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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict WebMasterAJ's Avatar
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    Question Message Boards...

    I am having the hardest time trying to bring new members to my community. I have about 100 posters, but they don't post. Only about 10 of them do.

    What am I doing wrong? I have advertised, the board has features that I thought would bring some action to. And, my site is the largest Dolphins site on the net.

    I'm just starting something that I didn't want to do, which is making an alliance with other Dolphin sites to make one board. But this isn't going through to well.

    Any ideas? Thanks...
    Andrew Tatum
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    The FinHeaven & Co Forums

  2. #2
    SitePoint Addict dpickup's Avatar
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    Only a small fraction of my total members post, but I have enough members that I don't consider it too much of a problem. There used to be more though, but I have not sent out a newsletter in some time so interest has dropped off.

    And I guess that that is my advice to you WebmasterAJ, if you have not already done so, create a weekly newsletter and start sending it out to your membership. Include information on hot topics that are going on in the forums. Since your site has a pretty narrow focus, you should turn every Dolphins related news story into a forum conversation and then bring it up in the newsletter. Keep things current, and let members know what's going on. Give them the info, and then a link to 'comment on this story' (you can also do this from the articles posted on your site).

    There are so many sites on the Internet vying for our limited attention spans that it is easy for someone to sign up for something and then promptly forget about it, or move on to something else. Your job is to keep reminding them that you exist until you get them hooked on you - and even then you should not decrease your efforts. Use your community newsletter to really hype your site - but also to solicit feedback on what your members would like to see. It will make them feel included and you may find out why certain members are just lurking and not participating.

    You could also try running a contest for those who posts on your forums in order to draw some more people in. But the problem here is that you might end up with a bunch of stupid posts, or else people will just leave again once the contest is over.

    It can be difficult to get people posting regularly on discussion forums, so you shouldn't take it too hard. Sharing a board with other Dolphins sites may not be such a bad idea to get more people in there.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard dethfire's Avatar
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    omg, dpickup, I know exactly what you mean!!!!! I get about 5 new members a day and maybe one will post a few messages. I have a total of 389 members and about 30 post regualry and only 260 have ever posted. I think the trick is to get as many members as possible and create interesting topics that people like to voice thier opinions about. The newsletter is helpful too, i agree.
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Enthusiast mahke's Avatar
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    Originally posted by dpickup
    You could also try running a contest for those who posts on your forums in order to draw some more people in. But the problem here is that you might end up with a bunch of stupid posts, or else people will just leave again once the contest is over.
    I'm going to be doing something similar to this soon with my forums. I run a music website, and as such we often get CDs for review, some of which we don't wish to keep ourselves. Using vBulletin's referral feature, we will be giving a 'prize pack' away to the member with the highest number of referrals per month - ie, the person who promotes the forums and gets people to actually register. Hopefully this won't be TOO messy

    Also, we send out a newsletter, and even though the people on the list are all forum members, our signups do tend to go up during the days following the mail out - perhaps they're forwarding it on to people, I'm not sure. Current members also tend to post more during those days too, so I imagine they're remembering the site and coming back, and joining in with some of the topics...

  5. #5
    SitePoint Enthusiast ART's Avatar
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    I think, that in the beginning, You, as the admin of the BB, have to post on your board very actively,

    i've had same problems at start, i wondered how to make people post, but they didn't. after some weeks of talking to myself, the people came and began using the board actively

    (a little bit schizophrenic beginning, but it has worked )

    some time ago my server went down for a day, You know what happened? i got PHONEcalls from my BB_users saying that they can't start the day without looking through the forum and they can't do anything else right!
    yeah, i know, they are (as well as me ) addicted, hihi
    but i felt great that day


    sorry for my bad English - still learning
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    If 10% of your members are posting regularly, you're in luck. Most forums have a much lower percentage. I've got around 400 members, and I'd say a couple dozen (let's say 20-25) post fairly regularly. If I had 40 of them as regulars, I'd be THRILLED.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Zealot Megs's Avatar
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    I've said this before on several different boards but one thing I have noticed is that when it comes to online communities is that traffic begets traffic. Active forums are attractive to people, but it's hard to get that activity when you don't have the kind of traffic that attracts people - it's a vicious circle.

    So, yeah, as ART said, you really need to make a strong effort to post a lot, start interesting topics that people will want to post to etc. etc. Try to get your friends to help you out.
    Megan Jack
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Addict Seer's Avatar
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    Good info, keep it coming! I just started my first real forum and have another in the making. as ART said, guess i'll have to talk to myself in there for a while. What's the best way to get the initial traffic rolling in? I just submitted to search engines, but i'm sure there's plenty more I can do.
    Everything has been figured out, except how to live. - Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)

  9. #9
    SitePoint Zealot
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    Same problem here. I have 108 memebers. Besides my staff only about 3 post reguarily. I have 40% of the 3000 posts .
    http://www.sianews.com: an independent, politically conservative news site

