5 Common Mistakes You Should Avoid When Creating A New Forum

Discussion in 'Articles' started by karoshio, Dec 1, 2011.

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  1. karoshio Administrator

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    When creating a new forum there are many things that you must consider. These can be things anywhere from the niche, the theme, your target audience or even the domain name. Of course there’s a few only a few things we consider upon creating a new forum. Many of these things are decided quite fast and can work out perfectly but from my experience in forum administration and watching other communities develop I have noticed 5 big mistakes that are becoming more and more common every day.

    Too Many Forums
    One of the biggest issues and most common things I see if new forum owners doing is creating way too many different forums. There are a lot of reasons behind this and from personal experience I can understand a lot of them. You may feel your forum needs branched out discussion or in a lot of cases you won’t even see yourself as having made a lot of forums.
    In reality though creating a large amount of forums will only lead to one thing and that is that many of these forums will not get enough posts in them and in return will make your community look far less active than it really is. By combining appropriate forums and taking out any that really are not needed it will make your job of populating the forums with content much easier and give new members the impression your forum is far more active.
    Once your forum is a few months old and you have a good group of active members it will let you see what forums are getting used and which aren’t. At this point you will know if you need to remove, merge or even split the current forums.

    Inactive Staff
    The next biggest mistake in creating a new forum is inactive staff members. This one is actually very simple, if you and other staff members do not create new topics daily as well as posting in others topics you will not establish an active community. New members love to see an admin or other staff members posting, it shows that they are there because they want to be and enjoy discussing different things amongst members and not just there because they want to own a forum and have an important title.
    I personally find this to be the most important thing during the first months of any forum.

    Too Many Staff Members
    This is a huge mistake I see in a lot of new forums these days and that is hiring far too many staff members. In reality if you’re creating a new forum and you plan to really dedicate yourself to it then up until you have at least a few hundred members and 5000+ posts you should be able to handle all staff duties yourself. I am not saying up until that point you should not hire anyone else but that is just an indicator of general staffing needs. Up until that point if you have more than 1 moderator and 1 other admin besides yourself then you are over staffed in my opinion.
    Depending on your niche and what your forum offers you may need more but if you’re at the kind of point I mentioned above and you have something like 5 moderators and 4 admins then you’re just going way overboard. There is no reason for that. Hire staff as you feel they’re needed, when things become too much for you to handle alone not just for the sake of doing so.

    Ugly Ads
    Now to be fair I will say that this has not been as common in my eyes lately but is definitely a big problem for new forums. This problem is displaying too many big ugly ads in the hope of earning some extra revenue. I, like any other admin loves gaining some extra revenue but you must think of your users. If you want to display a couple ads on your forum then you should go ahead and do so but first think long and hard about where they should be placed. You may notice a lot of your regular members will not mind if they enjoy they community but one of the most off putting things for someone visiting your forum for the first time will be seeing these giant banner ads all over the place. I guarantee you that over 50% of the time this will result in them closing the page in under 5 seconds.
    So do yourself and your users a favor and put some time and effort into creating specific areas for ads that do not get in the way of anything.

    Useless Plugins/Add-ons
    With every new forum regardless of the software you choose there are always a bunch of plugins/add-ons that you will want to install but before doing so really think about it. Think to yourself if it will benefit the community, if it has a real purpose or it is just something you think is “cool”. Remember that just because another big forum is using it does not mean you need to do the same. I see far too many new forums installing 20+ plugins/add-ons within the first hour and in reality only 2-3 of them are actually doing anything to benefit the community. In conclusion about the use of plugins/add-ons just keep in mind that these have been designed to improve your forum and if they aren’t going to do this then there is absolutely no reason to install them, they are only going to slow down your forum in the end.

    In conclusion, if you avoid these 5 common and very simple mistakes then your forum is going to have have a much better chance of succeeding in not just the beginning but in the future.

  2. UmiNoor New Member

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    As a regular forum visitor and poster, I actually don't mind seeing ads in a forum but when the ads are too glaring or when I can't even navigate through the forum without being interrupted by ads, I would be quite annoyed. You're right, ads need to be placed artfully so that it won't interfere with member's participation and enjoyment of the forum. We forum visitors also understand that forum owners need to earn revenue so we don't mind the ads that much but just do it in a tasteful manner.

