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Dormant forum. What to do with it?

     
1:00 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I have a forum in a subdomain which has become dormant. I also think it could be responsible, or at least partly, for a Panda penalty on the main domain.

I want to get rid of it. What would be the best way? Delete the subdomain? Delete the forum and return 404s? 301 everything from subdomain to root domain?...Or just leave it?

Cheers
2:20 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Delete the subdomain and return 404s
3:50 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Not 404. Use 410; that's what it's for. Besides, it makes the Googlebot stop crawling faster.

301 everything from subdomain to root domain?

Nooo. Never, ever. If the whole subdomain is gone, make a nice custom 410 page.
10:19 pm on Mar 30, 2015 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Just in case look at your analytics first. You might find a few gems like a very heavily linked forum thread that was picked up by online news sites or a very well written, super long post that are worthy of preserving. I doubt you will find them but you never know. If you do find them consider converting these rare exceptions into static pages on your main site which you can then 301 redirect.

If you think the site has a content penalty, then I would err on the side of deleting more and preserving less.
12:03 am on Mar 31, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Nooo. Never, ever. If the whole subdomain is gone, make a nice custom 410 page.

Thanks for the advice!

If you think the site has a content penalty, then I would err on the side of deleting more and preserving less.

I think the best thing is to delete the whole lot. It only reached about 700 posts, and most of them were written by me...haha.

Cheers
12:17 am on Mar 31, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'd noindex the forum and keep it. Maybe it will add some value to your visitors in the future.

I had a similar problem a few weeks ago and am certain, that my site was hit by Panda because of low quality forum posts. Instead of deleting everything, I wrote a script to check the average post length of the thread and the total word count and set all threads to noindex if they don't meet the minimum post-length and total-word-count requirements. At the same time I set the posts per page to 20 (instead of 10), so the wordcount per page goes up (which seems to be one factor of Panda). Bottom line: I noindexed nearly 4000 threads and only kept 650 high quality and lengthy ones.

Of course, if the forum is completely inactive and doesn't add ANY value, you might as well delete it ;)