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Has anyone tried this type of thing as a forum builder to at least make the initial start up look more substantial?
I've found that if you offer tools for folks to create/customize a blog, and you have ways for them to interact and be social, they tend to stick around and become more passionate about a site/topic.
We've avoided the cash thing for years and have been doing just fine... but I can understand your desire for an instant "boost" to your forum... but I'd just be careful to not set an expectation that you may take away some day... If you do go ahead with it... just be very clear that it is a promotional thing that will only last for x months... etc. Also, along with requiring posts of a certain length, also require quality (ie - posts will be reviewed and approved) so folks know up front they can't just type away and make money.
Hope this helps!
thanks for the reply. I guess I did not state this correctly, this company will post to our forum using their employees (or most likely students) as a way to make our forum seem more active as we continue to grow.
These are not "real" people that I would like to have as members, rather they will be "padding" our forums to make them look more robust.
I can sticky you their url if you would like.
SE's give weight to more established sites anyway and have seen what you are considering doing many times. Don't do it!
Study your competition. Learn your trade and do it better without shortcuts. There is no other way in the long run. If you hire someone else your site will only be as good as their skill/effort and quite honestly they likely don't care as much as you do.
This isn't meant to dash your enthusiasm friend, good luck with whichever approach you take!
Since the responses so far have supported my thoughts about this, it makes it easier to go to them and say "See, I told you this idea sucked" or something perhaps more civil.... or less.
I run a popular travel-related site that added a forum 5 years after being online. I'm pleased with the quality of discussion, but the amount of members posting is light.
Honestly, I wouldn't mind a few "Good point" and "I agree" type posts. If my visitors could see that this type of posting is ok, I think it would help encourage others to participate.
"Yes I think you make good point" . . . "Thank you for saying this. I am happy to help you my friend" . . . and so on and so on.
I'm sure there are half decent companies who can supply posters, but if you do go down this route ask to see samples of forums that they have helped take off.
I have used these services to get a travel forum off the ground before and they work. People think it is an active forum and start joining and posting thats the main thing, its then your job to get more traffic and keep the sign ups active.
Seeding does help your search engine relevance. It is not a dishonest practice as long as your end goal is to have an active community of subject oriented posters.
To me it is like fishing a stocked pond for practice before you go fishing in the wild if you do not know how to fish.
There is nothing inherently "evil" or fraudulent about it. You are just trying to succeed.
That's my 2 cents worth.
I'd avoid quick and dirty. Go quality and wholesome.
1 decent contibuting member is worth 100 of these charlatans.