Tutorial Managing a new Community

Miz

Administrator
A remake of my older tutorial, Tips for new Websites and Forums
Managing a New Community


Introduction
Well over the few years I have been here so far, I have seen many websites that started out as a good idea go down the tubes.
This "tutorial" is less about the coding of your website and more about how to start a new website and then manage its content, users and keep your site alive.
I hope this tutorial helps some people become excellent Site Owners and make more sites into a productive community.

Many of the concepts are basic, but you would be surprised how many people don't follow them... :eek:

Start Small and Basic
First off, when creating a new site or forum, never start too big. This goes for Websites and Forums alike. (Even though this is probably not the first steps when making a site, its one of the biggest problems I see so I see the need to make it first.)
For a Forum, I have seen that many people try to make a million categories and forums with only 3 members on their sites. aye it may look impressive, but 3 members and twenty forums makes no sense. Plus most of those forums are only going to have one or two threads, if any at all.
So to make it more convenient for members to find threads, and to make more sense out of things. Start small, have one or two forums for your subject and maybe a General Discussion for things off topic.

For a Website, Much like the forums, start small, and with only one idea about what your site is going to do and stick to it. Supporting it as much as possible. Until the point where you have multiple regular visitors. Then you can try to incorporate more projects and ideas into your site. But never forget your sites original purpose.
Much like TheHelper (though it is a forum), the sites main purpose is technical support. But it branched out into those other subjects you see below, like Creativity, Entertainment, and Blizzard Games over the years until it became the community you see now.​


Make sure that you are committed
If you decide to make a new forum or site, make sure you are committed to it. You always have to be active on your own site/forum, so that there is more content to view on your site and to encourage visitors to post their own content to your site.
This is also important when your community starts becoming more active, because members like their Site Owner to be active, this way they feel there is some power at the top they can hope to achieve and the forum or site isn't just under anarchy.

Pick a topic/idea for your site that you are Interested in
Just because its the easiest topic to become successful in, doesn't mean its the best path to pick.
Remember its your site, you have to stay interested in it, and encourage members and visitors to keep visiting your site and posting content. Having a topic you have no care for or any idea about, is very hard to stay interested in. Making a bad example for your site.

Pick a site topic that is interesting.
Once you have a topic that is interesting to you, make sure the topic is interesting and vague enough for there to actually be a group of people looking for a site to discuss or look up the matter.

Don't Pick an overused Site Topic.
Don't pick a topic that has been used so many times over, that there are multiple "monopoly sites" (sites that are so massive that they pretty much run the said topic.) If this becomes the case, its highly unlikely that you will be able to beat your larger competitors unless your determined, active and more creative with newer ideas then they are.

No copying!
When I say No copying I mean don't make an exact replica of another site that does the same thing as you do.
I have seen many sites that copy word for word; forums and content from bigger sites that have the same purpose as their smaller community. The easiest example I can see is a person trying to make another Wc3 Mapping support, but merely copy or have the same exact forums, systems and content as TheHelper, The Hive Workshop, or Warcraft 3 Campaigns.

That is a bad habit to follow suit, as no member will come to your site because they can go to a much more productive and larger site that you used content from.

Note - Copying isn't the same as basing your ideas off of something. Its true if the site is large and has hundreds of members there system is working and it might be a good idea for you to try to use it but customize it, make it your own!

Always post new Content.
New Content is needed on your site if you ever want more members to come. If your site has a lot of content funny, useful, w/e. It will encourage members to visit your site, and hopefully post some of there own thoughts, comments or content.

Make your Site Fun!
This one is more aimed towards Forums; While rules and order are important to keep your site organized and not a troll-island, you need to let some kind of fun slip by: Joke threads, funny stuff, etc.
Also allow some kind of achievements like a Rep or Post system, where members are rewarded for good deeds, or posting alot of content. So that they feel important and appreciated making them more likely to stay with your site.

Learn some basic website languages
Before you even begin making your site special its best that you learn at least the basics of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) or XHTML (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and other Website Languages so that you can easily program or redesign your site if need be.

Get an Accomplice!
Sometimes programming and running a site can be alot of hard work for one person, sometimes its best to get a partner in crime to help you with certain things. Someone who is good at coding, graphics, or some other field your not as professional in is your best bet.
A partner can majorly effect your way of doing things, by speeding up the process of making content, or helping you with technical problems faster so that your site is online quicker.
Remember two heads are better than one!

