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Community Building and User Generated Content Forum

Elvis lives!
or: How to keep a thread alive...

 3:29 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

According to worldtime.com, it is 6:40am in San Francisco at the time I start this message. Why is that important? Because it means that a majority of the hardcore internet professionals on this planet are either showering right now, or already struck in traffic jams. In other words, they are logged out right now.

What the heck has this to do with forum building? Well, just like you can optimize webpages so they rank high in search engines, you can optimize forum threads so they "rank high" with the targeted audience. Let's play a little thought experiment, and let's take WebmasterWorld as the target. In reference to SEO I coined the term WWO - WebmasterWorld Optimization. The technology described however applies to any forum.

Optimization #1: Who is my audience?
According to internetworldstats.com 25% of the world's online community come from the US, 10% from China, 8% from Japan, 6% from Germany and 4% from the UK. Except for China and Japan - where probably language problems stand in the way - this is more or less who we see in WW as well. I would assume that 60% of WW users are form the US, 20% from the UK, 15% from Germany. Apart from sheer user numbers, also the majority of webservers is hosted in the US. Pure statistics says, that also the majority of professional webmasters are located in the US. So if I want to address the biggest possible audience, I better time my initial message to show up within the business hours of US-American webmasters.
Once I have finished this message, it's supposed to be ~7:30 in San Francisco - good timing for most of the guys from silicone valley. It also means that Washington DC and Virgina webmasters - the second technology center in the US - just finished reading all of their email and have time now for their second look of the day into WW. Finally, webmasters in London UK (3:30pm) and Berlin Germany (4:30pm) recovered from the early afternoon fatigue and go for the final 2-3 hours of their day.
By posting NOW, I have the undivided attention of the whole Western Internet Professionals!

Optimization #2: Catchy phrases, which fire up curiosity
Imagine you work on the creative for an ad. You try to get into the minds of the audience. What catches their interest? Well, in AdWords you can set up multiple ads and see which one works best. In WebmasterWorld you have one shot, and your thread stays with it...
I could have named my thread "Theoretical thoughts on forum threads". Sounds a bit like "Distribution of ant populations in accordance to external factors like humidity and air pollution". In other words - boring. I stole the name for this thread from a seminar on SPAM-prevention which I visited recently. One of the tracks was named "Elvis lives!". Nothing else - just "Elvis lives!". It was no surprise that this was the best attended track because everybody wanted to find out what it was about.
Actually I named it first "WWO - WebmasterWorld Optimization". Not bad either, but not as mysterious as "Elvis lives!". However, be careful not to exaggerate too much. I've seen a forum where one thread was named "Sex, sex, sex!", and it transformed into a flamewar after a handful of posts.
Subtitles - like my "or: How to keep a thread alive..." - are a good way of making the targeted audience even more curious, while at the same time providing some information.
Botoom line: Writing the thread title is like writing an online-ad.

Optimization #3: Getting people involved
I'm toying with the idea of this thread for some time now, and recently mentioned it in a sidenote to esteemed member eWhisper. He admitted that he had similar ideas and thought the topic worth discussing, and he mentioned that moderator rogerd or tedster might have an interest as well. So as soon as I am finished here, I drop a stick to eWhisper that I have started the thread, and I am pretty sure that at least he will comment on it. I also expect rogerd to comment.
While I'm still working on becoming one, eWhisper is the WW's equivalent of an "authority site". I know as a fact that people take more interest in a thread where he, or Marcia, or jenstar, or szygy, or claus, or bakedjake, or martinibuster - only to name a few - participate. Having them participate in a thread is the forum's equivalent of having high-PR inbound links. The holy grail would be to get GoogleGuy or AWA to participate, but it is unlikely with the topic I have chosen.
Since WW's search function is rather poor, many members include Google search to find keywords. Listing all the names of people I regard as authorities is partly a reverence on my side, but it is also "keyword stuffing" for my thread...

