Grow Your Forum: Keep the Members Happy
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Grow Your Forum: Keep the Members Happy

Want to grow your forum? Keep the members you have! And keep them happy.

If you want your forum to grow, you have to keep the members happy. That means creating an honestly welcoming atmosphere. Have a place where they can introduce themselves, and answer them when they do. Encourage moderators and other members to welcome them, too.

There are other things you must be aware of:

First, don't allow spam to invade discussions. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to carry on a reasonable discussion that gets interrupted with people trying to sell something, even if it's relevant.

While it's generally okay to allow signatures that direct others to personal or even commercial web sites, allowing that kind of thing in the body of a post is disruptive.

Put a limit on signatures. Trying to read a post that's overwhelmed by some gigantic baby crawling all over the bottom of the page is not worth the effort. Don't allow images at all, or if you really want to, severely limit the size that can be used and specify no animation. Limit text signatures to one or two lines. The less distraction, the more active your members will be.

If you have technical problems, get them fixed as soon as possible. No one likes to be frustrated and if their posts don't post or if they can't log in or have other problems, they won't be happy and they may not return to your forum.

Don't expect forum members to find your main site from the forum. People who go to forums aren't looking for sites and often don't even realize there is a site that supports the forum. You'll have to make it a point to tell them and you'll have to continue to tell them if you want them to migrate to the site.

Don't let spats or ill tempers ruin the forum for everyone. It might not be in your nature, but learn to smooth hurt feelings and compromise. Also... learn to be tough. If a member causes problems over and over, he's not going to be a positive influence. Ban him or moderate him if you have the time. Don't let his (or her) ill temper make others uncomfortable. A successful forum is a happy forum. You may see what seems like a lot of traffic in forums that argue and bicker, but they don't last long and they don't grow. It takes a certain kind of person to enjoy that atmosphere.

How do you do all of this? You can write up a "Rules and Regulations" post where it will stay - a "sticky" in forum terms. Most software will allow this. It will stay at the top of the list of threads. If your software won't let you do this, create a special folder for it and don't allow responses to it. Refer people to it when they have questions or get out of line. People usually obey written rules better than they obey moderators.

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Comments (5)

Thanks for your tips and experience Pat. And a well written article.

Great advice...voted

Thank you

Too bad they aren't so hard to implement! They are very good.

Interesting article. Voted up. Thank you Pat for support and vote.