vBulletin 4 Gold Review: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I have one site running the new vBulletin Gold Suite. The site was closed so I decided it would be a perfect test bed. It had a few users and a few posts before I closed it down. I opened it back up and upgraded the old database to vBulletin 4. If you want to check out the site before you finish reading you can find it at http://serverhelpforum.com.

The install on of vBulletin 4 Gold went well. The vBulletin CMS part did give me an out of memory error. More on that later. Once we got past that everything looked good and seemed to work well. Read on to get to the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good:

The install of vBulletin 4 Gold went smooth except for the out of memory error while the vBulletin CMS was being installed. That was fixed by upping the memory in php.ini from 128M to 256M. The server has 8Gigs installed so it had much more to allocate if needed. After the install I promoted a few posts in the resources section to articles. This went well. I added a couple extra forums and did a few test posts. All is still good. Everything seemed to work and work well. Then it was time to get into the nuts and bolts of  vBulletin 4 and here comes the bad.

The Bad:

I turned the forum into debug mode. What a shock when I saw the vBulletin CMS main page used 202 queries. I refreshed the page so the cache would kick in. Query count was now 197. Refreshed again count went back to 202. I removed one column. No change. I cut the amount of articles to show. Query count down to 187. Refresh the page back to 202. I removed the widgets. No change. Refresh the page down to 178. Add one widget. Back up to 200. I don’t know what is causing this. I do know if it is left like this the vBulletin CMS will be useless unless it is installed on a dedicated server.

I then went about changing the style of the forum. I downloaded the docs that were posted on vBulletins site. I created a new style and went to work on it. I change the background and save changes. Nothing happens. I change a few more things. Nothing happens. Everything is still default. I head over to vBulletin’s site. In the bugs and suggestions forum there is a number of posts with the same problems as me. It seems the stylevar editor does not work as it should. A member who saw my post sent me a PM telling me how to work around the issue. Thanks much for that if you happen to read this.

The Ugly:

Well lets start with the out of memory error. There is no way that upgrading to vBulletin 4 Suite on a small site should throw up out of memory errors. This is unacceptable. If you try to install this on a VPS you’re basically screwed unless you host is willing to up the allocated memory for php.

Now on to the sitemaps a core new feature that was touted throughout the discussions at vBulletin. They do not work. Sure they are created fine. Submit one to Google and you’ll see that they throw an error in webmaster tools. The error says that the sitemap file is empty. Rebuild it, resubmit it and the error returns shortly after Google redownloads it.

The stylewar editor should work without any work arounds. This was another highly touted feature of vBulletin 4. It does not work out of the box.

Search engine friendly URLs another feature that is supposed to make vBulletin 4 the best. Sure they work just try finding the docs that explain how to use the .htaccess method. You won’t because, surprise, vBulletin 4 was released without any docs. You have to visit vBulletin’s site and look in the vBulletin 4 Beta forum to find your answer.

That brings me the last ugly part. In the admincp the help files for these new features don’t exist. Don’t believe me? Go into the vBulletin 4 admincp, open the stylevar editor, pick any stylevar and select the help icon. You get an empty page.

How Internet Brands can release vBulletin 4 as gold is beyond me. They broke just about every unwritten rule that developers follow. The beta process was a joke. I was a supporter of the process when it was first announced. Closed betas to select testers always works better than open betas if the beta is done correctly. The vBulletin 4 beta was a mess.

Then they release vBuletin 4 Gold without help files or updated docs. vBulletin 4 as it stands now is at best beta quality. It should have never been released as gold. A visit to the vBulletin 4 forums at vBulletin’s site will tell you that.

Leave a Reply

18 Comments on "vBulletin 4 Gold Review: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"

Notify of
Brandon Sheley

Great write-up AWS!
I just setup a small test site as well but hadn’t made it to checking out the query count on the cms or forum. I had read discussion at the .Com but hadn’t had time to check it out myself. I wonder why it’s using so many didn’t vbadvanced use less than 20 and people complained about that.
As I always say, I hope for the best, but a reasonable product is still months away.


Removed your posts, eh?

And people want to know reasons for switching to IPB?

David McHenry

The censor monster is just getting started over there, if you thought the bannings were bad before when they released the plans for new licensing structure, wait for a little longer as this vBulletin 4 travesty continues, and Internet Brands starts to fall on it’s face because of it.

Amazing! I finally found some people who realize that the latest and greatest Jelsoft/Internet Brands are clueless about a real development and release process. I knew that they were screwed when they kept saying they would go gold on 12/21/2009. They skipped a beta cycle completely and released ‘their’ Gold on the date. I had the stuff before the official announcement so by the time they actually made the official announcement, I knew that the release was missing release notes and version specific documentation, like the v4 manual which STILL doesn’t exist. On top of that, a lot of stuff… Read more »


Can you tell me what’s the status of vbulletin 4 publishing suite ? Did they fix any bugs ? I’m running with 3.6.2 on a shared server. does it worth it to upgrade if i dont want to chage de hosting plan ?



Hi.. Are u still using vBulletin? Can u tell me what is the status now? I was planning to buy the 4.0Suite. If it doesn’t work well then I will go for 4.0forum+WP??

Please suggest!!


I am considering giving VBulletin a shot and was wondering if there was any new info to share here. Has it gotten any better over the past months? Can anyone give me some feedback? 🙂

Ole Juul

I haven’t tried vBulletin’s server side, and I never will. After several years of heavy use on the client side I can tell you that it is has severe shortcomings for users. Specifically, it does not wrap text properly so one cannot adjust text size to suit oneself. The page just breaks or text disappears. This has been happening for the last 3 years and I can confirm it to happen on 3.x and 4.x. Sorry, Robert, I’m not a troll, I’m just pointing out that if you want to install it, consider the client side usability as well. 🙂

Niall Byrne

I all, I’m actually new to all this, but I wish to build a forum, and I’m doing a bit of research. I am used to PHPLD admins and widgets, but I am not technically minded. So if not vBulletin who do you guys suggest I go with?


We are currently looking at Vbulletin to build a forum and online community, I know you recommend IPB but are there any other alternatives for a community based software solution?

Thank you!


What I should have asked is are there any systems that have the functionality of Vbulletin as well as the social aspect of allowing users to interact with each other and create blogs in order to build up a community online. I was looking at vBulletin but I’m not certain that it does that fully.


I visited multiple web pages but the audio quality for audio songs present at this web page is really fabulous.


Hello! I’ve been following your website for a
long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a
shout out from Huffman Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic job!