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Forum Moderators: rogerd
I have one very active member who posts a couple of times a week and starts his own threads. I am trying to lead by example, so I also start a new thread every one or two days, contribute to my member's thread, raise issues, answer his questions etc.
The other 153 members? Squat.
Not a peep.
I'm generally of the opinion that people who want to lurk and not post should be allowed to do just that, but this is ridiculous.
I've even thought about offering gmail invites (when I next get given some) to members who make the best future contributions.
This is absurd. Why would as many as 150 people go to the trouble of registering and then never post?
Why would as many as 150 people go to the trouble of registering and then never post?
"There's nowt as strange as folk".
In my opinion you're doing everything right. Creating new threads regularly and making sure that other peoples are answered, commented on etc.
Other than that it's about useability and cosmetics. If you're using a particularly "busy" forum (I mean cosmetically), try cutting out a lot of the extraneous stuff and keep it nice and simple.
Here's a tip that worked for me once (surprising really):-
Try changing the "reply" button graphic to something that really stands out.
Experiment with the cosmetics a little bit, and continue to do what you're doing.
When you create your own threads, be manipulative in your writing - you want to word what you say to deliberately raise further questions and provoke response.
It's a fickle world, and numbers mean a lot. Sometimes I'll find a forum that I think may be interesting, see that there are only 20 posts and just leave to find another one. It's also very rare that I set out to look for a forum. I find them by doing a search, finding content that I like, and returning if I have further interest. Usually I won't start to type in the URL directly or bookmark a site until I've stumbled on the site a few times for the answer to my questions or if the site really grabs my attention. If you don't have a lot of unique content, you're not going to get many return visitors.
I have no clue why they are signing up to just not post. Maybe you're doing a great job on presentation and people initially feel that your site is something they want to be a part of, so they sign up. Then they realize you only have 7 posters. Only having two names show up next to the posts is not a good sign. Try creating a bunch of fake posters and get the ball rolling. I wonder if Brett used any aliases. Is there a Brett Schmatke profile?
What about searching? Quite a few forums require registration to search and that would certainly explain a lot of non-posting registered members.
There must be some reason for the relatively high percentage of non-posting members - personally, I'd never go to the trouble of registering at a forum and providing an email address unless there was some benefit to registration, i.e., some content or functionality that required membership to access.
That said, your ratio of active posters doesn't seem all that unusual. Some of those people will have forgotten entirely that your website exists. A few others will have forgotten their login details but can't be bothered to email you to ask.
It does defy logic though as to why they bother registering if they're never going to post. I do try to add daily info and questions but it seems theres a 15% hardcore of readers that check daily and respond, and from the rest .... jack-all.
Since this is a local neighborhood forum, I really can't use the technique of creating fake accounts to boost my post count. Luckily I really don't have to since the 9 of us are providing the forum fresh content.
One of the big problems I've run into is the forum members sending me PMs asking me about neighborhood issues or suggesting I post something. I always kindly ask them to post their own question or news and it usually works. I have also added text to my sig file suggesting they do just that, but we all know people don't read. :)
Another technique that has produced reasonable results is doing a PM to all pointing them to a hot post or something. That usually brings everyone in although they aren't necessarily posting. I'm hesitant to do this too much as I don't want to appear that I'm spamming my neighbors.
I also try to PM my neighbors when I see them online, asking if everything is going okay, if they are going to attend an upcoming neighborhood event, etc.
I also agree about keeping the forum clean and simple. Since I have a limited member base, I can't count on this group to be computer savvy. I'm always available to answer questions and try to give the impression that there is no dumb question or make them feel like they asked a very smart and technical question.
My husband himself is generally a forum lurker. He's a computer guy so it's not that he doesn't know how to navigate forums. He generally claims he just doesn't like to be social in this manner. Also, he's run across sig files advises users to not send PMs and always search the forum before posting. Perhaps good advice, but I think that my scare off a poster.
So, overall I'm just trying to be patient and hope that I can draw in my neighbors one by one by making them comfortable and having the forum full of things that are of interest to them.
I don't really want to add anymore un-necessary categories and I do have a suggestions area (that gets largely ignored). Its a vicious circle, if there was more content then maybe more people would post but there already are a lot of members that could provide content but don't. Its been going for 18 months and only 7 people have made over 50 posts ... and one of them is me, 160 members have never posted and 120 have only made one!
Could do a lot better, I'm just not too sure in what direction to steer it.
Oh by the way Ronin, sorry for hijacking your thread ;-)
I wonder if there are some statistics out there which show what percentage of signed up forum members you can reasonably expect to become a) thread starters, b) regular posters and c) occasional posters. I suppose it would depend highly on the topic of the board.
I have set up an "Introduce yourself...!" thread on my forum and PMd everyone to invite them to come and add themselves. It's been two days so far and nothing.
My next tactic will be to invite some of the former posters individually to add themselves to that thread. That might get the ball rolling.
I wonder if part of the problem is that the board topic is industry sector based. People want to read information, but don't feel they know enough to make any comments themselves. But even so...
I remember some long threads here ..with lots of hitherto lurkers just answering provocative posts ...
Yeah .I know it can be playing with matches ..but if you want to warm up your fora a little...
just a thought ..
I like the idea of a provocative post to get people to come out of the woodwork.
I'm astonished that after initiating the introduction thread and sending out a PM to the members a few days ago, there is still no activity on the forum.
Two more new members have signed up in that time, though.
1) Send out a newsletter. You'd be amazed at how many members forget about that site they stumbled across last week. A newsletter will remind them. (I've actually had members tell me this)
2) And this isn't for everyone... depends on the type of site/community... run a contest. I ran a few contests where people garnered points by participating in the site. It worked like a champ! (If anyone wants any details on this, and what I learned over the course of a few contests feel free to PM)