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Death of a forum

5:48 pm on Oct 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:May 14, 2002
votes: 0

A site that I often visit has just closed its "off topic" forum with an announcement that concluded:

The benefit of this forum for members has been increasingly outweighed by the amount of staff time required to monitor the board.

Some background:

The bulletin board (which I define as the collection of topic-specific fora) belongs to a large non-profit organization, and is part of a large web site, most of which is dedicated to directly serving the purposes of the organization. Every page on the site (including the bulletin board) has links to all the main sections, so in theory the bulletin board could attract surfers who would later go to the main part of the web site.

I suspect that few did. My feeling is that the bulletin board attracted its own crowd, more interested in the specifc information exchanged than in the sponsoring organization.

And the off-topic board generated enough garbage that the webmaster decided to ax it, finding the cost (staff time) needed to monitor it too big. If off-topic posts start being made on the other fora I believe that the whole bulletin board will be shut down.

How do the many successful bulletin boards that operate in this specific niche manage to thrive? All are standalone bulletin boards, operated by individuals for the fun of it. They therefore are willing to invest the considerable time needed to keep the fora healthy.

I believe that the message of this story is twofold:

  1. Managing a successful forum takes resources which might otherwise be invested elsewhere.
  2. Think carefully about the real benefits your bulletin board will provide you.
2:29 am on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

joined:Aug 2, 2000
votes: 1

Maintaining a forum can be a huge workload - ask any admin of a busy forum!

Most forums are labors of love for someone, or a group of people. Forums attached to business sites, though, have to be evaluated carefully to see if they will benefit the site's overall mission.

Sorry to hear about the demise of that forum, though. Perhaps they should have tried to spin it off to some of the major enthusiasts. Even though the forum may have been a financial loser, one would hate to compound the problem by creating a bunch of ill will by shutting it down without notice.


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