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** Advice For A Beginner - Mistakes You've Made in the Past? **

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  • ** Advice For A Beginner - Mistakes You've Made in the Past? **

    Hi everyone!

    Im currently in the process of starting my own website. My domain is registered and I'm going to be using the vbulletin software.

    My question is to the people who've run internet forums in the past (or still do so), what are some of the mistakes you've made? I know a lot of internet forums fail (more so than succeed) and I wanted to know why? Why is it that some go far while others just stall, and end up going away? Does it take a long time for a site to pick up or is your site's success usually dependent on the first few months?

    Also, how did you attract users? I hate spamming, that's the last thing I'd ever do, what methods did you guys use to get people to come to your website? What was it that made your website possible (if it was, in fact, popular)?

    Thanks a lot and I appreciate the help, hopefully one day I'll be here to answer other people's questions.

    - Brad

  • #2
    Never have more than one administrator unless they have actually chipped in financially. I once had a forum with 4-5 administrators all at once as I was going with a round table type of ruling the community.

    I regret ever doing that. I was the only competent administrator on board.

    To have your forum become a success, you must be able to offer something unique. Create unique and interesting content, make rules that will keep your community friendly to all ages and make sure you show no favortism to any member, no matter how long they have been a member. Everyone should follow the same rules (administrators included)

    Spamming is never going to get you the respect you want for your new forum. Advertise!
    I've been lucky enough to have my forums talked about on TV and on Radio - so that has never actually been a problem for me.
    Last edited by Comtech; Mon 5 Nov '07, 10:17am.


    • #3
      Mistakes I have made in the past are not advertising enough, not posting enough and not putting enough dedication into the forum.

      To attract users, just stand out from your competition. Think of it as a question: Why should someone join your forum over someone else's forum that has the same content as yours does? So to break that down: Be unique.


      • #4
        Thanks for the replies guys, I really appreciate it


        • #5
          I'd say security has to be a top priority also. We have had scenarios where we've had to start all over again due to server software exploits and even vBulletin exploits. It's all too easy to find yourself in this situation, which is why it's very important to make regular backups!

          With regards to the number of administrators you have on your forum, I always suggest having no more than what you actually need. I disagree that you should only have "one" administrator. In my case, our forum wouldn't be able to function or progress properly if it only had one administrator! We have administrators with different skills, and they all contribute to their respective areas. (from moderation team leadership to style design) That said though, you should only give them the permissions which they require in order to perform their duty. (For instance, if you have someone responsible for just administering users, there is no need to give them access to global settings too!)

          For medium to large boards, I also suggest creating policies and procedures for staff to follow. This prevents staff from performing disputable actions, and also increases the chance that users will be treated more fairly.

          As for moderators, I suggest setting their permissions individually. Of course, you should trust them before you recruit them, but there is always the chance that their account could be compromised. On our forum, we disable their ability to "physically delete" threads and posts. This may also be something you could consider, as it's one step you could take to improve the security on your forum.


          • #6
            With an exception to media and popularity sites/forums, every startup will have the growing blues.

            Part of that problem is the community is so new new comers can't judge if it's a place they want to park their day with (there's no unit cohesion, let alone "spirit"). Folks who rush to push content and seed like mad, find that even though the content is very good, visitors stay for about 2 minutes and then leave because there's no "community sense".

            Another issue, forum admins either make too many rules or too little. If the forum has too strict rules, new members will feel that the site staff are Hitlers and would be very eager to censor. The flip side are sites that allow every trashy thing in, including porn for 12 year-olds and language that would make a sailor blush. The best balance I've seen yet has been on a political forum -- it allows everything but the usual spam; security workarounds; copyright and libel limitations. Logic would claim that such a site will self-destruct under too free of a rein, but it's a very vibrant community and frankly never had more fun posting issues that tend to get folks in uber censor mode elsewhere. You feel no one is more special (heck, there's no moderator tags, even), and it's even better when site staff will say, "Oops, you're right, we made a mistake." A community like that is really rare -- if you find one STAY THERE -- especially in the hectic world of politics.

            Yet another issue to contend with that ties in with the above: atmosphere. If your staff, you and your friends come off as Hitlers or "strange" the community will attract the same, but repel the opposite. The result is a site more about your staff, you and your friends than a "community". A site starting off like that will take forever, if ever, to grow as more will leave than stay, as they understand the site isn't about "community" but buds "hanging out". A self-sustaining community with active participation has a full spectrum of members that welcomes them (even if it's a one topic forum). Some you'll enjoy, some you'll shake a fist at, but it mimics society as a whole. A good example of such a site was another political forum I used to partake in. They redesigned their forum, with obvious problems for visitors browsers, but when folks mentioned this they proclaimed "nothing is wrong". That is until the admin's friends chimed in, and then it's a "problem". Today, the site is basically friends hanging out, with the bulk of the posters moving on (site design wasn't the issue, the heart and direction of the forum was, let alone folks saw you'd never get past that wall of denial unless you're a chum).

            So apart from the marketing and coding aspects, sites/forums are a reflection of yourself. If your site is warm and friendly to "outsiders" they'll have a feeling you, and by extension, your staff want them there -- and vice versa. Leadership comes from the top down, so don't expect the community to make itself an Utopia (they're there for their own reasons, and it's not to make your own community for yourself).
            "Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to Authority
            is not using his intelligence, he is just using his memory."
            Leonardo da Vinci


            • #7
              Not a mistake but a suggestion. Stick with your forums long enough so that it's up and running by it's own. Please don't loose heart or interest seeming very low activity even after years of running.


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