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Community Building and User Generated Content Forum

Enticing users to start posting

 12:13 pm on Feb 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have a new forum (vBulletin), with very nice ranks on the wonderful new MSN search engine.

Its getting on average 500 uniques a day, without any promotion.

Currently there are 20+ users, but not one has posted a single thread.

Funnily, some visitors enjoy asking questions via the feedback form, thus bypassing registration and posting :-(, also a few of the users have VERY random usernames (but legit-looking email addresses) which makes me believe these users are wannabe hackers.

Now to get people posting I'm going to provide cash benifits for the first 5 or so members reaching 1000 (QUALITY) posts. Would $50 ($0.05 per post) be too low?




 12:27 pm on Feb 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

You're liable to get drivel posts by paying. There's a thread someplace in the Library for this forum on bringing people out of lurking, and you may find some ideas by reading that.


 2:02 pm on Feb 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

The bonus will be available to only 10 people, so its more of an experiment. Is $50 for 1000 post enough?

I'm gonna try playing a few different personalitys on the site too.


 3:58 am on Feb 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>with very nice ranks on the wonderful new MSN search engine

A bit off topic, but are you seeing those ranks on the dynamic pages or on the "static" archive?

I'd be cautious with the cash benefits. You might really encourage junk. I've had people posting like maniacs just to move from "Member" to "Senior Member". ;)


 11:01 am on Feb 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well to be truthful, I did have a problem with MSN at first because of session ID's.

I just edited the sessions.php file to turn off sessions for msnbot. Problem solved.

I've noticed version 3.0.6 of vbulletin had msnbot support as standard.

Now dynamic pages are ranking just as good as any other it appears.


 11:30 pm on Feb 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have to agree with Marcia in worrying about a lot of people deciding to create a lot of trivial posts in hopes to improve their chances at getting the reward.

The bonus will be available to only 10 people, so its more of an experiment. Is $50 for 1000 post enough?

It depends upon the audience. For any type of professional forum where people are exchaning advice of the trade I doubt your reward would be enough to entice many people to participate if you wanted people to post something longer than a line or two without excessive repetition of other posts. If you are dealing something that is more of a hobby then the reward might be attractive.

I'm gonna try playing a few different personalitys on the site too.

That generally isn't too bad of an idea. I think that generally you need a critical mass of posters communicating with each other to get any forum off the ground. I have personally done similar things in forum which I run and I found that it took over six months for it really to take off. In those first couple months we were lucky to get more than a couple posts per week. The appearance that there are several people that regularly post on your forum really helps even if it is just you debating yourself using multiple pseudonyms.


 11:51 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

A few things:

It took us about 4 months before we got substantial traffic on our message boards.

Be careful what you wish for - I still haven't figured out how to make money from our boards, and they take up lots of time and bandwidth. They are very useful in terms of generating content and building traffic.

Encouraging users to make lots of posts is a bad idea. It's quality, not quantity. Some users will make rapid-fire, meaningless posts to build their counts, and it brings down the level of your forum. Kids do it more than adults. If you want to provide incentive, do it based on "best post."

I agree with the idea of creating multiple users and having discussions with yourself. You need something to get the ball rolling. I rememer posting as "Bjorn To Be Wild" and asking about Swedish music. This is also a great way to test your boards.

Some things we've done to get visitors on the boards:
We run an Oscar Pool (we're not about movies, but have a forum where people can talk about them). Winner gets a T-shirt.
We let users make suggestions for 5 albums that we will feature on our homepage every 2 weeks.
We post the answers to our trivia quiz in a forum.


 11:59 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Try to advertise in printed media. This will bring a new type of user to your site that will post (the unexperienced internet user that is interested in your site).

just my 2 cents :-D


 12:36 am on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

billythekiddo is right. That avenue has worked for me in the past when starting new forums


 2:24 am on Mar 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would encourage people not to be shy, express themselves in the forum.


 12:39 pm on Mar 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

my forum pretty much took off right away - and been running for over 3 yrs. I was lucky - everyone got mad at another forum for having pop ups - so they were all leaving anyway.

However - to get them interested in the ist place - i took about 10 serious issues that people were talking about in the industry - and started threads with different ghost users - and got them looking juicy BEFORE I started to promote it. Was hard work - but worth it.



 1:14 pm on Mar 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

So Lady_Lea, regardless of how you did it and what means you to undertook to achieve it, you ultimately ended up focusing on user needs - is that not right?


 11:45 pm on Mar 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

I did the same. Made up 15 ghost users and seeded the forums with about 150 messages before even thinking of opening the forum to the public.

I even had a couple of disputes with myself, but focussed on serious discussions. It may seem dishonest but it's like opening a new restaurant and inviting family and friends to eat there for the first few weeks...no-one like to go into an empty restaurant!

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