Starting a forum on my website, please help!

15 replies
I need to start a forum on my website.. to support our peer to peer marketing strategies I am not sure where to start... please help! Also what kind of software will I need?
#forum #starting #website
  • Profile picture of the author Jill Carpenter
    You will need a forum script. There are many to choose from.

    Depending on your hosting company, you may have one click install options to install some. Like phpbb3 or simplemachines, etc.

    Then it is a matter of learning how to manage the forum from the back end.

    This may take you a couple of weeks to get set up unless you hire someone to help you.

    All different forum scripts have their advantages and disadvantages.

    I suggest making a list of features you think you are going to need before deciding which software you install.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarshah
    THank you Avenue girl is there anything else I need to think about?
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    • Profile picture of the author Jill Carpenter
      Do you need the forum to match the rest of your site? If so, you may need to contact your web designer to see if they can work the template to match your theme.

      I don't know how many forums you've ever been a member of, but you can take the ones you like and just look at the source code to see which scripts they are using.

      This particular forum we are on is a paid script vbulletin. But there are free ones too - so what you get will obviously be determined by your budget.

      What type of platform is your current site running on? Some things like Joomla have a module to easily add a forum to the mix.
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      • Profile picture of the author Joe Mobley
        The whole process of starting a forum is demanding and can leave you a bit frustrated.
        (In my best Darth Vader voice...)

        I see, young shakingspear, you mastered to power of the understatement.


        Joe
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      • Profile picture of the author bydomino
        When I build out forums for my clients the following topics come up:

        1) Public or Private
        2) who will moderate the forum
        3) Over all size you thing it will get members and posts
        4) Does the host site also have a login requirement


        There are a few easy ways to get set up depending on what app you choose.

        Fireboard for Joomla is a good forum for small groups
        You can get templates with it built in from Joomlart.com and Rockettheme.com

        This will allow you to set up your site very quickly.

        Other Free tools are PHPBB3. You can get a person from script lance to help you set it up for real cheap.

        If you think you will have many users then go with a paid forum tool like vbulletin for $195. It is my tool of choice for professional boards.


        I know my post is similar to Jill's (she is a very smart IM person) If you answer my top 4 questions I will be able to give you a more direct answer


        I hope this helps,
        Kevin
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        • Profile picture of the author Sarshah
          Originally Posted by bydomino View Post

          When I build out forums for my clients the following topics come up:

          1) Public or Private
          2) who will moderate the forum
          3) Over all size you thing it will get members and posts
          4) Does the host site also have a login requirement


          There are a few easy ways to get set up depending on what app you choose.

          Fireboard for Joomla is a good forum for small groups
          You can get templates with it built in from Joomlart.com and Rockettheme.com

          This will allow you to set up your site very quickly.

          Other Free tools are PHPBB3. You can get a person from script lance to help you set it up for real cheap.

          If you think you will have many users then go with a paid forum tool like vbulletin for $195. It is my tool of choice for professional boards.


          I know my post is similar to Jill's (she is a very smart IM person) If you answer my top 4 questions I will be able to give you a more direct answer


          I hope this helps,
          Kevin
          HI John, thanks for your reply

          In answer to your question:
          1) Public or Private- PUBLIC
          2) who will moderate the forum- a group of Ambassodors (people who are internal to the organisation but are part of the segement we want to enage with)
          3) Over all size you thing it will get members and posts (500 members a 100 or so posts a month
          4) Does the host site also have a login requirement (there is no log in requirement as yet

          Many thanks
          Sarika
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          • Profile picture of the author bydomino
            Originally Posted by Sarshah View Post

            HI John, thanks for your reply

            In answer to your question:
            1) Public or Private- PUBLIC
            2) who will moderate the forum- a group of Ambassodors (people who are internal to the organisation but are part of the segement we want to enage with)
            3) Over all size you thing it will get members and posts (500 members a 100 or so posts a month
            4) Does the host site also have a login requirement (there is no log in requirement as yet

            Many thanks
            Sarika
            I am Kevin, but that is all cool.

            Ok if there is no login requirement on your site then you can do what you want.

            If I had the extra $300 ($200 for Vb and $100 to get it installed properly) I would just go with VB and be very happy.

            If you wanted a free system I would go with PHPBB3 especially because as you grow there is a migration plan to go to VB. It is easy to use an easy to set up.

            If you find yourself wanting to use plugins I would seriously stop and take another look at VB. Migrating with plugins can be tough. But then again if it is working for you with little lag then your fine.

            Another thing to think about is the server you will be using. Forums are known for they SQL load and queries. If yo set up any forum and notice that your site is lagging check your hosting. If you are a shared server yo might find any forum glacially slow once you get some active members rolling.

            500 active is not that many but on a shared server you still might find some lag.

            I hope this all helps,

            Kevin
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  • Profile picture of the author shakingspear
    This is probably obvious, but you should definitely start thinking of how you're going to draw people into the forum.

    The whole process of starting a forum is demanding and can leave you a bit frustrated.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarshah
    THank you everyone.... I;ve been told its probably something that's better outsouced as it provides more stability. We are hoping to build this forum so that it will have several 100 postings each month eventually. Do you think its worth considering and what are the pros and cons of inhouse/outsourcing? Thanks so mich
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarshah
    Sorry Kevin- thanks alot for all the information. Would a forum help my SEO? Also how technical does a moderator need to be... could someone with minimal technical knowledge be a moderator?
    Thanks
    Sarika
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarshah
    Sorry one more question, could we outsource the administration of the forum to an external company - sorting out the spambots etc
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  • Profile picture of the author Jamian
    Originally Posted by Sarshah View Post

    I need to start a forum on my website.. to support our peer to peer marketing strategies I am not sure where to start... please help! Also what kind of software will I need?
    I suggest to make reviews, and research about that, try to visit other forums so that you will know what kind of strategy will fit on it.
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    • Profile picture of the author netkid
      Before you even start a forum, I would suggest you take an informal "poll" on how many people will participate at the start. Besides taking a lot of time managing it, you could be in for a "lonely" place.

      If you already have a captive audience at some other site or offline somewhere or a fairly good sized mailing list, you have a great chance of getting a good reception to this. You also want an audience who is a little familar with the forum format.

      Another thing that can give your forum a "boost" is to hire a good moderator that can start good discussion threads that interest the community to get things started. Also, get some of your friends or close associates who are familiar with forums to post replies and comments there regularly so that when new people arrive, they get involved because it appears to be a popular "hang out."

      That's what it's going to take to get a forum up and running smoothly. I did the mistake of starting a forum off of one of my sites not thinking about having a "ready audience" to start posting there. I eventually dropped the forum because no one visited for months. I did not plan on developing the audience first.
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  • Profile picture of the author Groovystar
    A forum requires a lot more attention paid to it than just a website. I could go on for weeks about all I've been through on account of mine. Of course a forum IS my entire website. If you have a popular website already it will be easier to get a forum started than if you don't. If you don't, you'll need a ready made pool of people you can introduce to the forum to get a core of members to start it off.

    Don't bother with paid post packages, automated junk etc. They will not get your forum off the ground.
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  • Profile picture of the author Groovystar
    And, it should also be said--an empty or almost empty forum especially one that's clearly sat around for many months, makes your site look bad--even if the site is getting good traffic people will look at the forum and think wow nobody bothers with this place. So yeah.
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