The Corvette Action Center Community Forums were established in late September of 2000.
During my travels over the web studying other Corvette/Automotive related web sites, I found a few that had well established Forum communities for quite some time, but my general feeling about them was that they were unprofessional and lacking direction, guidance and insight.
As a result, I decided to build a Corvette related web site that would not only be professional, but provide good, solid information to the owner and enthusiast as quickly as possible through both online documentation and community.
The guidelines for the Corvette Action Center Community were established, set in place and have been exercised from time to time.
As a result, growth of the Community has been somewhat slow at times due to our reputation of being a no-nonsense, professional community, but it has paid off in the overall quality of our community. The members that have joined, greatly respect what our goals are and regularly contribute their help and knowledge to the other members.
We currently have no requirements for membership in the community other than an understanding of our guidelines and respect for each other.
In terms of advertising, we haven't been very successful at selling advertising space for a couple reasons. First, we try to keep advertising within the Forums to a minimum since most rotational advertising code can be bulky and result in slow forum access. Many of our members have to rely on slow dialup internet access and we have tried to modify/engineer our forums to be responsive as quick as possible to make it easier for them.
Our "bread and butter" for advertising comes in the way of affiliate programs which are geared towards the content of our web site. Generally we've been successful in this area of advertising as the funds generated by the affilliate programs have been enough to pay the monthly hosting fees to keep the site up and running. However, in some ways, the lack of revenue has prevented our further growth down other prospective avenues such as paid-for content.
In studying other online Corvette communites that use advertising in their forums, we have found that some of them go to the extreme with the amount of advertising. In speaking with some of their members, a general consensus has been raised that a lot of the advertising, which isn't content specific, has given the overall web site a very "cheap, commercial feel". As a result, we have been very cautious with the type of advertising we employ and will continue to do so for the better of the community.
Presently, we have 950+ members and we're hoping to reach the 1,000 mark sometime in July. We're confident that the growth of our community will continue steadily and will eventually lead to the Corvette Action Center web site becoming one of the premier Corvette related web sites on the internet.
Actually you have a fairly active community here. You have some things that are different and I think on the right track.
These include the Swapmeet in the chatroom every friday. This encourages people to get involved. The time might be a little late though for full participation. YOu have it starting at 1 a.m. Eastern Time. If you moved the time up to say 7 or 8 p.m. Eastern you would have more participation and as people drifted off others would come in.
Giving the members a place to list their products is a good start as well. If this goes well, You could start a niche auction site dedicated to your members.
One thing you could add is a Restoration area where members can keep journals of any restorations they are doing. This would be a simple forum and people could start topics based on their efforts. Here they can list their frustrations and triumphs and get encouragement from the other members. Plus it will add interesting content to your site.
One thing I would suggest is tightening up the design some. Some things I noticed include:
3 different headers based on location. By implementing one standard header it will be less confusing to newcomers.
The tables on your main index page are of slightly varying widths.
This could be tightened up to present one solid line for the eye to follow.
The colors could be tightened up a little. The color change doesn't flow. You might think about decreasing the width of the forums. Not by much but to like 96% percent and allowing the gray back ground to show through and cut down on the white. This would tie the page together a little more. If you had rounded corners and changed the forum elements to reflect your forum colors, it would tie it in more.
Thanks for taking the time to review my site, especially considering your present schedule.
I'm kind of perplexed about the 1:00 am time you saw for the Swap Meets. I just went back and double checked the announcement I have on the home page as well as on the Forum home page under the Swap Meet Forum. Both times say 10:00 pm EST. The general time setting in the Admin CP is GMT -5 hours US & Canada.
I have been looking at various PHP auction software and found one put out by a company, but they are presently working some major bugs out of the already, production-released version. I'm waiting for them to stamp them out before incorporating and testing it on my site.
I assume the three different headers that you mentioned are found throughout the site and not the forums? I have been planning on putting together one unique header to use throughout the site. I did choose a different type of header for the home page of the site based upon my readings in....damn, can't think of the name of the book...it's a blue and green paperback written by a very well known web author/developer who gives seminars on proper web page design.....he's a bit to the extreme on some issues, but very helpful.
As for the tables on the main index page, I've been fighting with them for quite a while now. I've held off doing anything else with the home page design since I've been debating whether or not to implement wajones' vBPortals hack which would create an entirely new site home page based upon the forums, but I need to research that hack a little more. I have some concerns regarding future upgrades of vBulletin and how one will effect the other during the upgrade process.
I will look at reformatting the forums layout further. Thanks!!