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Community Building and User Generated Content Forum

    
Did you ever close a forum?
Should I?
shallow




msg:3945169
 9:16 pm on Jul 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

I never had a very active forum but it's gone from somewhat active, to breathing, to on-life-support. My site has gone through two redesigns from the original during the last four years. After each launch the forum lost more breath.

I think it may be time to pull the forum plug.

The forum has a lot of good content and visitors seem to read rather than participate. Regular flow of signer-uppers, but few make posts.

The redesigned site has a comment field at the end of each article, and people seem to be using it instead.

Questions:

- should I close the forum by removing it completely.

- should I keep the forum and it's content viewable, but stop any further posts from being made or members from signing up?

- just keep it as is: on-life-support.

Thanks for insights and suggestions.

 

Asia_Expat




msg:3945797
 6:28 pm on Jul 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

As you know, forums take a great deal of maintenance, dedication of time and a lot of love to make them work. I almost closed mine last year, so sick of cranky forum members that just didn't appreciate the work that goes into it. In the end, I threw up an announcement that the forum was to close, stating that (and I quote verbatim) "I'd rather go to the datacentre in Singapore, destroy my server with a lump hammer and play with the pieces while laughing like a maniac, than continue running this forum"...

The members convinced me to change my mind and I made a commitment to keep it online. However, it continues to take a disproportionately large amount of my time to maintain, time I could be using to write static content.

I'm afraid I don't have the answers for you. I guess you've just got to decide if you have the will power to make it work... and it does take years for most forums.

shallow




msg:3946207
 5:53 pm on Jul 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

LOL on your announcement.

Thanks Asia_Expat for sharing your thoughts and experiences. My forum is more like a bulletin board, where someone posts a question and may never return once they get an answer. I never tried to develop a sense of community, just a place to ask a quick question (in fact I used to call it a Board, not a forum). I have three wonderful moderators, but most of the time we twiddle our virtual thumbs because there are so few posts. Still, people make a post now and then.

It's really doing no harm, I suppose, and as mentioned there is a lot of good content that has been posted for several years.

janharders




msg:3946211
 6:00 pm on Jul 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Option 1 is bad, I'd say: why waste the content?

Option 2 is OK, even better if you can direct them to appropriate pages on your site if they have questions, so they can use the comment-function, which people seem to get used to through the use of blogs etc.

Option 3 is OK, too, if it's not hurting. But of course, it can get frustrating for moderators to check the board every hour to see if moderation is required and find that no post was made. People who want to help on a board want to help - if they can't because nobody needs help, they won't stay. It's sad, but it's true.
Maybe you could also think about expanding the scope a little, depending on your niche, like no only support & discussion of your widgets, but on those widgets and what you can do with them in general, if you sell anything.

Rosalind




msg:3946250
 7:41 pm on Jul 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

It may be time to reassess whether a forum is what you need, or more of a kind of faq section, or even just comments.

shallow




msg:3946256
 8:06 pm on Jul 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

janharders and Rosalind. Thanks for the suggestions. I like them.

I really like the idea of directing forum visitors to appropriate pages at my site. DUH on me for not even thinking of that option on my own.

It's funny how something fairly obvious can elude you when you're right in the middle of things.

Again, my sincere thanks to all of you.

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