Hey guys, I started a forum back in 2006 for the student's at my university and it has remained fairly popular over the years, even after the spread of Facebook. It has about 3500 members, and gets about 200 visitors per day. It is fully automated, other than the fact that I have to approve new members manually due to spam. Anonymous posting is allowed with the recaptcha and all new posts are automatically posted to the twitter account as a way to retain traffic and bring in new visitors.
I know it's hard to launch a forum and develop a new community, so if you guys want to pick my brain (especially about the early stages) feel free to ask. I have learned a lot of things over the years about what to do and what not to do. From my experience, Vanilla is the best forum option out there hands down and I'm very glad that I switched 2 years ago.