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1. Is there other forum "competition" in the industry/area your forum would cover?
2. Do you have any kind of existing community -- a mailing list, a popular blog that invites public comments, etc. -- to help get early traffic into your forum?
3. Is the content that your forum would cover something that people actually enjoy talking about?
4. Is there a larger web site that would be there to help promote and direct people to the forum for discussion?
5. Are there additional opportunities to market/promote your forum?
6. If the forum is a success, are you prepared to manage it yourself or find people to help? Will you be able to find people to help?
7. Are you able to handle the tech support issues that will come up?
8. (if applicable) Are you prepared to deal with content management issues (spam, unsolicited advertising, posts critical of your products/services/company, troublemakers, not to mention libel, slander, etc.)?
9. Is it a cost-effective addition to your existing web site, or if it's a standalone forum, can you justify the costs involved?
Probably think of more later.....
I have to mention that I've seen a number of forums set up that were not even meant to build community, nor would their be enough demand for one of that type. Their purpose is obviously to serve as a conduit for moving Page Rank around and provide what looks like a legitimate venue for racking up multiple instances of anchor text for selected sites. SEO client sites, to be exact. ;)
Those may work for what they're intended, but the danger lies in how much could be uncovered if some diligent soul ever decides to start investigating and following trails of backlinks and PR sources.
IMHO the deciding factors in whether starting a given *genuine* community is viable is whether there's a demonstrable need and enough of a potential reward to justify the effort it'll take to build.
This may sound counterintuitive, since you'd be starting in the face of existing competition. In fact, though, many forums are not well managed and are fairly fragile communities. If you do an outstanding job, and are consistent in doing things well for month after month, you'll siphon away traffic from the other forum(s).
Lack of existing forum(s) in the space doesn't mean your forum won't work, but it will probably take more time and effort since there's no "presold" group of members who are already actively discussing your topics.
I'd rather not spend all the time to setup a forum just to use for ranking, I can think of better ways to spend my time for that.
Thanks for the tips guys, I'm pretty sure at this point an industry specific forum in my niche is not feasible. Maybe if I broaden the scope, but I'm not sure I'm willing to do that just yet.
What are you trying to achieve? Make a profit or just build a community?
If profit doesnt interest you but the subject area does, then just go for it - competion, etc doesnt matter.
If both subject area and profit are the interest, then you are still in good shape to build a community, because you are likely to commit to it.
But if you just want something to self propell itself and generate income you would be best looking at all the usual factors taking into consideration when starting any new business venture.