Who Uses This Software?

We are perfect for anyone looking for a robust community experience to engage with their customers, fans and enthusiasts, without worrying about hosting and updating software.


Average Ratings

30 Reviews
  • 4.5 / 5
    Overall
  • 4.5 / 5
    Ease of Use
  • 5 / 5
    Customer Service

Product Details

  • Starting Price
    Not provided by vendor
  • Free Version
    Yes
  • Free Trial
  • Deployment
    Cloud, SaaS, Web
  • Training
    Documentation
    Webinars
    Live Online
  • Support
    Online
    Business Hours

Vendor Details

  • Vanilla
  • vanillaforums.com
  • Founded 2009
  • Canada

About Vanilla

More than ever consumers of content, goods and services want a voice within a community of others who all share a common interest. Vanilla was founded in December 2009 as an open source project powering over 50,000 online communities. Today, Vanilla's cloud service powers thousands of businesses and is the enterprise standard for gaming, retail and high-tech organizations.


Vanilla Features

  • Audio / Video Conferencing
  • Brainstorming
  • Chat / Messaging
  • Contact Management
  • Content Management
  • Cooperative Writing
  • Discussion Boards
  • Document Management
  • Group Calendars
  • Project Management
  • Synchronous Editing
  • Task Management
  • Version Control

Vanilla Reviews Recently Reviewed!


Capterra-loader

Our experience with Vanilla overall has been excellent.

May 15, 2018
5/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
4 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
4 / 5
Value for Money
Likelihood to Recommend: 8.0/10 Not
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Pros: It provided a solid platform to launch our member engagement initiatives, and provides valuable tools that work well for our needs.

Baked-in customer focused features such as the gamification engine and the availability of a customer analytics dashboard are great!

Software is iteratively tweaked and improved as time goes on.

Cons: Inability to fully customize the look and layout of our community/subcommunity pages.

The use of sub-communities to manage separate site forums that fall under one umbrella did not work as expected.

Small things like tailoring tags to display only on specific sub-communities was not possible.

Capterra-loader

A+++ PaaS Community

May 14, 2018
5/5
Overall
5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
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Pros: Ease of implementation, great support, feature-rich and simple for audience to use. Couldn't be happier with Vanilla Forums.

Cons: Although responsive, mobile is not a perfect experience but still a very efficient UI that provides the interactions we're looking for with a sports audience.

Overall: Simple implementation, reliable performance, all the bells and whistles we need to support an audience of sports fans.

Vanilla is the very first platform we have ever hosted our Community on!

May 10, 2018
3/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
3 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
4 / 5
Value for Money
Likelihood to Recommend: 5.0/10 Not
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Pros: Our CSM is amazing and really goes the extra mile to make sure we have the resources we need and liase with internal stakeholders to speed up any roadblocks we may run into.

Cons: I do think it needs quite a bit of customization to look optimal. There is also limited Salesforce integration, the only options are to create a new lead or a support case which doesn't really work well if your community is geared toward existing customers. There are definitely some improvements that can be made with Vanilla but I do think the support you receive helps you come up with work arounds to these problems

Overall: Very first time launching a community

Capterra-loader

Great Value for Money with all the bells and Whistles

May 08, 2018
5/5
Overall
5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
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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 :)

Great transition team, awesome support, easy to use product

May 08, 2018
4/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
3 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
Likelihood to Recommend: 8.0/10 Not
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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: Simple support forum solution, cloud hosting, and easy posting for our users.

You won't be disappointed

May 07, 2018
5/5
Overall
5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
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Pros: Easy moderation tools, FANTASTIC customer support/success team, and lots of great tools for the community such as badges and reactions.

Cons: Would like to see more reporting capabilities, an in-depth knowledge base for self-service so that we can learn about best practices. Would also like more advanced AI and Q&A functionalities.

Platform for online communities

Apr 27, 2018
5/5
Overall
5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
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Pros: There is so much flexibility in terms of design and plug-ins. On each page it is easy to find different topics with different menus. We can quickly create new forums when publishing new games. The support team at the forums of this platform is very responsive and ready to work with us. We use the platform as a channel to help our users quickly find answers to questions that may have already been answered in the forum. In general, we are very satisfied with the product and our contacts. A big advantage for us is the presence in our company of several copies and champions. It was interesting to see different uses, and these general knowledge have greatly helped our channel.

