[Controversial] Don't start on forums

Joel R

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Nov 24, 2013
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Hear me out. I know most of us got our start on forums, but ... Are forums the best and easiest places to start a new group or community?

Why not start on Discord, Reddit, Facebook Groups, YouTube, Slack, or any one of the countless other free and easy and frictionless community building platforms?

Why not transition to forums once you have a clear need for an owned platform?
 

FTL

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Nov 4, 2021
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317
This is an interesting question.

For me, I'm not interested in those other forms of communication, although I do have a Facebook account and watch lots of YT videos - just look at how many I post on NerdZone.

I just want one, cheap to run, low maintenance forum site which I have and never even put ads on, for the purest experience. For me, "modest" activity, which I now have, I consider a success. It's quite possible for it to become a victim of its own success too, if I suddenly had an influx of registrations and loads of forum activity from all those new registrants. All my time would be spent on there when I've got so many other things vying for my time! :)

Also, for someone who wants a high traffic site, I'm not convinced that starting out on one of those platforms would help a migration to a forum at all. I think most people would just be used to those other forms of communication and stick to that. The webmaster would have a helluva lot more to manage, too.
 

Nev_Dull

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Apr 27, 2010
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I've been around long enough to know if and when I need a forum instead of something else. Even if I was new, however, I probably wouldn't choose any of those.

Facebook and Discord are out because I don't like the policies of the first and the second isn't really suitable for the use I'm most interested in. Of the lot, Reddit is probably the closest to forum-like discussion, which is what I enjoy. That said, I still wouldn't choose it because it's owned and operated in the US and is subject to US laws. I prefer to use something that I can host in my country. So even I wasn't running a forum, I would choose some other self-hosted platform.
 

KimmiKat

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Mar 21, 2005
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Freakbook is the worse place to start. The "wall" rolls too fast and they're worse then any spy agency. Discord is good if you're into gaming or stuff.
 
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Fait

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I've been around long enough to know if and when I need a forum instead of something else. Even if I was new, however, I probably wouldn't choose any of those.

Facebook and Discord are out because I don't like the policies of the first and the second isn't really suitable for the use I'm most interested in. Of the lot, Reddit is probably the closest to forum-like discussion, which is what I enjoy. That said, I still wouldn't choose it because it's owned and operated in the US and is subject to US laws. I prefer to use something that I can host in my country. So even I wasn't running a forum, I would choose some other self-hosted platform.
As an Australian I feel this, not many Australian owned sites so I made a site myself hosted in Australia.
 

ThornInYourSide

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Jul 12, 2021
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Why not start on Discord, Reddit, Facebook Groups, YouTube, Slack, or any one of the countless other free and easy and frictionless community building platforms?
Those places do not exist to me. I've been to Reddit a few times and could never make sense of the layout or functions. I've never even been to the others.
 

FTL

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I think the general consensus here is that this is a non-starter.
 

vikvaliant

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Oct 21, 2014
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I would consider using any service or tool that accomplishes what I want to do. However, most of my online ideas work best with forums because they incorporate the following:

- Ability to generate revenue through subscriptions or ads rather than revenue for the service you're using.
- Be able to create your own unique look/theme and tailor the interaction between members with plugins.
- Allow long-form content (photos, video, and links to other social media) and threads that encourage discussion over a longer period of time.
- Forums encourage members to interact with each other directly under a shared interest. On large shared platforms, it's difficult or even considered creepy to try and interact with other users directly.

For me, interacting with content on large providers is like sitting in a college or university lecture hall filled with hundreds of students. And a forum thread is like being in a classroom of 20-30 students at any one time. Different dynamics. I can remember users I interacted with on forums from many years ago, but I can't recall the users I interacted with on Reddit three days ago. Facebook is the opposite. I can recall exactly who I talked to but rarely the superficial content.
 
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Oldsmoboi

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Mar 24, 2009
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734
I agree with the original post for most sites these days. There needs to be a topic of conversation, so just opening a forum doesn't do much until you pump it full of content.

My forum-ula instead is to create a news site, generate content for that, and then once you get enough people commenting on your articles, start dumping those comments into a Forum.
 

cdub24

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Nov 12, 2015
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Also, for someone who wants a high traffic site, I'm not convinced that starting out on one of those platforms would help a migration to a forum at all. I think most people would just be used to those other forms of communication and stick to that.
You will not be able to migrate. I doubt people will follow.

If you're going to start anywhere before a forum start a WordPress blog.
 

sactown

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Jul 26, 2017
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99
I agree with the original post for most sites these days. There needs to be a topic of conversation, so just opening a forum doesn't do much until you pump it full of content.

My forum-ula instead is to create a news site, generate content for that, and then once you get enough people commenting on your articles, start dumping those comments into a Forum.
There’s merit to this strategy IMO
 

TriciaPug

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Jun 30, 2022
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I've been around long enough to know if and when I need a forum instead of something else. Even if I was new, however, I probably wouldn't choose any of those.

Facebook and Discord are out because I don't like the policies of the first and the second isn't really suitable for the use I'm most interested in. Of the lot, Reddit is probably the closest to forum-like discussion, which is what I enjoy. That said, I still wouldn't choose it because it's owned and operated in the US and is subject to US laws. I prefer to use something that I can host in my country. So even I wasn't running a forum, I would choose some other self-hosted platform.
This!
Starting your own forum allows you to set the policies and guidelines that you expect people to abide by, so you can set the tone.


When another ski forum that had loose guidelines and a real mess in communication we posted a simple set of guidelines like this....

While Phil and Tricia's heads are spinning, I'm going to be the bad cop.

The Rules

1. Don't be an ass.
1a. Being overly sensitive is also being an ass.
2. P&T have sole determination over who is being an ass.

Ok, that about covers it!

Also, if you want to read the nice rules, go here.
 

Harvey

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Apr 29, 2014
Messages
48
From an SEO POV, having your own forum, or at least some way of having content ON YOUR OWN DOMAIN is key.

TriciaPug this is the problem faced by "Skiology." 40,000 FB members, zero ad revenue, no SEO. The admin wants to make the jump to his own site, but I am guessing he knows he'll never retain those members.
 

TriciaPug

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Jun 30, 2022
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From an SEO POV, having your own forum, or at least some way of having content ON YOUR OWN DOMAIN is key.

TriciaPug this is the problem faced by "Skiology." 40,000 FB members, zero ad revenue, no SEO. The admin wants to make the jump to his own site, but I am guessing he knows he'll never retain those members.
You would be surprised how quickly they figure it out. Those who don't figure it out can be shown the door.
Make the rules simple and easy to manage. And most important don't allow politics and hot topics. That is the quickest way to erode the sense of community.
When the members of EpicSki lost their site and started flooding our site, they thought they could behave the same. We made it clear that we don't do things that way. A few stayed and settled in nicely. A few left.
 

Tracy Perry

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May 25, 2013
Messages
5,098
Why not transition to forums once you have a clear need for an owned platform?
But the question is what suffices for "need"?
Is it number of visitors/posters?
Is it the need for the ability to download/create/post resources?
Is it the need for the ability to media gallery, with personal albums for the users?

One really needs to determine beforehand what the requirements are of the site they are contemplating.
 
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