Best Vanilla Forums Alternatives, Competitors & Similar Software (2022)

Vanilla is a holistic solution for building and managing an online community.

With Vanilla Forums, you can easily create an online community and use different moderation tools to manage it. For example, you can delete, move, or merge discussions. This flexibility allows you to keep your community organized and running smoothly.

However, if you're looking to create a branded community with a mobile app, you may be out of luck. Vanilla Forums can only be accessed through a web browser, and there is no dedicated app on either the Google Play store or the Apple store.

You'll have to use additional third-party apps if you want a branded mobile app. This can become quite the hassle and not be very efficient. You might want to consider a different solution to build a community and have a dedicated store to sell your courses, memberships, and digital products all in one place. There are plenty of fantastic solutions that could fit your needs!

What is an online community platform?

A community platform can help you create a safe, secure online space where your members can interact with each other and your company. With a community platform, you can give your members the ability to share knowledge, help each other, and create valuable personal and professional networks.

There are a lot of community platforms out there, but the best ones share some key features. They're customizable, use modern design practices, are easy to use, and come with powerful gamification and moderation capabilities. So if you're looking for a new community platform, make sure it has these features.

Vanilla Forums Pricing

  • Starts from $689.
  • Free version available.

Reason to look for Vanilla Forums Alternatives

  • Private spaces are not available.
  • Quizzes Assessments are not available in Vanilla Forums.
  • There are no newsletter options available.
  • There is no way for you to create your brand on Vanilla Forums.

Best Vanilla Forums Alternatives

Scenes

Scenes is an ultimate community platform that helps you build a robust community where you can sell your courses and host live events, webinars, and live streams. Scenes offers the best community features through which you can moderate, manage, and monetize your community all in one place - with your brand appearance, under your custom domain. Scenes can also generate a whitelabelled mobile app and list it on the Play Store/App Store.

Scenes Features

  • High level of customization: You can plug in your domain, add your branding, maintain the brand's colours, and even copy/paste your exact UI (via custom CSS). Scenes is an absolute "brand-consistent" platform.
  • Built-in store: A built-in store allows you to sell courses, information products, digital goods, merchandise and even membership tiers. Plus, you pay the lowest transaction fees compared to all other similar platforms.
  • Push notifications on mobile: When more than 60% of global internet users are on mobile devices, your members must have access to the community on the go. Push notifications via a mobile app ensures that your users are engaged regardless of where they are.
Scenes

Pros

  • Available across in multiple formats & avatars; be it a web app under your domain, a native whitelabeled app on Android and iOS, integrations within your existing app or API-based integrations.
  • Auto Scaling across platforms - Scenes uses powerful auto-scaling technology to keep your community blazing fast no matter how many visitors you have across all devices. They scale as you scale.
  • The only platform that enables custom CSS for top to bottom granular-level user interface customization. You can make your community look close to your app/website's UI.
  • A built-in coin system lets you incentivize your community members to engage more.
  • Live audio-video features for your events, webinars and live classes where all your members can get notified and RSVP.

Cons

  • You will lose some members during the platform migration process.

Discourse

Discourse is an online discussion platform. With it, you get the power and flexibility of social networking with the best of the traditional forum software. This software is easy to use, comes with many features and can be scaled without paying for any add-ons.

Discourse Features

  • Conversations, not pages - Why break conversations into awkward and arbitrary pages, where you have to constantly find the Next Page button? We’ve replaced all that with the power of just-in-time loading. Want to read more? Keep scrolling down.
  • Simple, but with context - Discourse is a simple, flat forum, where replies flow down the page in a line. Expand context at the bottom and top of each post, and also in quotes, to reveal the full conversation without losing your place.
  • Social login - Easily add common social logins like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Discord, and GitHub.

Discourse Pricing

  • Starts at $100/mo.
  • Free version available.
Discourse

Pros

  • Anything you see on screen, you can also do via an API call.
  • Automatic notification of new versions in the dashboard, with a one-click web upgrade process.
  • Very easy to administer and moderate discussions.