Optimization #4: Give your thread the occasional bump
There are a few other techniques I like to mention in this thread. However I am going to post it right now. Not only to meet my perfect-timing, but also to have something to keep the thread alive. What happens now is that it pops up on the recent-list of my target audience. Hopefully it attracts a lot of impressions and hopefully some comments too. Neverthelss, the guys from Europe go home soon. maybe they check in from home again, but in a few hours Europe will be logged out. The guys from the US will be active a bit longer, but as soon as this thread moves down in the recent-list, they'll forget about it.
It might be that this thread gets constant exposure during the whole US-day. Some threads are lucky. If not, I have something which I can post tomorrow, to give the thread a fresh bump towards the recent-posts list.

OK, I'd love to see some comments here. Am I right so far? Am I wrong? Is this considered white-hat forum optimizing, or black-hat? Does it only apply to WW or to all forums?

Take it away, gals and guys!

P.S. worldtime.com says it's 7:28 in San Francisco! Good morning Silicon Valley!
P.P.S. Elvis DOES live! He works as an Elvis impersonator and tours the US... Not a good impersonator though...



 6:26 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I find optimizing threads a very interesting topic.

There are a few reasons that quickly come to mind as to why threads can die quickly:
1. No one was interested (which is often tough to swallow when you spent an hour crafting the perfect post).
2. Another 'hot' topic thread came out, and yours was lost in the fold (i.e. Google rolled something out of beta).
3. Your thread is in a busy forum, and it's possible to quickly see 20 new threads and get pushed down so far, it's lost in the shuffle.

What you can do about it:
1. Don't respond to questions in the thread immediately. Let someone else take a stab at it. If no one response, this gives you an opportunity to 'bump' up a thread with real content.

2. If there's someone's opinion you want on the subject, or have talked to on the subject before, a friendly sticky can give you a bump from someone else.

3. If you see a newer thread that is floundering, and is the same subject, you can drop a url in the newer thread to an authority thread, thus not only helping the floundering thread, but the optimized one as well.


 6:52 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Not only does the original poster want to "optimize" the performance of a thread, so does a good moderator. No mod likes seeing a question go unanswered, or an interesting topic die after one or two replies.

Some of the techniques are the same, like not jumping on a post right away. It's better to see where it goes, and intervene strategically if it needs some momentum or a visibility boost. (Of course, if it's a simple question, then a quick reply is no doubt best. Only a portion of the topics posted have the potential to grow into a good exchange of ideas.)

Not "over answering" is important, too. A reply that exhausts most of the possibilities can be a thread-killer.


 7:53 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

The topic of thread titles is important. In an online forum, they are both a kind of ad for the thread and they are SEO.

While "intriguing" titles can work to draw in the curious, it is essential that a title describse what the exact topic is, and to a good degree. I shudder to think of a forum filled with only creative topic titles. At a conference on spam, you already know what the context of "Elvis Lives!" will be - not so on a busy forum.

We also need to think of the future while creating a title in the present - being able to find legacy information is also a big chunk of a thread title's work. A forum is not just a conversation, like a chat room; it's also a growing knowledge base. Informative titles are valuable if future users are going to find legacy threads.

I notice that some people omit a highly informative word from their title and only bring up that critical information in the body of their post. Perhaps they're hoping to draw in a wider audience. However, there is a principle they are ignoring here that is used in the most successful marketing: targeting.

If you want to reach the most people with your message, then your BEST prospect must recognize that "this is for me". When this is the case, then you also pick up a higher number of people whose interst is more peripehral. It's the very same thing as the importance of keyword selection in a PPC ad.

It might seem on a first look that the wider your aim, the more targets you can hit - but that's not the case. If your best prospects can't recognize that their own, very specific interests are represented, then your creative, intriguing, general audience message will fall flat.

In the Browsers Forum, for instance, "Firefox is foxing with me" is not nearly so good a draw as "Gaps under images in Firefox". Mere functionality may seem a bit dull, but it works - that's why it's functional!

So, I would say a good title is informative first - and then intriguing.

