How do you keep your forum active?

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TechieGeek
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Re: How do you keep your forum active?

Post by TechieGeek »

incredibleasia wrote:
Fri May 08, 2020 7:16 pm
It is an old topic but still let me ask again the same question. In the times of Instagram and FB groups forums became much less popular and active and of course it makes me sad. Some of members even think that it is not a good idea to keep a forum now-a-days, it is better to start FB group instead. What do you think about it? Are there some ways which can keep a forum active? What can be added to the site? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
My friends and I wanted to start a site about home improvement, and we extensively discussed whether to do a blog or forum format. We felt that the forum format was better for two reasons:

1) It allowed us to create content that was more conversational; we have these conversations in group messages all day long anyhow, why not use that conversation to create content?

2) It allows others to help create content on the site once it grows, far more than a blog + comments would.

I think #1 is really important, and it actually works, as we see even on this particular thread here.

Regarding activity: I think keeping your board active daily and spreading the word through your friends are both really important. Our home improvement forum started with three people, but as I mentioned to others that I was starting this up, they miraculously began posting as well. As long as the conversation kept flowing and remained interesting, people got in the habit of checking back and posting daily.

One last point that I don't see here enough: I think it's important to lower the barrier to entry as much as possible when you're first starting out. For example, we don't require folks to register in order to make a post, and we don't even require guests to solve a CAPTCHA thanks to ReCaptcha 3. For example, someone can land on our conversation about avocado slicers and pitch in with thoughts without needing to verify an email, set a password, etc.

PS: Focus on the quality of content, not the quantity. People are way more attracted to a forum with high quality discussions than a forum with a high post count. Post count doesn't matter, interesting discussions do! I wrote the first long-form article on my forum on the topic of optimizing your home WiFi network, and I intend to do many more like this. Think of tutorials / guides you can put on your site, and write those as long-form posts. I feel way better about spending an hour writing this vs. spending an hour creating 10 other lightweight posts.

incredibleasia
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Re: How do you keep your forum active?

Post by incredibleasia »

Hello, thanks for your detailed response. Let me explain more what is worried me for the last few years. Actually my forum exists already for 15 years and it has a very specific content. Not everyone can fit and might be interested. It used to be very active in the beginning but let's say 3-4 years ago a lot of our active members shifted to Instagram or FB and they find it more comfortable and faster to use. The activity on the forum dropped down and it came to the point that I thought to close it but someone some members who are still visiting the site and find it interesting convinced me to give it a try for one more year. The main question is still there, how to make it as active as it used to be? I can't force our members to log in to the forum if they are using Instagram instead. I decided to add direct log in via Facebook to increase the registrations but not sure that it will help. I spend quite a lot of time on the forum and try to keep it interesting, I invite a lot of members to join the site, they join but don't add anything themselves that's why I am really confused what else can be done.

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erelash_mf
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Re: How do you keep your forum active?

Post by erelash_mf »

There are many advantages to a forum site. facebook is so complex today that the chaos of information and the fact that information disappears over time is hard to find. A forum site is a forum where information is discussed in an orderly manner. I'm sure the forum site will regain its strength soon. Because I first used a forum site and then I used facebook, but now I feel like facebook is shit. I'm now developing 3 forum sites, don't worry, everything will be fine.

MFC.mn

Holger
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Re: How do you keep your forum active?

Post by Holger »

FB is no alternative to a forum. You cannot find content of FB-groups on Google for example. The discussions on FB are a MESS.

The way to success for a forum is to listen closely to what your members want and what they find difficult. If they find the image posting too difficult, then do something about it! I have invested a LOT of money in custom programming for my forums over the past 17 years. But it pays out in the end.
We have customized the image posting, the registration procedure and many other areas where users where struggeling.

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erelash_mf
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Re: How do you keep your forum active?

Post by erelash_mf »

Install a quality extension on your forum site, as well as a clear, simple, easy-to-use theme and style installation. I used imgur on the photo upload side and I liked it. Also installed facebook Comments - Social Plugins, and post like button, social login, social share ext. In general, you need to think of yourself as a consumer and make improvements.

Holger
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Re: How do you keep your forum active?

Post by Holger »

I on the other hand never trust external resources. Image and file upload only to my own servers. We even have a tool to transfer external posted images to our own server (the user can deny this while posting).
And my users hate social plugins.
So, listen closely to your users.
Even though there are FB-groups with similar content my forums statistics is showing better numbers each month.

