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  1. #1
    ********* Celica Lover Coomer's Avatar
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    Forums - yes or no?

    Hi,
    I've got some questions about a site I'm developing. It's going to be a community site about sixth generation Toyota Celicas, and it'll be the only one of its kind. I've got a tough decision to make though before I launch the site.

    I want to include a forum on my website, but I think it would actually turn some people off when they see it. The problem is that I only spend time on one Celica forum, Celica.net, as do most of the users that will go to my site, at least at the launch of it. The users on there might feel that they're betraying Celica.net by posting on my forums, or worse, not even support and visit my site because they see it as competition to Celica.net.

    Celica.net doesn't specialize in one generation of Celicas, like my site does, and it doesn't really have sections that my site will have, such as how-tos, and a parts database. I love Celica.net and don't want to be on their bad side, because then I'd lose nearly all support for my site, but I do want forums integrated onto my site. If I had forums on my site then I would have a forum for sixth generation Celica topics, a buying and selling forum(group buys would go here), and a forum for website discussion and suggestions for my site probably. I'd use InvisionBoard probably, and set it up so that when users register to be a member on my site, they'd automatically be registered on InvisionBoard. There would be many benefits to having forums on my site.

    1. I'd have more of a community on my site - more traffic, more interaction, more returning users, etc.
    2. Users would be able to register on my site, and they'd automatically be registered on the forums.
    3. I'd be able to have things like "Latest Forum Posts" on my home page.
    4. I'd have technologically better forums that those on Celica.net. They use UBB, which is very slow and has some problems(It seems to lock up whenever you try a search for instance.)

    Those would be some of the benefits. I'm just wondering if you guys think that it would be a wise choice to implement forums on my upcoming site. Thanks!
    + Celica =
    6G Celicas :: My '94-99 Toyota Celica resource

  2. #2
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Yeah, a forum sounds good for this, people talking about common interests.

    But - only offer a forum when you have enough loyal visitors to keep it active - I think there's a SitePoint article on this.

    A forum at the launch of a site is typically empty and very inactive, unless you have a good solid base of users who will post from day 1.

    If you cannot gaurantee popularity on the forums - a good number of hits - then it is better to monitor your stats and introduce a forum when you have a steady flow of users.

  3. #3
    ********* Celica Lover Coomer's Avatar
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    The problem I see with starting the forums at a later date is that everyone who's already registered on the site would have to register again to post on the forums.

    Maybe I'll try to integrate InvisionBoard with my site so that my site just uses the InvisionBoard table for storing all member registrations. This would probably be best in the long run, even though it'd be tough to implement.

    Or maybe I'll try to write my own forums. But then it wouldn't even be close to comparable with InvisionBoard.

    Or maybe I'll set it up so that when users register on my site, their info is also added into the invisionboard members table, but the board is kept hidden, so that when I implement it users would already be registered. This would probably be the worst approach though, because then I've got two entries in different tables for each user.

    I'll have to think about what I want to do. I'm still undecided on whether I even should put a forum on my site.
    + Celica =
    6G Celicas :: My '94-99 Toyota Celica resource

  4. #4
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Or maybe I'll set it up so that when users register on my site, their info is also added into the invisionboard members table, but the board is kept hidden, so that when I implement it users would already be registered.
    Yeah, but use the IB table only - add any exta fields you need to it, IB shouldn't detect them.

  5. #5
    ********* Celica Lover Coomer's Avatar
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    That's what I'm currently working on. I just added a bunch of fields to the end of my ibf_members table and it's working fine so far. I have to rewrite a bunch of the pages on my site that dealt with member registration and login and things like that, so it's a fair amount of work. It'll be worth it in the long run, however. My site will integrate forums and user registration seamlessly.
    + Celica =
    6G Celicas :: My '94-99 Toyota Celica resource

  6. #6
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    You could always start off with a shoutbox until you get enough users to make a forum viable, after all a shoutbox with 15 messages in it looks okay, a forum with 15 looks empty and puts people off.

  7. #7
    ********* Celica Lover Coomer's Avatar
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    I think I won't really start with any sort of discussion software immediately, but users will be registering from the start, knowing that they can post photos of their car and contribute to the site once they register. I think that once the site has a fair amount of content and visitors, I'll unveil the forums, which will be tweaked close to perfection by the time they're launched.

    Do you guys think that the three forums described above will be too many for when the forum is first launched? If so, what changes do you think I should make to the forum structure? Thanks!
    + Celica =
    6G Celicas :: My '94-99 Toyota Celica resource

  8. #8
    Sports Publisher mjames's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Coomer
    Do you guys think that the three forums described above will be too many for when the forum is first launched? If so, what changes do you think I should make to the forum structure? Thanks!
    Three forums isn't too much when starting out. It's a pretty good starting point that allows you to have a forum pertaining to your site's subject matter, a chit chat/general forum, and a suggestions/feedback forum. My Community Building Primer might be of help: http://www.promotionbase.com/article/858

  9. #9
    ********* Celica Lover Coomer's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mjames

    Three forums isn't too much when starting out. It's a pretty good starting point that allows you to have a forum pertaining to your site's subject matter, a chit chat/general forum, and a suggestions/feedback forum. My Community Building Primer might be of help: http://www.promotionbase.com/article/858
    Thanks for the article. I read it and it's pretty helpful. Unfortunately, It'll be a few more days until the forum integration is done. I had it almost completely done and then my host's server's hard drive got corrupted and I lost all of my data, so they restored a backup that was made last friday, but it doesn't have my updated table structure or my updated php files. At least I know what I'm doing now so it should be a quicker development cycle.
    + Celica =
    6G Celicas :: My '94-99 Toyota Celica resource

  10. #10
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    Not a conflict

    Unless you know for sure that the folks at celica.net will see you as competition, I don't see a problem. Can you talk to anyone there?

    You have a more narrow focus, you are offering an additional service. Make sure you have lots of links and references to the larger site. Do whatever you can to promote the overall idea of Celicas, not just your focus.

    Post about your site on any related forums you can find. Don't forget usenet either.

    You'll probably get a bunch of "good luck" type posts to start with. Also try to recruit some posters as well - other owners etc.

  11. #11
    ********* Celica Lover Coomer's Avatar
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    Thanks for the help. Right now I'm working on setting up the forums and various other things for the site, and then I'll launch them fairly soon. My site has been online for less than 2 weeks and already has 92 registered members, so I think it's going pretty good. I just submitted it to search engines a couple days ago too, so that'll hopefully help too. Thanks again!
    + Celica =
    6G Celicas :: My '94-99 Toyota Celica resource


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