You may notice, as a moderator I often edit thread titles. In fact, one of my rules of thumb is that if I scan down the list of forum threads that I've already read and can't recall the exact topic just from the title, then that title needs an edit.


 10:19 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Good afternoon, California! You should have more or less finished your lunch by now, and probably start to feel a bit tired due to afternoon fatigue. What about a walk to the coffee machine, or some reading in WW?

I had to admit I had the hardest hour this afternoon (CET time). I saw my post go lower and lower in the "recent" list, until it finally vanished. I had to force myself not to bump it up again. If my theory would fail - so be it. Making the second post myself didn't seem right. I'm glad to see there were some comments, even though I strongly believe they might haven been "inspired" by eWhisper...

Not only does the original poster want to "optimize" the performance of a thread, so does a good moderator.

A very good point, rogerd, and one I didn't thought of myself! For a serious forum poster, it is important to know "his" moderator. The moderator shapes the forum. Sometimes in a sublime way, sometimes more bluntly - depending on the personality. A poster should take every mail/sticky he gets from the moderator take very seriously. Not in a submissive way (even though some mods CAN be rude), but in not-making-the-same-error-twice way. A forum is not a democracy, and the moderator is the one who defines what's off limits or inappropriate.

I shudder to think of a forum filled with only creative topic titles.

Of course "Elvis lives" is a drastic example. I agree that most forums would go down the drain if all topics would be like that. However I needed to exaggerate a bit. My point is: make it informative AND interesting. A title (and/or subtitle) can be informative but at the same time driving people away because it sounds boring or hyper-theoretical.
Nevertheless, if you start a thread, you want to sell something! You want to sell your opinion, your question, your suggestion or your problem. A little bit of spice is in order (imho), but as with spices, you can overdo it.

A forum is not just a conversation, like a chat room; it's also a growing knowledge base.

I fully agree! My recommendation for every forum is to have the possibility to turn threads into FAQ entries.

You may notice, as a moderator I often edit thread titles. In fact, one of my rules of thumb is that if I scan down the list of forum threads that I've already read and can't recall the exact topic just from the title, then that title needs an edit.

I did not. As a matter of fact, this was my very first post to this forum so far. Initially I wanted to post it to the community forum, but eWhisper suggested that this forum here would be a better place.
Some posters might be miffed that their topics would be edited. But I think it's a good idea. Especially for a non-native speaker of English (like myself) it's often very helpful.

Let's see if there are more comments coming from the US. I myself will got to bed now (nobody DARE to mention the word "gizmo quiz"!) and follow up tomorrow with the rest of my optimization theories.


 10:42 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Trust me on this one -- the only long threads are those where you state well known facts carefully and thoughtfully. That is sure to provoke a lengthy discussion. I know that from experience.


 10:46 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well it's a quarter to midnight here - what a nice thread, and a great opening post :)

One thing i can add related to timing is that this particular audience might have "non-traditional behaviour" - ie. a good deal of webmasters seem to be self-employed, so you can't really count on them following "regular office hours".

Also, regarding worldwide audience and timezones i tend to view The Americas as one "timezone chunk", while Europe is another and Far East + Australia is a third. I think you will find that the European share is fairly large here if you add UK+DE+FR + the rest (i'm in "the rest" myself) - this is also a reason that this particular forum is alive more or less 24/7.


 10:55 pm on Feb 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

this is also a reason that this particular forum is alive more or less 24/7

You're right about the nonstandard behaviour. Let's face it, my job ends at 6pm CET, now it's 11:55pm, and I'm still working. I only changed my office for my living room.

I disagree on the 24/7 for WW. As I stated in my first post, there is a significant lack in Asian members. I never recognized a member of WW being from Japan so far. So in a few hours, when the US colleagues start their evening (there's such a thing as family, or going out with friends) and us Europeans are not awake yet, WW will become very silent. And also there's a huge decline during the weekend.

I made the mistake once to start an (to me) important thread on a Saturday evening. I can not recommend it :-)


 12:02 am on Feb 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

What do you know, nobody buys obvious trolling here (I mean my earlier post).

