Forum or No Forum

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brownbinman

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Hi all

im not sure if this thread belows here but hey

I work for a large company (cant say who), working on their website. I was wondering lately how to promote us better on the web.

I was thinking about adding a forum onto the site. The purpose of this would be to answer any technical questions, give advice etc.

How much work is involved in developing and maintaining a forum. As our web team is quite small for such a large and well known name, im wondering if additional resources might be needed to maintain it.

Any thoughts or advice will be very welcome

Thanks

The Bin Man
 

achieve

New Member
There's lots of different forum software out there - some of which are opensource and thus free. Also easy very easy to setup. However, if you wish to do some cutomisation to the forum, then that is where the work/time is involved. As far as I'm concerned, I think forums are a great idea, but with one main proviso - they need to be used - there's nothing worse than visiting a forum, to see that there hasn'r been a post in 2 months! Also bear in mind, that forums are places where hackers like to hang out, and be prepared to update your forum software when necessary.
 

MayaLocke

New Member
Forums are great community building tools but they require effort to get them off the ground and regular attention. In the long run they really can build a customer base that helps each other but its not a "quick fix".
 

link8r

New Member
There's lots of different forum software out there - some of which are opensource and thus free. Also easy very easy to setup. However, if you wish to do some cutomisation to the forum, then that is where the work/time is involved. As far as I'm concerned, I think forums are a great idea, but with one main proviso - they need to be used - there's nothing worse than visiting a forum, to see that there hasn'r been a post in 2 months! Also bear in mind, that forums are places where hackers like to hang out, and be prepared to update your forum software when necessary.
Just got to catch you there Achieve - OpenSource doesn't mean it's free. OpenSource means that the source code is made open to a community of the owners description. There are many OpenSource models and licences, many cahrge for commercial use. A very common misconception is that MySQL is free - it's only (well used to be) free for home/personal, education reasons - commercial projects have to buy a licence.
 

StuartC

New Member
Blueface.ie have done a great job on this. Their service can be tricky for people with no techy skills whatsoever id say. They set up a forum on their site dealing with every issue or query for the product.
 

gbonnet

New Member
Blueface.ie have done a great job on this. Their service can be tricky for people with no techy skills whatsoever id say. They set up a forum on their site dealing with every issue or query for the product.
Thanks!

We're not what I would call a 'large company' though.

Maintaining our forum is not too much work to be honest, there are less than 10 messages / day

It's very useful to help customers and to answer the questions of potential customers.
That's good for SEO too, since that involves a lot of relevant content around our areas of interest.

One of the point you must be careful with your forum is spammy registrations and spams in general ... they are a pain in the bum.

We use a vBulletin board and are very happy with it. I find it easier to manage than the phpBB board we use for mysipswitch.
 

defeated

New Member
One of the point you must be careful with your forum is spammy registrations and spams in general ... they are a pain in the bum.
I used SMF (simple machines forum) software for our forum. We were hammered with spammers. I would wake up in the morning to porn pictures posted all over it. A lot of the spam was automated. In the end I got rid of the forum. I replaced it with a page to explain why we got rid of it. That page still gets a large volume of visits from the spam bots. This is 8 months later.

Having to clear spam several times a day is not my idea of fun. are phpbb and vBulletin any better? I'm thinking of starting another forum on a different site.
 

gbonnet

New Member
are phpbb and vBulletin any better?
I'm using both of them and since I moderate registrations I don't have any issue. Note that they are not massive forums so I only need to handle about 10 registrations per day.

Maybe once a month I authorize someone who intend to spam because his registration request looked genuine ...
The captcha really helped in preventing bots to register.

Then, I know they are plug ins for vBulletin that prevents spams within new posts (checks for keywords and picture names I think). I never tried though.
 
A

Alan

Guest
Having to clear spam several times a day is not my idea of fun. are phpbb and vBulletin any better? I'm thinking of starting another forum on a different site.
I found (even the most recent versions of) phpbb very spammy although I never checked to see if there were any plugins to minimize this. You can moderate registrations though still its a pain.

Never used Vbulletin although I always hear good reports about it.
 

gbonnet

New Member
with phpbb the anti spam which proved to be more effective on my site was to add a new dummy question (such as : what's the capital city of Ireland) in the registration process.

I think the plugin is called : authorization code.

No robot can bypass this. I got very very few spammers since I added this.
 

orcharded

New Member
Forums as a premium feature

Hi folks,
I am working with a startup that really wanted to have a forum on their website. They launched the page and had a big empty space and loads of spammers. I have suggested they keep the button on the main page for forums but that the access to the forum is restricted to only people who have purchased from them. Seems to be working for them but they have only a modest number of people who take them up on the forum offer. Would it be better to open the doors and get people in?

Ed
 

defeated

New Member
In my experience, starting a forum is hard work!
The suggestion above from gbonnet is a good one if you are using phpbb.
Either way it is not going to turn into the next boards.ie overnight.

Most boards start off by posting questions/posts from dummy users. You have to be really careful with this though because users are not stupid and if they think you are creating false posts it will turn them off the forum completely.

People will generally not start it for you though. People will generally only join up if they are provoked to because they want to comment on something that somebody has said, or ask a variation on a question that they have already seen.

Think about what makes you post on a forum. Then make yours contain the things that would trigger you to post.

The other issue is a lack of experience on the part of users with using forums. We found (in the medical field) that most of our users were new to forums completely and of those that were not, most of them were not familiar with the SMF forum we used.

The forum was great in terms of increasing our web presence though. They create so many unique pages that it is hard to ignore their impact on a website. Just don't expect it to work right away.

I have been on forums that want you to jump through hoops to get to them - even after you are registered. I don't like that, and I rarely go back to them. If blocking spam makes usability suffer you are better off without imho.

A simple question to answer is not so bad though. If you can make the question targeted to the specific industry, so much the better!
 

Anouilh

New Member
A tip for getting a forum up and running would be to invite friends to participate. A blog would be a better option than a dull forum with few posters. I have noticed a falling off in posters to many fora that were buzzing a few years ago. Looking at how moderators on Boards.ie keep order might be of use. Best of luck with it.
 
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