Conferencing Software for the Web

A comprehensive guide to software that powers discussions on the Web

Forum Software - BBS Software - Internet & Intranet Groupware
Software for Virtual Communities - Virtual Teams - Message Boards - Collaborative Workgroups


Free Speech Online  Online Communication Specialists
We'll help you choose software and build an online space for your virtual community or virtual teams

Maintained by Paul Terry Walhus
Updated Jan 30, 2001

What's here: Web software for text-based, asynchronous group discussions.
What's NOT: Real-time chat, video, or audio conferencing. (See Other Related Resources.)

Contents of this Page

Related Pages

Additions - Comments - Suggestions - Corrections

New Additions

Jan 25, 2001
Jive | Backtalk is now freeware
Jan 12, 2001
Dec 22, 2000
HeyMax Message Boards
Dec 21, 2000
Zielinski Forums
Dec 20, 2000
Ikonboard | PHP-Nuke | Snitz Forums
Oct 5, 2000
Prattle | Scoop | Slash
Sep 7, 2000
CFBoards | Cold Fusion based forums | Orchestra
Sep 6, 2000
Encore Web Forum | panFora

Commercial Web Conferencing Software

These products can be used to set up conferences on your own Web site.
aGNeS News Forum
Forums can be run for free on the developer's server, or the software can be purchased.
Developer: Daniel Doubrovkine, Vestris Inc.
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT

AltaVista Forum
See SiteScape Forum

Web-based bulletin board system. Can be configured to emulate competing products. A limited version is available free for noncommercial use.
Developer: Netbula
Platforms: UNIX, Windows (requires Perl 5)

ArsDigita Community System
A suite of open source modules designed for building web-based communities.
Developer: ArsDigita Corp.
Platform: UNIX

ASP Fast Forum (formerly Forum 104)
Very inexpensive, especially for noncommercial users. Implemented using Active Server Pages and VBScript.
Developer: Allan Ebdrup, 10-4
Platform: Windows

A Visual Basic discussion component based on Active Server Pages.
Developer: iExchange Corp.
Platform: Windows

Simple bulletin board that allows file attachments.
Developer: True Digital
Platform: UNIX

Blackboard CourseInfo (formerly Interactive Learning Network)
Multimedia authoring tool for Web-based instruction, featuring threaded discussions and real-time chat.
Developer: Blackboard, Inc.
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT

A toolkit for building e-Commerce sites, with a strong emphasis on forums. Also offers chat rooms. An API allows full customization of the user interface.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows

Caput offers components that serve as building blocks for community sites, including message boards, chat, Web-based email, mailing lists, instant messaging, and others.
Platform: UNIX

Very inexpensive. Includes chat and voting features.
Developer: LabGO
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Ceilidh (or see the UK site)
Available in English and several other languages. Features e-mail notification and listserv capabilities. A free version is also available.
Developer: Lilikoi Software
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, OS/2, Macintosh

Offers file attachments and email notification. Source code is available.
Developer: Erudition Zone
Platform: Windows (requires Cold Fusion and SQL database)

Cold Fusion based forums
The Allaire Cold Fusion site features a Developer's Exchange, where developers of Cold Fusion based applications can post their products. Several forum, message board, and chat applications are listed, some free, some not. All require the Cold Fusion software.
Developer: various
Platform: Windows

Collabra Share
See Netscape Collabra Server

Developer will install the software at your site.
Developer: Ecreations
Platform: UNIX

Consensus @anyWare
Groupware system designed for collaborative work. This is a commercial version of TCBWorks.
Developer: The SoftBicycle Company
Platform: Windows NT

Inexpensive message board. A limited version is available free.
Developer: Nobreak Technologies, Inc.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows

A database-driven BBS.
Developer: DCScripts
Platforms: UNIX, Windows NT (written in Perl)

Dialogue Forums
Free for noncommercial use. Stores messages in a Microsoft Access database.
Developer: Phillip Kallerman
Platform: Windows 95 & NT (written in Perl)

Discus Pro
A commercial add-on to the freeware Discus, that provides additional security, ability to manage larger forums, and other features.
Developer: DiscusWare, LLC
Platforms: UNIX, Windows (written in Perl)

You can run a discussion forum on JADA's site, or purchase the software and customize it for use on your own server. Requires SQL server.
Developer: JADA Productions
Platform: Windows NT

Usenet News server with a built-in Web gateway. Free to nonprofits and educational institutions.
Developer: NetWin Ltd.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh, OS/2, VMS, Novell Netware

See Lotus Domino.

