An interesting topic on reddit about our audience which is no longer our audience.

Russ

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Oct 20, 2011
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A quick google and I found his forums... running vb4 at the moment. I never understood why you'd hide the contents of "What's new" from a guest (default vb4 I believe). As someone mentioned in a comment on Reddit, I honestly have no idea what the main point of his forum is initially. I tried reading a few threads and can't really summarize what the forum is about. It seems like a bunch of off-topic threads in vaguely named forum categories which isn't the most appealing for getting new users to sign up.

I still think forums have a place but this users forum seems like it'd be a perfect fit for a quick and free discord server over having a community based around whatever they're talking about.
 

sbjsbj

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Could you please share the site with me? I am curious about the site itself. But basically he is on vB anyway, so he is at least a decade behind anything. I think the replies in that topic display a lot of things we all think and say, confirmed by the audience we don't have anymore. Like many people say that they used to visit forums but don't do that anymore.
 

Russ

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Could you please share the site with me? I am curious about the site itself. But basically he is on vB anyway, so he is at least a decade behind anything. I think the replies in that topic display a lot of things we all think and say, confirmed by the audience we don't have anymore. Like many people say that they used to visit forums but don't do that anymore.
I've sent you a PM since they didn't post it publicly. I'd still be visiting clantemplates.com forums more than likely if they were still open for business :D. It is a little funny we're discussing this on a forum that's rather old in itself :LOL:
 

sbjsbj

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Thanks. Well exceptions are not the rule. Most of us are forum owners, so of course we discuss our thoughts on other forums aswell. The problem is the generic audience is not with us anymore and I thought I share this topic with my fellow admins because I found the replies interesting.
 

JoyFreak1

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Feb 5, 2020
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I think if he modernised the forum, he could totally bring it back. His site definitely looks outdated, pretty much dead too.
 

MagicalAzareal

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Link to the site? vB4 is behind in quite a few ways, it really hasn't aged well.

vB3 is older but it is so old that it has entered the realm of being "retro" and you can at-least play the nostalgia card with it, even if I wouldn't use it for a new site.
 

Panupat

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I never understood why you'd hide the contents of "What's new" from a guest (default vb4 I believe).
New content is a kind of search, and search is a feature usually disabled to guest back in those days. Not sure if more recent forum split that out into it's own thing with it's own permission but disabling Search for guest back then can stop bots from spamming it (forum software needed to generate search index from database and store in temporary table so it can be a big deal if spammed)
 

MagicalAzareal

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New content is a kind of search, and search is a feature usually disabled to guest back in those days. Not sure if more recent forum split that out into it's own thing with it's own permission but disabling Search for guest back then can stop bots from spamming it (forum software needed to generate search index from database and store in temporary table so it can be a big deal if spammed)
Use Elasticsearch? And I don't agree with that generalisation about how expensive it is to show new content with purely databases. You could even argue that it is cheaper than showing the contents of an individual forum, as a forum shows the same content, but filtered down to a specific forum.
 

Panupat

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Emphasizing again, back in those days. I'm talking about decades ago. It's an old system I have no idea if still applies to today's software.

vB3, not sure 4, and other numbers of PHP forum back then when you do what's new you are given search ID and the ID would be visible in the URL which reference search result stored in database. Reason is to minimize doing the same search again while still keeping the ability to page through the result. There's also search index being generated I had no idea what it was exactly.

At 1 point my forum search table and search index had like 3 or even 4x the size of all other tables combined. When doing back ups I always manually clear them. They were also the table that went corrupt more often than others requiring database repair for some reason.

1 thing that still carries over to this day tho is search delay. You need to wait 30 seconds between search etc. you've probably faced that before it's pretty common everywhere still.
 
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Joel R

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I think if he modernised the forum, he could totally bring it back. His site definitely looks outdated, pretty much dead too.
It's not about the site's platform, or theme, or if he builds a new Pokemon game or forum currency.

This is exactly the kind of thinking that gets legacy forum owners focused on the wrong things. (If I just upgrade to another platform or install a pretty theme or focus on SEO optimization when I have no authoritative content, then my website will suddenly become successful ... ).

I know he's a webdev, but he needs to shift his thinking into a chief executive: what's his community strategy and objectives, how is he going to execute on the mission, how will he build domain expertise and authoritative content, how will he promote his site?
 

JoyFreak1

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It's not about the site's platform, or theme, or if he builds a new Pokemon game or forum currency.

This is exactly the kind of thinking that gets legacy forum owners focused on the wrong things. (If I just upgrade to another platform or install a pretty theme or focus on SEO optimization when I have no authoritative content, then my website will suddenly become successful ... ).

