Starting a forum in 2020

campingrhino

Neophyte
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
3
So I've been out of the forum game for a while and a lot's changed. I've had a lot more time on my hands for obvious reasons so decided to start work on a project I've had in my head for a while - a nice, friendly web development forum. It's one of my hobbies and starting to become my job and as a whole, I'm yet to find a friendly general web dev board, so I decided to make one myself.

However, I'm a bit stuck at the point of getting the initial users. I understand that with things like this, you speak to people you know that are interested and get them to join and take it from there but the problem is, I don't personally know anyone that shares this hobby - it's something I've always done by myself in my own time. What would more experienced forum owners suggest to get that initial community started?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

haqzore

Devotee
Joined
Dec 6, 2012
Messages
2,384
There are web development and web design subreddit's with half a million users each.

There are Discord servers dedicated to the same with 10s of thousands of users offering instant, real-time communication.

Millions of people and their documented knowledge & answers on Stack Overflow.

All of the content, insight, expertise and advice these members & communities bring. Industry leading experts doing live Q&As.

This isn't even touching on Facebook groups & similar.



With all that out there, what's the point in joining your forum? What could your forum possibly offer that those above aren't offering already? And how can you ever expect to do it better?



These are the questions you need to be able to answer very explicitly and specifically if you expect people to take the time to register and join yet another site.



It's harsh. It's incredibly challenging. Saying it's an "uphill battle" is the understatement of the century


But it's the absolute truth.
 
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AlexTheBat

Aspirant
Joined
Apr 21, 2020
Messages
19
To follow up on the above post - a niche is important and might help you more than just a "general" web development forum. Maybe you want to target a specific language or an aspect of web development, like themes/design or API or something specific. You would be aiming at a more limited demographic and providing something they wanted and you would have a better chance at actually gaining interested members that way.
 

Ingenious

Fan
Joined
May 4, 2011
Messages
804
Yep, when you Google anything related to web development all the usual suspects come up ranked highly (and many questions web developers have already asked have probably already been answered on various sites, Reddit, Stack Exchange etc). It's a tough ask creating a new forum on the subject.

So as above, maybe you need a very specific niche in which there isn't already a lot of content or community?
 

haqzore

Devotee
Joined
Dec 6, 2012
Messages
2,384
To follow up on the above post - a niche is important and might help you more than just a "general" web development forum. Maybe you want to target a specific language or an aspect of web development, like themes/design or API or something specific. You would be aiming at a more limited demographic and providing something they wanted and you would have a better chance at actually gaining interested members that way.
This is a good thought. Start small, expand later.

Yep, when you Google anything related to web development all the usual suspects come up ranked highly (and many questions web developers have already asked have probably already been answered on various sites, Reddit, Stack Exchange etc). It's a tough ask creating a new forum on the subject.
This is huge. It's going to be nigh impossible to get into Google, and we all know that's step #1 for people looking for these types of answers (myself included).
 

DigNap15

Adherent
Joined
Sep 14, 2019
Messages
304
So I've been out of the forum game for a while and a lot's changed. I've had a lot more time on my hands for obvious reasons so decided to start work on a project I've had in my head for a while - a nice, friendly web development forum. It's one of my hobbies and starting to become my job and as a whole, I'm yet to find a friendly general web dev board, so I decided to make one myself.

However, I'm a bit stuck at the point of getting the initial users. I understand that with things like this, you speak to people you know that are interested and get them to join and take it from there but the problem is, I don't personally know anyone that shares this hobby - it's something I've always done by myself in my own time. What would more experienced forum owners suggest to get that initial community started?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I have loved being on forums for the last 30 years.
Now I have my own.
In the time you've been out of the forum game, Youtube, Facebook, Reddit etc have come along.
Maybe all the nice freindly web development foums disppeared and went out of business.

Talking to a few people is a great idea, but how many do you know.
If anyone comes up with a way of getting new members quickly, they will be a millionaire, or a hero.

Google is not your friend, they do not rank my site where it should be.
All the other search engines have mine at number 2 or 3.
On Google I am on page 3!
 
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campingrhino

Neophyte
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
3
Thanks for all of the feedback, it's very useful for me and I appreciate you taking the time to answer. :)

Back to the drawing board for now!
 

Nev_Dull

Anachronism
Joined
Apr 27, 2010
Messages
2,061
The first question to ask is why do you want to start a forum on this? You've already got an answer: "It's one of my hobbies and starting to become my job and as a whole, I'm yet to find a friendly general web dev board" Because you enjoy it and want to share it with others like you. That's good enough reason to move forward.

The second question is what do you want out of the site? If it's to be the biggest, best web-dev site on the internet, you're SOL. But if your answer is that you want a place to share and discuss your passion with others in a place that you find friendly and inviting, you're on the right track. Discords are fine for a quick answer to a specific question. Reddit, once you fight through all the noise, is more about who's opinion is popular enough to be upvoted, and Stack Overflow is good for entertainment -- if your entertainment runs to watching some self-proclaimed experts dissect each other's syntax and methodologies to the point where they often forget there ever was a real question by a real person.