Avoid Paying
At the beginning of your site, you should avoid paying for hosting your site, a domain for your site, and definitely avoid buying one of those expensive forum programs like vBulletin.
Much like the first suggestion I told you, start small, get a free-host with a free subdomain. aye it may not look as professional but if your not sure if your site is going to work out, or if you really committed to this . Its best to save your money so you can afford bigger things like your own server and vBulletin when the time comes around when your site is big and successful enough for those things.


Advertising
Advertisement is an important thing to do when it comes to making your site more active and popular. There are many things you can do with or without money.

(Free Solutions)
Add your site to Google
Add your site to Yahoo
Link your Site on Social Networks (Youtube, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc.)
Share your site on Yahoo! Answers
Advertise your sites on other forums/sites!
Become an Affiliate with another Site.

(Payment Advertising)
Google Adwords


Always take in Suggestions!
Last but not Least, always take suggestions from visitors on your site or members on this forum commenting your site. Listen to them, and don't take it personal. They are just trying to help you get your site on its feet and help you get more members.


Got any other tips I missed, post below and I will add them :thup:​
 

UndeadDragon

Super Moderator
Staff member
Good idea for a tut, Miz :thup:

I agree, there are plenty of new communities which just do not get started.
 

ElderKingpin

Post in the anime section, or die.
"Start small, have one or two forums for your subject and maybe a General Discussion for things off topic. "

If you have too few topics, you dont know where to post your crud in. lets say.

One says "Arcade & Games" and the other says "Gaming Discussion" one is Creativity & Games and the other is Random Chatter (respectively, the arcade and games goes to creativity and games and the gaming discussion goes to random chatter)

Maybe have one saying "Make your categories distinct from each other, so people know exactly where to post"
 

Oninuva

You can change this now in User CP.
Bump.

Don't quite agree with;

Avoid Paying
At the beginning of your site, you should avoid paying for hosting your site, a domain for your site, and definitely avoid buying one of those expensive forum programs like vBulletin.
Much like the first suggestion I told you, start small, get a free-host with a free subdomain. Yes it may not look as professional but if your not sure if your site is going to work out, or if you really committed to this . Its best to save your money so you can afford bigger things like your own server and vBulletin when the time comes around when your site is big and successful enough for those things.
But other than that, nice work. If you can afford to have your own domain & vBulletin or IPB it's a great start. If you start with a free forum/domain, it's a lot slower and almost backwards progress at start. When you do make the transition to vBulletin & IPB on your own domain you will lose all SEO you created on your free domain. Bookmarks, Back-Links, Any thing else people have to your forums will be gone.
 

JerseyFoo

1/g = g-1
TL;DR.

The key to creating a community is motivating a user to make that first post and then follow-up on it. Desperation, hate, and love are the only tools available to foster attachment.

  • TheHelper did that through helping people with triggering. (noobs)
  • Hive did that through stealing wc3sear.ch's position as resource-hoarder. (authors)
  • 4chan did that through emotion-inducing content. (newfags)

Otherwise you just have a forum and people dull enough to post on it.

--

On second thought; I really don't understand what motivates these people - http://www.rangerboard.com/
 

Miz

Administrator
Bump.
Don't quite agree with; But other than that, nice work. If you can afford to have your own domain & vBulletin or IPB it's a great start. If you start with a free forum/domain, it's a lot slower and almost backwards progress at start. When you do make the transition to vBulletin & IPB on your own domain you will lose all SEO you created on your free domain. Bookmarks, Back-Links, Any thing else people have to your forums will be gone.
This is true but I think people new to the site running business can get carried away. So I am debatable about adding this as an amendment.

TL;DR.

The key to creating a community is motivating a user to make that first post and then follow-up on it. Desperation, hate, and love are the only tools available to foster attachment.

  • TheHelper did that through helping people with triggering. (noobs)
  • Hive did that through stealing wc3sear.ch's position as resource-hoarder. (authors)
  • 4chan did that through emotion-inducing content. (newfags)

Otherwise you just have a forum and people dull enough to post on it.

--

On second thought; I really don't understand what motivates these people - http://www.rangerboard.com/
I think that is more expressed in making the site fun. But maybe not.
 

Jindo

Self
If you have too few topics, you dont know where to post your crud in. lets say.
I think the idea is that you start with a few specialist forums, and the namesake General Discussion forum, anything that doesn't go in to a specialist forum would go in to GD, and if enough threads of a similar topic end up in GD then it would merit a new forum.

That's what I got from it anyway.

---

Nice guide Miz, I realise this is old but you spelt competitive as "competative" somewhere in there ;).

Thanks, Hopefully I fixed that.
~ Miz
 
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