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An enjoyable forum user experience.

No matter your objective, your success depends on a great user experience. Vanilla is a re-imagining of how community engagement should be done, and users love it.

Discussion Types

In addition to standard discussions, Vanilla allows users to post questions and polls. Like most of Vanilla’s features, these discussion types can be turned on or off in the Admin Dashboard.

Rich Content

Members can format posts with html, markdown, or bbcode. Images can be dragged and dropped and videos are automatically embedded. Tweets, Vines and Pins are automatically recognized when pasted into a comment.


Members can mention each other in discussions by adding an ‘@’ before a username. Mentioned users are notified so they can quickly jump into the discussion.

Forums reinvented.

Vanilla has reinvented forums and offers a modern user experience that your customers have come to expect.

Advanced Editor

Our Advanced Editor recognizes HTML, BBCode and Markdown. Images, videos and other rich content are easily embedded, files can be uploaded and code blocks can be prettified. If WYSIWYG is what you need, Vanilla has that too.

Best of

The Best of page helps users find your community’s best content by browsing a fun, infinite-scrolling page. Content shows up on this page if it receives positive reactions or if promoted by a moderator.


An unequaled notification system keeps members abreast of anything that they care about happening in the community. In-page and email notifications keep them informed about what matters to them.

Powerful user profiles

Every member gets a profile that they can customize with their personal information. It serves as a place where they can catch up on their discussions, comments, reputation, reactions, badges, abilities, and much more.


Vanilla auto-saves your content as you are entering it so that you can close the window on purpose or by accident, and your hard work will not be lost.


Vanilla hosts a free service called that generates cool looking icons for users who have not uploaded profile pictures. You can also use Gravatar or pass an image via SSO.

Real-Time Preview & Edits

Members can preview their comments in real time right in the page, and they can edit their existing comments right in the page as well.

Powerful Search

Autocomplete helps users find what they are looking for quickly. Search results include images and videos added to posts. Relevance is based on keywords, word order and post quality.

Private Messaging

Users can have private one-on-one discussions, or they can bring multiple people into the conversation.

Smart History

Vanilla remembers everything you’ve seen, always keeping you up to date with which discussions have new content. Forget about remembering which page you were on, Vanilla puts you right where you stopped reading the last time you were in a discussion.


Suited for larger communities, this feature lets members form smaller groups where they can hold discussions and schedule events. Groups can be public or private and can be managed by moderators or by the members themselves.

Single Sign On

Eliminate barriers to participation by providing a seamless login and registration experience using SSO. Vanilla supports multiple SSO protocols as well as social network logins. Find out more

Be in complete control

Administrators love our intuitive dashboard that lets you manage every aspect of your community forum: view stats, manage users and configure your account. Vanilla’s plugin system makes it easy to turn on the features that make sense for you.

Forum Settings

Vanilla can look plain and simple on the outside but it is an extremely powerful and flexible platform. Set everything from default avatars, to plugins, to how long a post can be edited.

Plugin System

Configure your community with plugins and add-ons so that you can provide the right functionality without unnecessary bloat. Activating plugins can be done through the dashboard without any downtime.

User Management

Create, edit and delete users and user use-cases. Set the registration method (SSO, registration form, invitation or approval). Spoof in as a user.

Roles and Permissions

Vanilla gives you fine-grained control of what members can do and what they can see with role based permissions. Use default Roles or create your own using the 30+ permissions that can be set to a Role.

Create Roles

Control fine-grained, role-based permissions that can be assigned on a per forum category basis. Assign multiple use-cases to individual members. Set Role via SSO sych with an access control list.

Private Community

Vanilla can be set to be completely private. Only registered members will be able to log in and participate in the community. You can decide if new registrants require approval before being awarded member status and you can delegate approval to moderators.


Ranks are an indication of status but can also be used to grant members more abilities. Styling can be applied to show insignia and make posts stand out. Ranks can be assigned manually, via SSO or can be earned based on reputation score. Find out more.