My point was that for a thread to survive it should have some mistakes/misunderstandings or trolling (intentional or not). If the post states truth then it gets ignored most of the time.


 8:34 am on Feb 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

If the post states truth then it gets ignored most of the time.

That's a harsh way to put it, but you bring up an interesting point. As I see it, there are three types of initial posts:

  1. Question Threads
    This is the type of threads were the initial post starts with a call for help. The poster ran into a problem and asks if somebody else experienced this and if there is a solution. In many cases, these threads are done with two posts if the second poster gives the correct answer. Sometimes a "Thank you" message is post #3 and then we're done. No need to keep this thread alive - and some forum software even allows to "close" a thread at this time.
    If the poster is wrong however, two things might happen:
    • One of the following posts gives the right answer, and then the thread dies for good
    • A controversy arises, and the thread goes astray, with the danger of flamewars evolving

  2. Information threads
    Those are report type of posts. Somebody has seen a new feature, quotes a press release, or gives otherwise information without explicitly ask for feedback. Here is an example [webmasterworld.com] by myself. The more authority-status the poster has, the less likely is that a big thread evolves around it. In some cases, there's not even a single comment - and actually there is no need to it. Often you find "Thank you" or "Nice find" comments. The thread dies quickly for good, but will be digged up over and over again when somebody uses the search function.

    • Discussion threads
      Some threads obviously call for discussions. This is most likely the case if the topic of the thread is not subject to scientific investigation. Good examples are threads which start after recent Google updates, like the handful of Allegra threads [google.de]. In these threads, the initial poster is at a loss and asks for open discussion to explain a phenomenon. If the topic is of vital interest (like almost every Google topic is) it's almost a guarantee that a lengthy thread evolves. Threads like these can be real "thread killers" like eWhisper states in his earlier post. If the topic is in a way religious (infamous example: Linux vs. Windows), the thread has a good chance to go astry or end in a flamewar.
      These threads can be kept alive - if it makes sense! Sometimes they drop off the radar, so it can be a good idea to bump them into consciousness again after a day or two. The topic has sunk in by then, maybe the issue has been explored further, so the thread can be updated with new information. Sometimes even weeks after the last post, it makes sense to revisit the issue.

    So what you brought up are posts in category 1 or 2.


     4:41 pm on Feb 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

    1. Optimization #1: Who is my audience?
    2. Optimization #2: Catchy phrases, which fire up curiosity
    3. Optimization #3: Getting people involved
    4. Optimization #4: Give your thread the occasional bump
    5. Optimization #5: Clear, structured text
      Just like a webpage, a forum thread beyond a certain complexity needs structure. Headings, paragraphs, lists, font-sizes - most forums have all these tools (and more) at your disposal. But as with a website, less is more. Of course you can use bold all the time to
      put emphasis on certain parts of your post, and hiding sidenotes in small text is fun too, but does the user benefit from it? No!
      Keep it clean, keep it lean, wtach your grammer (yes, one of my week points - as for almost every other non-native speaker as well), and be informative!
      As with websites, you can hide crap behind good design. But ina forum, you have something to say, so better say it in a word where others are entices to read it.

    This has been an example how to "nudge" a thread to the top of the list again, while at the same time providing information.

    Good morning America, by the way :-)


     2:03 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

    The forum it's posted in makes a large difference as well.

    Choosing a high traffic forum means the thread will receive more visibility. (Although, also means it can be buried quickly by a lot of posts in other threads as well that push it down the forum list).

    A more specific, less trafficked forum can let a good thread hang there, unanswered.

    If a post fits into more than one forum, a wise choice can make a large difference in how it's received.


     5:50 pm on Feb 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

    >> I never recognized a member of WW being from Japan so far

    We do have a few from far east, not only Japan, afaik. But yes, it's right that there's not a whole lot of them. Perhaps this is a language barrier thing... i don't know.

