Archive for June, 2008

What words would you use to describe lefora?

Well, according to  Wordle, the fun toy for generating tag clouds on websites:

Just how many people use forums?

That’s a question we get often and it can be hard to quantify. But Paul found an interesting chart on Forrester that shows almost one-third of all U.S. Internet users read online forums, that comes in to a close 2nd for all online ‘participation’ activities, with video watching just 1 percentage point above that. What’s interesting, is that reading forums, and posting in forums, come in close to the top positions respectively for reading and posting anything online.

In the U.S., more people read online forums or groups than visit social networking sites, read review sites, or read blogs (comparing them individually).

More people contribute to online forums or groups than comment on blogs, upload photos, publish a blog, or edit wikis (again, comparing them individually).

groundswell chat

Full chart. Or checkout the book, Groundswell.

Book Review: Managing Online Forums

managing online forums book

The author of “Managing Online Forums“, Patrick O’Keefe sent us a copy to review. It’s a fantastic book for any forum admin (or anybody running an online community for that matter), and I highly recommend it. Patrick dives deep into all aspects of running a forum, from creating it, to promoting it, to fostering the community.

Patrick sat down to answer some questions we wanted to share with our community.

Patrick, you start off with common ways forums get started, such as launching a new stand-alone community, to adding a forum on an existing site. On Lefora, we’ve seen our fastest growing communities are forums that launch alongside an existing community. Do you have 3 short tips for an admin launching a stand-alone new community to foster that initial growth?

  1. Launch with activity. Before your site goes live, get some friends and/or interested people together and have them start discussing the topic so that you actually have something going on when it comes time to launch.
  2. Make it as easy as possible for people to find you. Choose a domain name that is easy to remember and spell. Spell words correctly, try to avoid numbers, don’t use dashes and register a .com if at all possible. Make it so that search engines can access your content. Don’t put obstacles in your way unneccessarily. You don’t need that.
  3. Finally, don’t get caught up in what other, bigger forums in your subject arena are doing. I’ve known administrators who were far too worried about who they perceived as competition. Focus on yourself and be the best that you can be.

You talk about ‘Developing Guidelines’ in your book, dedicating a chapter to it. Do you think setting (and following) these guidelines are more important in an early stage forums or a larger established forum

I think it’s very important for both. You want to set guidelines and policies as early as you can to set the tone for everything that happens later and to ensure that your community gets started on the right track. Guidelines are sort of a vision statement. They speak to who you are, who you want to be and what your community is all about.

Guidelines are an essential to moderation. You can’t remove posts without having policies in place or it’ll seem like you are pulling imaginary standards out of your head. Discretion is a part of moderating a community, but documented policy is what makes discretion possible. It’s always harder to add guidelines later, than it is to start with them

Another chapter is dedicated on how to Promote Your Community and the work involved, which is a popular question we hear. With regards to cross promoting communities, how has your success been?

I’d say it has been successful, but that’s subjective. I’ve had people who were members at multiple forums that I managed. I’ve had people that were on staff at more than one of my forums at a time, as well. We do a good amount of cross promotion between the sites that are in my network.

Continue reading ‘Book Review: Managing Online Forums’

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June 2008

A Lefora Free Forum Production