i have read through every post in this thread and i have no set opinion.
I am going to list a few points:
Sparkster was merely saying that as a paid designer he would not spend extra time hacking a BB (i guess unless a client pays him too) and then gives it to them no extra charge. he would rather give them VB3. I see nothing you could possibly have a go at him for in that because for one thing he is not the one using VB!
I would like to go through and compare PHPBB, VBulletin and Invision.
****I have used PHPbb and Invision a lot and have experience with Vbulletin, but i have never admin'd it. ****
PhpBB 2.2 (running on area51 -- won't not the bugs though)
Nice look and feel
Great mod database
Easy to use ACP
Smilies great plus .pak imports
Nice compact files
Very lightweight Db does the job great
Cons: (don't want to cause offence)
Slow development rate (it is free though)
Lacking power ACP
Missing comprehnsive security settings
Summary: Great BB for community sites, although lacking a powerful back end and features, it has the feel of a program designed for money by large groups of developers.
Invision Board (RC 2)
Extensive Admin Panel
great feature set
good value for money
Free version available
Variety of official mods integrate brilliantly (not in free version though and they do cost)
Easy to use BBcode system
hard to navigate ACP
Lack of skins available
Summary: My personal favourite BB, its only letdowns are cut out by the sheer wealth of features it has.
Comes with styles by default
Highly configurable display
Great templates available
Default Skin ugly
badly layed out
Summary: A bloatful product, un thoughtfully designed, and a rip off. it may be the most powerful BB around buts it sheer size of files and db is just ridicolous.
3 . VB
Phpbb is a very good bb and if the dev's were full time and paid i would have no doubt it would be the best around