Cons

  • Some configuration UIs are difficult to follow.
  • Not well-suited for managing workflows (grant management as an example).
  • Bulk operations across multiple threads either impossible or difficult to figure out.

Tribe

Tribe is a Whitelabell community platform for businesses. It is famous for its customizability and integration capabilities. Primarily, Tribe is built for text-based conversations using features like forums, polls, etc.

Tribe Features

  • The UI is easy-to-use and comprises customizable blocks called 'spaces'.
  • It offers powerful rich-text features to format and deliver your content how you want to present it to your users.
  • A moderation panel that lets you manage your community smoothly and efficiently.

Tribe Pricing

  • Paid Plan starts at $59/month.
  • The free Plan includes 100 total members, essential apps, and a custom domain.
Tribe

Pros

  • Offers a white-label community with a good level of customizations that lets you match your community aesthetics to your brand aesthetics.
  • Has widgets and APIs that let you integrate with several third-party applications. 
  • Has a generous free plan that lets you house 500 members (without the Paywall feature, however).

Cons

  • More of an old-school forum-based tool rather than a full-fledged community platform with real time-communication features like live audio/video.
  • It lacks an incentive system and gamification features necessary for community engagement. Your users need incentives to engage.
  • No built-in shop/paywall system that lets your users buy products from you, such as premium memberships, courses, and the like.

Discord

Discord barely needs any introduction as a community tool. Originally intended to be a text/voice-based group-chatting platform for gamers, Discord has broken the mould to house all kinds of communities. Think of it like a less-serious version of Slack. You have channels, role systems that enable you to restrict access to specific/all members and incentive systems (boosts).

Discord Features

  • Interact via live/audio video and text-based channels with community members.
  • Assign roles to restrict access to specific channels or to introduce status-based hierarchies within your community.
  • Reward valuable social behaviour among your community members through Badges (a gamification tool).

Discord Pricing

  • Starting price is $4.99/month for Discord Nitro Classic and $9.99 for Discord Nitro.
  • A free version of Discord is available.
Discord

Pros

  • Discord has unlimited file storage.
  • Discord allows audio calls to up to 5,000 concurrent listeners.
  • Discord allows you to make Public and Private channels.

Cons

  • Discord has a limited group video-calling capacity with a limit of as low as 25 members.
  • Discord works well for starters, but when you hit scale (500+ members), you will find that it is not at all customizable - no whitelabeling, no branding and no support. As a result, you don't have 100% ownership of your community.
  • Discord does not provide valuable in-depth reporting and analytics that enables you to take critical decisions to steer the community.

Slack

Slack is where workplace communication happens. As a tool designed for collaborative workflow, Slack allows team members to put forward their ideas or concerns and get them heard whenever they want. It's a one-stop shop for work-chat that integrates with typical web applications like Google Drive and Dropbox.

Slack Features

  • The thread features allow effective communication between team members by tracking every new conversation.
  • Create public and private channels to allow for team-based collaboration and communication.
  • Supports all kinds of rich-text formats and media, including images, GIFS, file uploads, bulletin and numbering and more.

Slack Pricing

  • Paid Plans start at $8.75 per user/mo.
  • The free Plan includes access to 10,000 recent messages, ten integrations with other apps, and 1:1 voice and video calls.
Slack

Pros

  • Works best for improving workplace communication and efficiency between teams.
  • Extremely intuitive interface, rich with features with plenty of integrations with other products.
  • Works seamlessly for remote teams all around the world.

Cons

  • Slack is a great workplace tool but nothing close to a community-building platform. The entire tool is optimized to improve collaboration over email.
  • The paid Plan is expensive for community builders, starting at $8.75 per user monthly. That is ~$1000 if you have a community of 100 members.
  • No gamification tools to incentivize your community and no ability to white-label your community in terms of domain, branding and appearance.