    Language ... language can have an influence. Both if it's very high brow / complicated or if it's full of jargon or 733T. Some people will stay away if stuff gets very technical, while others will stay away if flames/trolling/whining gets to loud.


     3:35 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

    OK guys, I give up!

    I thought I was right with my theories, but I have been proven wrong. Almost the only persons who helped keep this thread alive (with the notable exceptions of claus and andrew_m) were the ones I more or less forced to do so. eWhisper was part of my plot, and rogerd and tedster (whom I did not approach personally) were probably compelled to add their share.

    I still think a lot of my points are valid, but I didn't manage to make this thread fly, as I assumed it would. Let's call it a lesson in modesty, a lesson learned.



     3:59 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Actually, I think what you did was create a thread full of very interesting ideas, both for moderation and creating new posts. Thanks for that.

    Remember, all threads have a natural lifespan which you can't really extend beyond certain limits. I think this one probably reached it - due to such great quality posting early on in the game. Nothing really left to debate. That also means more people will have read it than will post to it.

    So actually I don't think it disproved your theories completely (and in fact I agree with most of them mentioned here and have seen them work), I just think it shows that you can't always force a thread to run and run beyond it's natural life-span. And if the quality of it is too high, there's a possibility it will go "read-only" quite early on.

    Optimization #3: Getting people involved

    Now you've gone and done that you see, and opened something up for discussion :-)



     5:44 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I still think a lot of my points are valid, but I didn't manage to make this thread fly, as I assumed it would. Let's call it a lesson in modesty, a lesson learned.

    There are some threads that have more backlinks in WW than total posts in the thread.

    If one just looked at how few posts are in a thread - the thread might look like it was a failure.

    If one looks at how often it's read and referenced, it's a huge success.

    Success is about perception, and short term sight usually doesn't reveal the future.


     9:19 pm on Feb 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Thank you, trillianjedi and eWhisper, for your encouraging works. You are both right, and I was (and still am) glad to have taken the time to collect and refine my observations on forums and threads. Nevertheless, I did not want to create a FAQ, I wanted to prove a point! And that failed.

    If my collection might serve as some sort of resource - a "forums 101" if you like - I am glad. Unfortunately there is no way (for me) to see how many members have flagged or bookmark this thread. I doubt though that it may serve as a resource, and that's my own fault. The subject should raise some curiosity, but nobody will ever search for "Elvis" when he looks for information on forums...

    Maybe I'll compile everything which was brougth up in this thread into some sort of primer or annotation guide.

    Thanks again for the encouraging words.


     9:07 am on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I think you're right about Elvis, ie. that nobody will search for that on this forum. Elvis just isn't a subject that has mass appeal in webmaster circles - or perhaps a lot of people like Elvis, but discussion about Elvis is an entirely different matter.

    OTOH, the content of this thread is highly valuable, there's some really excellent points here. But, you need to enter the thread and start reading before you realize this.

    I do think that if you had made the subtitle the main title more people would have contributed, as this is something that most people on WebmasterWorld have experiences with.

    When skimming the post list it's just not always that you read all subtitles - they're more like additional information to the main title, so you will read them if the main title makes you interested enough.

    So: Much greater emphasis on "on topic main title" i'd say - this might be the most important step in thread optimization ;)

    So, can we rank the importance of these factors? Is that possible?


     9:47 am on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

    pmkpmk - you give to quickly.

    My normal routine is from about 10pm until noon - 2pm. Having taken ill, I actually started later today. After checking a few favorites, I started scrolling down the top 100 list. Of course I had to see what the deal with Elvis was all about.

    A few thoughts:
    I see some areas of this board more active than others, especially in the wee hours (PST). Programmers, I believe, are a bunch of nightowls. For me, it's the only time I can work without distraction.

    Don't give up so quickly. I think you are right on target. Elvis got me here. The post is still above the chaff, and I'm going to bump it yet again. Elvis lives!

