members to contribute by suggesting new features, supporting another person’s project through coding and so much more.
It is strongly supported by the open-source community where it freely avails a project’s source code to the community. Organizations like Google use its services to boost the confidence of other users.
Imgur is an image-sharing website created in 2009. It began by hosting images and memes that were trending on other websites (namely Reddit). Later on, it enabled the users to host & share their pictures independently of any other social media sites.
Currently, Imgur’s online image hosting and sharing site has +150 million users and it hosts over 2 billion images. The posts reach over 250 million people monthly. It uses adverts to cater for its hosting charges and the online site began offering subscriptions for members to enjoy ad-free experiences.
5- StackOverFlow & The Stack Exchange Network
StackOverFlow and StackExchange’s network of Q/A websites started as a software developers’ forum platform that was created back in 2008. It is a platform where users can ask questions on software development & other STEM related topics, and get answers from other professionals and enthusiasts.
Members can vote on the answers to a question according to the effectiveness of the proposed solution enabling them to be ranked higher. It has over 50 million users, and statistics of 2021 estimate it to have 31 million answers so far for the 21 million questions asked.
StackOverFlow boasts a response time of less than an hour. It offers content over a wide range of programming languages and technologies.
The site offers quality by scanning the questions posted to ensure they are strictly programming-based and very precise. Any ambiguous question or one that might elicit opinion-based responses is marked closed and hence rejected to ensure the site remains effective and objective.
The same principle of StackOverFlow is applied to all Q/A communities of StackExchange, which include communities about mathematics, physics, languages, photography, history & geography, finance & personal finance, gaming…etc
Discord is an online community platform that focuses on real-time communication for gamers. It is an online web platform and app that allows gamers to talk to each other and organize to play games together online. It solves the communication problem between online gamers.
It has gained popularity with +15 million people logging on daily and over +250 million registered users. It is not a forum in the typical sense since all communication happens in real-time.
It has a support page that has the frequently asked questions categorized as per the topics and users can search through those questions and their proposed answers.
Medium is an online publishing platform that hosts over 60 million active monthly users. It was created by a co-founder of Twitter. It works by allowing users to post on this site long articles for their viewers to read.
It allows one to link their medium profile to that of their social media accounts, specifically Facebook and Twitter. This helps them to take advantage of their social media following and gives their followers access to their work easily.
The Steam community is an online forum where gamers can sell and buy games from one another and other items that are used for gaming. It allows for users to offer support to one another and also communicate with the gaming world.
This online community allows for updating of games, in-game voice, and chat functionalities, and others such as friends lists and group lists. This online community hosts around +30 million users.
Archive of Our Own is a non-profit repository for fan-fiction and other fan-works that have been contributed by users. It was created in 2008. It works by allowing users to create profiles where they can add their work and other content. They can create collections, participate in challenges, import and bookmark other works.
They can also comment and like other people’s works. It hosts subgroups within it called fandoms made of groups of members who share the same interests.
Currently, it has about 40 thousand fandoms with over 7 million hosted works. It has over 2. 5 million registered users. Its organization is simple and easy to use.
10- IGN Boards
IGN is an abbreviation for Imagine Games Network and it is a massive community with gaming forums as the main topic, but also entertainment (Anime, Movies, Comic Books…), sports (basketball, baseball, football…), as well as other topics (cooking, cars, dating…etc).
The IGN boards have over 229 million users worldwide. Its YouTube channel has more than 18 million subscribers. Its following is still massive on other social media platforms amassing 44 million followers.
It also supports other custom forums for specific geographical groups and language groups. However, users still complain of the live streams on the site that unnecessarily drain data from users especially with metered connections and the incompatibility issues of the site with several devices & plugins.
11- Microsoft Docs
Microsoft Docs is the documentation library for Microsoft products’ end users, developers, and IT professionals. In addition to the documentation, the e-learning platform and code samples library, it has an active Q/A community where you can exchange useful knowledge and information with other Microsoft Specialists.
It launched in 2016 as a replacement of MSDN and TechNet libraries which previously hosted some of these materials. It now allows for sharing of knowledge and files as long as you have a Microsoft account.
12- GameFAQs (Gamespot)
GameFAQs is an online host for frequently asked questions about video games created back in 1995. The site usually holds a daily opinion poll and tournaments. It hosts sub-communities called message boards which deal with specific games in the site database.
It has information on video games, cheat codes, reviews etc… It is estimated that the site receives 2 – 5 new users every minute. The site does support do-follow back-links.
4chan is an online bulletin board for images that were created in 2003. It allows anyone to post, share and comment anonymously on images and other posts.
It currently has 20 million unique users every month and over 900, 000 posts daily. The boards are organized into several topics.
14- Slick Deals
Slick Deals is an online platform that allows its users to find and share the best shopping deals online ranked and voted on by other members.
It allows the members to also share deals that they have found online that could benefit other users. It allows for do-follow back-links and currently boasts over 12 million users.
15- Nexus Mods
Nexus Mods is an online community where users are allowed to share game modifications referred to as mods. It is one of the largest gaming sites on the internet acting as a source of original content.
It has over 25 million registered members. It allows for members to attach links for other users to download the mods.
XDA Developers is a website that contains vast resources on android development. it is one of the largest online global resources for android developers. It contains a forum where developers can exchange ideas and brainstorm on problems faced during their development journeys.
Topics in the forum are organized according to the mobile devices and the operating systems of the devices.
Kaskus is an Indonesian-based company that hosts an online forum for users. It has registration which enables members to access over twenty sub-forums organized according to the region and the subjects the forums discuss.
This is currently considered the largest online community forum in Indonesia. In 2012 it had 4.5 million users, in 2014 the number had risen to 25 million users. The forum allows users to share links that other users can click to follow up on posts and other news posted.
