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Hi. I made some forums using vanilla and thought I'd show it off and brag. lol. I didn't see too many modern themes on this website, so I took a really basic one and changed almost literally everything, as well as had to fix a ton of issues with it. If you're not happy with the themes on this website, I suggest taking a basic theme and hacking away at it, since I believe you can get some really great looking sites using this forum software. Don't get me wrong, I don't even think I'm intermediate at web design or PHP development. I think I managed to get the basics down though lol.
The forums are based on a game that I play. It's still a smaller game with a bit over 150,000 copies sold, which isn't bad, but probably not big enough to easily get a community with. I think as it grows, I'll have time to slowly add content and people might slooowly migrate over. The game developers work together in an actual work office and work on it full time. They release big updates like every month. It will definitely take longer than a few months to grow big enough to drive users to my site lol. I've advertised in all avenues I could think of(their subreddit, their official discord, their steam community page, all over twitch, submitted to google of course). All I got was 3 users to join. Part of why I made the forums were just to make something cool. Not looking to make any money with it. I'm sure it will grow over time. I've ran forums like a decade ago with thousands of members.
And yeah the theme of posts and individual comments on my forums change colors depending on user role.
Also, anyone hiring? lol jk.