Circle

Features

  • Scale a community without chaos or complexity
  • Gather your community under your own brand
  • Build a business, without the burnout
Circle

Pros

  • Only Mighty has data from hundreds of thousands of thriving communities cultivated over the past five years.
  • That’s how we know things like the optimal price to charge for a monthly membership, or how much content you really need to build your first online course.
  • We share these learnings with you and more through Mighty Community and Mighty Insights™, the deep analytics and benchmarking you get with Mighty.

Cons

  • Slower to reach ROI
  • More Expensive
  • Dangerous for public communities
  • Adding live streams to your community can make it more alive. You get access to audio rooms where you can keep track of your community member’s interests and involve them in discussions.

Memberful

Memberful is a membership site platform that enables you to sell and deliver digital and physical goods, community subscriptions, and online courses. Members can easily pay and stay subscribed with its tools.  

Memberful Features

  • WordPress Plugin - It allows you to make private posts on your WordPress website. This is ideal for creating members-only content.
  • Discord Plugin - You can create a chat forum for members-only. Memberful invites paid members to your Discord server and removes their access when their subscription expires.
  • Track your performance - You can track your performance and earn new members using conversion analytics and activity metrics, Gift purchases, Group subscriptions, Coupons, Discounts, Referral programmes, Free trials, etc.

Memberful Pricing

  • Starts at $25/mo.
  • Free trial available.
Memberful

Pros

  • Memberful offers reasonable prices compared to its other competitors. It is budget friendly and a good investment in building 
  • With the free plan, you have access to a variety of advanced features.
  • Tens of thousands of third-party applications are compatible with memberful integration.

Cons

  • Besides hosting costs for your WordPress site, Memberful charges fees between 4.9%-10% on each transaction.
  • Memberful works with WordPress, but you have to add extra plugins to handle SEO, which can take a great deal of work.
  • In comparison to other solutions, they have fewer features to offer.

LearnWorlds

LearnWorlds is a learning management system that lets course creators create online courses. Using LearnWorlds, you can create student communities and sell online courses.

LearnWorlds Features

  • Offers gamification tools such as badges so that you can acknowledge efforts & promote good behaviour.
  • In-built shop for highlighting the details of your courses and selling them all in one place.
  • A broad range of assessment tools to help the educator & the students measure the learning progress.  

LearnWorlds Pricing

  • Paid plan starts at $24/month (billed annually).
  • LearnWorlds offers a free 30-day trial.
LearnWorlds

Pros

  • You can create student communities in LearnWorlds so that your members can share their experiences, ideas, and learnings.
  • Students can interact with your course content through LearnWorlds' course builder and enjoy a blissful learning experience.
  • LearnWorld's live online classes encourage your students to have interactive sessions and discussions among each other.

Cons

  • LearnWorld's interface is difficult to understand, and there are no tutorials that can help you get started.
  • Regarding email management and funnel-building tools, LearnWorlds does not offer as many options.
  • In LearnWorld, users complain that many features do not work when courses are published, making the learning experience less seamless.
  • With LearnWorlds, you need too many integrations and more management, distracting you from your business activities. 

Kajabi

Kajabi is a platform that enables educators to run their online courses and manage their students in one place. Moreover, Kajabi also offers a mobile app to allow your users to access courses on the go (however, it is not a native white-label app)

Kajabi Features

  • No bandwidth or storage restrictions - Upload all of your videos, photos, and other files without worrying about space or bandwidth limitations.
  • Fully-fledged LMS capabilities let you run your courses and manage your students seamlessly.
  • Integrated checkout - Accept payments from anywhere in the world using Stripe or PayPal and give instant access to your content behind a paywall.

Kajabi Pricing

  • Starting Price is $119/month.
  • Kajabi offers a 14-Day free trial.
Kajabi

Pros

  • Kajabi has rich-text and media features that let you upload all kinds of content into your online content library.
  • You can track lesson progress, view grades, and get detailed analytics on how well students digest your content.
  • Kajabi offers your prospective students free trials to taste your content before rolling them over to become paid customers.