Then you come to the question how are you going to tackle the subject? The answer depends on who you want to attract to your site. Are you looking for people coming to learn from you? That's probably not the easiest road. Besides the ones mentioned, there are plenty of tutorial sites out there from established developers. Are you looking for peers? That's a much more appealing audience to focus on, in my opinion. It can be challenging to create a forum for people to learn with rather than teach. At the same time, it creates opportunities for unique ideas and discussion.

Whatever you do, don't give up on the idea because there are a bunch of other sites out there. A hundred sites available that don't meet your needs means they aren't meeting the needs of others either.
 

bomb

Aspirant
Joined
Mar 19, 2017
Messages
29
That makes the two of us bro. I have started a number of forums this year. But unlike what I did 3 years ago, am not going to give up on then this time.

The truth is, the competion is crazy now. But he who stays the longest and is resilient, will emerge the best.

Let me tell you my sad short story, 3years ago, I started a forum. Dropped it after 1yr hosting expired. Like you, COVID gave me a chance. When I searched for the domain name, Godaddy has taken it and are selling it at $2400!!! I literally did hit the wall, and my hand still pains. I was stupid. I could have just hold on the domain!
 

campingrhino

Neophyte
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
3
That makes the two of us bro. I have started a number of forums this year. But unlike what I did 3 years ago, am not going to give up on then this time.

The truth is, the competion is crazy now. But he who stays the longest and is resilient, will emerge the best.

Let me tell you my sad short story, 3years ago, I started a forum. Dropped it after 1yr hosting expired. Like you, COVID gave me a chance. When I searched for the domain name, Godaddy has taken it and are selling it at $2400!!! I literally did hit the wall, and my hand still pains. I was stupid. I could have just hold on the domain!
That's mad. Seems to be pretty standard practice for GoDaddy to make moves like that. I haven't touched them in a few years. I did start using NameCheap but have heard some similar stories about them.
 

Nabix

127.0.0.1
Joined
May 20, 2010
Messages
429
bomb Totally in the same boat. I used to own debatethehate.com for a topic debate forum. Let it go, wanted it back, and now someone bought it and is running a political blog on it and a very under pre-forming forum. :(
 

DigNap15

Adherent
Joined
Sep 14, 2019
Messages
304
Yes I think its unethical of domain name hosts like Go Daddy to buy domain names when they are expired.
Just with the idea of selling them for a profit.
Its should be made illegal
 

overcast

Adherent
Joined
Mar 17, 2019
Messages
486
What I can tell you from monetization angle is that avoid off topic and generic forums. That has not much future any more.
 

DigNap15

Adherent
Joined
Sep 14, 2019
Messages
304
What I can tell you from monetization angle is that avoid off topic and generic forums. That has not much future any more.
What do you mean by off topic.?

I dont agree with you.
I just started a general opinion and politics and general forum here in New Zealand, and I have 1,000 members.
I did not start it to make money, but I have quite a few people offered to make donations and many of them have.
They know I am a one mand band. And I know that if I asked for more donations, some would role in.

Maybe in large countries like the USA and Uk there many be many such sites fighting for a share of the market.
I only have 2 or 3 opposition forums.
 

AlexTheBat

Aspirant
Joined
Apr 21, 2020
Messages
19
I just started a general opinion and politics and general forum here in New Zealand, and I have 1,000 members.
I did not start it to make money, but I have quite a few people offered to make donations and many of them have.
They know I am a one mand band. And I know that if I asked for more donations, some would role in.
I don't think that really counts as an offtopic forum though - your topic IS New Zealand. I think what overcast is talking about is those forums that are just chat boards with no central topic behind them. Just a discussion board not aimed at any specific demographic. Those were real common back before social media replaced them. These days people go to forums for a specific topic - like their country, or a specific programming language or a game they play lots or something like that.
 

FriendlyPerson

Aspirant
Joined
Jun 9, 2020
Messages
33
With all that out there, what's the point in joining your forum? What could your forum possibly offer that those above aren't offering already? And how can you ever expect to do it better?
EXACTLY! I am looking to deploying a forum because this niche of my that I am targeting is the same darn garbage if not worst than what I been at one for so long!
These are the questions you need to be able to answer very explicitly and specifically if you expect people to take the time to register and join yet another site.
Exactly, no one cares about "another site" unless there anything on the offer. It doesn't even need to be in the sense of actual features or whatever. Maybe the policies, moderation, treatment and so on of users could be your selling points or at least part of it. ;)
To follow up on the above post - a niche is important and might help you more than just a "general" web development forum. Maybe you want to target a specific language or an aspect of web development, like themes/design or API or something specific. You would be aiming at a more limited demographic and providing something they wanted and you would have a better chance at actually gaining interested members that way.
To an extent it is possible to dig yourself a rabbit hole this way as well. You definitively to want to drill down but as in person, you don't wanna drill yourself too deep!
 
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