I must start off by saying that I am not a web creator, although I have managed to build my own site, which is very simple.
I would like to build a forum for a very small number of users. It will be invitation only, with 50-100 users max. We are professional photographers and the goal is the sharing and discussion of our work.
I could use almost any of these forum softwares, but I have a specific feature I would like to implement and I'm not sure what sort of system would suit best. Here's what I want to do :
1/ The main goal is to share images. I would like these to be keyword searchable and to be stored on a central server.
2/ We do not want people who do not contribute, so we have settled on a points system, which we would like to be automated.
Posting an image, get points. Each day that goes by without an image posted, points are removed. Points are displayed dynamically, next to the member's name. When they drop below say <10, they are displayed in red. When no points are left, a warning email is sent, then the finally the account is deleted. I'd like all of this to be automated.
3/ New members are anonymously proposed by existing members. The existing member fills in a page with some text (why they are proposing) and a url for the proposed photographers website. The system then automatically sends 5 emails to a RANDOM choice of existing forum members (except the person posting). They reply anonymously with a YES or a NO and the proposed new member is either voted in, or refused.
Any suggestions of how to go about this would be most welcome.
Wow! First of all, welcome to the FSR Community! Next, I think you are going to be a bit disappointed: I don't think your forum software exists... and I feel a bit sorry about that
You have however several alternatives, that you could customize in order to implement the missing features you are describing:
1/ Fortunately, most forum software supporting attachments should be able to display images. The key point is that, as your forum is targetting many uploads of images, it has to be really intuitive and fast (i.e. the user doesn't have to upload, then get the URL, the post the URL in a BBcode in order to display thumbnail of the image, and finally, create a link to the image in full size). For that, I think that software with WYSIWYG post form might help. You should also have a look to forum software that support Members Image Galleries, like vBulletin 4 or IP.Board.
About the search, it's going to be harder, as only Google Images is able to do a keyword search on images. The possible solution is to integrate a Google Custom Search (CSE) on your website.
As you need a central server, do not let user posting images through image hosting services like Imageshack and so on. These solutions are good for instant messaging, not for a keeping an history. Have a look at the Image Attachment feature in the comparator.
2/ Well, here, no way to implement this except by developing your own plugin to an existing software. The most important is that you choose a software that supports User Ranks. This way, you'll only have to implement the glue between image/post counting and user ranks. Several software support this: phpBB, Simple Machines, etc.
3/ Here, you are looking for a private board, with new members allowed only by invitation. Members are able to propose new users, but a moderator/administrator will approve them first in order to send an invitation email. I suggest you to have a look at the Forum Comparator to the User Registration feature, for Invitation only. The automatic random invitation sending should not be hard to implement using a small cronned PHP script connecting to the database.
Finally, have you thought about images website, like Flickr and Google Picasa? Of course, they are not real forum, but at least, they are targetting your topic: images! And you can also comment, create private galleries and so on, so you should be able to have some features you are looking for there as well.
Hope it helps!
FSR Admin - Vote for 2012.