[ This may be a "negative" article in that it details what should presumably be avoided, but does not offer alternatives. I do not bother because I think such advices as the following have been covered here well enough: submit contributive content on a regular basis, participate in discussions, visit like-minded forums, and etc. That said, my article covers a very particular type of forum that I feel too many people think is a decent answer to the problem of promotion. In detailing what I see to be the flaws in that assessment, I hope that my article may be of assistance to a new generation of hobbyist message board administrators (the demographic I feel is prone to buy in to the use of forum promotion forums). ]

When I say "forum promotion forum," I mean a forum set up specifically to promote other forums, and provide a number of "services" to assist in development, such as the "post exchange," reviews, and forum-related discussion. I should probably note, however, that I am most definitely not referring to webmaster or administrator resource forums (such as The Admin Zone), which differentiate themselves by being for more than promotion and promotion-related services (such as post exchanges and signature ad placement), and in another important way detailed next.

Unlike a webmaster or administrator resource forum, a "forum promotion forum" often does not consist primarily of established administrators who are secure in the promotion of their forum, and are genuinely interested in assisting others and providing input without blatantly waving an advertisement. This brings me to the Catch-22 of the average "forum promotion forum": the members attracted to such forums want to promote their forum, but are not interested in joining other communities (unless it will further promote their forum). That said, when you submit your topic in the advertisement section, it falls on blind eyes because the readers are only other promoters.

Another notable promotion service is the post exchange. Post exchanges may help with activity, but they are much more likely to do so when coupled with more up-front tactics like simply submitting quality content or regularly submitting thoughtful replies to your members. However, as is known by some forum administrators, there are paid posting services out there that guarantee a certain "quality," which should be all I need to say about that to make the following point. Post exchange participants at forum promotion forums tend to be low quality, as those participants are, as I said, mostly inexperienced administrators who haven't gotten their forum off the ground, and so are not likely to have the necessity of quality content nailed down as something they should be contributing to at their forum, and therefore yours.

What about non-promotion related services like reviews and forum-related discussion? I will respond to the latter example first. Forum-related discussions should theoretically help administrators because they are engaging in, or reading, feedback with fellow administrators. The problem, again, is the demographic of the community: administrators who do not already have established communities, and are primarily around to promote their forum, rather than engaging in interesting forum-related discussions. Sure, there are jewels to be found among the rubble (in regard to content), but the prevailing demographic greatly contributes to an atmosphere where posts tend to only be good enough to count toward the attaining of services, rather than the attaining of knowledge.

As for reviews, it is hard to find quality because you are not often enough crossing paths with people who are genuinely interested in and passionate about reviewing forums. Who are the type of people there should be more of? As I alluded to earlier, people who have communities that are already established, are confident about their knowledge, and do not simply seek post count.

Certainly, reviewers should not be expected to give top-quality reviews for free, and [insert amount of posts here] may certainly not be worth a well-thought-out, several-paragraphs long review. The problem is that, at forum promotion forums, reviews are more like categorized one-liner praise for what's there (you have a favicon, you have posts, you have topics), whereas criticism is lacking and extremely generalized (you need to get more posts, you need to get a better logo). What makes reviews worthwhile is this: the people giving them have built communities that have "taken off" and that don't grow primarily from leeching off the desire countless people have to promote their own forums. Your time would be better spent seeking the people who will help you at administrator resource forums.

By Kevin Malone of The Infinity Program.