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|Starting a Web Community|
Care and Feeding of a New Forum
Kind of intimidating looking in this forum and seeing under ten, posts, eh? But this is exactly the challenge faced by many webmasters. Many of us have been there - the BB software is installed, the template or skin is designed... the forums have been set up... and there you sit, with the thread and post counters at "0". It's enough to creep you out... ;)
I know we've got some experienced folks here... What have you done to get conversation flowing and attract new members?
I once had a teacher who said, "The first five languages are the toughest." (He spoke a dozen or so.) Forum operators typically find that the first few thousand posts are the toughest - once you are at that level, you probably have something going, even if it's not quite enough to launch your forum to the six or seven digit level.
What comes first? Do you jump in as yourself, the host? Do you adopt other nicks, or get your buddies to post? When you have a flicker of flame and wisp of smoke, so to speak, how do you fan it into a real fire?
When people start using Free Speech as an argument to protect their right to hurl abuse in an unrestricted manner, there has to be something wrong.
Free Speech is about respect to the speaker. But it isn't there to protect those speakers who carry on in a disrespectful manner - it's difficult to claim a speaker deserves respect whilst simultaneously abusing others.
Free Speech means everyone has the right to be heard. It does not mean everyone has the right to be listened to.
People who start flame wars or insult others can be politely pointed in the direction of the TOS which says: "insulting other members will not be tolerated" and have their posts deleted.
I take it that you are from the states. UK law isn't as severe. Walking into a UK shop and shouting FIRE, would get laughed at, might turn into an arrest if the person made an obstruction, public disorder or aggrevated trespass act, but not for public speaking.
UK forums and US forums are very different, unless your site attracts both. And even then a country's law may not support the internet.
But I was only using a shop as an example of inviting users to use something. Internet law would be different - if it applied at all to message boards.
These hostile situations would be why moderators are hired/used. To calm things down etc.
He, he... on your forum, you ARE the law. Just be sure the TOS backs you up. If your actions (or those of your mods) appear to be arbitrary or biased, you'll hurt your sense of community.
Most community members welcome a set of rules to live by, and are happy to see obnoxious or self-promotional posters dealt with.
say somebody does broke my TOS, how can I use him as an example, portraying the 'intensive' moderation that takes place on my forums.
I have 100 users, 20 active, with 5 to 10 posts daily... for some odd reason some don't seem to get the 'rules'
btw. all registered users are people that I had personal contact with (friends or collegues). We all preatty much live on a 4 sq. km area in Toronto. If I delete a post, they all find out about it (even if they don't post/read the forums)
Its funny how an online flame war gets carried on when run into other members on the streets.
Due to other fired discussions, one girl left the forums.. and along her closest firends. The "start your own forum" idea as not that great... now that I see somebody recomending it :)
I have no TOS/rules, other then "be nice to others, and STAY on topic"... the 'stay on topic' part I have really big troubles with since in a couple of posts, 10 or more events/ideas are being discussed...
I find myself into a position of _educating_ people how to post... any working templates?
What rules should govern this kind of community, where physical contact is unpredictable. Say someone swears at another member online, and I have no time to delete posts and ban the offender, they'll start fist fighting the next time they meet each other. It has happened... :) (95% of members are between 15 and 24)
heh.. I've also been warned by a couple of ppl to get sued... for what happens on the forums/photo gallery comments ... is this a real threat? can they really sue an admin/mod?
One thing you should always do: remove personal attacks from the forum. Delete any and all posts that contain persoonal attacks, regardless of any other considerations. Remove them even if you know they're justified.
And don't enter into any correspondence about this, otherwise you'll find thart you'll get dragged into personal arguments that you don't want. Just do it and move on.
Have a sentence in your TOS that says something to the effect of "Posts containing personal abuse, personal attacks and the like will be deleted without notice. No correspondence witll be entrered into concerning these", and then stick to it ruthlessly.
If everybody knows that you'll enforce this ruthlessly, then nobody will feel picked on, and most people wil appreciate it.
Hey, this thread was very helpful thanks. So what do you think is the fastest way to get members?
If you're talking FREE exposure, then I would say use the Search Engines - they should pick up the posts, links etc.
Adwords would be good for a forum campaign. Apart from that - then I don't know.
I've just started mine, so I'm finding out as I go.
I'm a forum newbie too. One thing I've heard though, is that once a forum gets popular - it really takes off!
As an example of "care & feeding", you CANNOT do better than the thread elsewhere which posts that Brett and Hawkgirl have announced their engagement. This sort of human interest post is PRICELESS.
Conqueror, getting the word out in other venues (forums, related sites, etc.) is a good way. Obviously, you shouldn't spam other forums to promote your own. In some cases, though, you can let people know (though a sig or profile url, for example) in a way that isn't obnoxious or a violation of the other forum's TOS.
roger, thanks for your reply, i do use another forum, and i have my link in the sig. I am tempted to start a thread, but they are very strict about that kind of thing.
The worst thing you can do is appear promotional or desperate, Conqueror. Instead, try to be helpful to others. Your efforts won't go unnoticed, and you'll get some people who check out your site.
Well this is totally industry and market dependent, forum success is 100% about moderation and trying to distance your from the act of promoting.
As owner you have a strong bias and that can often get in the way.
Moderators on the other hand are bound by forum rules that you develop, and are less likely to break such rules.
Some invested interest can often be enough to get a core group in place.
Interesting enough I have never developed a single client from my own website: they have been (almost entirely) developed from forums... and based (as I have been told) via demonstrated helpfulness, knowledge, skill, and professionalism.
Likeminded professionals that share an interest as you are your best option and usually these people can be easily seen if you actually sit down and start honestly looking at what you - yourself offer to your own board.
Develop a list of potential, busineses, associates, and possibly those involved is some form of community development (not just forums but real world).
You will find a few and dedicate them and yourself in the early stages to develop 2 posts per day. Keep this number low, often they will add more.
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