Dr. B's Virtual Message Board Tool
Very inexpensive. The user interface makes extensive use of Javascript.
Developer: The OM-Tec Company
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh (written in Perl)

EIES (Electronic Information Exchange System)
Web interface to the venerable EIES conferencing system.
Developer: CCCC, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Platform: UNIX

Emaze Forums
Requires Allaire's Cold Fusion.
Developer: Emaze Software
Platform: Windows

Encore Web Forum
Uses a linear discussion structure, organized in topics and subtopics. Also features email notification. A free limited version is available for evaluation.
Developer: Arborior
Platforms: Windows, UNIX (written in Perl)

Collaborative workgroup environment. Users must have a Web browser plus eRoom client software.
Developer: eRoom Technology, Inc. (formerly Instinctive Technology)
Platform: Windows NT

eShare Expressions Forums
A Web server featuring integrated bulletin board and chat features.
Developer: eShare Technologies
Platforms: UNIX, Windows
Sample site: FOX News

EZsite Forum
Threaded forum based on Active Server Pages. Requires Microsoft IIS and an ODBC database.
Developer: Doug Dean
Platform: Windows
An environment for collaborative group work, including realtime chat, asynchronous discussions, surveying, and brainstorming tools.
Developer:, Inc.
Platform: Windows NT, Macintosh

FirstClass Intranet Server
Designed as a complete intranet server, with conferencing and e-mail capabilities. Conferences can be accessed via a Web browser, but to take full advantage of FCIS requires special client software.
Developer: SoftArc, Inc.
Platforms: Windows NT, Macintosh

Tree-structured conferencing with multiple display options, using frames, tables, and Java.
Developer: UK Web
Platform: UNIX

Linear message board with realtime chat, instant messaging, and email subscriptions. Requires Cold Fusion and a relational database. Source code is available.
Developer: e-Zone Media Inc.
Platforms: Windows, UNIX

A suite of team-based decision software tools, including brainstorming, topic commenting, group outlining, voting, surveys, etc.
Developer: Ventana Corp.
Platform: Windows NT / Citrix WinFrame

HeyMax Message Boards
HeyMax builds customized community sites for their clients, including message boards and chat rooms.
Developer: HeyMax Interactive

From the Radiation family of Web tools. A shareware version, HyperThread Lite, is also available.
Developer: GlobalMedia Design, Inc.
Platform: UNIX, Windows (written in Perl)

ichat Message Boards
See Message Boards

Forums may be hosted on Infora's site for a monthly fee, or the software can be purchased for installation on your own server.
Developer: Infora Forum Management
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT (written in Perl)

Web-based groupware applications suite that includes conferencing.
Developer: IntraACTIVE, Inc.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows NT

Features both threaded discussions and real-time chat.
Developer: Media Design in Progress
Platform: Macintosh

Interactive Web BBS Systems
I-Web offers several different inexpensive BBS systems: Javascript BBS, FrameBoard, and WebForum.
Developer: The CCS Network
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT

Runs as a separate server (not as a CGI application).
Developer: Forge Foundation, Inc.
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT (written in Perl)

A discussion template based on Lotus Notes/Domino.
Developer: Kryos Systems
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT

"Knowledge management" software for workgroups.
Developer: Intraspect
Platforms: UNIX, Windows NT