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erelash_mf
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Re: How do you keep your forum active?

Post by erelash_mf »

I think Forum users are approximately 30-50 years old. People under the age of 30 are not familiar with the forum site, they always use fb and instagram. Because it's a little complicated to use, they grew up using fb and instagram, and fb instagram makes them stupid.

incredibleasia
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Re: How do you keep your forum active?

Post by incredibleasia »

Holger wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 7:09 am
FB is no alternative to a forum. You cannot find content of FB-groups on Google for example. The discussions on FB are a MESS.

The way to success for a forum is to listen closely to what your members want and what they find difficult. If they find the image posting too difficult, then do something about it! I have invested a LOT of money in custom programming for my forums over the past 17 years. But it pays out in the end.
We have customized the image posting, the registration procedure and many other areas where users where struggeling.
I completely agree with you but somehow a lot of people prefer FB groups. when I invite someone to the forum, the first question is: "Is your forum on FB, if so, then we will join."
I always ask my members what they find difficult that's why I did very big changes one year ago. First I moved my forum from SMF to phpbb, made responsive mobile theme so it is easier to use forum from mobile phones. Also I added direct image uploading as our members always complained about it. Now I need to add automatic image compressing and make registration easier as members became so lazy even to register themselves. What I really need to add but as I understood it is not easy the ability to translate the whole site to English as most of it is in Russian and I want our non Russian members will be able to participate in all topics. After I did so many changes our members still prefer FB or Instagram, they find it easier and more comfortable.

incredibleasia
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Re: How do you keep your forum active?

Post by incredibleasia »

erelash_mf wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 5:40 am
There are many advantages to a forum site. facebook is so complex today that the chaos of information and the fact that information disappears over time is hard to find. A forum site is a forum where information is discussed in an orderly manner. I'm sure the forum site will regain its strength soon. Because I first used a forum site and then I used facebook, but now I feel like facebook is shit. I'm now developing 3 forum sites, don't worry, everything will be fine.

MFC.mn
I really hope that forum will be popular again but what I can see everyone is using Instagram and whatt'sApp groups as they can get the answer fast over there. I have FB groups myself and I really hate them, they are not active and also it is not easy to find something. Do you really think that forums will be popular again?

incredibleasia
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Re: How do you keep your forum active?

Post by incredibleasia »

erelash_mf wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 7:43 am
I think Forum users are approximately 30-50 years old. People under the age of 30 are not familiar with the forum site, they always use fb and instagram. Because it's a little complicated to use, they grew up using fb and instagram, and fb instagram makes them stupid.
Totally agree, I can see that they don't know anything about forums and find them too complicated. They don't even press any extra button so I don't know how to make such members to use forums and if it is even possible to attract them to join.

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Lumpy Burgertushie
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Re: How do you keep your forum active?

Post by Lumpy Burgertushie »

unfortunately we may have to just give up on that generation.
:lol:

robert

TechieGeek
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Re: How do you keep your forum active?

Post by TechieGeek »

incredibleasia wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 8:45 am
erelash_mf wrote:
Fri May 15, 2020 7:43 am
I think Forum users are approximately 30-50 years old. People under the age of 30 are not familiar with the forum site, they always use fb and instagram. Because it's a little complicated to use, they grew up using fb and instagram, and fb instagram makes them stupid.
Totally agree, I can see that they don't know anything about forums and find them too complicated. They don't even press any extra button so I don't know how to make such members to use forums and if it is even possible to attract them to join.
Let's not kid ourselves though, forum software is complicated. You have to learn BBcode and it's not intuitive, have you seen how difficult it is to understand how to create a bulleted list? You can't easily upload photos (you have to resize them so they're small enough, you have to understand the difference between uploading one as an attachment vs. embedding a photo URL, you can't resize photos inline / can't have attachments inline side-by-side).

incredibleasia
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Re: How do you keep your forum active?

Post by incredibleasia »

To be honest to use forum itself for the users not difficult at all, I would say much easier than FB groups or Instagram, you can find everything easy and everything is structured. About uploading pictures I am going to add image compressor and it will resize the pictures automatically. I think it is very important to have as many members complain that they have resize pictures first.

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