    As to getting people involved -
    The subject matter of this thread, and level of participation, just may be a tad intimidating to some people. And then you have the webmaster who came here to find a new trick using CSS, so this message may not ever be seen. Forum Community Building is simply not on their agenda. Should I ever decide to create a serious forum, you can be sure I'll consider this thread. Now wouldn't it be nice if Brett let us post a message, and give it a release time..


     9:48 am on Feb 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

    So, can we rank the importance of these factors? Is that possible?

    If we get enough people building a top list of what works for them, probably. The truth is it will vary from forum to forum as to what works. As you say Claus, on a webmastering site such as WW, the "Elvis Lives" could be a bit of a put-off.

    pmkpmk - to continue the experiement, why not pick another title and send a sticky to roger to ask it to be changed? Could make for an interesting exercise.

    These are some Forum Post Guidelines that work for me. Most of these are re-iterations of what's posted above anyway, but I'll keep the ball rolling to see if we can pick up some interesting ideas from others not yet mentioned:-

    1. Thread Title

    The importance of it cannot be overstated. As a moderator, I never leave the "Help me!" titles to themselves and they always get a tweak. Why? As a reader, I know I always ignore them.

    I try and go for as descriptive as you can be in the least number of words. In other words, puchy and to the point (as mentioned above already, but like I say, in my opinion, this one cannot be overstated so I'll mention it again).

    Target audience has also been mentioned and that's important. In my opinion, you want to try and target the entire board.

    I would probably have titled this thread:-

    Title : "Creating a killer forum"
    Description : "Threads that bring you traffic"

    ... as a means of catching attention (title) and targetting the WW audience (everyone here wants traffic).

    The time-zone comments above are really interesting and something that I have never played with, but I will be doing so in future to see what happens.

    2. Getting people involved.

    I would put this at #2. Enough has been said about it I think. It can be as easy as the trick that Claus just used in the above post - end your post with a question.

    3. Giving it an occasional bump

    In as a last resort at #3 for me. Sometimes it's necessary, but not a good sign when it's required. I'll often sticky a mate and ask them to make a quick one-line comment on it as an alternative means of shoving it back to the top of the pile.



     10:19 am on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Great suggestion about a title switch TJ, that could be a very interesting experiment :)

    >> I thought I was right with my theories

    This thread started on February 22, and by my calendar it's five days ago now. So, the thread - while being low volume - is still alive, as long as people post to it. It might even be considered "alive" for a long time after it's been abandoned due to the "ever green" nature of the information here.

    I'm being a little bit provocative here, but this is not an "urgency" thread. Google did not just do something that had to do with this, and there's no webmaster who's lost income due to this. Imho, a lot of webmasters are very narrow minded and tend to think with their wallet. So, there's little hope for mass appeal if the thread topic is something that everybody can relate to without being related to their income... ironic, isn't it? *lol*

    The stuff that is posted here is what i would call "high quality". It's just something that i came to think about, related to the "state a fact and it will get ignored" issue. Perhaps there's a tradeoff between "volume of posts in thread" and "quality", at least an initial one?

    A little extra "deep" information:
    As for Main Title vs Subtitle, the eyetrack 2004 study [poynterextra.org] did reveal that main headlines were read more often than accompanying text ("blurbs") especially if the headline was on a separate line and emphasized (larger font, whatever).

    Hence: *bump* - let's get some more opinions on all this.

    Call to action
    Dear reader: Don't just read - please post your thoughts about what makes a good thread stay alive. Now :)


     10:59 am on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

    *bump* ;)

    Interesting thread PMKPMK. I think you have successfully achived your goal. I have nothing more to add to the discussion, which has made very interesting read, only that 5 days later and you are still gaining impressions on a topic that is very specialised (I'm guessing only those who have forums to manage or mod spend any time here). I WAS sucked in by the ambiguous and cryptic thread title but have since read the rest.


     11:37 pm on Feb 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Just read this for the first time. The sub-title got my attention as I wanted to see how this related to martinibuster's thread on How to Make a Post That Grows Legs [webmasterworld.com].

    >The more authority-status the poster has, the less likely is that a big thread evolves around it.