KOM 2000
Groupware system featuring forums, chat, email, support for distance education, and other features. Users may participate in forums by email.
Developer: Stockholm University, & KTH Technical University
Platform: UNIX

KOZ Community Publishing System
The KOZ CPS provides an integrated suite of tools for groups, including public and private message boards, chat, group calendars, and template-based Web page publishing. This is a high-level product targeted at businesses that plan to resell online community tools in vertical markets.
Sample sites: Family Shoebox |

Kudosnet Web Forum
Web bulletin board that also allows e-mail subscription. Forums can be run on your own server or on Kudosnet's server.
Developer: Kudosnet
Platforms: UNIX with PHP/fi

Web-based groupware applications suite that includes conferencing.
Developer: Open Text Corp.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows NT

Lotus Domino
Domino permits any Web browser to interact securely with a Notes database (including discussions).
Developer: Lotus Development Corp. (subsidiary of IBM)
Platforms: UNIX, OS/2, Windows NT

Lotus QuickPlace
Team collaboration work space. Also available as a remotely hosted service.
Developer: Lotus Development Corp. (subsidiary of IBM)
Platform: Windows NT

Message Board
Very simple and inexpensive; free to nonprofits.
Developer: Techno Trade Online Solutions
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Message Boards
Integrates with ichat's realtime chat software; supports NNTP clients.
Developer: ichat, Inc.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows

Very simple and inexpensive.
Developer: Alex Heiphetz Group, Inc. (AHG)
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT (written in Perl)

Microsoft FrontPage
General-purpose tool for managing Web sites. Forums can be created through a "Discussion WebBot".
Developer: Microsoft
Platform: Windows

Fast and feature-rich system modeled after the WELL.
Developer: Bryan Higgins and Leha Blaney
Platform: UNIX
Sample sites: Cafe Utne | The Gate

NetBoard Pro
Very simple and inexpensive.
Developer: IServices/ CGI World
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

General-purpose tool for handling HTML forms that supports simple conferencing.
Developer: Maxum Development
Platform: Macintosh

Netscape Collabra Server
Successor to Netscape News Server
Developer: Netscape Communications Corp.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows NT

Oracle InterOffice
Workgroup collaboration system.
Developer: Oracle Corp.

Threaded message board with instructions in English and French.
Developer: Crossdraw
Platform: Windows (requires Cold Fusion and SQL database)

Features framed and frameless user interfaces.
Developer: wiTHinc
Platform: UNIX

French language product.
Developer: TimSoft
Platform: Windows NT with SQL Server

Proxicom P/Forum and J/Forum (once known as Podium)
Proxicom has been acquired by WELL Engaged, and no longer sells these formerly popular products. But J/Forum is apparently still being used in some Web sites they design for customers.
Developer: Proxicom
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT

Tree-structured forum system, written in Perl.
Developer: Forstle, Inc.
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT

See Lotus QuickPlace

See HyperThread.

RZ Forum (under development)
Simple BBS.
Developer:RZ Soft
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

SiteScape Forum (previously called Alta Vista Forum and Workgroup Web Forum)
Groupware featuring forums, chat, document management, calendars, etc. Offers two methods for viewing responses: "dialog view" (continuous text) and "table view" (index of responses).
Developer: SiteScape, Inc.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows NT

Web implementation of a traditional BBS.
Developer: Searchlight Software
Platform: Windows NT & 95

Web interface to the TEAMate client/server groupware system.
Developer: MMB Development Corp.
Platform: UNIX

A suite of groupware tools, including a "collaborative outliner" that functions similarly to a tree-structured discussion forum. Implemented entirely in Java.
Developer: Inovie Software, Inc.
Platforms: Windows 95 & NT, UNIX

Teamware Office
Groupware system that works with proprietary client software or a Web browser.
Developer: Teamware
Platforms: UNIX, Windows

TeamWave Workplace
A workspace for virtual teams, including message boards, whiteboards, file sharing, scheduling, and other group tools. The tools can be customized or extended with a Software Developer's Kit using the Tcl/Tk.
Developer: TeamWave Software Ltd.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh

Currently in beta testing.
Developer: Fredo UK
Platform: UNIX

A system for developing and delivering Web-based training, including discussion forums.
Developer: WBT Systems
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh

A discussion and newsgroup server designed for large enterprises.
Developer: bCandid Corp.
Platform: UNIX

Ultimate Bulletin Board
Extremely popular, inexpensive BBS with a linear conversation structure.
Developer: Infopop
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT

Very inexpensive BBS. Free for personal and nonprofit use.
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT (written in Perl)

Inexpensive bulletin board based on PHP and MySQL. Features e-mail notification and user profiles. A limited freeware version is available.
Developer: JelSoft Enterprises Ltd.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows

A system for design and delivery of education over the Web, with support for discussion forums.
Developer: Virtual Learning Environments, Inc.
Platform: UNIX

WarpWare BBS (Currently in beta testing)
Shareware, open source BBS. Requires Perl and SQL on the server, Javascript-capable browser.
Developer: Max Baker, WarpWare
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh

Washington Web Conferencing System
Very simple demonstration system. Developer will modify it to suit customers' needs.
Developer: Washington Web / Internet Online, Inc.
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Uses cookies to keep track of what users have read, and has an e-mail notification feature. Distributed as shareware.
Developer: Darryl C. Burgdorf
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Includes features for user profiles, listing recent users, etc. Also features realtime chat rooms.
Developer: Duke Engineering
Distributor: O'Reilly & Associates
Platform: Windows NT & 95

Web Crossing
Highly customizable; very flexible access controls. User portraits can appear in each message. A freeware version is also available.
Developer: Web Crossing, Inc. (previously Lundeen & Associates)
Platforms: UNIX, Macintosh, Windows

A tool for developing Web-based educational environments, including conferencing, chat, and e-mail.
Developer: University of British Columbia
Platform: UNIX

Stores messages in an ODBC-compliant database
Developer: Metasys
Platform: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh

Web implementation of a traditional BBS, designed for compatibility with Worldgroup and Major BBS.
Developer: Computerized Horizons
Platforms: DOS, Windows

A platform for building groupware applications. Comes with a group discussion application template.
Developer: Radnet, Inc.
Platform: Windows NT

Web Training Toolbox
A collection of tools for developing interactive training, including forum and chat functions.
Developer: Janison Solutions
Platform: Windows (requires Microsoft's Internet Information Server)

Groupware product under development.
Developer: Web4Groups Consortium
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT

Primarily a suite of realtime groupware tools, but features private newsgroups. Implemented entirely in Java.
Developer: JDH Technologies
Platforms: Windows NT, UNIX

General-purpose Web development tool that includes a conferencing application called Web+Conference.
Developer: TalentSoft
Platform: Windows, UNIX

WELL Engaged
The WELL's own conferencing software. Not available as a packaged product, but the developer will customize it for your site.
Developer: WELL Engaged
Platform: UNIX
Sample sites: The WELL

Wildcat! Interactive Net Server
BBS-style Web server.
Developer: Santronics Software, Inc.
Platform: Windows

Workgroup Web Forum
See SiteScape Forum.

Web implementation of a BBS. Requires users to install a Netscape plug-in.
Developer: Galacticomm
Platform: Windows

Inexpensive. Supports both linear and threaded discussions, moderated forums, and daily digests by e-mail. Requires an SQL database.
Developer: Rick Baker
Platform: UNIX, Windows (written in Perl)

Web interface to YAPP, a clone of the WELL's PicoSpan conferencing system.
Developer: Dave Thaler, Armidale Software
Platform: UNIX

Free Web Conferencing Software

These software packages can be used to set up conferences on your own Web site, and are available FREE! As you might expect, they are generally less capable than the commercial products above.
Based on server-side Java and XML. Features an object API. This is no longer supported by the developer, but can still be downloaded. A description is available at the Microsoft Download site. An alternate download source is CNET.
Developer: (formerly IntraActive Software)
Platform: Windows