Cons: The program does not have a special mobile application that allows you to receive notifications that can immediately alert users to actions on the forum without checking their email. It would be nice if our web developers could run instances of the program locally so that they can create themes faster.

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

Apr 26, 2018
4/5
Overall
3 / 5
Ease of Use
3 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
Likelihood to Recommend: 8.0/10 Not
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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.

Overall positive experience after migrating from a different forum platform.

Apr 25, 2018
5/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
3 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
4 / 5
Value for Money

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.

Capterra-loader

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

Apr 24, 2018
4/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
4 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
Likelihood to Recommend: 9.0/10 Not
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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!)

Customer service very accommodating post launch and pre launch

Apr 24, 2018
4/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
4 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money

Pros: Mirrors the functionality of your typical social media platform. Ease of posting mobile photos. The "gamification" feature.

Cons: It seemed there were a lot of add-on features that I thought would be standard. It was difficult from an admin perspective to determine what features were standard when trying to learn the system.

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

Apr 23, 2018
3/5
Overall
3 / 5
Ease of Use
3 / 5
Features & Functionality
4 / 5
Customer Support
4 / 5
Value for Money
Likelihood to Recommend: 8.0/10 Not
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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 are features missing, such as Tagging being in analytics
- No self-service option for simple things such as pulling the user list, this will make admin experience way better
- Services offered should better structured in the package sell, I.e: For some features requests, there were additional charges. This services should be somehow included in the terms of the service to enhance the admin experience
- 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)

It was easy to stand up our community.

Apr 23, 2018
3/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
3 / 5
Features & Functionality
2 / 5
Customer Support
4 / 5
Value for Money
Likelihood to Recommend: 5.0/10 Not
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Pros: Ease of use and set up. Having private groups and product ideas are very important features for us. Our contact, Brigitte, is very helpful and always responsive.

Cons: We experienced slight problems implementing SSO, but after a few calls, we solved the problem. Will need to learn how Vanilla can be used for document management.

Overall: We are still building our community numbers, but once rolling, it will be a great connection point between us and our customers. Still learning some of the finer points and I look forward to have more customer data and testing built-in analytics.

Vanilla is easy, intuitive and full of useful features.

Apr 23, 2018
4/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
3 / 5
Value for Money
Likelihood to Recommend: 8.0/10 Not
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Pros: As we're very new to community management Vanilla has made it incredibly straight forward to setup, moderate and grow our online community. The post sale support they offer is fantastic. There hasn't been a question they haven't been able to answer in a timely manner. The software itself is very easy to use, and as someone who has never used community tools before that's saying something. It's packed full of all the features you need to make your community a success.

Cons: The lack of customisation without having technical knowledge has been a mild inconvenience. We'd like to stand out and be different, but if we're using the same format/layout as almost all other community sites it's hard to do that. So more support for customisation for newbies would be welcomed.

Overall: This software has allowed our members to engage with each other in ways other platforms don't support or offer. As a company we pride ourselves on customer engagement and to have a tool that supports us in this aim has been fantastic.

Great costumer support, easy to costomize the forum to specific needs. Overall a great experience.

Apr 23, 2018
5/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money

Pros: It's very easy to moderate the debate, help users out when they're having problems logging on etc., Great support from Vanilla - quick replies and competent people. Very flexible forums - we can costomize the forum to our specific needs.

Cons: The dashboard can be a bit overwhelming and difficult to navigate at first. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but after a while it becomes easier.

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

Apr 20, 2018
5/5
Overall
5 / 5
Ease of Use
4 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
Likelihood to Recommend: 10.0/10 Not
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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.

Excellent onboarding & support, a great service

Apr 20, 2018
5/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
4 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
4 / 5
Value for Money
Likelihood to Recommend: 9.0/10 Not
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Pros: The onboarding process with Vanilla has been exemplary. Customer support has been supportive, helpful and friendly. No question is too small.
Vanilla has given us everything we needed to get our forums looking exactly how we wanted, with easy-to-understand tools that give us great control over the content in our community. We've been very specific about what we needed from Vanilla, and there's always been a way to deliver this. Overall, a good experience and we're very hopeful for the future of our community.