Cons

  • Kajabi is one of the most expensive solutions out there when it comes to LMS + community platforms.
  • It lacks good customer support and offers minimal options to customize your course community.
  • You have no native branded mobile app; your students will have to download the Kajabi app to access your content.

Podia

Podia is a platform that lets you build a free, no-code website and sell your online courses. With Podia, you can create a business from anywhere in the world with zero fees or start-up costs.  

Podia Features

  • Connect your audience and your content – You can host an online community in the same place that your audience uses your digital products.
  • Community – In Podia, you can create a community that works like a forum or Slack. The design is clean, and the workflow is simple.
  • Course Features – Using Podia, you can quickly create lessons and quizzes.

Podia Pricing

  • Paid Plans start at $39/month.
  • It has a free version.
Podia

Pros

  • You can offer your audience webinars using YouTube Live and Zoom with Podia.
  • If you want your website to look professional and run smoothly, you do not need to be tech-savvy or have coding knowledge.
  • You can connect your payments, scheduling, and sales pages all in one place in minutes with Podia.

Cons

  • Podia does not have a mobile app if you want to build courses that will be accessible on mobile for your members.
  • Podia doesn't offer in-depth lesson reports if you're interested in knowing how impressive your course is. Only some basic information about student progress is provided.
  • To assess your students more effectively, Podia lacks open-ended questions. The use of multiple choice questions is not suitable for all courses.

Thinkific

Thinkific is a digital course creation platform where educators can curate online courses for their students. In addition, they offer competitive LMS features that let their customers run online courses effectively.

Thinkific Features

  • Assessments & Certificates - Offers comprehensive quizzes, engagement surveys, assignments, exams and certificates.
  • Progress Tracking - In-depth reporting to track student progress.
  • Live Lessons - Deliver lessons via live audio/video and let your students engage with you in realtime (via Zoom integration).

Thinkific Pricing

  • Paid plan starts at $39/month to $399/month.
  • The free plan includes access to all the core features of the platform.
Thinkific

Pros

  • Easy-to-use UI that makes running courses on Thinkific all the more seamless.
  • A very prompt support system responds to customer queries and problems and comes with an active Facebook group filled with Thinkific customers.
  • You can design the access portal, the courses, and the payment methods all in one interface without needing third-party integrations.

Cons

  • Not built for community engagement - in 2022, an LMS is not enough to successfully run courses. Thinkific lacks critical community features like gamification and incentive systems.
  • Cannot manage multiple cohorts under the same roof - this may constrain you as your courses start scaling and diversifying.
  • The pricing is slightly more expensive than alternatives and confusing for some.

Ruzuku

Ruzuku is an online portal where students from across the globe can learn by taking courses. The website enables education institutions to upload courses, track student performance and more efficiently manage monetary transactions which lead to a highly effective student-professor interaction as well as better ranking for prestigious institutions.

Ruzuku Features

  • It helps you set up and configure different types of course content- including images, videos, quizzes, lists, etc- without coding anything at all.
  • Course Analytics – As an online tutor, you should be able to track your students as they progress through the courses.
  • A Flexible Subscription System – You could choose to have your subscription bill coming in every month or on an annual basis.
Ruzuku

Pros

  • Students can mark each activity as “complete”, and track their own progress.
  • It provides a straightforward system of setting up your online courses and configuring the accompanying options. You could, for instance, select a relevant payment framework for your students, and then determine an ideal price for each course.
  • You can rely on Ruzuku to handle not only the enrolment process but also the corresponding payments. All the students will be charged accordingly based on their selections and your precise course pricing schedule.

Cons

  • You cannot offer a free trial of your course.
  • There is no place to promote active, continuous and open discussion. It does not have a central forum.
  • Can suffer from feature bloat(result of packing too many features and functionalities into a product).