Allaire Forums (also known as Cold Fusion Forums)
Previously a commercial product, now available as free open-source software. Based on Allaire's Cold Fusion, a tool for creation of interactive Web database applications.
Developer: and Allaire Corp.
Platform: Windows

ASP-DEV Discussion Forum
A linear forum somewhat similar to Ultimate Bulletin Board implemented with Active Sserver Pages.
Developer: ASP Resources
Platform: Windows

ASP Forums
Threaded message board implemented with Active Server Pages, Javascript, and VBScript. Any ODBC/SQL compliant database can be used for message storage.
Developer: ASP Forums
Platform: Windows

Linear forum, compatible with YAPP. Comes with C source code.
Developer: Jan Wolter and Steve Weiss
Platform: UNIX
Sample site: Grex

Basic Bulletin Board Script
See WebBBS.

Simple bulletin board.
Developer: Joe DePasquale
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Threaded message board with e-mail notification. Offers several alternative formats for viewing threads.
Developer: Aristole Vathis,
Platform: UNIX, Windows (written in Perl)

Board Power (formerly BigTalker)
A linear message board offering email notification, user profiles, and other features.
Developer: The Webmaster Guide, Inc.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows NT (written in Perl)

Designed for educational use. Prompts students to indicate the type of message being posted.
Developer: Mark Guzdial, Georgia Institute of Technology
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh

Ceilidh (or see the UK site)
Displays the developer's banner ads. (Buying the commercial version lets you eliminate the ads.) Features e-mail notification and listserv capabilities.
Developer: Lilikoi Software
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, OS/2, Macintosh

Allows posting by MIME-compliant e-mail to a Web bulletin board. No longer supported by its authors, but still available.
Developer: Ben Johnson, Paul Walker, and Joan Massó at NCSA
Platform: UNIX

Simple system with linear discussions. Also suitable for use as a guestbook.
Developer: Brian Johnson
Platform: Macintosh

COW - Conferencing On Web
Exceptionally powerful for a freeware product. Similar to YAPP.
Developer: Eric Klavins, San Francisco State University, University of Michigan
Platform: UNIX

CrazyWWWBoard Limited Edition
Freeware version of CrazyWWWBoard.
Developer: Nobreak Technologies, Inc.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows

Very simple BBS.
Developer: David Wall
Platform: UNIX, Windows (written in Perl)

Designed for use in an educational setting. Very simple to use. Includes an e-mail notification feature.
Developer: Mark Pelczarski, Magic Tree
Platform: Windows

Uses a tree structure for categorizing topics and subtopics, but each discussion is presented as a continuous, linear stream of responses.
Developer: DiscusWare, LLC
Platforms: UNIX, Windows (written in Perl)

Remembers what you have read (something most freeware systems can't do).
Developer: Bob McQueen
Platform: Windows NT (Written in Perl; UNIX version planned.)

Emaze WebThread
Formerly a commercial product.
Developer: Emaze Software
Platform: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh (written in Perl)

Forum News Gateway
Usenet News gateway. No longer supported by its developers, but still available.
[Description in WWW Unleashed]
Developer: Geometry Forum, Swarthmore College
Platform: UNIX

FruitWare BBS
Displays all messages in a forum on one page.
Developer: FruitWare
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Developer: Koen Holtman
Platform: UNIX

E-mail gateway: permits Web browsing of a mailing list archive.
[Description in WWW Unleashed]
Developer: Enterprise Integration Technologies
Platform: UNIX

Allows discussions to be distributed across multiple Web servers.
[Description in WWW Unleashed]
Developer: Daniel LaLiberte
Platform: UNIX

Flat (linear) message board featuring email notification and instant messaging.
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Allows readers to register approval and interest ratings for each message. Complete source code is freely available.
Developer: Collective Communication Inc.
Platform: Windows

