How I would start a forum

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How I would start a forum

Post by Amber on May 28th 2010, 3:49 pm

For webmasters who would like the create a forum, starting it is almost always the most crucial part of making their forum successful. It's most certainly not an over the night process, and should take some planning and effort. I hope this can help some who are at a loss at how to start their project, so without further ado, here it is:I would spend a few days generating a unique idea about what the forums about. Then I see what/if any other forums of the same nature are out there and how big and how well of a community they have. I see what they're doing that could be improved, while trying not to copy any of the forums or unique ideas from them
Next I see what forum software has my needs (I.e. certain mods, appropriate themes) and what host would fit best (affordable or not many posts a month, good support, ect.) and I well...set it up. I'll add forum descriptions that are between 1-3 sentences long, telling what the section is about but in a light way with some humor is possible. Always remembering not to always add "!"s at the end of every single description as it makes it look like you're yelling at the person or speaking loudly. With grammar and punctuation too.
Next I join general discussion forums or forums of a similar nature and chat there, be generally friendly and make new friends and such. Maybe chat with them on msn, facebook, aim, or outside of that forum and hopefully develop a bond with them. Hopefully they will have similar interests with you, so it shouldn't be hard to chat and such with them. While doing this I set up forums to my liking, making sure to have enough to keep it interesting yet not so much that it is cluttered. I remember seeing once in someones signature on a promotion forum that said forums should be like a skirt - long enough to cover everything, but short enough to keep it interesting. I think that's a great way to put it.
Then I set perms, and for setting the guest permissions, do you want to hide the content of the forums or make them visible to guests? Here are so pros and cons of each:
Hiding forum content from guests:
Pros: If the forum name and description interests them they may feel compelled to join to see the topics of the forum.
Cons: They don't know what's in the forum, so there may be something they could contribute to in it but they won't because they don't know that it is there.
Showing forum content to guests:
Pros: They can see and read topics, so if they read a topic they may join because they feel they have something to contribute to that individual topic, even if they can't to much of the rest of the forum.
Cons: The guests may be admins of other forums swiping topic ideas for their own forum, making your content less unique.
A big topic that some admins can't decide on is should I have forum games, or not? I personally would not add forum games on a forum that is serious. It's just a bunch of spammy "Count to 100" type threads - what's the point? Some people have the argument that it's "fun", but why not have "fun" on the forum by contributing to actual discussions instead of adding to a spammy forum? Also, if your forum has 1000 posts, but 900 of them are in the forum games, I personally wouldn't join. It shows that either the staff or admin is out for solely a large post count, or it's a noob forum with a bunch of spammers. I personally wouldn't add a forum games forum to any type of forum other than a general discussion forum or a forum specially for spam or forum games. But this one is really for the admin to decide on.
The typical layout for a forum is:
(Bold = category, normal = regular forum, - = sub forum)
The Community
Site Announcements
Suggestions and Feedback
Introductions
-interviews
MAIN_CONTENT
Main Content 1
Main Content 2
Main Content 3
SUB_CONTENT
Sub Content 1
Sub Content 2
Sub Content 3
Off Topic
Media and Entertainment
Forum games
Off Topic
Staff/VIP boards
And it's not necessarily bad if your forum is set up like that - it's not unique, it's rather average, but that's not bad. People say that your forum has to be unique to succeed - I strongly disagree. Some forums completely copy 100% from other forums yet are highly successful (I will not say what forum is in mind with this, but if you want to know just comment and I'll find you). You see, you don't want to be so unique that no one has a clue how to work it or figure it out, but then you don't want to be the same as every other forum as the genre you're looking to start. It's best to be somewhere in the middleNext, I would install some mods that would be helpful in the future (i.e. point mods, latest topic on index), although it is not necessary too. I've seen forums with a default prosilver theme and the default banner. A prime example would be - http://forum.lunaii-dollmaker.com/ Anything is possible, but keep in mind if you do decide to have a crappy or basic theme and no mods then you should make sure you really have some top-notch content, as that's what they'll then be coming for. and choose a theme.
Then I make minimum ten topics per forum.
After that I make the required amount of posts to get the amount of points I need to request the highest package I can get on 5-10 advertising forums; with the recent splurge of promotional forums it should not be too hard to find some. I would add a link or a fancy-schmancy graphic to your signature to the promotion forums, as you're on them for the packages. Some people say that promotion forums can't help and the only people there are admins looking to advertise only, but I found that I got several highly active members and valued contributes to one of my forums and they came from a promotion topic or a link in my signature on an advertising forum. While on the promotion forums to get packages, and you are waiting for them to be completed I would do some exchanges - best to be done in 25s-100s, as I find it looks like a better community if you have say, 25 members but 5000 posts, not 100 members and 200 posts, as that makes it look like you have members who joined but no content because no one is posting. Basically more posts makes it look like it has more a community feel to it. Also, reading tips and admin-discussion topics can help you find ways to make your forum most successful.
Also, I would try to reply to topics that the exchange and posts, or even real members if you have any, have made. It makes you look detected - even if you are not dedicated.
Next..the friends that you made earlier? Remember? Give 'em the link, but do it nicely, asking if they could help you out or something, or ask if they think it looks cool, and ask them to join. They should be your friend, so they should agree Adding your forums link to your msn, aim, twitter, facebook, sending out invites, ect. are also very helpful as the people you send them to most likely know you. I find that beginning forum active members are typically a staff members friend.
Speaking of staff members, I would probably get a moderator or second admin. Why? Because what I like go on vacation or something? I would have to trust the forum in someones hands, also I find that the more people you involve in a project, the more chance of it being successful it has. People like to feel like they are a apart of things, and things tend to be less likely to fail if more people are putting their hands into it.
After that I should have at least 1000 posts. I would make a forum presentation, as first impressions are everything, I would make it look nice. Have the goal of the forum, what it is about, gently give some of the rules, direct them to an interesting topic or two, and have a nice graphic in the beginning of it. State my name on the forum and say that any questions can be asked via PM on that forum or your forum. Say that it would be a pleasure to have them there and that your community would welcome them with open arms. Tell them what the forums purpose is. I personally find that humour can help a little to. Then I'd post it in the forum presentations section of the forums I requested packages at, or even others than the ones I requested at.
Then..you're past the starting it up point and you're in it. Your forum is open. Ba-bang.Hope this was helpful..or at least a good read (I know it was fun to write, 1520 or so words) ,


Awesomes Founder <3
Welcome to our Newest Member, georgonza, thanks for joining!

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Amber
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