  10. #10
    SitePoint Enthusiast ART's Avatar
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    encouraging a friend to participate is a good one! but discuss seriously, don't blah-blah all day
    (another big plus using this option would be: You and Your friend have two slightly different points of view when discussing topics, - this will surely make a crowd gather around Your discussions, then they easilier will be converted from guests to posting-visitors )

    i got one advice: when You start a board, DO NOT make 50 different categories right from the start (i mean like here at Sitepoint, which has the needed manpower to populate all of them)
    let it grow with time, or Your users might get lost within it, searching the apropriate category(forum) to post to... or they will post where they like and You'll end up with a mess
    Browar.pl: Poland's brewing!
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  11. #11
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    i think an idea is that you stick to the essence of what your website is all about. consider forum threads that actually are conected to dolphins or something. if you could get rid of the threads that are just cluttering your forum, do it. there's just too many forums now on the web and i believe people only visit those that are really relevant to their interest, without the hassle of getting into loads of such other topics that are irrelevant before they can actually see a topic that interest them.

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  12. #12
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Here's why I post so much (or I think so) in the SitePoint Forums: There are a lot of other members, and I usually get a reply within 2 hours (usually less).

    here's an article of interest: The Role of a Moderator.
    Corbb O'Connor
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  13. #13
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Hi all,

    I have a few ideas. I apologise if some of these have been posted before, but these are little ideas that may or may not work for your forums.

    1.
    Get some moderators early on. In the initial stages, I don't think it matters if most of the messages are actually from moderators. Because the moderators and admin start conversations and talk with each other, it helps to encourage others to join in.

    2.
    Run a newsletter. For example, a bit like the Community Crier. I haven't found it very hard. In fact it's quite easy. You write a brief editorial, and include some of the most recent conversations and topics from the forums. You also include some other things. I release my newsletter twice a month, on the 9th and 26th. I usually get an increase in traffic after each newsletter.

    3.
    Get your own friends interested. If you have offline friends that use the internet but don't have their own site, get them interested in your community. Encourage them to welcome new members, etc. Make them feel important by inviting them to become moderators, and to come into hidden forums with you.

    4.
    Put links to the most attention grabbing topics on the front page of your site. My logs have shown me that most people go straight to these topics when visiting my site. If these topics are more interesting than any others, it encourages them to join in.

    5.
    Use some handy devices. For instance, a "send this page to a friend" link. I also have a note at the bottom of each topic that asks guests to join up in order to get their own username. This note only appears if the user is unregistered.

    6.
    Tell them, in plain english, how to post to the forum. At the moment, registration is not required to post at my forums. I have a small description near the top of the front page that describes how to make a new topic.

    As you may have seen, my community is certainly very small. However, I've had three new signups today, and I actually have oer 800 posts. Only 15 of my 35 members have posted. This means they keep coming back. I hope my forum keeps growing at this rate.

    If anyone else has some tips that could help me, I'd love to know them.

    Thanks,

    mmj
    [mmj] My magic jigsaw
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  14. #14
    SitePoint Member
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    With communities I managed, we had an initial ramp-up period where it wasn't necessarily open to the public, but more to friends and family of the people at teh company the board was for. We also made sure that we didn't difuse discussion too much.

    Communities at the outset take a long time to reach critical mass. Sometimes you get lucky and the pent up demand for an outlet makes up for this. With Murmurs.com, when the boards went up the AOL discussion for REM was floundering, as was usenet. There was no place with good software to discuss the band, and the news site was already popular to begin with. The boards took off.

    However with a newspaper, when you're dealing with such a fundemental paradigm shift in communication models, it doesn't happen as easily.

    I think the degree of participation is dependent as well on the expectations your audience has for what they are getting out of your site. For a band, its easier because there is that core level of commonality (all REM fans in my case) and building off of that commonality is easy because being a fan of REM automatically lets you assume certain things about others (you don't see many republican REM fans).

    That being said, I constantly try to let the boards pick up the slcak where the rest of the site can't. You have a unidirectional model of communication, traditionally with information dispersal. So let the boards be the de facto way a person has of speaking out. Dont' impose a barrier when people get so pissed they need to vent.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Addict superbird's Avatar
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    I opened my forums about three weeks ago, got 31 members but not much participation. I'm working on the newsletter right now but I'm also wondering if it would be a good idea to not require membership for a trial period. Any comments? The reason I'm thinking of this is that most of the threads are being looked at a lot - 50+ views for many.
    ...KartLink...

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard subnet_rx's Avatar
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    I was considering this myself. I posted yesterday on my forums, and I have 0 replies and 100 views. I don't know if the registration is just too complex or what. But I was thinking about doing the same thing, requiring registration before you can view the forum, then maybe just plain curiosity would get me some signups.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Addict superbird's Avatar
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    I use ikonboard too and I don't think it's harder than anything else to sign up to. What I'm doing I think is leaving my "chat" forum open to anyone indefinitely and having the other forums open for a trial period. It's http://forums.maxkart.com if anyone's interested, it's another racing site.
    ...KartLink...


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