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When did your community grow on its own?

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  • When did your community grow on its own?

    I am interested to know how big you believe a forum needs to be to naturally attract enough traffic from search and other searches so that the number of new users signing up exceeded those who faded away. Does there seem to be a certain "tipping point" where a forum becomes more or less self-sustaining?

    Assuming that you are being indexed by search engines and you do an ok job of managing the forum, what do you think are the minimum number of:
    • total users?
    • new registrations per week or month?
    • new posts per day?

    I bet that these numbers are way different for different subjects, but maybe not. What do you think are the biggest things that cost you members? Competition? Bad management? A boring subject?

  • #2
    This is just my opinion but here goes...

    ....the most crucial year for a forum is its first year; if you're still afloat (so to speak) and your board is still active after 12 months, then you're doing good. As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day! To ensure constant traffic, you must update your forum regularly with fresh content. No your niche well, if you have one. Its easier to post fresh content to a 'general forum' but the competition in my opinion on these 'general forums' (as somebody that runs a general forum) is much fiercer. Also, promote, promote, promote! I make use of Youtube, Twitter, Digg, blogspot, Facebook, word-of-mouth, other forums, my network of family, friends etc It varies from forum to forum, with regards to when a board becomes self-sufficient. My site most certainly is not self-sufficient, but its only been open for about 4 months. Our statistics so far are okay:

    Total Users: 636
    Total Posts: 32,696

    I hope to reach 80,000-100,000 posts within my first 12 months - its a tall order, I know. But high aspirations...and all that. Anyway, to recap:

    - Update/Add content daily
    - Promote, promote, promote!
    - Make your forum as personal as you can; a little community is a better concept and feeling for your members than a massive, empty wilderness, so to speak!

    Wayne (www.vanityedge.com if you want to check my site out. Just upgraded to VB RC4, so bear that in mind!)

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    • #3
      One simple tip that has brought lots, and I mean lots of users to my site:

      If you happen to have original pictures from a site or agency that allows you to do so, watermark your pics with your forum's name.

      You won't believe how many people actually does find your site for the first time while looking for a picture.

      My site is in Spanish and has about 900,000 posts and 36,000 threads and we have been around for about 4 years, not the best, not the worst and I pride myself on not allowing two threads of the same topic, that annoyes me big time, why to have the site full of threads talking about the same sxxx if one's good enough, don't mine if reach 1000 pages. Not to mention how crazy is to admin a forum w/o certain discipline.

      I had members since day one, I used to promote my site in another sites of the same content on the very two first months, not the nice thing to do but nobody steals from nobody if what you offers is good enough and there's a place for every forum even though they touch the same topics, every place have their own uniqueness.

      After that the site just went out of my hands and it does has his own life, from where does people come? I don't know, I don't even have a good PR and frankly vbseo has done not much for me but my members keeps bringing more members, this last year I have helped myself, after much consideration bc I didn't like it before, from Tweeter, Word Press and Facebook, still don't like Tweeter but love Facebook and Wordpress and it really does makes for your site in terms of "look and be look", I do take my time and promote my threads and lotsssssssss of time watermarking my pics.

      You need to be consistent with your forum rules, lots of drop downs are from discouraged members.
      You have to have one core theme and I will say another six (max) other themes adjacents that complements each other. You want to be the best forum on your area (or at least try to) you don't want to be covering about 1000 things just to monetize the page at least you have an emporium behind backing you up.

      In my experience the worst thing for any enterprise is bad management, period.

      BTW. Wayne your site's looking fab so far and knowing as I know your forum niche I say hast lottttssss of potential.
      Last edited by barcena; Wed 16 Dec '09, 9:28pm.

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      • #4
        Oh I never thought of watermarking images. That's a good idea!

        And thanks for your kind words barcena

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        • #5
          I dont know that there is ever a good time to quit watering the plants no matter how big they get you still need to water them (analogy) But really ive seen huge huge forums fold overnight. As an Administrator of a large forum on the small side of things. it dosent matter how old or young your forum is, you have to always think in terms of SEO. Make your members use descriptive thread titles. actively seek out links. Unique fresh content is key here and that dosent happen without micro managment no matter how established you think you are. I run a forum that can manage itself in terms of content. but when i left for a cpl of weeks to start a new project, i found the quality of the threads dropped like a rock and my traffic rank slipped from under 800.000 to 1.700.000. Somebody has to keep the members on topic and keep the bad seeds at bay, and watch out for spam. Or your boat is gonna sink like a stone. thats all there is to it.
          Last edited by VonDoom; Thu 17 Dec '09, 5:16pm.

