Why do so many new forums have too many sections?

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cheat_master30

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I never got this, or why this trend is still a thing. I mean, articles have said not to have too many boards on your forum since the idea of a forum became a thing. The topic has been discussed on sites like TAZ for years. It's been a fixture in site reviews since time immemorial.

Yet people still seem to make this basic mistake. They open up a forum, add hundreds of empty sections, then wonder why nothing gets posted in them.

Is there something I'm missing here? Are forum and site owners just naturally disposed to adding far too many sections on their sites?
 

Danielx64

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Maybe the admin haven't really done their homework or research? You would be surprise how many time that would happen :)
 

.Rogue

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I think it's all about trying to appeal to the masses and if anything is left out they may feel that some people will not register.
 

LeadCrow

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"The huge forum I was comfortable at had this many sections. I cannot be comfortable on my new site if it lacks them."

Word.
 

Adam H

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When has it become a thing ? I've seen it mentioned on Taz a couple of times and yes in some community reviews but who actually done the analysis to say its "bad" for a certain community ?

Yes it maybe bad for some and yes some forums make hard work of it and over do it, but you can not categorically say that its bad full stop, you have no idea of their marketing plan, you have no idea of the reasons why they've done it. Empty categories are bad, but if there is a plan to change that and keep things active then no problem.

I can tell you now I manage a forum which gets 20% of its traffic to a category via natural search and it has a grand total of 13 threads in it that rarely get replies and rarely get updated. Through user flow you can clearly see the traffic coming to the site to that category actually convert into more registrations than most of the active categories.

In my opinion its dependant on the community and what the plan is, I certainly wouldnt say its a "thing". Especially when you look at who has written these invisible rules.
 

mysiteguy

Migration Expert
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I've done the analysis on forums I've taken over. I've done conversion and post count testing, where there's an immediate jump after consolidating sections into few sections. As traffic picks up I split them back out. I never had to consolidate forums on sites I started, because I won't start a section until traffic justifies it.

It's all about the long standing wisdom of the restaurant industry: no one wants to eat at empty restaurant. Its why one of the common tactics they use is to invite friends and family over for free or discounted meals, so the parking lot will have cars in it.

While there are exceptions to the rule, I've seen it work as a general rule since the mid 1990s.
 

Empire

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When you try to run before you can walk, that's what happens.
 

Solidus

Stupid machines!
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If you have a section for everything, there's something for everyone. Nobody has a reason not to sign up.

^That's the thought process.
 

LeadCrow

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If you have a section for everything, there's something for everyone.
If sections could be considered discussions...
Many webmasters seem to consider having many sections as holding power of suggestion, but technically it shouldn't be much different from tags, or tag clouds.

In fact, the very idea of "sections" as storage location for topics increasingly makes less sense, especially as the necessity of better categorization and placement of topics across multiple sections grows clearer and tags offer an (insufficient) alternative, albeit it's used in less proeminent locations (within threads, on thread listings, or the search page), and almost never on a forum index except as part of a tag cloud. Unlike sections whose content needs to be moved in and out as maintainance claims dead sections, a tag-based listings could have their categorization depromoted at no penalty with no need for moves.
 

GPtuners

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"The huge forum I was comfortable at had this many sections. I cannot be comfortable on my new site if it lacks them."

Word.
It was kind of this for me. I knew I didn't want 50 subforums, but I still made 10+ when 4-5 would have probably sufficed.

I've already consolidated a bit.
 

Shawn Gossman

Tazmanian Master
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Dec 16, 2005
Messages
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I don't think it's a bad thing anymore as long as each section is getting activity. If a section isn't getting any posts for months to years, then an admin should consider dropping or merging that section. I experiment with my sections for a while, see how people will use them and then decide their fate. On newer forums, I do tend to try to keep the amounts few but I still add more sections than a lot of people to cover all the topics and try to spark content ideas for both myself and the end-user.
 

DJ Omnimaga

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May 12, 2016
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Often people thinks that many sections will make their board look bigger and with more content, except that if the sub-forums lacks content then it actually does the opposite. Plus with so many sections the content is spread out and the board looks smaller. Having multiple sections remain empty is not very professional.

Make a few sections that covers multiple topics, then if that section grows large enough then split it. You can also split sections based on demand.
 

GPtuners

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Has anyone here started a forum with a single big node, then just split them out over time?

Or is it always a few?
 

HostWinds

Neophyte
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May 24, 2016
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I guess people get excited in the fact that they have their own forum and want to talk about so much stuff they create a large amount topics and then know one will post in them. Then they wonder why It's so slow.
 

cpvr

Tazmanian Master
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Sep 17, 2005
Messages
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I never got this, or why this trend is still a thing. I mean, articles have said not to have too many boards on your forum since the idea of a forum became a thing. The topic has been discussed on sites like TAZ for years. It's been a fixture in site reviews since time immemorial.

Yet people still seem to make this basic mistake. They open up a forum, add hundreds of empty sections, then wonder why nothing gets posted in them.

Is there something I'm missing here? Are forum and site owners just naturally disposed to adding far too many sections on their sites?
I'll never understand why new forum owners do this. It's kind of pointless and will won't actually help your attract new forums. Personally, I'll always open up with 2-4 forums only and once my new online community starts getting more daily posters, more traffic, then I'll start introducing more forums. Other than that, nope.
 

Joeychgo

TAZ Administrator
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Feb 28, 2004
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6,956
Mostly its admin inexperience. They try to cover too many bases at once --- its better to be more focused.
 

LeadCrow

Apocalypse Admin
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Jun 29, 2008
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Maybe forums should follow Reddit in their approach to sections.
Make a few the default selection for everyone, and creation of new ones (by staff?) optional to cater to niche interests.
Eventually, sections merge and the default selection gets switched around to include the most active sections.

Having the option to ignore sections is nearly pointless when all users are by default exposed to too much fluff.
 

-MFL-

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Aug 20, 2016
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I used to be a member of a forum with just couple of sections. The same subjects reproduced to new chains again and again because nobody could find the old message chain from that box of everything.

We established a new rivalling forum with many sections. The oldskool dudes from that old forum didn't get the clue. They kept saying our new forum is too complicated and the old one is as it should be.

Now 5 years have passed and the old forum is slowly fading away. Seems that the majority opinion is that it is almost impossible to find anything from the old forum.
 

lostone1

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Jul 25, 2016
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Simply one reason - We like the content and want others to share their content.
 
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