Open source, threaded forum, written in Java.
Platform: UNIX, Windows

lightNews (previously lwNEWS and vw3news)
An open source application.
Developer: Veikko Wünsche
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Very simple system based on Tcl and SQL.
Developer: Phil Greenspun
Platform: UNIX

Web interface to mailing lists; includes Web browsing of a mailing list archive.
Developer: David W. Baker
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Developer: meep! media, inc.
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

E-mail gateway: permits Web browsing of a mailing list or newsgroup archive.
Developer: Earl Hood
Platforms: UNIX, MS-DOS

An open source message board implemented with PHP and MySQL. Features e-mail notification.
Developer: Wankyu Choi
Platform: UNIX

Open Team Support
A Web-based center for collaborative work. Supports discussion, voting, an information repository, and other features. This is a research project still in progress.
Developer: Mike Dilworth
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

PHP/FI Webboard
Simple bulletin board implemented with PHP/FI and MySQL. Sample discussion is in Russian.
Developer: Mark Napartovich
Platform: UNIX

A Usenet News system based on PHP.
Platform: UNIX

An open source message board implemented with PHP and MySQL. Features e-mail notification and moderated posting.
Developer: Brian Moon
Platform: UNIX

A simple open source conferencing system with a linear conversation structure, implemented with PHP and MySQL.
Developer: Steve Yelvington
Platform: UNIX

Simple BBS written in Visual Basic.
Developer: Thies Schrader
Platform: Windows 3.1

Simple BBS, originally modelled after WWWBoard.
Developer: Andrew Maltsev
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

An open source system similar to Slash.
Developers: Brent Metzler, Rusty Foster, Chad Kreimendahl, and others
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

An open source news and message board system implemented with Perl and MySQL.
Developers: Patrick Galbraith, Chris Nandor, Brian Aker, and others
Platform: UNIX

Snitz Forums
A feature-rich message board based on ASP.
Developers: Snitz Communications
Platform: Windows, UNIX with ASP-enabled server

Supports both threaded and linear discussions; stores messages in an SQL database.
Developer: KaYue Mak,
Platforms: UNIX, Windows (written in Perl)

Customizable, linear message board.
Developer: Elated Communications, Ltd.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows (written in Perl)

Simple message board implemented with Active Server Pages.
Developer: yMonda
Platform: Windows

Supports collaborative filtering (rating) of messages from a mailing list or newsgroup.
Developer: Moe D. Ritter
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Ultimate Bulletin Board
A stripped-down freeware version of the commercial product.
Developer: Ted O'Neill, Prime Web
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT

Free for personal and nonprofit use.
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT (written in Perl)

vBulletin Lite
A stripped-down freeware version of the vBulletin commercial product.
Developer: JelSoft Enterprises Ltd.
Platforms: UNIX, Windows

Virtual Bulletin System (VBS)
Frames and Java-based. Supports file uploading, sound and image embedding, realtime chat.
Developer: Brad Daugherty
Platform: UNIX, Windows (written in Perl)

See lwNEWS.

CGI-based Usenet newsreader. Connects directly to NNTP servers. Page layout is configurable through template HTML pages.
Developer: Kasper Peeters
Platform: UNIX

BBS that features a multilingual user interface and ability to upload file attachments to messages. Comes with full source code in PHP.
Developer: Marc Druilhe
Platform: UNIX

A template you can hack to suit your own needs. Formerly known simply as "Basic Bulletin Board Script."
Developer: Selena Sol
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

WebBBS for NT
A version of WebBBS for Windows NT servers.
Developer: Elite Web Design and Marketing
Platform: Windows NT

Web Course in a Box (WCB)
A tool to help instructors manage course-related Web sites, including discussion forums with file attachments and archives.
Developer: MadDuck Technologies
Platforms: UNIX, Windows, Macintosh

Web Crossing/1T
The freeware version of Web Crossing features all the same capabilities as the commercial version, including forums, e-mail, newsgroups, and chat, but is limited to 1,000 page views per day.
Developer: Web Crossing, Inc.
Platforms: UNIX, Macintosh, Windows

