Ghost Town Effect - What is it and how to deal with it


The Ancient Dragon
Jul 1, 2007
Alex. submitted a new Article:

Ghost Town Effect - What is it and how to deal with it

Understanding “Ghost Town” Effect

What is a ghost town?

Ghost towns are towns or small cities that have been complete abandoned by human life forms. This is due to dire economic conditions, natural or human-causes disasters, war, etc. How does a ghost town have any relation to an internet forum? Read on.

How does a ghost town apply to a forum?

Using the concept of a ghost town, we can call forum areas or sections ghost towns. These are forum sections that have not received sufficient activity in 30 or more days. Now, don’t confuse specific forum sections that you know get little activity, such as a archives section or site feedback, which don’t get week-to-week activity. The other forums are experiencing “ghost town” effect.

What causes "ghost town" effect?

One of the main causes for ghost town effect are a high number of forum sections in ratio to the number of active members. The key word here being active. Not the total number of members. If you have 20 forum sections, and your total member base is 8,000 members, however, only 50 are active, your forum will experience severe ghost town effect.

Other reasons that may cause ghost town effect are members who lurk and do not post. This will be due to your forum’s content, it may be getting stale or it just doesn’t interest the user like it used to. Public forum disputes are a sure fire way to suffer from “ghost town” effect. The results for such an altercation are devastating. There are numerous possibilities that a forum can experience “ghost town” effect from, but these are the most common ailments.

How do I fix “ghost town” effect?

One of the main things I recommend doing for forums that are new and have a lot of forum sections are to do away with unneeded sections. You simply do not need 20 sections of discussion when you have less than 500 active members. What you do to remedy this is to do away with unneeded sections, as stated. Or, if you have like-sections, you can choose the smaller of the two and place it as a sub-section. Thus saving space, and giving the illusion of an active forum when only one is being posted in.

If your forum has or is slowly turning into a ghost town, you want to find out what’s causing the problem before too much damage occurs. Once you have found your problem, fix it. In addition to that, change something on the forum for the better. Then send out mass email...

Read more about this article here...
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If only you knew
Sep 15, 2008
Very good article, I use to have more sections on my forum and after a week or two, I just transferred posts into more active ones to stop this from happening and to make my forum look more active.


shiny happy pantless
Feb 20, 2006
I love the analysis and comparison Alex. Nice job on this, and your strategies to combat ghosts is good.

Course..I'd just much rather call these guys





Mar 7, 2008

now that was funny. have a bananna :banana:

This, coupled with a few othr posts I've read today are making me feel much more OK about fleshing out my forum with my own posts.

I always have this feeling it's so sad to see forum owner talking to themselves, but I suppose I'll just have to get over it.

My new personal quote z'gonna be "when you're online, no one can see you blush".


Oh you know...
Feb 18, 2010
If it is turning into a ghost town, you could also create fake accounts and post with them.


Jun 12, 2010
If it is turning into a ghost town, you could also create fake accounts and post with them.
Yeah- at least as a temporary fix.

I find the easiest way to revive them using a similar method to this is to get your friends who are forum addicts to join up and post. Also mass advertise during the off peaks.


Jan 2, 2006
I believe that what's worse than a ghost-town effect is a deeper phenomenon that's much more subtle and not so easy to detect.

I call it the "there's nothing interesting going on around here" effect.

It's a hard problem to tackle and I think it arises out of a period of activity when members aren't really so keen and the posts are getting more and more routine and commonplace. You need to inject a bit of passion into the forum in such situations and you cannot do it alone. You need the help and active assistance of people equally passionate about the subject to stem the rot.

Problem is that with most technical niches saturated and the majority of online forum users being tech-oriented, it's not that easy to get people passionate enough about non-techy subjects to come online and post on forums. It's a hard case to crack. I believe every admin starting out these days need a solid dedicated team of people who'll stick around long enough to get the forum gain the critical mass (so to speak).