  3. Amdac Member

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    I'm guilty of this. I currently have 3 forums on the go and it has become a bit too much to handle. As a result I've temporarily stopped promoting one of them and am still struggling to balance efforts between the other two.

  4. karoshio Administrator

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    This is exactly why I have all my ads in the sidebar and footer so it doesn't affect the view of the actual forums, threads, posts, etc. :)

    To be completely honest this refers to too many categories/forums and not actual forum but it raises a good put that this can definitely be taken both ways and makes perfect sense both ways. Kudos to you. :)

  5. SirMoo New Member

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    I don't think you're going far enough with this. You've mentioned bad placement... But not content related, or type of ads. Banner and skyscraper ads have become the normal, acceptable standard. Personally, I prefer placement of ads right after he first post and then no more.

    But the thing that truly pisses me off are flash ads and untargeted advertising. Search for a way to target your audience and give them ads they want... not random crap.

  6. karoshio Administrator

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    I can't deny you make a great point there and I completely agree about the ads that flash a lot, they're just horrid.

  7. XLawlessBaronX Moderator

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    Yes true i am in the process of clearing my forum out right now

  8. Anthony Ciulla Administrator

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    Or, to much spam.

  9. hickorycottage New Member

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    This is a great article. I'm thinking about adding a forum to my website, do I think I'll bookmark this page for future reference. Thank you!

  10. dojo Active Member

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    Excellent thread and tips. Here is my top5:

    1. not planning well - I see a lot of admins who jump into a niche with no preparation at all. I am preaching to the choir a little, since I used to do the same thing years ago. As you can guess, many forums fell flat in weeks.
    2. not securing a budget - those nice golden days, when you'd make it with no money are gone. Domain names cost, hosting costs, even if a little. You should consider a proper script and that's pricey. Not to mention having to pay for 'extras' such a custom design, content creation or promotion.
    3. not promoting enough - the best way to promote is to be a good forum member. I personally am present in MOST admin/promotion/webmaster forums possible. In some I have accounts since 2004. The idea is to be noted. Provide good replies and threads, let people see you know your stuff and you'll get a constant stream of targeted traffic.
    4. not providing enough activity in the forums - starting out with 10 threads and expecting members to do your work is the sure way to an empty forum. Always be there, come up with nice ideas for threads, post articles, make your community feel you're alive and kicking.
    5. not being consistent - I see so many forums that start with a 'bang' and get sold within 1-3 months since they started out. Some webmasters go out to conquer the world and then, when they see how much work it takes, they just give up. Be prepared to work like nuts and be consistent. That's the secret to success.
    karoshio likes this.

  11. ZINC Member

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    Good thread. When opening my next forum which is a coding and design one I will open with two moderators for each main section. Other than that I don't need any more or less for it to run smoothly!

  12. Raderyx Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions! I removed quite a bit of my forums since it is kind of hard running it! Very useful tips!
    karoshio likes this.

  13. Shole Member

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    About the too many staff members thing it really depends on the niche of your forum. Example like a promotion forum needs more staff members then a general forum a gaming forum needs more moderators because of known habit of gamer's to spam the forum if they get angry at something. All in all great tips I had written a similar tutorial on the topic and I can say that if you follow the tips you stated the forum should do well . The biggest error people make those days is with Boards and categories you just cant start a forum with too many boards that's often seen to new admins even some experienced admins do it but that effects the forum in a negative way because it a)Looks inactive b)No Posts=No new members

  14. Atlaerom Member

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    My old forum started amazingly when it came to great posts/topics.
    Members were posting NOVELS of relevant ramblings.

    Two years later. Spam hut. :(

    Can't ignore your post, even if it was simple, at all.

  15. Shole Member

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    You should have do something against spam its not that hard to stop it :)

  16. Atlaerom Member

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    It's hard to explain but in our case it was harder to stop than you'd think.
    It wasn't spam, per se to begin with. It was more, the nature of topics popping up was not to the standard that they were for so long. We didn't predict to decline that the forums took as a whole. :(

  17. BeautifulAngel Member

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    Great tips and really good article!

    Thank you for your tips as well Jojo!

    Very helpful and I shall make sure not to do those things in the future!

  18. makeithappen Member

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    I have to fully agree with too many staff members... that REALLY scares people away!

  19. Fred Thomas New Member

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    Thanks for sharing such a post and It will be very useful for the new comers.

  20. DesignPerform New Member

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    Thanks for the helpful info.. too much spammers are always the problem :)

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