Why do so many new forums have too many sections?

Nev_Dull

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Apr 27, 2010
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2,069
Yes, starting with one category is usually not good, if for no other reason than people expect to see several categories in a forum. Having too many categories isn't good either, because it makes a new forum look empty, which is not inviting. That's why it's important to have a good understanding of the forum topic. With that level of knowledge, you should be able to create a short list of categories within that topic which both engages your target audience and can be broken down into several more specific categories as the membership and content grows.
 

we_are_borg

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Jan 25, 2011
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Project t i work on has many forums but its all topic related, we did not want to move topics later to correct forums. Many other forums are hidden because we do development and graphics and much more. We have around 25 to 30 volunteers at the moment that communicate trough slack, email, facebook, twitter etc this is all going to be transferred to forum (except development), so each department has its own forum and group. Also we are looking for another 150+ volunteers.
 

dojo

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The answer is pretty simple: people take big forums as an inspiration and try to mimic what they do. Most don't know that probably some of these giants started with 3-4 categories the most and then they branched out. Another reason might be that it's pretty time consuming to start new categories after a while and then select / move tens of threads.
 

DigNap15

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It looks bad if you have lots of empty categories!
I have an opposition site, and they have more categories than me, and most are empty.
 

bomb

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Mar 19, 2017
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I think it totally depends on the nature of your forum. For example a forum for schools, will force you to have a general section. And a additional section dedicated to each school. Mine is still ne, I haven't even finished populating the schools. See: comradepower.com

I borrowed the idea from thestudentroom.co.uk, which is a successful forum with loads and loads sections.
 

Questlot

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Apr 23, 2019
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Some people what many forum categories because some feels it makes the forum looks busy. Though for my own Business forum, I have more than 12 categories and it has been busy with post.
 

Bengie

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I don't think the problem with new forums is too many or too little forums, the first main worry has to be 'how to get members'.
 

LeadCrow

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the first main worry has to be 'how to get members'.
Even that is overzealous. You should only establish forums if theres already a community whose participation there you can immediately gain.

As for how to strengthen operations, we feel a forum should first focus on gaining repeat visitors before hoping to convert them into more particpants. A lot of failing forums' landing pages are nothing but the forum index - its no wonder noone feels like exploring or joining.
A curated landing page with recent or quality content would help significantly improve a reader's first impression. The processes involved also improve staff's ability to cohesively work together towards goals that transcend spam cleaning and acting smug toward the peasants members.
 

DigNap15

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Even that is overzealous. You should only establish forums if theres already a community whose participation there you can immediately gain.

As for how to strengthen operations, we feel a forum should first focus on gaining repeat visitors before hoping to convert them into more particpants. A lot of failing forums' landing pages are nothing but the forum index - its no wonder noone feels like exploring or joining.
A curated landing page with recent or quality content would help significantly improve a reader's first impression. The processes involved also improve staff's ability to cohesively work together towards goals that transcend spam cleaning and acting smug toward the peasants members.
Thats a great suggestion
Can you point us to any forums that do this?
 

Oldsmoboi

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Mar 24, 2009
Messages
572
Even old forums! At 19 years old, I find my forum has section creep.... so I take a look through and consolidate sections every once in a while. For example, I don't really need separate sections for Saab, Pontiac, and Mercury anymore, so I think it's time to do another sweep.
 

Ryan Ashbrook

IPS Developer
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Jan 26, 2004
Messages
3,535
Even old forums! At 19 years old, I find my forum has section creep.... so I take a look through and consolidate sections every once in a while. For example, I don't really need separate sections for Saab, Pontiac, and Mercury anymore, so I think it's time to do another sweep.
Yeah - sometimes I take a look at some backups of old sites I ran (10+ years ago, and then they were about three or four years old) and realize how many of the forums I had could be condensed down. Some forums could have even be converted into entirely different sections of the site, as they weren't really for discussions but rather served a specific purpose.
 

Oldsmoboi

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This is what I ended up doing from this post. I documented all the changes and explained it to my users. Probably still more sweeping to do.
 

DigNap15

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This is what I ended up doing from this post. I documented all the changes and explained it to my users. Probably still more sweeping to do.
Thats good skills to explain the changes, it takes a bit of work, but its good pr
 

simplegirl74

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Sep 5, 2015
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I try to keep it condensed until I see a need for more. Getting anyone to join and post these days against Facebook is often like pulling teeth because it is such a habit to go and spend your time directly there. Maybe some feel if they "have it all" it will entice people to come and join and to hopefully fill those spaces.
 

DigNap15

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I try to keep it condensed until I see a need for more. Getting anyone to join and post these days against Facebook is often like pulling teeth because it is such a habit to go and spend your time directly there. Maybe some feel if they "have it all" it will entice people to come and join and to hopefully fill those spaces.
On a forum you can be private, and your boss cannot see what you say, and a Forum does not mine your data info!
 

simplegirl74

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Sep 5, 2015
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On a forum you can be private, and your boss cannot see what you say, and a Forum does not mine your data info!
Exactly! Wait until October when they clap down one even more censoring I'll be glad when they do hopefully my Facebook group members see my point then.
 

DebateIt

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Sep 12, 2020
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Some forums just by the nature of their theme need more categories and forum areas. For example if you have a motor vehicle forum it would not go down well if you excluded some of the models of that range, thus more areas are needed. Then on top of these you need your support forums for tech questions, modifications, possibly ride outs and road trips.

These types of forums are a hard one to start as they do require huge amounts of work to get them going even in their very basic forms.
 

haqzore

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Dec 6, 2012
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2,425
Some forums just by the nature of their theme need more categories and forum areas. For example if you have a motor vehicle forum it would not go down well if you excluded some of the models of that range, thus more areas are needed. Then on top of these you need your support forums for tech questions, modifications, possibly ride outs and road trips.

These types of forums are a hard one to start as they do require huge amounts of work to get them going even in their very basic forms.
Your thought process is valid, but still flawed I think.

There are many solutions besides just adding more sub-forums. Tags, thread prefixes, etc etc. And until activity is so high it's hard to navigate efficiently - these are often far more effective and user-friendly than a bunch of sub-forums (in my experience).
 

DigNap15

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There are many solutions besides just adding more sub-forums. Tags, thread prefixes, etc etc. And until activity is so high it's hard to navigate efficiently - these are often far more effective and user-friendly than a bunch of sub-forums (in my experience).
That sounds very interesting
Could you please point us to some forums that do that?
 
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