Message Forum Communities Are Not Short Term

Shawn Gossman

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Shawn Gossman submitted a new Article:

Message Forum Communities Are Not Short Term

I see a lot more people starting message forums nowadays than they did back when I first started back in the day. The reason is because it is now easier than ever to get hosting, buy a domain, setup and forum and launch. Heck, I remember when a .com domain name cost as much as a year of webhosting costs these days – needless to say, it wasn’t easy starting a message forum back then like it is today.


However, I am seeing a trend of one huge mistake being made by a lot of new forum owners…the assumption that a forum is a short-term thing! I see a lot of forum owners create a forum, get it somewhat active, disappear and then come back only to be depressed because the forum has lost all of its activity and has died quicker than it took to set it up.


Your Forum Demands You!
Your message forum will never be short-term! It will demand you from the start all the way until the end, if you want there to be an end. You will need to always remain active on your message forum in order for it to be truly successful. Consider yourself the blood vessel to the heart of your community because without you, the heart (your members) will not get enough blood and it will die.


Make Time For Your Community!
If you plan on starting a message forum with no time to spare, let me stop you now before you realize how much of a mistake it would have been. Your community demands that you give it plenty of time to grow. You will also have to visit frequently and by frequently, I mean many times a day. You will need to post often and promote it away from the forum as well. If you want to make time for something, make time for other things around your time for your forum.


No Sitting Back And Watching Allowed!
I saw a member once say on my admin forum that they are waiting for that moment when they can sit back and watch the forum become a big board. I laughed at them! I wasn’t trying to be mean or hateful about it – it just made me giggle a little bit. The reason I laugh at that is because it’s not true and very far from the truth. There are vacations or breaks when it comes to running a successful message forum. Your attention will always be needed and you cannot ever just sit back and watch unless you like watching nothing, if that is your thing!


Having Huge Goals Isn’t Appropriate!
Let’s say you start a forum and it has a total of 200 posts in a week! You decide to set a goal of the...
Read more about this article here...
 
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s.molinari

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Nice article and I agree with it completely.

It is like anything in life. Nothing happens overnight and anything that can be considered successful is ALWAYS based on some sort of hard work in some way. Most of the time the real success comes, because the hard work was actually fun most of the time.;)

Scott
 

gogoblender

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I like your article too Shawn. The old days of throwing up software and expecting it to get populated are long gone.
Sweat equity's what it's really all about.

:)

gogo
 

mysiteguy

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There never were days of throwing up forum software and expecting it to get populated. Many of the early forums went bust back then. People tend to remember the Amazons and attribute success to their early entry yet forget the thousands of others who tried and failed. It's always required work.

I disagree with not having huge goals. Henry Ford said it better than I can: "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right."
 
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s.molinari

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Yeah, on the goals, I would agree too. I think the message is more like, give yourself room to meet smaller milestones and celebrate them, while on your path to your much larger goals. However, one must also realize that not every online community owner is out to create a huge community either. So, that advice is only for those who do want to get big.

Scott
 

GTB

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I like your article too Shawn. The old days of throwing up software and expecting it to get populated are long gone.
Sweat equity's what it's really all about.

:)

gogo
I don't think there have ever been days when you could throw up a forum and it would get populated fast. It was still hard back then to get one going, but there was no facebook and other social networking sites. People mostly used just forums for discussion then - so was a little easier to get one going.

But it's never been easy as such, even before social networking to build a successful community.
 

Shawn Gossman

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Back when niches had less forums competing with one and other, I could see how populating a forum could be a lot easier.

As for not having huge goals, I don't mean not to have them, I mean have smaller ones that lead up to larger goals so you are not overwhelmed.

I run an admin forum... one of my goals is not to get bigger than TAZ, lol that would take a long time seeing as my admin forum is only a bit over 2 years old and I've been a member of TAZ for like 7 years haha
 

Ksquall

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Great article. I agree with what you say. I guess a good analogy would be that your forum is your child. We don't abandon children after a couple of years, so forums should be cared for and managed to insure their success.
 

Zero Numbers

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I don't think there have ever been days when you could throw up a forum and it would get populated fast. It was still hard back then to get one going, but there was no facebook and other social networking sites. People mostly used just forums for discussion then - so was a little easier to get one going.
There were no Smartphones or Tablets back then. What traffic a forum could of gotten back in the day is being consumed, and the intelligence of people creating discussion on an internet forum is becoming bad.

Back when niches had less forums competing with one and other, I could see how populating a forum could be a lot easier.
Keeping people interested is a task owners have to face.
 

eldritch1969

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The main problem is how you can have discussions that are not, either...

By this I mean, how to create a whole body of interesting topics which, despite their relative age, are still relevant to people joining the forum...

One of the most striking things is that forums are caught between the oral and written predicament and have to find a way to keep both going. By this I mean that you have to have threads that act as reference and others that are for chatting only, but relevant to the forum anyway...
 

s.molinari

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You are right. I think an online community must have a constant flow of new discussions about new topics, content (or even data), which are based on what the community is all about. If the flow of new discussions stop, then you could say the community will die after a while. So discussions are the underlying driver and result of a prosperous community. No content to discuss about, no discussions, no community.

I see this happening with our old site, vBulletin-Germany.com. vBulletin 5 is not a real subject there, other than to laugh about and nothing else new is happening to vB4, so the community is dying a slow death, sadly.

Back to my reasoning about "the owner makes or breaks a community". If the owner keeps up adding content about new topics (or has people who can do it for her), then she can keep her forum alive. But, it is certainly the owner's responsibility to keep it alive and "talking" about what the community is all about. I for instance, have no more interest in keeping vB-Germany.com "alive". There are, however, still customers asking for help and other customers willing to help. So I, as the owner of the community, am allowing that to continue. Again, it is up to me as an owner, to decide and take action on whether or not the community lives or not (on our site of course). We've decided to let it live and we've even taken it off of IB's servers. The forum is back in our hands again.:)

Scott
 

T3chn0

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I agree with all your points, as for the goals, I think it's important to set realistic goals and to embrace failure in a positive manner if one fails to reach them. At the same time, you also have to know when to walk away and start again or attempt another niche as that's sometimes the only practical way to go IMO.
 
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