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

gogoblender

shiny happy pantless
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
15,267
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?

There are so many nails to hit but this is the one that hits it on the head most for me :gogo:
Without this as primary focus, anything else an owner does will meet with so much resistance.
Forget software, skins, features, or themes.. If you have an owner who's in love with his content and loves to produce it every day, you'll have your community.
We first started out on shared invision hosting and right off the bat we were busy and still to this day.
Even though what we support is fifteen years old, almost unheard of and almost unsold, we still have hundreds (about 200 - 250) signing up every month for what people come to our forum to look at, build and be seen by others that they're building.
I consider us a small community, but it's enough to keep my small group of moderators (8) and me busy and happy.
:)

gogo
 
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tonmo

Aspirant
Joined
Jan 21, 2007
Messages
30
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 do this one further by putting it behind a "Supporters" paywall. One of the perks for subscribing to the site is access to off-topic banter... though admittedly, this is the area of my community (est. 2000) that has taken the biggest hit with the advent of social media.
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.
Totally agree. Forums aren't dead yet -- it's just a flesh wound! šŸ˜…
 

Jeremy8

Participant
Joined
Mar 7, 2007
Messages
74
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.
Assuming I found the correct one, I had the same initial impression. I can't figure out what the niche is. I suppose it could work in the golden era of forums, but I can see why something like this would struggle these days. I don't understand what the target audience of this would be or how they could continue growing the community.

edit: I would also add that what Joel R said is 100% right. While I think they could benefit from an update, there are better things to focus on to keep people coming back. This is why there are still very active forums that use vB3 even.
 
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Joel R

Fan
Joined
Nov 24, 2013
Messages
779
A couple of points I'd like to add in a blunter manner:
1. His forum is a social general chat forum. If there's one niche to run away from, that would be it. Social and lifestyle forums are being decimated - they offer zero functional value. All of the value is social chat, which can be better delivered through platforms like Discord, Slack, Facebook, and others.

2. He has no clear compelling reason to join, certainly no message communicated to guests.

3. More than half his links are hidden to guests. It's an unappealing impression.

His forum needs to die. It's reached a natural end, and he hasn't created a compelling value proposition to stay. Even worse, he thinks the solution is building a forum Pokemon game (which, to reinforce, has nothing to do with the underlying mission of his forum which, to clarify, he has no mission anyways). He's a forum admin who got lucky ten years ago, doesn't realize the landscape has changed in infinitely more competitive ways, thinks that he should keep pursuing the same failing strategies and oh, he's posting his problems on Reddit.
 

Matt M

Director Development at Invision Community
Joined
Apr 28, 2005
Messages
231
Joel sums it up well.

Adding more features to a site with no clear vision, no clear onboarding process and no consideration for converting visitors to members is a waste of time.

Stop adding stuff and strip things back to the basics.

- What is the purpose of the community
- Is this purpose clearly communicated
- Is it clear how to sign up, and what the benefits are?
- Are you giving away enough access to entice guests to level up?
- Are you actively stimulating and driving discussions?
- Are you marketing your community effectively?
- Do you write compelling content to draws visitors in?

If you tick all those boxes, then by all means add a Pokemon game to your "chat here" site.
 

sbjsbj

Fan
Joined
Feb 9, 2015
Messages
639
I agree with most of what was said and I think you guys made good points about his situation.

However my intention was not to discuss why that dude is failing as he makes obvious mistakes, so no suprises there.

What more important are the replies which give away crucial information what the general dude or girl thinks about forums in this day and age. We have to follow their expactations to make a difference.
 

Matt M

Director Development at Invision Community
Joined
Apr 28, 2005
Messages
231
I agree with most of what was said and I think you guys made good points about his situation.

However my intention was not to discuss why that dude is failing as he makes obvious mistakes, so no suprises there.

What more important are the replies which give away crucial information what the general dude or girl thinks about forums in this day and age. We have to follow their expactations to make a difference.
I think a lot of people just refer back to the "golden age" of the internet, and early forums were a part of that. We have reached an almost generational divide where us old timers remember modems, early forums and Netscape and the younger generation growing up with iPhones, iPads and apps.

If your forum hasn't developed much since the golden age, then it's likely it'll struggle to find an audience now.

However, "forums" are not dead at all. You just need to ensure you have a clear purpose and that purpose is clear to others.
 
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