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Posts Tagged ‘filler topic’

Forum Slowing Down? Don’t Close It!

January 19th, 2009

Many times I have seen a forum close down because it used to receive 200 posts a day but dropped to a “measly” 50 posts a day for a couple of days.¬† A sudden drop in activity doesn’t mean you should close your forum down, it means you should take a look at your forum from a visitor’s perspective, and your own. Here are a couple of tips when your forum activity begins to slow down.

1) Determine your community’s posting pattern

If you don’t know this already, find it. In your forum’s Admin CP, find the statistics and see when you receive the most posts, the least, etc. For example, Zantherus is most active on the weekdays (oddly enough). So when your activty slows down, determine if that’s when your forum is supposed to die down a little. Another example is during the holidays. Most likely you’ll see a drop in activity as most people are spending time with family. Don’t worry about it. Wait it out and it’ll pick up after the holidays.

2) Get a Review

Some people seem to think that reviews are pointless. They aren’t. Go to a bigger site with a good review section (aka not all forums are in the Great Forum section). Check out some of the reviews. If you like how they do it, apply for one. They’ll (hopefully) point out things you could improve on.

3) Revamp

Sometimes things could be stagnating because members could be getting bored. Add a new skin, a forum, a contest, new staff, etc. anything that could get your members to post again. However, keep your revamps to a minimum, say, once every six months at the most. Constant revamps make your members think “not again” rather than the “oh! a new skin!” response. A revamp loses special points every time you do one, so keep that in mind.

4) Post Exchanges

I’ve already covered this¬† in a previous blog post. I’m going to correct myself a little bit. Post exchanges can still be used in a bigger community if it’s stagnating, as an influx of newer members can introduce new content to the forum for veterans to see and post.

5) Advertise, advertise, advertise

Advertising never dies. You have to keep doing it over and over and over again. Maybe the reason why your forum is stagnating is because you’ve stopped advertising. It’s happened to me before. Find new forums to advertise at and get at it! If you must, have staff post on the forum while you advertise. The reason why I say not to have your staff advertise is that YOU know your forum best. You’ll have full control over your advertising if you do so.

So in short, just because your forum is slowing down doesn’t mean you need to close it. There’s a reason why it’s slowing down, and if you find that reason, fix it and you’ll see your forum thrive like it used to.

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Filler topics does not a community make

January 14th, 2009

I’ve seen this around a lot lately. What are filler topics in the first place though? Filler topics, also known as Q&A topics, generic topics, etc., is my term for the simple topics that elicit a single response that involves no discussion at all, such as “What is your favorite color?”, “Favorite day of the week?”, “Last movie you watched?”, or even the ever so famous “What song are you listening to?”

To start out, filler topics are not bad. They allow a smaller community, maybe less than 1,000 posts or even 10,000 posts to accumulate simple content that is easy to make and reply to. They’re there to “fill” up the forum so it doesn’t look so empty because something is better then nothing.

However, once you’ve gotten your memberbase established, stop with the filler topics. Why?

Well, what do you do when you get to know a friend? Take this analogy. When you first meet someone, you want to get to know them, so you ask questions that is like these filler topics. “Where do you live?” “Do you have any kids?” etc etc etc. However, once you start to actually know the person, you start to discuss more personal things. “Hey check out what happened to me today. I was going home and this homeless dude…” or “I just applied to be a journalist at…” The “filler” topics disappear. What has replaced the filler topics are actual discussion.

I’ve seen forums with over 50,000 posts have pages and pages of filler topics and when I post there, I have no sense of community. I just feel like I’m writing an essay or filling out a survey as the topics are so bland and boring.

When you establish your memberbase, it is essential that you start moving away from filler topics. Every now and then a filler topic is okay (”Oh hey Fred, what did you say your favorite TV show was again?”) but moving to actual discussion will be far more beneficial for your community in the long run. The better your community is, the harder it’ll be for your members to leave your forum, as they get attached the more and more they get to know your forum. But, if you keep with the filler topics, people won’t feel such an attachment and could quite possibly click X and never visit your forum again. I know I’ve done that more than once.

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Forum Packages - Do They Work?

December 25th, 2008

Since the start of the advertising era in the Zathyus Network (and to an extent, other forums too), one thing has always remained prominent - forum packages. Many forums offer these things that are apparently supposed to help boost your forum’s activity and help advertise.

Each forum tends to have the same set of packages, plus or minus a couple - basic advertising, signature advertising, banner advertising, pinned topic advertising, posting service, newsletter advertising, and maybe an odd service here and there.

Sometimes it can be a pain to apply for all these packages, keep track of which post count is needed for what (although Hireem somewhat removed these), guidelines, and whatnot that some of us get lazy and don’t apply for all of them (me included).

However, it may not be needed…because some of those services are useless anyways.

So which ones are the ones that really work? In theory, they should all work. But as the average Internet user becomes more ad-blind, and most forum users are above average, many of these become useless. Let’s see the two most useless packages then - signature and banner advertising.

They’re useless because no one really takes the time to look at the ads. The time it takes to make it effective is not worth the return. In order to get noticed, you have to have a really appealing ad - and given so many talent graphic designers out there, it’s tough to make the one ad that stands out. If you’re not a graphic designer, you have to get someone else to make it for you, which takes up time that you could be advertising effectively.

Pinned topics and newsletter advertising are a little different. Depending on how they’re done, they can be effective, but just like the banner and signature advertising, it’s very easy to skip over them.

That leaves two services left - the basic advertising service and the posting service. These two, in my opinion, are the most effective of the packages. The basic advertising is where a forum owner can post an ad that allows him to put the link to his forum, the genre, and a little bit of spice with the description. The basic advertising is one of the more versatile services, especially if the ad forum allows you to bump the topic, which is the strongest point. If a user browsing through the directory sees a topic with a couple of pages, chances are they’ll check it out because it’s different. Additionally, people can comment on it and give you feedback. And whilst not really concerning the casual Zathyus Network user, it can help build PageRank if you anchor the text correctly.

Now, the posting service. It’s an odd one, but it’s the only one that actually guarantees “traffic”. Of course, traffic has to be in quotations though, because it’s not really a real user…yet. However, if there’s good staff posting, the posting service is a powerful tool. One good topic (and perhaps controversial) can trigger 20 replies, making a 20-post service really a 40-post service. The problem occurs when the staff is lazy and makes only five word posts and generic, “filler” topics. That can make a forum look bad.

So there you go, a brief overview on some of the common forum packages out there. Use these packages at your own discretion.

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