    I dont know about this, however, I would think that the authority status of the poster does have an impact on how many different people read the thread. Depending on the topic and the number of other authority posters who subsequently contribute, a non-update topic thread could prosper quite nicely without noise(ex: Bakedjake's button thread).


     8:38 am on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Thanks for the link, Kirby. Interesting to see that martinibuster dealt with a partially overlapping area compared to my post. And that he came to the same conclusions.

    Trllianjedi, I'm suprised you never stumbled across the timezone issue, since your profile says you're located in Europe (oh, sorry, the UK :-) ). I very often had the case that I started a thread (or participated in one), which almost got no responses, until somebody from the US commented during their awake-hours and suddenly responses flowed in.

    Claus: it is a strange though for me - who checks in several times daily (sometimes even on the weekend) - that someone would NOT do this but only checks in 2-3 times a week. Honestly I think that WW is hardly manageable if you DON'T check in at least daily! I held a seminar recently and was offline for 2,5 days and had a hard time getting up to date on the threads I held an interest in.

    I'll think about a new title and work on a new post and then we'll see what happens.


     12:22 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

    That was a good thread, Kirby. I just did some digging and found another related one:

    What are examples of the best thread starters in a forum? [webmasterworld.com]

    In that thread, a "Top 50" was attempted - it ended around top 40. Anyway, i think that either we're not very good at lurker outing [webmasterworld.com] or perhaps we have covered all bases already?

    Btw., i noticed that this thread is actually a long thread for this forum [webmasterworld.com].


     1:55 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Trllianjedi, I'm suprised you never stumbled across the timezone issue, since your profile says you're located in Europe

    I'm sure I have stumbled across it without realising it, I've just never really thought about correlating a thread that doesn't have an initial "take-off" with time-zones. Definitely something I'll consider in future though. It's a good tip.



     7:11 pm on Feb 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Great post pmkpmk.

    Given that I've only become aware of this thread via threadwatch, TODAY! I can only surmise that the reason I missed it originally was precisely because of the title, ie... you got my demographic wrong, I don't really go for Elvis ;)

    So I guess it's now better described as a slow-burner... which still proves your subtitle premise of, 'How to keep a thread alive...'.

    I've looked at this phenomenom myself during the years I've acted as moderator of 2 other forums - An almost uncanny near constant I've noticed is that approx 10% of all people that actually open a thread to read, make a reply.

    [Note, I did say approx, but 10% is a fairly accurate median from my observations - Even looking over one of the forums I preside whilst writing this, the trend remains.]

    Of course, forums operate on different technical levels which also influence behaviour. For instance, where a title might not be sufficient in itself to arouse curiousity, some forums show further info when mousing-over the thread title - In those situations it's the 1st paragraph that holds more "conversion" weight IMO.

    Then there are the bored users that still have time to kill after having read all the threads of immediate interest. Typically, if they hang around, they'll start reading the lower-traffic threads that maybe slippin from the radar. A post from them now could be enough to re-invigorate.

    Timing is still an influential factor of course; as you say, a Saturday post may well need careful nurturing if it is to survive the drought.


     4:22 pm on Mar 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I did it again. I started another thread in the supporters forum, whose main-title actually gave very little away, but whose subtitle made the issue clearer. It received quite some attention and actually developed away from the initial issue while still being on topic.

    I'm not advocating the concept of "creative" titles - if everybody would use creative titles, it would be much harder to follow the thread lists. But every once in a while a creative title might be an option.

    Many of you have commented on the title issue, and I think it is valid that the title - very much like in AdWord ads (ond to that extent also in web-page titles) - is among the most (if not THE most) important puzzle pices of a successful post.

    I still can't decide yet to ask for a renaming of this thread. I got used to Elvis in a way. But it's an experiment worth to do, so watch out for a renaming soon.


     5:13 pm on Mar 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Elvis lives! Where?

    What an intimidating thread... glad I read it.


     9:19 pm on Apr 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Intimidating? Why?

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