Discussion: Starting and Maintaining a Forum


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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?
General chit-chat
Help Users
  • The Helper The Helper:
    Have been talking to a childhood friend who is an Artist and is interested in doing some game music. He has a studio in his house. Yes!
  • The Helper The Helper:
    Going to try and get my friend into the homebrew game indie market he is real interested
  • Varine Varine:
    Does reforged require the port forwarding? Is that even still a thing?
  • The Helper The Helper:
    I do not think that is a thing anymore
  • The Helper The Helper:
    Battle.net is different now and I do not think they are using the same network code
  • The Helper The Helper:
    I am sure they are not
  • tom_mai78101 tom_mai78101:
    Lately, news aren't as enticing as they seemed. Or maybe I'm getting old and desensitized.
  • jonas jonas:
    I think news are more serious recently
  • tom_mai78101 tom_mai78101:
    More serious doesn't necessarily mean it's more interesting. :(
  • The Helper The Helper:
    I find that news.google.com has lots of interesting science stuff going on and the Space X stuff with Starship is super cool too
  • The Helper The Helper:
    plus the boring company and physics stuff happening now but I am more into the science now but there is still some crazy news I see out there using Reddit as a news source though and aggregate services like news.google and stuff and put AP in there I always read the news and yes sometimes it is not as interesting as others
  • The Helper The Helper:
    At some point I am going to look at Xenforo and see if it integrates with Hubspot at all. Would love to look at forum under a full marketing account in Hubspot since I have access to that stuff with my current gig
  • Ghan Ghan:
    Kind of surprised it wouldn't have its own forum product offering.
  • Ghan Ghan:
    That said, when Blizzard switched forum software, they went with Discourse, not xenForo.
  • jonas jonas:
    I think news.google shows you personalized news
  • midnight8 midnight8:
    any of the peeps in here run youtube channels? Figure of all the peeps in this forum, got to be some other geeks like me with channels
  • Ghan Ghan:
    I can say I've uploaded a YouTube video.
  • The Helper The Helper:
    I can say I know someone that uploaded a youtube video :)
  • jonas jonas:
    A friend of mine has a channel where he uploads some of the crazy machines he has built. Like when he plugged an electric motor into a 3d printed gearbox, attached it to his bycicle and then drove 50mph with it.
  • The Helper The Helper:
    You should post a link to his channel in General Discussion I would definitely check it out
  • The Helper The Helper:
    how hard is it to put google analytics on the site?
  • Ghan Ghan:
    Likely not hard. I think we've done it in the past. Anything in particular you want to see?
  • The Helper The Helper:
    I remember we are already getting stats

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