Motivating people to submit quality content on forums

hari

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hari submitted a new Article:

Motivating people to submit quality content on forums

One of the biggest problems of online forums these days is the huge threat of competition, not just from other forums but from personal blogs. Blogging has become such a huge phenomenon and the majority of blog owners choose to write and spend their energy on their own blogs rather than online forums. This takes away a significant chunk of traffic away from forums and into blogs because more and more quality content is found on personal blogs rather than forums.

How does a forum admin combat this threat and how do you get forum members to contribute quality content on forums, rather than their own blogs. After all, the barrier to entry to blogging is minimal and almost anybody with an internet connection can create a blog.

Being both a blogger and a forum admin, I kind of understand the motivations of both sides and feel that I should share some of my thoughts on this issue.

The key is to restore a sense of pride of ownership to people posting content on forums. Here are some of my tips on how to achieve this:

Recognize their work

If a forum member is particularly good at submitting original or insightful content, consider giving them a position on your forum. It can simply be a user-title or something more than that. In cases where you find their quality of work to be excellent you might even consider monetary compensation for their work. But above all, the contributor needs to feel a sense of pride and a sense of belonging to the forum to be motivated enough to contribute.

Neat Organization

A forum with a neat organization of categories and which separates quality content from the general chat and discussion will have a better response in terms of content submission. More than this, the content-driven portions of your forum need to be prominent and visible and members who submit original content should have an easy way of keeping track of their submissions.

Nothing is worse than having submitted a great article on a forum and then frantically searching for it one month later without any easy way of determining where it's gone. At the least, every member should have a "My Articles" link in his user profile to easily track the submitted content.

Customize and personalize

If a particular member is keen on contributing content but feels that the submitted content tends to get buried under others' contributions over time, the motivation to submit content will be reduced. In these cases where you find a...

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democracy

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Aug 18, 2006
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The method you promote does not offer money.

It offers power.

So you are agreeing with what I am promoting.

The system that empowers the member is the one that will supercede the present system that empowers administrators.

Because the system is market driven (user driven).

I suggest that your system discourages the best and most innovative ideas.

The system I advocate is one that allows content to be processed through several levels before it appears on the front page.
 

Mephisto

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Jul 20, 2006
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democracy said:
The method you promote does not offer money.

It offers power.

So you are agreeing with what I am promoting.

The system that empowers the member is the one that will supercede the present system that empowers administrators.

Because the system is market driven (user driven).

I suggest that your system discourages the best and most innovative ideas.

The system I advocate is one that allows content to be processed through several levels before it appears on the front page.


Totally dissagree......... as usual

However, blogs has became the main competition not just to the forums I own but for many I belong to. Since each blog is personalized by the owner is quite hard to see 2 blogs with the same design, and you usually will find forums with the same layout (often the default skin). Here, forum owners we're in a "little" disadvantage, specially the less experimented ones who dont pay attention on the look of their boards. As you said, a blog owner will put more effords on his/her blog than in a large board.


harishankar said:
Customize and personalize

If a particular member is keen on contributing content but feels that the submitted content tends to get buried under others' contributions over time, the motivation to submit content will be reduced. In these cases where you find a member particularly prolific in submitting great content, but feels a lack of ownership or personalization, you should really consider setting them up for a section/subforum of their own where they can submit their content without having to mix it with others' content. This is, in many ways, a good solution for people who write and contribute regularly. Maybe even give them a "featured" status as a writer on your forum.

I really like this idea, the member will see him/herself as a very important member to the community and surely keep working to keep this level of quality/status.

Very nice article, great job :shell:
 

hari

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Hehe... for a moment, I didn't understand Paperopoli, but this told me what you were talking about [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duckburg"]Duckburg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia@@AMEPARAM@@/wiki/File:Duckburg.jpg" class="image"><img alt="" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/5/55/Duckburg.jpg/250px-Duckburg.jpg"@@AMEPARAM@@en/thumb/5/55/Duckburg.jpg/250px-Duckburg.jpg[/ame]

Thanks for your appreciation. Could you tell me what idea you got out of this article?
 

Dakoom

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harishankar said:
Hehe... for a moment, I didn't understand Paperopoli, but this told me what you were talking about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duckburg

Yes, Duckopolis, sorry. :D

Thanks for your appreciation. Could you tell me what idea you got out of this article?

It's a good article, it face people's, members, psicology. And an admin, if want develope a forum, must know people psicology, its members. How they think about the forum, about the management of it, and feeling it give.
 

babybear

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It's always difficult to get members to contribute on a big forum because it lacks a sense of personalization and people who contribute will not feel a sense of ownership. Also "content" driven sections of a forum need to be prominent and visible if it is to become popular because nobody wants to submit content in some obscure section of an online community.

What an insightful article, harishankar!

I agree with you 100%. Members feel more 'at home' in your forums when they know that they are contributing something important, and are being recognized for it. :)
 

annakey

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Good article. You don't quite bite the bullet but get close. The obvious way to:

...restore a sense of pride of ownership to people posting content on forums

is to give them ownership. Period. That's your argument stripped down and followed to it's logical conclusion. I agree with it. :tup:

Ownership = power and control. Stop treating forum members as children to be managed, controlled and infantilised. Instead make them partners in genuine digital communities.