MemberPress

MemberPress is the easiest and most powerful WordPress membership plugin available today. It lets you quickly and easily set up a membership website, sell access to premium content or files, charge recurring fees, and so much more. And it's all included right in your WordPress dashboard!

MemberPress Features

  • Power of WordPress - MemberPress’ paywall feature is a built-in WordPress capability that gives you extraordinary power over what content or products you wish to make available behind your paywall.
  • MemberPress is a wordpress forum plugin that allows you to easily build password protected forums with the same quality software and support as WordPress.
  • MemberPress is great at giving you control over what content you’re users can see. You can decide and customize who can access your site based on content restrictions set within MemberPress and fine-tune your WordPress site in so many different ways.
MemberPress

Pros

  • The access restrictions is a great feature, wherein you can select any content that you want to block.
  • It is flexible in deep integration with WordPress. It makes it very easy to brand and pull into their API to meet your needs.
  • Its 2-in-1 feature of Course and Membership plugin for WordPress is convenient for setting up course sites.

Cons

  • Expensive, no Lifetime Option.
  • Interface is not the friendliest.
  • Integrations should be built inside the plugin.

WildApricot

With WildApricot, associations and non-profit organizations can automate and simplify membership management tasks. WildApricot allows you to add, edit, manage members, and collect dues and payments.

WildApricot Features

  • Member application process – WildApricot offers membership management software that can automate the application process to give your new members a great first impression.
  • Events – You can create a detailed event listing with descriptions and images and get an online event registration form. You can list events in a calendar on your WildApricot site or existing website.
  • Email marketing - With WildApricot, you can send prospective members announcements or offers using modern email templates that match your brand.

WildApricot Pricing

  • Starts at $60/mo.
  • 30-Day free trial is available.
WildApricot

Pros

  • You can easily customize your member database with WildApricot. You can use it to keep track of all sorts of information, and it's easy to use.
  • WildApricot provides up-to-date member directories. You can also store membership information in the cloud, making it accessible to your team.
  • WildApricot's drag-and-drop website builder creates a website easily, sells digital products and services, and quickly gets your business online.

Cons

  • WildApricot does not give you the freedom to create a website that matches your brand strategy.
  • WildApricot does not provide any specific functionality for course building, so you may have difficulty formatting your courses and displaying student progress. In addition, WildApricot does not host videos or digital files.
  • You can only add a certain number of members, emails, and invites unless you spend some extra money.

Disciple Media

Disciple Media is a community platform that enables you to segment your audience, manage and post content, host livestreams, sell online courses, and analyze your community. Each member can create a profile, and then use that information to find, friend, and message their peers. You can build your own platform for Web (Mac or PC), iOS (iPhone or iPad), or Android devices.

Disciple Media Features

  • Store and share your content from one-central place
  • Customise your content library to suit your community’s needs and use multiple layouts such as folders, group-sand lists to craft your community structure
  • You can keep your members coming back with Push Notifications, Events and Emails.
Disciple Media

Pros

  • By analysing the performance of your content, you will be able to know what works best.
  • Your most engaged and least engaged members can be tracked.
  • Livestreams and Direct Messaging allow you to communicate with your members in real time.

Cons

  • The inability to add a thumbnail to a PDF file or download in a folder. Inability for users to create groups.
  • There are still some limitations in functionality that could change as the app becomes more mature. A clearer explanation of the updates/development process is needed to help users anticipate updates.
  • There are no options for 1:1 video chats or group video chats.

Disclaimer: To curate the pros, cons and reviews - we mine the internet for customer references regarding the said software. Some of our sources include Reddit, Product Hunt, Twitter & Quora (and sites like G2 & Capterra).

What you should do now

Whenever you’re ready…here are 3 ways we can help:

  1. If you’d like to turn your business into a community-led business, book a call with us. One of our community experts will understand your current situation, and suggest how a community can work for you.

  2. If you’d like to learn the exact community-building formula we’ve used to help build 2000+ communities, watch this masterclass or read this guide.

  3. If you know another colleague or friend who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook.

scenes platform