|New Board Technique: Cut and Divide, Water and Grow|
We're implementing a new technique to help start new boards.
We started our boards about 5 years ago. They are now at about 80,000 posts, 20,000 members and 20,000 threads. Our technique was to start out with one board, then when that board had a certain critical mass (hard to determine, but maybe about 5 new posts a week) on a specific subject (usually a manufacturer or product since we are a review site) we would create a new board. For years we would do classic seeding - posting as fake users in those new boards. It's worked very well. We now have 45 different boards, some with over 5,000 posts and two with over 10,000. We now have a fairly large 30+ moderation team and they don't look positively on seeding, so I've started a new technique of "Cut and Divide" which is working very well.
In the past two weeks we've done some board expansion and added 9 new boards. All these boards were in some ways covered by our previous boards. About half were pretty unique topics, and about half were splitting off of another board which had specifically covered the topic earlier, i.e. we would have a board covering two products and we split it into two different boards. Instead of seeding the boards with fake posts, we used our search function to search through the board archives to find old posts about these new subjects, and then used the move function to move those old posts into the new boards. This allowed some of the new boards to start with as few as 50 or 60 posts and as many as 300.
It's great because you have relevant discussions in new boards, and the boards seem to be taking off immediately. I really believe in making your boards as specific as possible, but not doing it to the point that you can kill an existing board. I mean we all agree that boards are very organic, and if you have a subject that is discussed in a board that maybe only has 1 post a month, if you split it into it's own board you will likely kill any discussion on that issue because people donít' post on inactive boards. Because of this you can only use the Cut and Divide technique on subjects which have that critical mass of traffic, but when you do my feeling is it lets those sub topics grown on their own and the result is even greater growth than if they had been joined with a larger board.
The other aspect of this is encouraging your moderators to use your board move functions to move off-topic posts into the right board, especially if they can help build up a smaller board.
Anyone else using this technique?
Um. Well, this is pretty much what's been happening here forever, y'know....
RobinL, this is a good approach to forum building and coping with higher volume. The trick, I think, is to build critical mass before spawning new topics. I've seen brand-new boards start off with thirty or forty forums, and the end result is a board that looks dead, even when some posting activity is occurring.
Moving threads into a new forum is a nice way to launch it, too - it provides continuity with past discussions, and also avoids the "brand new" look.
Congratulations on the growth of your forum.
I tried starting a new forum with lots of sub forums for every form of motorsport, it didnt work, but I want to my site to grow so I can have seperate forums for differnt motorsports. I have just started a fresh forum, and rebuilding, and your post has given me some very usefull tips.