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          • #6
            After one year, here's my stats:

            Threads 8,344 | Posts 96,856 | Members 28,102

            My other site that I've had for 7 years which I am selling has:

            Topics: 23,617, Posts: 243,802, Members: 26,596
            Running vB since 4-14-2002

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            • #7
              ^ Wow! A massive disparity between the two! Congratulations on both though =D

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              • #8
                Mine, going for 6-7 months now i guess: Threads: 5,024, Posts: 117,670, Members: 422

                Christian discussion forum - check it out, it's in the sig.

                It sorta gets self sustaining after about 50k posts i think - something about the number seems to being people in. Dunno what, but i use twitter, dont use vBSEO or any SEO stuff - we get new people every day or so.

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                • #9
                  ^ I think that even after 50k, it's still not self-sufficient. Your Christian forum statistics are very impressive by the way my friend Well done!

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                  • #10
                    My pleasure Wayne!. I agree that there's no security blanket, the smallest of the sites could grown huge overnight just because some important person mention the name and the bigest one can falls, but with consistency you more likely are going to succeed.

                    Agree with the freshnes and originality of the content, also noticed by myself overtime the importance of good thread names, ie. sometimes my members used to post things like "What who she think she is?" and the topic was about a certain celebrity, well my friends that title says nothing and you can't afford it unless you are the NYTimes or such, I learned the hard way and it is way better to actually put "Mary Maria spit on a secretary" could bee less cool but is way more effective in terms of search engines, the who does she think she is lets put it inside. My first two years I didn't even monetized my forum, that less I knew, I didn't even knew how to install a mod, so go figure, it was almost at raw stage, in fact i used the default old vbulletin blue style untill not that long ago, then I knew about Google Adsense, a friend installed for me, with the first money I hired a webmaster and I could have my own customized skin, mods etc, so for me first were the members and then the improvements, that teached me that what matters to my members was the content and the management, the look was the cherry on top of the cake, and I'm saying this been as I am a hugeeee believer of looks, oh well.....

                    When make your way in a company from janitor all the way to the top, you know that enterprise like the palm of your hand.

                    Great advices and great thread, as you all can see sometimes is not about the quantity but the quality
                    Last edited by barcena; Fri 18 Dec '09, 10:25am.

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                    • #11
                      ^ I think that even after 50k, it's still not self-sufficient. Your Christian forum statistics are very impressive by the way my friend Well done!
                      It has been for us really - that being said, we started with almost 100 members straight off. We split from the largest christian forums site on the internet (guess the URL of that) after a major disagreement with the site advisors who basically wanted to destroy our section. So they killed off one of the most active area's of their site. They all ditched to a invasionpowerboard free forum or something, then brought a domain and got some hosting space, i was brought onboard due to technical knowledge (ie, no-one knew how to use/skin vB) and i just stayed and am now one of the three people who seem to be in control of the site. Funny thing is, we got a PM from one of the site advisors telling us to get real techs, but at the moment, our uptime is about 99.8% while they seem to be hovering about 95%. I love it.

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                      • #12
                        ^ Ha that's one way to stick it to them

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                        • #13
                          Basically, it depends on if your focus is on a small area or if it's a general board. My site is geared toward a professional sports team. We branched from another site so we started with a decent base of members, but it wasn't anything that active in the beginning. During the first year though, we were mentioned in Sports Illustrated as a source of information for the team and it turned the site into a big thing. We were slowly growing at that point, but that mention magnified our growth.

                          Now we're three months into our fourth year and seem to be pretty active. I don't do nearly as much promoting as I had done in the first year and a half, but I wouldn't ever stop thinking about using twitter or facebook to help promote it. We do get a lot of traffic from search engines, but to call it "self-sustaining" at any point would be a mistake.

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                          • #14
                            Do you mind posting a link to your site, or private messaging me one? I'd love to check it out!

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