:)

One of the biggest problems of online forums these days is the huge threat of competition, not just from other forums but from personal blogs... This takes away a significant chunk of traffic away from forums...

Has anyone got meaningful (and comprehensible) stats on this, including myspace forum penetration?

MySpace has over 40 million members who take part in its vast social network. And more importantly and pertinent to us forum owners, MySpace has over 1 million "groups". What is a group? A group is a forum like the one you run; only not quite as advanced or userfriendly. Yet.

I don't think small, specialist boards have much to worry about re blogs and myspace. Enough people will always hate Rupert Murdoch to populate small forums, and blogs are too solipsistic to attract community-minded people. But the big boys will be watching the stats very carefully (as will the myspace advertising wonks) and I'd like to see the raw figures.

Are sign-ups going down? Are joint members posting less on independent forums and more on myspace? Is the average age of independent forum active members going up as the young blood takes the Murdoch shilling?
 

cpvr

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Finally, community blogs

Giving members their own blogs on the forum can be a great idea - if it's not overused. This is similar to the idea suggested above, but instead of integrating it with the main forum, it acts as a separate page of their own. A good idea would be to restrict the blogs only to members who've contributed well in the past and give other people a motivation to have their own community blogs.
I'm using this feature now as well. Members seem to love it and create their own content using blogs - which means, even more content for my community.

The more options you have available to users, the more options they have to create content - which is a plus for your community in the long run.
 

JulieVA

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I have something to ad to this.

I make no secret of what I have observed about many mom bloggers.

Instead of fighting it - I decided to use it...Some of my TAZ pals may have noticed that I am running a robust Guest Blogging program on my site. For example, I have doctors & lawyers in the blogging schedule / line up. The Guest Blogger benefits because we do heavy marketing / advertising for them using all of our marketing channels for the period that their Blog Post is featured. We even continue to market them if they are highly interactive with our community.

Even with us offering all of this, I recently had an upcoming Guest Blogger join my site (in advance of her Blog post being featured)...she started off well - jumped right into the community & posted really meaningful comments / content, but pretty soon she started conversationally promoting her site. She then began posting adlinks. At that point we had to put a stop to it.

She said she got very offended when the forum admin edited her posts. She sent someone a PM saying that having her posts edited left a bad taste in her mouth. She did not read the Community Guidelines & she thought the site was for a "different" purpose or "worked a different way" (VERY ODD since she was sent a link to the Community Guidelines and asked to read them prior to posting on the forum). She said in the PM that if she cant use our site to lead people to hers, it's a waste of her time. The person explained to her that our site is a community & that most of the women there use the site for friendship & / or advice - not to lead people to other sites. The person pointed out that if everyone began conversationally promoting their sites & posting adlinks, we wouldn't have much of a community at all. We would stop talking with one another. We would have a site where people are talking at each other, posting adlinks, and conversationally promoting their business or blog. The person said that to keep the site as a community, having a place for conversation and a place for ads + keeping them somewhat separate was best. She said she understood and that she'd give the site a chance.

I share all of that to illustrate the mindset of the typical blogger.

With everyone blogging - who is reading?

With everyone broadcasting outward, who is communicating / interacting?

I have observed that the blogging explosion is due to the same factors as the popularity of Facebook - people are VERY self focused. They don't want to connect with other people, they want to broadcast and be viewed. "Look at me...read about me...listen to me."

There are a million bloggers on the Internet...
 

cpvr

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Finally, community blogs

Giving members their own blogs on the forum can be a great idea - if it's not overused. This is similar to the idea suggested above, but instead of integrating it with the main forum, it acts as a separate page of their own. A good idea would be to restrict the blogs only to members who've contributed well in the past and give other people a motivation to have their own community blogs.

If used properly, community blogs can be very attractive on sizeable forums because members will get the advantages of a personal blog combined with the visibility of a community forum. The key is to make it look attractive to members by making it prominent and well-structured.
This is one of the best features any community can have - why? If your members don't want to make a forum thread, they can write up a blog post, get comments, and keep on writing - which works right along with your community - creating quality content.
 

bruce99

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Apr 26, 2011
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this is one of the most thorough original threads I have read in a long time. and yes i do get out a bit. I particularly like the neat organization section - something that gives a professional spin and has people visit the right categories so the serious posters do not get upset. thank you!
 

TheChiro

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I think the best way to motivate users to post quality content is for you to post quality content. If people see the admin is posting good stuff, they'll want to share as well; at least that's what I noticed with my site compared to other "copycat" sites as the admin feels they could just advertise on my site and get people to come over and post good content (most of the time they c&p my stuff).
 

Valid

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I think the best way to motivate users to post quality content is for you to post quality content. If people see the admin is posting good stuff, they'll want to share as well; at least that's what I noticed with my site compared to other "copycat" sites as the admin feels they could just advertise on my site and get people to come over and post good content (most of the time they c&p my stuff).

I agree with that 100% Admins, Mods (Staff in general) should all lead by example.
 

SEOWarrior

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totally aggree

I think the best way to motivate users to post quality content is for you to post quality content. If people see the admin is posting good stuff, they'll want to share as well; at least that's what I noticed with my site compared to other "copycat" sites as the admin feels they could just advertise on my site and get people to come over and post good content (most of the time they c&p my stuff).


I totally agree with ya on that well said.
 
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