WebMoot (formerly known as WebÞing)
Features realtime chat and e-mail participation.
Developer: Nick Kew, WebThing Ltd. (WebÞ)
Platform: UNIX

See Emaze WebThread

Very widely used.
Developer: Matt Wright
Platform: UNIX

W3 Interactive Talk (WIT)
Highly structured conferencing system designed for group decision making. Probably the first Web conferencing system (created June 1994).
[Description in WWW Unleashed]
Developer: Ari Luotonen, CERN
Platform: UNIX

Zielinski Forums
Still under development and not even named yet. Uses a threaded structure but displays each topic as a continuously scrolling discussion.
Developer: Jacob Zielinski
Platform: Windows

A mediation system, i.e. a discussion forum with special support for mediated negotiation. Includes document sharing features.
Developer: GMD
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT (Requires Java and a JDBC-compatible database)

Proprietary Web Conferencing Systems - Industrial Strength

These are relatively feature-rich conferencing systems that were custom-created for use at certain Web sites and are apparently not available as products.

Many more proprietary systems are available through conference hosting services.

Formerly available as a product, this high-end conferencing software is now available only as a remotely hosted service.

C|net Online's "Posting"
Displays discussions either in "outline view" (vertically scrolling text) or a unique "table view" that shows responses in a horizontal series of cells.

Still being tested, but it looks promising.

HotWired's "Threads"
The first commercial Web site to offer conferencing.
[Description in WWW Unleashed]

Participate was an early conferencing system first put to use on The Source in the 1970's. A Web interface for it is now being tested.

Proprietary Web Conferencing Systems - Other

These were custom-created for use at specific Web sites but offer less functionality than the "industrial strength" models above. For example, they generally don't keep track of what messages you have read.

Many more proprietary systems are available through conference hosting services.

Discussion Page
Makes good use of HTML tables for display of discussions.

Used at Microsoft's online magazine, "Slate".

FreeRepublic Forums
Conservative political forum.

Ingenioeren (Engineering Weekly)
Danish language. Written in Perl for UNIX.

German language. Runs under Windows NT; based on a C++ program and ODBC database calls.

One-On-One Sports Radio Network
Features several sports-related message boards.

Raging Bull
Popular stock market message boards.

Silicon Investor
Popular stock market message boards devoted to high tech industry.

Universal Soup Kitchen Forums
WELL-style conferencing based on Cold Fusion.

Universal Thread
Developed by Fournier Transformation. Uses a FoxPro database for message storage and retrieval.

Defunct Web Conferencing Software

These products have been pulled off the market or are otherwise no longer available.
Developer: AEX Software
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT

Developer: Simon Croome
Platform: Windows NT

AltaVista LAN Browser (previously called Workgroup Web)
Requires users to install proprietary version of Mosaic.
Developer: Digital Equipment Corp.
Platform: Windows NT

Platform for Web-based groupware applications, including conferencing and chat. Users need a Java-enabled Web browser.
Developer: Persimmon IT
Platform: UNIX

Big Mouth Lion
Uses an expandible outline format with custom "emoticons" displayed next to message titles. Infohiway's ads on your site.
Developer: Infohiway
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT (written in Perl)
Sample site (beta version): Bandwidth Conservation Society

Very basic BBS/classified ad system; almost free.
Developer: Viola Research Associates
Platorm: UNIX (written in Perl)

Agora (MoJo LiveWire)
Developer: Peter Seibel (
Platform: UNIX

Commerce Builder
Web server designed for secure transactions, with many features, including discussion forums.
Developer: The Internet Factory, Inc.
Platform: Windows

Web interface to the CoSy conferencing system.
Developer: Softwords Research International Ltd.
Platform: UNIX

Simple BBS based on the design of WWWBoard.
Developer: Mike Bagneski
Platforms: UNIX, Windows NT

Extended BBS
An extended version of Userland BBS.
Developer: Matthew Stratford
Platform: Macintosh

Developer: The Media Machine LLC
Platform: Macintosh

Was a site where anyone could create their own online community for free.

