Forums have become a common feature in many websites. With good free scripts available, and paid scripts being relatively cheap, it seems that every new website has its own forum(s). But is it wise to add forums to your website?
In this article I'd like to take a look at the pros and cons of adding forums to your website. The largest of my websites, www.TheCatSite.com boasts one of the largest online forums on pet related subjects. In fact I have yet to see a larger forum dealing with pets. As of the writing of this article, we have over 7,000 members and nearly half a million posts. In the past four years I have struggled with the hardships of community management and learned what works and what doesn't. Let me share a few insights that may help you decide if you want to take the forums path yourself.
The Pro Side of the Equation…And Now To The ConsThe Bottom Line
Forums are not for every website. Don't just put it up there and hope for the best. If you can't or don't want to put a lot of time and effort into creating a viable community, just leave it. Having no forums is better than having dead forums. Having dead forums on your website may actually drive people away.
Research your field. How easy will it be to create a community geared towards the subject of your website? Is it something that people want to talk about with each other? Are there other forums on this subject? How are they doing?
Get your feet wet. Join several forums and become an active participant. If possible, become a team member or a moderator in a large forum. Big forums often have secret team forums, where you can learn a lot about community management.
Think ahead. Where do you see your website in a year or two? Is this your main project and passion? Will you have the time and energy it takes to maintain a forum? Above all: Will you enjoy it?
About The Author
Anne Moss has been the webmaster of www.TheCatSite.com and www.Meowhoo.com, as well as several other sites, since the year 2000. You can read more advice for webmasters on her webmasters resources website –www.4NetNeeds.com.