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Forum Moderators: phranque
I run a shopping directory site. It also has a webmaster resources section.
I am going to introduce a forum to the site using VBulletin - the same softare that this forum runs on.
Obviously my idea is to build a community around my site but i don't know how popular a shopping forum would be.
my ideas are :
make the forum 90% shopping and 10% webmaster resouces.
make the forum 40% shopping and 60% other topics ie. webmaster resources, movies, current affairs/news, music, jokes etc
I am in favour of the first but the second might bring in more traffic although it doesn't stay true to the content of my website.
Anyway, any feedback would be greatly apreciated.
actually, this forum is 99% original code written by Brett Tabke. It start out as BoardPower (I believe) and has evolved so much that there is virtually no original code left at this point.
I vote for the 90/10 split. You should really keep a board as focused as possible on your topic areas. For example, here we only have one forum for off topic stuff: FOO. Everything else industry related. If you start varying your topic areas too much you'll wind up with a forum that is not recognized for any particular set of topics. If you can focus in on the shopping stuff you'll build a better user base and better rep.
I think there might be some similarities as far as looks go, but this board isn't VBulletin. It's a constantly evolving, customized, propriatary application! :)
Regarding your desire to build a community around your site, I think the first thing you need to focus on is developing a some type of theme that conects the two. As an example, When Brett first started WebmasterWorld, it was an extension of SearchEngineWorld. It provided people who had visited SEW looking for info on search engine promotion a place to ask Brett questions.
Obviously it's grown into much more than that, but the point is the community here grew as an extension of the content at SEW.
In order to successfuly launch a discussion section on a site, you really need to find topics that directly tie into the focus of the original site. I'm not sure general webmaster resources on a shopping site meet that requirement.
Certainly all webmasters shop, and some shoppers are webmasters, however,I'm not sure there's enough connection between the two to sustain a forum
A better approach might be to look at the types of products you sell/promote and then try and create forums that cater to related enthusiasts. That can still be kind of tough if you're promoting generic products like dishwashers, but if for example you ran a site that sold toys, you might want to look into developing forums for any type of toy that people collect. Something like Hot Wheels would be a good example.
Another thing to consider is whether or not you have a large enough user base to launch a discussion forum. It's kind of a catch 22. You need visitors to develop discussions, but you need good discussions to attrack visitors.
Again, using WebmasterWorld as an example, SEW was already a long established site with a large readership before the forum was launched. With that kind of loyal visitor base, launching a successful discussion forum is quite a bit easier.
I was a bit worried about having a forum with no one joining it.
But i think it could work.
Your right though.
I should definately concentrate on the shopping.
Beanie bears, video games etc
I think im going to give it a go anyway
In the end it came down to a matter of preference over the language and OS. I chose XMB with PHP, MySQL, Linux as the backend resources.
The top three in my opinion (using differing programming languages)
I think starting with any of these three boards would be a good choice. Go for the one that you have most programming experience with. Also choose a board with a licence that allows you to use it for free and customise it like crazy ... you'll see the value in this when your constantly having to put in little "hacks" to do something no one thought of originally.