Not sure where I heard about punbb, but I'm glad I did. Its clean, simple, and fast - all good things! The project supports a few of my required needs in a bulletin board system:
I might just make the switch to punbb one of these days. If you are interested, check it out:
I emailed the bbPress dev list to ask about the differences between bbPress and punbb, never heard back, but just found this post by PhotoMatt, where he states:
bbPress is not and will not be right for everyone. There are open source traditional forum packages, like PunBB, that get a lot of things right and push the envelope in interesting ways, so that’s covered. bbPress is not going to have avatars, or put post counts next to your name, or give every user 80 options about how they want their dates formatted, and for some people (maybe most people) that just won’t work. However even if WordPress.org is the only site that ever runs this software, it’ll be totally worth it just to get the forum technology growing again and create a richer support experience for the WP community.
That statement makes me want to stick with bbPress, but there are still some issues I'm having with bbPress. I need to clarify what those issues are exactly. I believe they relate to user registration, as I keep getting tons of spammery users. :-(
The main thing I'm missing in bbPress is the show new posts since last visit, or show unread posts. Also, it appears that for some reason, Google isn't indexing any of the bbPress forum posts, only the rss feeds. That's odd. I found a bbPress sitemap generator that looks cool, tried it out, it works, but a little buggy. I'll try to make a patch soon.