Cons: Occasionally, some of the more 'in-depth' tools have been tricky to use (for example the bulk user import function). However, Customer support has always been on hand to answer my questions and set things right.

Overall: Easily customisable, has everything we needed to create and oversee our growing community.

Capterra-loader

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

Apr 19, 2018
5/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
4 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
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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.

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

Finally Amazing Service with a Great Product to go with it!

Apr 19, 2018
4/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
4 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
Likelihood to Recommend: 9.0/10 Not
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Pros: Ability to Multi-Quote to respond with one post
Reply by email makes it easy
Badges: are fun
Signatures: Help give context

Cons: Looks somewhat outdated
Out of Box metrics are basic
Wall posts and status updates don't count in metrics
No Merge option

Overall: Gives us a support community within our budget.

Easily one of the best forum platforms

Mar 11, 2018
5/5
Overall
5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
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Pros: -Lost of modern functions including the ability to like posts and @mentions. -Open source -You can self-host it for free of charge or go for a paid version that provides support -Very flexible: Can even be customised to display web pages -Gamification: reward users for participating by earn badges and new abilities

Cons: The ability to add images is a little cumbersome. I wish it could be done with 1 click! But other than that, there is little to complain about.

Capterra-loader

An excellent base forum platform for online communities

Mar 07, 2018
5/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
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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.

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

We love it

Feb 26, 2018
5/5
Overall
5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money

Pros: We all love it so much it's so easy to use and everyone I've spoken to really likes it a lot. Plan on using it for very long time

Solid features, very useable with good support.

Feb 04, 2018
5/5
Overall
5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Features & Functionality
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
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Pros: Easy to get up and running, customize and make into your own community, with strong moderation tools.

Cons: A few long-standing bugs, but overall still solid. Support is decent, but could be more responsive I guess.

Simple, but effective.

Feb 02, 2018
5/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Features & Functionality
3 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money
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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: 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.

Excellent Staff and Software

Dec 11, 2015
5/5
Overall
5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money

Comments: 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 that would cater to our needs and provide the features our users had become accustomed to over the years. Vanilla solved these problems wonderfully. While Vanilla's primary service is simple, straight-forward forum software, they were incredibly accommodating to needs. Many features were tailor-made for us, and forum stability has been excellent. Their staff has always been patient and friendly, taking our requests for new features without any problems.

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.

Great forum software!

Dec 11, 2015
5/5
Overall
5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money

Comments: I'm a volunteer community manager for a sizable web-based community. We switched from a software that was unable to handle the size of our growing community, and it was causing issues with stability.

Pros: My favorite feature is the reaction system!

Good forum software with great customer service

Dec 11, 2015
5/5
Overall
5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Customer Support
4 / 5
Value for Money

Comments: 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.

You Get What You Pay For

Dec 11, 2015
5/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Customer Support
5 / 5
Value for Money

Comments: Having outgrown free forum software, a paid solution was searched for. Vanilla provided an easy transition into something more robust and secure with the support to back it during the transitional period.

Pros: Great customer support and ease of use.

Cons: Search feature can require extra work to find what you're looking for. Results often buried in nested conversations.

A review from a long time user.

Dec 11, 2015
5/5
Overall
5 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Customer Support
4 / 5
Value for Money

Comments: I work as a moderator for a large gaming-related community. We use Vanilla forum software as the backbone for everything we do, and the difference between it and our previous software is striking. It's reliable, easy to use, and Vanilla support has been very easy to work with

Pros: The communication with Vanilla has been above and beyond what I expected. Any issues we might have are addressed quickly and well.

Cons: There are some minor feature issues. The poll software isn't as comprehensive as I'd like

A platform for everyone

Dec 11, 2015
4/5
Overall
4 / 5
Ease of Use
5 / 5
Customer Support
4 / 5
Value for Money

Comments: I'm a moderator for a fairly large online community. We've used various solutions in the past, but none have proven as versatile as Vanilla. It's clean, fast, and always improving to meet our needs.

Pros: Customization options, theming, responsiveness, clean and intuitive interface, excellent customer service.

Cons: Content search still needs work. New custom features understandably require more time to perfect.