How to build a successful forum

Started by Noddegamra, August 23, 2007, 09:47:41 AM

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Aleksi "Lex" Kilpinen

In a way I fully understand, if that is the only thing to get you started, then you do that.
But I'd personally prefer drafting some friends to get things started, or try to think of some content of my own that could be of interest for others..

But to each their own. I only think, that paid posters tend to be easy to recognise, and can hurt your forum more than they ever helped...
"Before you allow people access to your forum, especially in an administrative position, you must be aware that that person can seriously damage your forum. Therefore, you should only allow people that you trust, implicitly, to have such access." -Douglas

How you can help SMF


I understand your concerns, this was a something I had to consider. I brought this concern up with the company that I am going to use. I asked them how do I know I will have unique posters and not just one person with multiple ids as you said.

He asked for my url and said to check the stats in about 5 minutes. I did and at that time, there was 14 guest max at one time with people constantly coming in and out for about 15-30 minutes on my page.

I think I trust this place to bring me unique posters.


so you pay for some people to come post on your site, and let's assume they do a really good job talking about the content etc, and the other members enjoy replying to their posts unaware that they are actually being paid to post there and not because they want to be there, and one day you cancel your paid poster package and those people are suddenly just gone from the forum.

1. what does that do to the regular members and the community now that those posters are just no longer there and members are asking - hey where's so and so, I miss his posts
2. what happens if the regular members find out that the people whose posts they have been enjoying are actually being paid to post there and they're not

I think it's a bad idea and it is a little like cheating as LexArma said above.  I thought the idea of a forum community was to actually build a community, which doesnt happen overnight.  Otherwise we may as well provide smf forums complete with posts out of the box instead of empty.  - hey maybe that's not a bad idea lol   Then you sit back and wait for google to find you along with all the other sites with exactly the same content lol

I don't use ads on my forum either, because I hate going to forums/sites that are covered in ads, or free sites where you have no choice.  I *do* use ad managment mod but I don't use it for Ads :)

Content is what you need, unique content is getting harder to do, but something that would interest people and inspire them to join and help build your community.


i would like someone to point me in the right direction to creat my own forum. to set it up. i have so many quetions that need answering. who can help me with this please?

i realise it will cost. installation, tutorials. etc......

Aleksi "Lex" Kilpinen

Quote from: Crusti on April 25, 2008, 06:15:12 AM
i would like someone to point me in the right direction to creat my own forum. to set it up. i have so many quetions that need answering. who can help me with this please?

i realise it will cost. installation, tutorials. etc......
First thing you need, is a suitable host. A host who offers php and mysql support.

Some links that might come in handy:
Installing SMF
Administration Center
"Before you allow people access to your forum, especially in an administrative position, you must be aware that that person can seriously damage your forum. Therefore, you should only allow people that you trust, implicitly, to have such access." -Douglas

How you can help SMF


Paid posting is a bad idea, it will inject no life into your forum, only harm it more by making the whole thing look false and dead.

I've recently used a new method of gaining members. One which is healthy and you may be able to adapt yourselves...

As mentionned earlier by another poster, online forums are heavily saturated. There are millions (if not, billions) of them set up. So to stand any chance in becomming noticable you need to have a focus. Now, my forum is VERY generic in topic/focus, but I can still achieve something by simplifying genericness into small groups.

Some forums have too many sections and subsections. Try shortening them into more generic ones such as Music, Gaming, and TV rather than giving each individual games console or music genre a board.

Anyway, that's simple advice that you probably already know..

My latest way of getting members
Recently I've been spending a LOT of time on World of Warcraft. It is an extremely popular online game. It is also extremely sociable. So, I setup a guild and a new section on my forum. I also setup a new domain name which is short and easy to remember, which forwards people to the specific forum subsection ("world of warcraft"). I also changed the graphics slightly to make it look a little different to the rest of my forum.

This is effective use of having a sub section.

Guild members/WoW gamers now get to my forum easily. The topic/genre is something they love and enjoy so they find it easy to talk about. People can introduce their characters and we can all discuss guild events, instance/dungeon runs etc.

