Home > Forums > Post Exchanges: Yay or nay?

Post Exchanges: Yay or nay?

Author: ZiveemanDecember 22nd, 2008

Post exchanges are something every administrator faces when developing his or her community. Some forum owners embrace the act of post exchanges, actively participating in them, while others are adamantly against the very idea of forcing posts.

But first, let’s start, what exactly is a post exchange? Similar to traffic exchanges, two users agree to post on each other’s forums, either until they both reach a desired post count or a set period of time. Once the post exchange is done, usually the users part ways, never to see that forum again, until another post exchange comes around.

The first thing that pops into someone’s head when they first hear about a post exchange is usually a negative connotation. Shouldn’t forums gain posts naturally, i.e. advertising to get members who will join and post on their own will?

The answer to that is: of course. Ideally, once a forum owner begins to advertise, whether it be by posting on forums and including a link to your forum in your signature or paying for advertising, the forum should gain some members, who would begin to post.

However, the world is not an idealistic place. Realistically, advertising may very ineffective. An empty forum, even with a decent layout or appearance, gains nothing without one thing.

And that’s content. Content ranges from anything from downloads on music sites, articles on a blog, and in a forum’s case, topics.

Post exchanges provide just that. A forum with 57 posts and 4 members looks a lot less appealing than a forum with 347 posts and 22 members, and that forum looks a lot less appearling than a forum with 2,451 posts and 78 members.

When a visitor sees your forum for the first time, you need to make sure that they’re there to stay. A high number in the statistics table certainly helps plead that case.  A big number of active users helps even more. By doing post exchanges, you ensure that content is being provided on your forum at a decent ratio. A forum that contains topics all created by the administrator can be just as bad as a forum with no posts at all.

Of course, a bad post exchange is just as bad as having a forum with no content. If you do post exchanges, realize that your goal is to provide compelling content for the other forum, and in turn, the other user will do so for you. The number one rule: Don’t mention that you’re there for a post exchange. That completely defeats the entire purpose of the post exchange, plus you ensure that you won’t be having another post exchange with that person (or other people, if you develop a reputation like that).

So why exactly is it that people are so against post exchanges? It’s a good reason - post exchanges develop no community. People who are at your forum for a post exchange are there for a quick second, maybe a week or two, accumulate the desired post count and leave, disappearing off the face of the earth, never to be seen again.

That creates a problem, especially if the user creates a topic that requires more elaboration. The user will never expand on it, and therefore the topic dies. Or maybe the user isn’t familar with the rules and breaks a couple, such as posting in old topics or posting too little in a serious debate forum.

However, pro-exchangers contend the point of a post exchange is not to develop a community. In the way that street musicians “seed” their tip jar with a couple of $1s and $5s in order to convince people to donate, post exchangers “seed” the community with content, further encouraging first-time visitors to come back, and hopefully, register and contribute to the community.

One of the toughest parts in administrating a forum is developing that first member base. Post exchanges, while not a part of that first member base, help toward that development and getting those first few “real” members to register and be a part of a growing community. Post exchanges help “seed” a forum in a way that is more effective than one administrator doing all the work and is more ethical than creating fake members do to the job that post exchangers could.

In short, people who are against post exchanges do not fully understand the concept. Post exchanges are not meant to take the place of a real community, nor are they really meant to be used in a thriving community. They are there to give the boost a small forum needs in order to be successful. After all, when the post exchangers are gone and a real community is in place, it doesn’t really matter if you used them, because now a real community is providing the content that the exchangers once did.


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