Mercury Forum
Highly customizable conferencing system based on the scripting language and database structure of Mercury, an object oriented CGI database program.
Developer: internet five
Platforms: UNIX, Windows NT

Once popular, NetForum went from freeware to commercial back to freeware, and finally has been dropped entirely.
Developer: Medical Informatics & Biomedical Computing, Univ of Wisconsin
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Developer: eShare Technologies
Platforms: UNIX, Windows NT

BBS style software modeled after Renegade BBS.
Developer: Scott Zibble, dto productions
Platform: UNIX

Intended to be a superset of WELL Engaged's features.
Developer: Blake Buzzini

E-mail gateway: permits Web browsing of a mailing list archive. Similar to Hypermail but written in the Python language.
Developer: A. M. Kuchling
Platform: UNIX

Post-on-the-Fly Conference
Features a frames-oriented user interface.
Developer: HomeCom Communications
Platforms: UNIX, Windows NT (Macintosh version planned)

Rhombus Discussion Web Forum
Rudimentary hierarchical conferencing system distributed with C source code.
Developer: Tod Harter, Rhombus Communications, Inc.
Platform: UNIX

Workgroup collaboration environment. May be revived by a new company, Accentuate Systems, Inc.
Developer: WebFlow Corp.
Platform: UNIX, Windows

Threaded conferencing based on WebDBC, a tool for creation of interactive Web database applications.
Developer: StormCloud Development
Platform: Windows NT & 95

A freeware version of Consensus @nyWare. Groupware system designed for collaborative work. Includes a voting feature.
Developer: Alan Dennis, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia
Platform: UNIX

Userland BBS
A BBS based on Dave Winer's Frontier software. A description of this apparently extinct software is still available here.
Developer: Dave Winer, Userland Software
Platform: Macintosh

WBB - Web Bulletin Board
Commercial software for a moderated Web bulletin board. No facility for threaded discussions, though.
Developer: InterContinental Marketing Ltd.
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Web Bulletin Board System.
Developer: WebTechnics
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

A collection of Bourne and Perl scripts that act as a Web interface to Usenet news and mailing lists.
Developer: Chris Nystrom
Platform: UNIX

Minimalist WELL-style interface.
Developer: Bonsai Software, Inc.
Platform: UNIX

Developer: Afzal Ballim
Platform: UNIX

Developer: Floersch Enterprises
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Web interface to NetNotes, a client-server conferencing system.
[Description in WWW Unleashed]
Developer: Spyglass, Inc.
Platform: Windows NT

Web Threads
Developer: inTouch Technologies
Platform: UNIX, Windows NT (written in Perl)

World in a Box
A complete Web site management system, featuring discussion forums, realtime chat, Web page publishing, etc. Based on Allaire's Cold Fusion.
Developer: i5ive Communications, Inc.
Platform: Windows NT

XAforum (formerly XaNotes)
Messages are stored in an SQL database.
Developer:, Inc.
Platform: Windows

Comes in "LT", "HT", and "XT" versions for light, medium, and heavy duty use.
Developer: DigitalFacades Corp.
Platform: UNIX (written in Perl)

Not Quite Web Conferencing

These are not really Web conferencing systems, but they come close enough to be worth mentioning.
BSCW Shared Workspace System
An interesting Web-based environment for collaborative document editing and other shared work.

Read-only Web gateway to MIT's Discuss conferencing system.

This is Windows conferencing software for use on networked PCs, but messages can include links to Web sites.

INAF Parliamentary Conference Center
A Web system designed to support parliamentary procedure.

Washington Candidates Forum
Free Perl scripts designed to support online debates between candidates for office in Washington state.

Shareware Perl script for a very simple bulletin board, by Virtual Marketing Technologies. No facility for threaded discussions.

A simple but powerful tool that's unlike anything else.

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