In my time as a forum webmaster I have seen hundreds of people promoting forums around the World Wide Web. Some of the projects are decent and I will join and follow them hoping that they will make success. However many of the projects started are destined for failure because of multiple mistakes that are made over and over again. Having gone through a lot of forums on the myBB community I see a lot of the same mistakes made over and over again so this article will address these mistakes and show why you should not make the same mistake if you want your forum to do well and beat the others.
Domains and names – Many people like the idea of using free sub domains for that simple reason, they are free! However this is not a great way to present yourself online and will turn many users off even looking at you forum. It is always important to try and get a top level domain which can be registered really cheap from services like Namecheap and GoDaddy. As for names of a forum, I see many of them that are names of people or just completely random. With the promotion of a forum it is important to have search engine optimization in mind (this can be read about in detail here). Therefore having name of a forum as something random will not be great for getting users to register. You should always try and have the general idea of the niche in your domain as it is important for SEO.
Forum Sections – One of the things that happens to annoy me is when people open up a forum and have millions of sections and use something like the tabs plugin for myBB. I would suggest you do not have many sections on your forum because it will be more of a hassle for you to produce the content for it. Keep the section count down as low as possible and focus on having the forums for on topic discussions only. If you keep them down you will find that your forum will look more active and it will not be as hard to produce content for.
Staff count – People who are new to forums or do not have an idea about the management of one tend to hire many staff in the hope that this will produce content for them. I have seen forums with just 100 posts that have 4 administrators and around 6 moderators. This is a no go if you want a forum to do well. For a new forum, or even an established one all you need is one or two administrators. If you have more this may result in arguments or disagreements. Then have the rest of the staff made up with moderators. I would say that you can handle the forum with just you for a very long while. Only look at hiring staff when it gets impossible for you to do yourself and even then you should not over hire on staff. If you have too many staff members you could scare away new members.
Content – A forum needs content to interest people into joining the forum. You cannot expect people to fill the forum up with new topics and posts for you. As the owner of the forum you should be producing a lot of threads a day and be using exchanges to get the content on the forum. Do not expect it to happen by itself.
Ads & Themes– Money grabbers who place a ton of ads on a forum is destined for failure. You must make sure the theme and the placement of the ads is up to the standards so that the users who are potential members of your forum are happy. User experience is important. Make sure the forum looks nice and has ads that will not put people off joining, such as the use of pop up ads are annoying to members.
I hope this guide has helped you avoid some problems when creating a new forum. There are many more things that I could go on to discuss however I think I may do that in a future article so keep your eyes open for a possible second part.