The Simple Things

Gene

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The Simple Things

There are certain things you never hear about when the question is asked: "How do I create and manage a succesfull discussion forum?" Details, so small and yet so important, that people sometimes don't even give them a thought can mean the success or failure of a forum. Sure, we've all been told to hire the correct staff members, use an appropriate and eye appealing design, but what about simple things such as promoting profile use and actively talking with your users over an instant message system? You might think they mean nothing, but being a tactical administrator myself (who managed to bring up a forum with 80,000 posts in 5 months), I beg to differ. If you draw in the guests, then you have yourself an advantage.

I'm going to lay out a small formula for sucess. Mind you, it won't involve the major concepts that are constantly thrown in your face, but instead the "minor" side of it all. There is no reason for me to tell you the same thing, now is there?

Profiles, Avatars, Mods, & Profiles
This goes hand to hand with a "community feel", but instead of talking about keep friendships intact on forums and things such as that, I'm focusing in on the users using their profiles more often and giving "life" to their accounts. With the exception of communities where signatures are frowned upon by the people at large, an administrator should do his or her best to promote the use of profiles. This can be done several ways; some of the easiest being asking them to over IM or PM, or opening a portion of the site to signature requests, or even making a single topic linking to several image sites (that are approriate for avatars). Guests tend to think that users with profiles and standard avatars/signatures plan to stay longer, while users without much identity are just drifting through. Think for yourself. What is the main point of having an avatar? To give more identity. If a forum lacks avatars, it lacks identity does it not? I think so, and I think you'll come to find most guests do aswell.

To give the forum life, is to give yourself more registrations. So we have to think for a second. What can we do to a forum to make it more lively? For one, active shoutboxes (appropriately used & sized) tend to draw conversations on more personal levels, and seem to be a lot more care free. Guests enjoy this sense of calm and easyness, because it tends to give them the idea that if they sign up, they'll instantly be part of the forum. Of course, this also...

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