I know he's a webdev, but he needs to shift his thinking into a chief executive: what's his community strategy and objectives, how is he going to execute on the mission, how will he build domain expertise and authoritative content, how will he promote his site?
All the above you've mentioned is User Experience, they all connect. Yes content is important but so is everything else.
 

LeadCrow

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I never understood why you'd hide the contents of "What's new" from a guest (default vb4 I believe).
I always thought the same about MyBB, answers were always dismissive like anyone interested in discoverability for their and other forums is mad.
The link actually works if you know it, today's content is just not given any visibility at all, and neither is the portal - all your visitors are given is a massive index of forum sections.
 

MagicalAzareal

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1 thing that still carries over to this day tho is search delay. You need to wait 30 seconds between search etc. you've probably faced that before it's pretty common everywhere still.
Elasticsearch can help with that.

If I recall, it is a premium extra for XenForo, IPS might have it in core, MyBB used to have a plugin for an Elasticsearch alternative called Sphinx and I'm also looking into adding it myself. It should speed things up, although I cannot say by how much. Proliferation is still a fair bit worse in the market than I would like it to be.

Elasticsearch also involves running an Elasticsearch node, which might be a bit beyond the constraints of the standard shared host, although VPS prices have come down a lot over the past couple of decades and they aren't as hard to administer as they're made out to be.

Given the need to stand-out in the face of social media with superior search and infrastructure, Elasticsearch is a bit of a no-brainer for any large site and I know a few which run it. The other thing which might be good for this is PgSQL. A forum is a sea of accumulated knowledge and search helps to expose that.
 
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Nev_Dull

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Apr 27, 2010
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It's not about the site's platform, or theme, or if he builds a new Pokemon game or forum currency.
I agree. Simply switching software or changing to the latest trend in graphic design for forums isn't going to fix anything.

Topics, like everything else, have a life cycle. There comes a point when your user base loses interest in the topic and moves on. Unless there are new users interested in the topic to take their place, membership continues to fall and the forum dies. That isn't a failing on the part of the owner/admin or the forum, just the natural cycle.

It can be hard to let go but beating a dead horse won't bring it back to life. Wringing your hands and moaning about the good old days isn't a productive strategy. Like your audience, it's best to move on to a new topic area. If there really is years worth of content gold in the forum, you can mine it and set up an archival repository for future searchers to find.
 

Ingenious

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Unless there are new users interested in the topic to take their place, membership continues to fall and the forum dies
I agree so much with this, which is why I bang on about making new content easy to find for guests and keeping adverts to an absolute minimum so that those people clicking through to you for the first time have a positive experience... if positive enough they'll register.

Wringing your hands and moaning about the good old days isn't a productive strategy.
One thing I found useful and will share with other long term admins who are perhaps in a rut - ask yourself, if you were to start your own forum again today, from scratch, how would you do it and what would be different? If you had a blank canvas and without the legacy/constraints of your existing set up? If you were a third party and wanted to create a new forum to compete with your own forum what would you do better?

It's an enlightening experience realising perhaps you'd so some things completely differently.
 

Wendell

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Jun 16, 2016
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I haven't seen his website, but I can tell you from experience that it's all about making sure people know what your site is about and making the navigation easy to use. It needs to be very clear -- for the people and for search engines. In my case, I have a very specific market, so I'm pretty lucky in that regard because I'm one of the only community websites available for my market. Still, there are things I've done to make it obvious what the site is for, who it targets, and why they should visit and participate.

One thing I've used to help improve traffic is relevant news articles. Then i can target specific keywords and people start finding the site just with simple searches. I don't post a lot of news, but I do try to post them from time to time. I really does help. A lot.

I've also made a point to only make market-relevant forums viewable by the public. All off-topic forums are hidden to the public but available to those who are logged in. This keeps the unrelated content from being indexed by search engines, thus improving the quality of the traffic we receive. I'd much rather have relevant traffic than a bunch of random people who bounce anyway -- and my advertisers love that as well. Most of my traffic is direct, but I couldn't have gotten there if they couldn't find me in the first place. Then they bookmark it and just make it a regular part of their routine.

To qualify all of these things, the site has been growing steadily since I launched it on a whim in 2010. In fact, it earned about $30k last year by selling ad banners to companies that sell software, hardware and services to the people that participate in my website.

All that is not to brag but to prove that some good marketing, clarity and consistency is key to a successful forum, even today. It can be done and I think forums could make a full-on comeback, simply because a lot of people are tiring of Facebook and privacy issues.
 
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