Posts Tagged 'forums'

Where’s the time spent on forums?

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/superzelle/3490611685/

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/superzelle/3490611685

With over 65,000 forums hosted on Lefora, we can run a number of ‘behavioral’ stats on activity within a forum.  One random, but interesting stat, is just how much attention is given to different actions on a forum.  This is based on a percentage of pageviews, so it’s not an accurate reflection of time within each – but it’s a good indicator.

49% of pageviews are spent reading & replying to threads
30% browsing through categories
5% on the headlines page
4% at a login screens
2% reading PMs
2% in the admin panel (admins are the minority here, so this is a significant number)
1% starting topics
0.5% in the user’s dashboard and profile editor
and 6.5% of pageviews are spent doing something else…


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Featured Forum – HackYour.Lefora.com

Today we’re talking with coloneljack, the founder of the clever named hackyour.lefora.com.  Starting on Lefora only about a month ago, the colonel has been doing a great job of answering people’s questions on both our support forum and his hackyour.lefora forum.  We love the idea here at Lefora and we hope both sites can provide valuable help to forum admins.

So Colonel, what inspired you to start a forum for hacking up lefora?
As a born tinkerer, I’m always willing to take things to pieces to see how they work – and then see if I can put them back together again!  To be honest, setting up hackyour.lefora.com fulfilled a selfish need by allowing me to play with other’s forums when I couldn’t think of anything else to do to my own!

Also, visiting the support forum showed that there were people there asking the same questions – a dedicated forum of our own made sense. I hoped it would be easier for everyone who needed it to find help and/or advice, especially with the influx now from MSN.

What are people most interested in ‘hacking’ on Lefora?
Everybody wants to do different things with their forum – I think that’s a testament to the flexibility of Lefora. Some are happy with the default themes and just want photos or pictures in the right place, some want a new colour scheme, others just want the sidebar switched to the other side. What I don’t think people realise is how much of their forum can be changed with the CSS editor, and how easy it can be to make your forum look different to everybody else’s. I’m not saying anything is possible, but certainly more than you first think!

How do you find working with the CSS on Lefora?  What tools do you use?
As recommended by you guys, I use Firefox with the Firebug add-on. I also use the Firesizer add-on – this lets me check what layouts will look like on various screen sizes.

Before coming to Lefora, all I knew about CSS was how to spell it. After playing with Firebug for a while, turning bits of CSS on and off, changing values, and generally breaking your pages (Firebug makes the changes on-the-fly), I could figure out enough to start making real changes to the layouts. Apart from an image editing app or two, these are the only tools you’ll probably need.

Do you have any educational CSS sites or tutorials you would like to share?
For anything new I always go to http://www.w3schools.com – lots of reference material there for CSS. They also have options for you to try out CSS by making changes on-screen.

What are some of the features that originally drew you to Lefora?  Had you worked with other forum software in the past?
I’ve never worked with any forums in the past, but when the news came out that MSN was closing down, there were the expected groans, followed by people saying how hard it would be to set up somewhere else. Having never liked MSN much anyway, I knew there were better options out there. To prove a point, I Googled ‘forum’ and a few minutes later I had a fully-functioning replacement for MSN here at Lefora. The uploading and embedding options alone were a luxury compared to MSN. Everything else is icing on the cake.

If you could make improvements to Lefora, what would you like to see?
Get rid of the CMYK theme! It makes my eyes bleed! No, really, on a practical level, private categories would be useful for a lot of people, I think.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to share with a new forum admin starting their first forum?
Be patient – it won’t happen overnight… But it will only happen if your forum fulfils a need.

Finally, is there anything you would like to add?
Thanks to Hal9000, my admin, for knowing the stuff that I don’t!

Oh, and save your custom CSS code to a text file… There’s nothing worse than trying a new theme, and then realising it wipes your CSS!

Author’s Comments: The Colonel has some really great advice here, especially the importance of customizing your forum from the start to give your community it’s own unique home on the web.  I’ve always thought one of the reason’s myspace gained in popularity compared to other services at the time was due to the amount of customization a person could do with CSS on their profile page.  Just like the real word, an online presence requires the same unique choices of personality – and that’s especially true for communities.

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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