I need help. I am trying to brainstorm and monetize a local community forum niche ‘The Warrior Way’. It would be great to do this on a volunteer basis, but this can’t be pro-bono for me if the idea is to become a reality.
My concept: Develop a local community web site or forum in my city in Northern New York State. Success would be measured by strengthening weak ties and poor communication between residents and local government. The community is in dire need of a new and different unbiased ‘voice’ on the ‘net. And no, I have no political aspirations, but I do see an easy solution from the huge current disconnect that’s causing unnecessary frustration.
The End Result: Be the ‘go to’ place for the community to find information and interact on the web. City employees and elected officials will be able to submit information not readily available elsewhere, and get immediate feedback and interact with residents in the forums. Local public resources are either scattered or unavailable (e.g.; secret city council meetings and agendas, local real estate transactions filed at the county clerk’s office, police blotters, neighborhood watch results, ward issues, city-wide zoning issues, voter poling places, voter registration drives). Community volunteer and school groups have difficulty publicizing scheduled events and maintaining their own websites. The community feels powerless without a voice. Fill that niche and that need by collecting and posting the facts in a non-political way. (“Get out and vote” rather than “Vote for X”)
The competition: At one time, before the downward spiral of the current local bulletin boards, the city was buzzing with nearly everyone checking in for gossip and news on a daily basis. The current web-based local info sites all sprang to life during controversial local elections. These forums and newspapers seem to have matured and degenerated into a finger-pointing mentality that is no longer responsive to the local needs and challenges. These sites are all free to the users, and they have no retail, paid continuity or back end that I can see. They do not require forum registration, so the wild-west anonymous posting mentality rules.
- Give local businesses a break—most of downtown retail is currently empty. Will local business ads and banners work on a free trial or requested donation basis?
- Sell classified space in a swap sheet format.
- Cloak the identity of the forum moderator.
- Screen posts and control membership
- Focus is local issues only, no off-topic posting
- Is it a forum? Or a Website?
- What low cost forum software and membership software do I start out with?
- How is it monetized with different streams?
- What do I call it?
- Volunteer or internship help?
If I can put this community blueprint together successfully, I would be happy to share it.
Thanks so much for your ideas!