Now, as they are posting in the warcraft section they are becomming sociable and building friendships with current members (about half of which already love world of warcraft), so they spread to the rest of their forum. As I get more guild members, I get more forum members. The guild members then spread to chatting around the other areas of the forum and the whole thing grows nicely :)

So.. maybe try finding a sociable team-based thing like a game, and use that to get more visitors too. Much more fun than paying for poor "paid posting" services where all the spelling, grammar and english is all wrong.

Got a forum on health and fitness? Join a GYM or leave cards around several about your forum.
Play xbox live? Put the URL in your profile and build an online gaming clan.. use similar approach to my WoW guild.

Just try and change it to a way that fits your sociable activities :)


My own forum serves a specific niche within a broader community... and it's done well for itself over the years. It's one part of a broader community site, but it has become a very important, integral part of the site. My members got quite upset when it was offline in order for it to be rebuilt under new forum software last week. Heheh.
Word of mouth has certainly helped out. My members have often passed the link on to other friends of theirs.
Also made use of link sites within the broader community... and some of the forum users also posted links to my site from their own respective sites.
I link to my site from e-mail list services, like Yahoo! Groups... and I sometimes make announcements regarding the site through those e-mail lists and such... as well as related LJ communities. A forum is a rather different approach to communication as compared to e-mail lists and LJ communities, so if you have access to such things that follow the same theme as your forum, try posting there if you feel you're not stepping on someone else's toes.
While rebuilding my site under SMF software, I had sent the link to my reborn forum to friends on my IM lists. Some get annoyed since they don't use forums, but eh... it's worth a shot. You have no way of knowing, really. Just don't do this too often, or else you lose friends because they start to mistake you for a spammer. ;)
I'll add more if I can think of anything.

Benjamin forum [nofollow]


This has been a most helpful and instructive thread - thank you all. My forum is replacing one that had the plug pulled for no apparent reason earlier this year. Sadly I never got a chance to copy the contacts of the members so I am having to start from scratch.

I've signed on to YouTube with my forum name as my user name and just keep commenting in Buddy Holly's YouTube vids. Only been going for about 3 weeks yet so a bit early to have any result but worked with another topic and my website!


Im new to the whole forum arena but Im finding it very interesting.  I added  forum to my site and look forward to using your advice to grow the community.  As of now it kinda sucks but like I said... I just created it and Im gonna stick with it :)

Thanks [nonactive]


Nice article. Thanks. My forums only a week old and this should help it. On another note, I have been on such 'dead' sites you described using paid posting. It felt like I was totally alone, with absolutly noone helping me or even saying hello.
Visit my geek site, Tech-IT ( [nonactive])! Full tech commentary, tech reviews, and tech community. Proud to be powered by SMF! [nonactive]


am going to follow some of the advice here to build our forum.  some good ideas

thanks  :D
we all need to escape - [nofollow]


Pretty good guide.

I agree with the paid posts, that looks tacky to me and it's just a generally stupid move. Adding links is a great way of advertising, one of the main ways I get about doing it. The alternate profile trick seems good, but I've never had to try it myself so I really dunno... As for competitions, they are great! I've done a few on mine and it does raise activity and get some members.


wow! those are some great tips. as you can see I have already put one into action by setting my sig the the link of my site / forums!

P.S. Anyone any good @ php if so and you wouldn't mind helping me follow the link to my site [nonactive] and send an email to me via the ideas section, I dont want to post my email due to web crawlers. [nonactive] [nonactive]


People with establish forums..

What do you think about rate of active members vs total members ?

I find it extremely low at my forums, I have good measures to make people registers but unfortunately, very very few are getting active. so wanted to know ratio of other people  for active members vs total members !

BTW, this post really came up with some good ideas which are mostly not shared or people do not find time to share.... people are really sharing :)


I was blessed with having a complete niche. My football club didn't have a forum board just for the supporters so I created one and it's turned out well. Still working on of course. - A forum for everyone!


Very nice job on this and I will take advice and use it.

Thank you very much.

Keep up the good work.


Biggest problem I've had is people signing up but not posting. It's good to be active on your own forum. Post some articles and get things moving. None of it is easy though.
SpoogeBeast [nofollow]


Yes all very good advice. 

There is also 1 more problem.  Every good subject has already been done.  I mean why start a gaming forum for example when thousands already exists.  So in order to get lots of posts you really need a unique idea.  But not too many are left.  Every good idea has already been done.


Wow, thanks very much for all the great tips, I will use them a lot in my forum!

Many Thanks again!