TripAdvisor is a well known travel destinations’ reviews & recommendations site, it has several active forums for specific regions or for specific themes (like traveling with pets, bargain travels, honeymoon travels…etc), the forums allow you to ask travelers who’ve been there before, and to share your own experience with fellow travelers.
19- Ars Technica
Ars Technica was started as a website to cover opinions and news on technology and politics. It has a majority of regular users who are postgraduates and work for academic or private institutions. Ars Technica has several active forums in Hardware & Tweaking, Operating Systems & Software, Gaming and more.
It offers public content that is free to everyone and also has a premium membership option. It boasts over 12 million unique users, 2 million followers on social media, and 15.7 million views on its videos.
MoneySavingExpert (MSE) is the website considered the UK’s largest consumer website with over 16 million users per month. It offers its users links to the best deals online, best shopping offers, and available online sales. It also has a super active forum about everything related to personal finance, investing, frugality & minimalism.
The MSE forum does not support any self-promotion or advertising, and neither does it charge any users for using their services, it’s a free community supported by affiliate links from special partnerships between MSE’s owners and a select group of brands.
SpiceWorks Community is a collection of online message boards that allow users to collaborate on projects and seek feedback and advice from each other. It also offers a platform where users can purchase IT-related goods and services.
It is renowned for having over 6 million IT professionals using it and over 3 million technology vendors. It offers over 6 million unique visitors its services. It supports do-follow back-links by users as they exchange ideas and solutions.
HackerNews by YCombinator (the famous startup accelerator that launched several tech startups like Reddit, AirBnB, Stripe & DropBox…) is a community site for discussions and news aggregation that promotes innovation and creative thinking by encouraging its members to post anything that they are curious about. It is a forum that focuses on computer science and the business side of the field.
It is estimated that every month, 8 million people visit HackerNews. The credibility of information and news pertaining to IT & cybersecurity news is unquestionable as it focuses more on that particular field.
It allows its users to submit links to stories that are then voted for by being flagged. If a story gets over 100 votes, that story features on the front page of the site.
This is a well-known micro-blogging platform, but many use it as a social media website, and that is why I left it near the bottom of this ranking.
Tumbler basically allows you to share any type of content you want (articles, links, audio, photos & videos…etc) on your own dashboards (sort of micro-blogs), you can put hashtags on your posts so they can be discovered by the community, people can follow your ‘blogs’, and leave comments / notes on your publications, basically if you are familiar with Twitter & Medium, you’ll get the hang of it quickly since it’s sort of a crossover between the functionalities of those two.
This site has more than 500 million ‘blogs’, spanning pretty much every content-category you can think of, and is visited by more than 300 million unique visitors on a monthly basis.
Saidit.net is a redesigned Reddit clone. It offers several forums similar to subreddits where people can share posts and other members get to vote on the posts. The members get to vote on a post as “insightful” or “fun” or both, no down-votes as far as I saw. Voting a post as both “insightful” and “fun” gives it the most points for it is both informative and fun to read.
This site has a monthly traffic of around 500k unique visitors, and as far as I can tell, it allows for do-follow back-links and self-promotion, as long as you don’t spam, and actually participate in the different message boards.
Notabug is a Reddit clone and offers users a platform to share opinions and news on different topics. On this online forum, users can share links to other articles and resources online including links to YouTube videos.
The site has around 100k unique visitors per month, and it seems to allow do-follow back-links as long as you don’t spam, and are smart about your linking strategy.
Snapzu is an online community that allows members to share all sorts of content from links to pictures, articles, and videos. It hosts many user-managed communities for like-minded people offering them the liberty to vet and rate the content displayed in the online forum.
The best part is the content is not censored as the site believes in freedom of speech and expression, however, it does not allow for self-promotion, unless you are super active on the different boards/topics.
Lobsters is an online community focusing on link aggregation and online discussions related to Tech and STEM in general. It was started in 2012 and focuses on building healthy tech communities. The stories and links being posted have to be tagged by the users according to the predefined tags that mark their category for ease of access and sorting.
Phuks is a link aggregation site (yep, another Reddit clone) that focuses on collecting links from preexisting content online and rearranging them, sorting them in an understandable format for users to access easily. It offers a myriad of links to its users saving them a lot of time online, and offering them the possibility of having meaningful conversations about them.
This is a social news website that allows for discussions between the members. This site allows for members to post links to other sites for easier access and sorting. Members get to refer other members to links to articles that answer the questions posed.
This is an online forum that allows users to access data with minimal to no user tracking at all. It also prioritizes relevant information ensuring high-quality content to its users at all times. The forum is applauded for its no-bullying policy whereas all the cyberbullies are removed from the forum without hesitation.
Well, that’s it for this list, I hope you found it helpful ! This was the top 30 forums, message boards and online communities, ranked mostly by popularity (traffic). You can check my other articles about forums or websites in specific niches or for specific audiences:
- Best Forums for Students – HighSchool, Undergrad & Grad School Forums, Message Boards and Online Communities
- Best Websites for Students and Their Studies
- Programming Forums, Message Boards & Online Communities for Programmers and Software Developers / Engineers
- Best Web Design & Web Dev Forums, Message Boards & Online Communities
- Photoshop Forums, Message Boards & Online Communities – Top 15
- Best Forum For Hackers – Top 20
- Forums About Making Money Online
- Best Robotics Forums – Top 15
- Best Forums About WordPress – Top 25
- Forum Plugins For WordPress – Top 15
- Shopify & E-Commerce Forums
- Best Digital Marketing Forums – Top 15
- Best Websites & Forums for Entrepreneurs, Startup Founders & Small Business Owners