Discussion: Starting and Maintaining a Forum

Oninuva

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Starting a forum is as simple as starting up your own "free site" by yourself or even as much as purchasing a license for software such as vBulletin. Each method is still considered starting a forum and a forum is nothing really more than a place for discussion. But what's the secret method for starting and maintaining a forum?

What do you consider a successful forum? What do you view as a "correct" method to starting a public forum and drive visitors whom eventually become members?

I personally have had much experience in this area but when thinking back, there wasn't really a set method in mind. I always believed that "content is king" but it's really not the case. Sure unique content can bring you so far but how do you get past that couple hundred or even a couple thousand views a day? What brings you past that?

Here's a couple situations

1. You have a very unique and niche oriented forum, you get a couple friends that are dedicated to discussions and you slowly gain more enthusiasts, you rack up a couple hundred posts almost daily but you don't really have too much growth. The content is very unique obviously as you're very niche oriented but you really only attract people that are interested in your certain subject.

Pros: Loyalty, Unique, Content, Good Discussions
Cons: Low Activity, Slow Growth, Low Revenue


2. Your forum is a very general subject, such as cars, sports, or gaming, which are all very very common and basic subjects. Your discussions are very general and on surface, membership is very hard to retain as there's hundreds or even thousands of websites out there just like yours, how do you retain your users? Content? What could you possibly offer that other websites do not? In the long term, sure if you start building a solid user base, more and more people would join and the growth would snowball. Nobody want's to join a forum with low activity so the more you grow, the faster you grow, and with such a general topic, visitors aren't hard to find.

Pros: Snowballing Growth, Generic Subject, Large Visitor Base, High potential revenue
Cons: Very difficult to start up, Lots of work to retain members, low loyalty, many competitors



Now if you look at analyze a couple aspects of a forum;

TheHelper: Offers mapping help for Warcraft III. That's the main point of interest for visitors, successful? I would think so. The community is also to a certain extent tight knit. Growth rate is not too high though.

Now if you look at larger forums (much larger) such as DigitalPoint or WebHostingTalk, they offer HUGE amounts of discussion but very little community, it's more of a channel of trade. The amount of growth is phenomenal as well as sustainable because of them being the largest, but what is their best aspect? Monetary Revenue, they generate huge amounts of revenue but you also lose out on the tight knit feeling some smaller forums have.

How do you gain the balance between community & revenue? What's your idea of starting a solid forum? Do you have a certain method you feel is the right way?
 
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  • Varine Varine:
    hello, peeps. I got most of my computer back up to Idaho so I have passwords again after that nightmare of like 4 months
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    What is up Varine? Good to see you buddy! Too bad you are not in Houston I have a friend that needs Cooking staff like desperately remember if you ever want to get a different landscape, not sunsets over mountains and a lake Houston has opportunity!
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    Nice to see Varine back in action.
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    Welcome back Varine!
  • The Helper The Helper:
    can someone answer a question in the World Editor Help forum?
  • jonas jonas:
    ok
  • The Helper The Helper:
    thank you jonas!
  • Varine Varine:
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    +1

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