I installed the eTickets helpdesk system on a free server to demo it as promised, but found that anyone registered or not could open up a help ticket. According to the forum that won't be fixed. I suppose with some time I could implement but I wouldn't unless we were serious about using it for VL.
I installed many helpdesk systems on my local server and found one that really catches my eye and really think could work very well for us. It's BEAUTIFUL, loaded with features, and looks very professional.
It's called "Trellis Desk" http://www.iftomatoes.com/products/trellis-desk
The user can get support via the browser based help system, or by email. But for the staff it all looks the same. They see the help tickets through their control panel and can answer or browse them. Seems like it will be easy to track the help tickets so everyone can tell at a glance what is getting worked on, or hasn't even been looked at.
To customize it seems pretty standard. Bunches of html/php templates edited via the control panel.
The permissions system looks great. You can control access to all the features and areas for customers, staff, and admin.
Here's some screenshots of it running on my xampp server:
#1 Is what the admin sees upon log in.
#2 Admin reading a ticket
#3 What a un-logged-in person would see at the front door.
#3 Customer logs in. Showing their controls and that one ticket is pending.
#5 A logged in customer just starting to open a help ticket.
#6 A customers view of filling out a help ticket.
#7 After ticket is submitted, back it goes to customer controls and now there is two tickets.
Total install including adding new table and user to mySQL was about 10 minutes. Customizing will take more naturally. But besides changing text files and the logo's, how hard can it be? BTW It's also open source so the price is right.
I still feel pretty strong VL should use a "help desk" type tool rather than a forum. It has a more confident and professional feel to it.