Archive for the 'Forum Management' Category

How to Build a Strong, Vibrant Community

Sometimes we want our communities to thrive and we push them too fast. But friendships and trust take time and dedication. You can’t convince your community overnight, but you can create an environment where members can learn to rely and trust each other.

How many times have we attempted to communicate with forum members in a joking manner and it has been misunderstood as rude or mean behavior. A major reason this happens is that most of the time when we communicate it is through visual cues. But on a forum you are talking to people you don’t know and have never seen so it is difficult to assess the way that people are saying things.

And of course,people on forums are essentially anonymous. On the one hand this allows people to open up in a way they might not with friends, on the other hand people often will be offensive and rude in a way they never would in real life. This aspect of forums also effects how fast your members will feel comfortable on your site. As forum owners, administrator and mods it is our goal to create and remember the following:

1. A unique environment. The subject may not be unique but the environment should be.

2. A safe environment. Some forum topics are more sensitive than other forums, expect these forums to take more time to unfold. Make sure whatever your communities’ guidelines are that they are followed.

3. If your forum is a complex subject matter then people that are novices may take time to stop being afraid of making mistakes or asking the “wrong” questions. If a member is new cut them a little slack and thank them for their posts.

4. Your layout should be user friendly–and not just for the users that have been there for a while. Reassess and consider reorganizing your forum if it is too difficult to navigate.

5. Be real! Share your personality and your time and others will follow suit.

6. Get people talking! Sounds simple but it is really important. Ask questions of specific members.

You have to earn the trust of your members. If you harass them, spam them or are rude to them then you probably are not using the right methods. Although it is counter-intuitive build your community steadily but not necessarily quickly. You want to cultivate relationships and if there are swarms of people descending it might actually take the community a longer time to unfold. Bottom-line don’t be afraid to let your community grow at its pace. Instead of focusing on being the next-big-thing focus on building an environment of trust and relationship. People will come if you have a good thing going.

What do you think? Does a slow approach mean a stronger community?

Top Five Mistakes as a Forum Owner (and how to avoid them)

Each forum is unique but many of have been confronted with similar problems. Although some of these are harder to avoid, with a little planning you may be able to sidestep the most obvious pitfalls of a new forum admin. 

1. Problem:
Not being a leader/Catering to everyone
Setting up a forum requires a lot of time and dedication. Often in the initial phase it is easy to just do whatever you can to get people posting on your site. You cater to their wishes. You don’t step on toes. You encourage posts. And then finally when you realize you have a thriving site, you also realize that you have created a situation where everyone expects to be catered to all the time.

Solution:
How can you avoid this? Well, some of it is inevitable but if you set up clear rules from the beginning you will save yourself some headache. Growing your site through giving in to everyone is only a recipe to creating a site that you probably won’t want to spend any time on. So think ahead about the type of site you want it to be in a year, not only what kind of a site it is today.

2. Problem:
Getting into confrontations with people publicly
It is so easy to get into a word war with members, but there is nothing more damaging to a site’s morale than a whole lot of negative posts.

Solution:
People should be allowed to openly air their opinions but if something starts to escalate to becoming personal between you and a member – take it to a private area.

3. Problem:
Appointing mods/admins that are not ready or are power-hungry.

Solution:

There are a number of ways to avoid this but I recommend either taking a vote or asking your top posters what they think. Also, you may want to consider taking on a mod on a trial basis to start and let them know clearly that you are just seeing if it is a good fit.

4. Problem:
Deleting files. Whether it is deleting objectionable files and then getting complaints from the members, or accidentally deleting files as you move things around. It is easy to do and it can be devastating.

Solution:
When VB asks you if you are sure you want to hard delete…well double check. Always make sure you have a back up of your files. I can’t say that strongly enough. Back up your files.

5. Problem:
Promising to not put up ads on your site

Solution:
Let your members know that you intend to put up ads from the very beginning. Sites don’t run by themselves and there is no shame in covering your costs.

Building A Community: Five Easy Steps

The first thing to know when building an active forum community is that it will not happen overnight. To get started the most important things you will need are:

  • Dedication
  • Skill
  • Patience

Lucky for you, the first steps in getting a forum started entail getting proper hosting and forum software. With Lefora you can skip these steps and use our free forum package.

Step One
To get started you need to decide on a particular topic for your forum. A general talk forum is very unlikely to work, as you need to be able to capture a niche group of people. Once you have decided upon your genre, stick to it…there’s nothing worse than seeing a forum going off topic before its started. The forum should have a good number of interesting and focused topics. The content should reflect the interests of the target audience, and every care should be made to have well-written and informative content that is updated regularly. This not only helps attract new members, it keeps older members from losing interest and defecting to other forums.

Step Two
The forum needs to have a clear list of rules, a disclaimer, and most of all, good solid moderation. Visitors will quickly become frustrated with forums that have no clear guidelines, or feature rude, obnoxious, or overbearing members. Good manners are required as much online as offline.

Step Three
So, now the crucial part: the setup. Jot down a few notes about what exactly you want to be discussed on your forum, then create around 3-4 forums. Do not go overboard and create hundreds of sections. If you do this, people will be distracted by the lack of posts and will leave. Once you have your few forums built up you can maybe look into adding additional forums.

Step Four
Promotion, especially in the early days, will take considerable time and effort. Forums can be difficult to start (members generally are shy when there are only a few present), and the more posts that take place, the more individuals will join. This is the snowball effect of forums, so marketing must be done consistently, day in and day out, until the forum becomes more self-sustaining. Getting visitors to your site, and making them stay is probably the hardest part. Many sites and forums offer paid posts. Use them as a last resort as they give undesired results, which leave your forum full of off topic posts and advertisements. A very effective way of getting people registered is to create around 10 accounts yourself and post under the different names. Obviously not telling people you are the admin otherwise they would think you’re insane!

Step Five
Remember, if you are not committed to your forum’s topic you will not attract people.  Just because you build it, doesn’t mean that they will come. The owner of the forum should take an active interest in the forum and SHOW this interest by contributing regularly. Above all else, people join forums where they feel they will learn from the owner of the forum, and if the owner is never present, they quickly lose interest in the forum. Finally, keep your forums active. There are many ways to do this; competitions, giveaways, constant new topics being posted, and unique content. Unique content is essential. Don’t take posts from other forums because you will not only be in trouble but it will also increase your risk of being banned from search engines.


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August 2017
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