I would like to set my forum in a way that "guests" can only view the categories listed in the Home page/Board index but not able to read the thread contents. If possible, I would prefer letting the guests view the subject/thread titles within the categories but not able to read the thread contents.
I have tinkered with the settings but haven't been successful in achieving a desired result. Is there a way I can achieve this goal? In my old Webs forums it way very straight forward; categories could either be set to viewed by everyone or members only.
Thanks in advance for your help.
There's no way in SMF itself to let people see things they can't access, though there are a couple of mods that can do this, e.g. View Only Boards.
The problem with doing this is that if guests can't see it, neither can search engines, and instead of encouraging people to register, they tend to just go elsewhere...
Are you sure you want to do that? It would kill your search rankings as the crawlers wouldn't be able to see any content either.
Edit: ninja'd by Arantor.
I was able to set up the Home page in a way that allows guests to view a few categories only but allows logged in members to see all of them. This arrangement isn't what I'm really after and was hoping that I could let guests view all the categories, including the thread titles but not the threads contents.
Regarding the crawlers: Since I created my SMF website, I have been getting bombarded daily by spammers trying to sign up every day. 100% of the spammers trying to sign up are from overseas. I found this rather odd since my website is a community-based message board. I looked at the crawlers that are in my website and discovered a bunch of search engines that I never heard of before. Most of them are from overseas. Do you have an idea why international crawlers are snooping around a small community message board?
QuoteDo you have an idea why international crawlers are snooping around a small community message board?
Because it's there. Crawlers don't care what it is that much, only that it exists and is crawlable.
Spammers in particular really don't care as long as they can pump their spam (spamming costs very little, it doesn't take many people to click on some spam before it's made its costs back)
QuoteThis arrangement isn't what I'm really after and was hoping that I could let guests view all the categories, including the thread titles but not the threads contents.
What benefit do you hope to gain by doing this?
"What benefit do you hope to gain by doing this?"
I had two goals in mind:
Control who gets to see what is posted.
Letting guests see all the topics titles may entice them to sign up and participate.
So you're using it essentially as a stick to beat guests into registering... they won't. They'll just go elsewhere unless the content they can see (of which there won't be an awful lot) is so good and unique that they can't get some kind of replacement elsewhere.
Who's going to find and visit a forum that just turns up as a series of links in Google? Even with serious word of mouth you're going to have a massive attrition rate.
In a way, yes. We have a regular group that consistently contributes to the forum and a large group of lurkers that enjoy the content but for some reason don't want to contribute. I thought if they got past the hurdle of registering they may be more inclined to post.
If they're not interested in contributing as it is, making it even harder to contribute is just going to push them away, not encourage them to post.
And it'll likely result in a drop of new people finding your forum by closing content off to search engines like Google.
Thanks for all of your help and advice. I now have a much better understanding how SMF and search engines work.
Well, it's not specific to SMF; that same logic applies to any forum software - if you hide it from guests, they're just going to go elsewhere. The principle of the path of least resistance is just as true for paid systems as it is for SMF ;)
If the idea is to turn lurkers into contributors, there are probably better ways than shutting it off to guests. Consider offering some sort of "premium content" to contributors (not necessarily to $ payers). You could have a certain section of the forum open only to those with a minimum post count, or perhaps free downloads available (look at the various Portals). Just be careful not to close off so much that you discourage searchers or drive away all the lurkers. Carrot, not stick.
It has been my experience while searching in Google for certain topics to come across forums with content related to my search, but often times the only way to access the content is by sign in. How can the Google crawler index the info if it's a members only forum and closed to lurkers?
It has been known for search engines to see content guests cannot - but with the Panda update to Google, they started really penalising sites that do it (though I'd note that they were penalising some sites before)