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A small guide to starting a forum

Discussion in 'Site & Server Administration' started by goodboy133, May 2, 2013.

  1. #1
    Just my old article I found again, I would love to share it on the forum!
    Here it is (I have all rights to the article as I am the author. You may find this article on some forums ONLY which have been posted by me).
    Otherwise, enjoy!
    This is my first (long) article I created, enjoy!

    The basics for getting a nice start for your forum

    You would like to start a new forum? You don't have any ideas at all how you should start? Take a look at this article, which explains in details what you should do for your new forum.

    Installing a forum
    1. Choosing your software: Choosing your software is a delicate situation. It all depends on what kind of forum you want. If you want to run a small forum, or informational forum, then I'd suggest a free and light forum software such as SMF. For long term forums and the ones which you expect to have a big community, I suggest you choose a paid forum software such as vBulletin or Invision Power Board. I don't recommend Xenforo because every Xenforo forum I go on looks a bit like the same and nothing is really unique.

    phpBB and MyBB are great free forum software, although I recommend MyBB because it's the simplest and also the best forum software overall (in my opinion). It's very easy to customize. MyBB has tons of great plugins and phpBB also, except that in phpBB you have to do a lot of editing to install plugins, while in MyBB the process is simple. IPB and vBulletin are great paid software, but I recommend you choose a free software. MyBB is a great choice. Forums powered by MyBB range from very small communities to HUGE forums. It's the friendliest, simplest to edit and the best overall in my opinion.

    2. Choosing your host: This is crucial. Everything can go down easily if you do not follow this step well. Choosing your host is crucial to run your site. I do recommend *TRUSTWORTHY free hosts, not the ones such as 000webhost, as they will shut down your forum if it gets some good activity to ask you to change to a paid hosting plan. When choosing a paid host, you should choose a trustworthy one, with a powerful server if possible, and the prices are not too cheap. Also, plans which offer "unlimited" bandwidth and disk space do never exist. There is always a limit. You'd never be able to actually have those kinds of plans. Remember, don't choose things which are too good to be true.

    So, you just set up your forum? Ah well, that was the easy part. Now, getting the activity part is hard. You can never expect good activity if you don't promote it at all. I'm going to show you some ways to promote it.

    Customizing your forum
    1. The look of your forum: Get a good theme, style for the forum. It has to look inviting for new visitors if you expect ANYONE to register. Dark themes are not recommended, especially if they look aggressive, because that'll lure the visitors away. Get a custom theme, if possible and if your budget can support it. That will help enormously. Make sure it looks smooth, inviting and appealing for new visitors.

    2. Forum rules: This is essential. You should have a good Terms of Service or rules thread. You should include every rule that members should follow. Some basic rules should be "duplicate accounts are not permitted", "selling/buying forum accounts is forbidden", “spamming is not tolerated" and so on.

    3. Security: This is the most important part. You must secure your forum against hackers and/or spammers. Without this, your forum won't live very long when it gets big and when it has reputation. Some basic security suggestions would be to rename your admin folder via FTP Access, password protecting directories, and last but not least, install security mods/plugins that are available for your forum software.

    4. Primary content: This is the last step before opening up your forum. I personally wouldn't want you to hire paid posters, as that doesn't have any future in my opinion. You should make multiple accounts, and make some high quality posts, preferably about 100, to give your forum a little primary content for it to look more inviting to visitors and new members.

    1. Promoting on promotion forums: It's not just about simply promoting your site and getting out of it, and expect activity. You should build a level of reputation, and help members of that community, to get a good reputation. Then, if the forum allows signatures, make a signature linking back to your forum. Remember to post at least weekly for more links to your forum. Then, if you are allowed, make a promotion topic, giving the best description you can. Cite the forum's niche, what it's about, why they should join, etc.

    The info is essential for people to feel comfortable when reading your thread. Be sure to never spam your links. Always make "a little recommendation" and give out a small link to your forum. That way, people will feel good when joining your forum. I don't know what you think, but I'd prefer only one link but a good one which I really get some activity from than spammed links that does not go well at all. Be sure to promote on different forums for better results!

    2. Offline promotion: Maybe a word about your forum to your friends will do a good job, and it might pull in more visitors than you expect if you are lucky.

    3. Social promotion: Maybe post something on Facebook and twitter? That'll do a good job, and can be a source of traffic if you do it well. If you have a page with thousands of fans, that would be even better. Otherwise, purchasing a cheap post or tweet from pages IN YOUR NICHE which has thousands of visitors. You might be surprised of the results one day if you do that.
    4. Yahoo Answers: Find some answers in your niche, and there is where you can advertise your forum. Be sure to give an effort on answering the questions and THEN make a little recommendation, instead of focusing on advertising your forum and not giving an effort to answer the question. That might help a lot if your forum doesn't receive that much traffic.

    5. Submit your links to search engines: You should submit your link to search engine, as that will get you more exposure to people. I'd rather have my links in many search engines without Google rather than just having links on Google. That will give your forum more potential and would help you get much more traffic.
    That's all I have to say, honestly :)

    Maintaining your forum
    So now, you've got a good amount of activity in your forum now, and a big community, right? Maintaining would be a bit hard to do, but that will help you succeed if you do it well.

    1. Interact with the community: Always reply to introductions by members, and be sure to give them a warm welcome. Interact with your community; don't make the community feel alone. You must be sure to handle the community like a small brother or sister, or even a baby. That will help you maintain your community.

    2. Posting regularly: I can't stress this enough. Make posts anytime possible, and make sure that you post a lot to make the forum more active. When you see an opportunity to post anywhere, take it. If you don't do that, the forum will be pretty much dead, except if you have a really big community and the community does the posts by themselves.

    3. Solve problems: If members are arguing or having problems with each other, be sure to handle that, and make sure there's no discontent in your community. Communities can break apart because of the problems members have with others.

    That's all I have to say for now, I hope you enjoyed this article, and wish you the best for your new forum!

    Author: goodboy133
    goodboy133, May 2, 2013 IP