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Starting a Forum

     
9:20 pm on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Any recommendations on starting a forum? I have basically started a discussion board and focused the forum on (TEXT only) something similar to WW. context = content; I do not need images, videos, files.

1: I have a one word excellent domain for my niche and market.
2: I can send lots of traffic from other sites
3: I havent put any ads yet! (im planning to do so maybe in 6 months - 1 year once it picks up)
4: I have disabled images and videos and the option to upload files in order to decrease the download time.
I personally find forums which take forever annoying sometimes, esp. when users post images as their signature on every post
I am debating whether to allow hyperlinks or allow URL's in text mode only.

I am planning to send in traffic from other sites within the next few days. I have so far only posted one thread just to give it a start.

So, any advice? Any recommendations based on your experience? This is my first forum.

What should I watch out for?
What other steps should I take?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of running a forum?
What other advice do you have? Anything interesting you experienced throughout managing a forum that you would like to share?

Thanks in advance,
D.P.

4:41 am on Jan 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Forums take long to start. I have been working on mine for almost a year and it has made TONS of progress, but it is still not a self-sustaining community yet--I still have to help answer questions and get topics rolling. Here are my tips:

Lay Down a Substantial Base of Posts
Before you start promoting your forum, you need to make it appear to be busy and popular. People do not join a new forum or an inactive forum. So make 5-20 fake accounts (some people frown on this but if you only use it as an initial catalyst then it is ok… I don’t see how you could start a new forum without fake accounts these days). Get some quality posts going with these accounts, and try to fill up at least one whole page of each different category of your forum with posts (roughly 20 posts or so).

Post Everyday
The main page of your forum will show when the last posts were made in each category. You never want this to say “Yesterday” or that no one has posted in over two days. You need to make posts in every category every day so it looks like you have a very busy forum. I can tell you first hand that seeing that no one has posted anything in two or three days is a huge turn off when I am considering joining a message board.

Make sure each post has strong keywords, especially in the titles
Many users when posting make a thread entitled “I have a question.” This title in no way helps you optimize for search engines. You must change the title the user submits to make it more relevant, anticipating keywords that people will search for. This method has helped me get a lot of traffic to my website. vBulletin lets you change the titles fairly easy.

Change the default design, but don’t overdo it
If you try to run a forum with the default design it came with, you will probably fail, as it sends the clear message that this is a new forum. You don’t want that image—you want to look established and professional. So change the default design, you can probably download and adapt a skin that someone made fairly easy. But don’t do anything too crazy; remember to follow the usual accessibility principles that apply to regular websites.

6:18 pm on Jan 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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What forumware is WebmasterWorld using? I like it a lot. In fact, this is the most well-done forum I have ever seen.
7:16 pm on Jan 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Has anyone been able to make decent or better money selling ads on a forum. In high school, I was always good at bringing disparate people together...
7:17 pm on Jan 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld, Death of the Man.

BestBBS [webmasterworld.com] is custom software.

10:21 pm on Jan 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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MWpro: So basically you're saying make it look active until it actually becomes active. I have one post so far but think instead of posting myself on the forum, Ill have a few friends of mine discuss a hot topic.
I installed SimpleMachine and was planning to update it to vBulletin as it progressed. However, now that I think of it I might as well pay for vBulletin right from the beginning.

Thanks for the tips. It's nice to hear from the more experienced ones. :) More tips and advice are appreciated...

11:24 pm on Jan 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Absolutely. You need to get threads going and gain momentum. Having your friends help out is a great idea. People will not join an inactive forum.

Fill those categories with posts and responses, and then make at least one new post in each category of your forum each day.

Good luck!

12:23 am on Jan 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Do you recommend using SimpleMachine for now until it picks up then upgrading to vBulletin? Or should I install it from right the begining?
8:29 pm on Jan 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

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No. I would make the investment in vBulletin and use it from the beginning if that is the forum software you will ultimately decide on.

Transferring all of the data can be difficult, but more importantly it may confuse your visitors.

8:50 pm on Jan 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

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No. I would make the investment in vBulletin
Thanks. You are probably right and I will probably do that next week. :)

I had called the Sales Dep and they suggested that I could use a free software until my forum takes off and then transfer over. They said there is a software that does that for you which comes with the installation package.

But now that you mentioned it, ~ $300's isnt gonna break me or make me! :) [I must say, the yearly license fee is annoying]

3:08 am on Jan 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Just get the owned license for $180.
4:14 pm on Jan 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yes, but then I think you have to pay $60/year to renew.
7:05 pm on Jan 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Only if you want tech support / access to new versions.
9:50 pm on Jan 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yes. Thanks MWpro. I actually decided to purchase it and have already installed it. I'm reading about all the features and just realized that Im going to have a lot of fun with all the options available...
Thanks again for your help.
3:40 am on Jan 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I installed vBulletin and within the first few days I have spam registers and spam posting. Are these real people creating fake accounts or is it a software? Any suggestions? How do you fight against it? Is it common?