How to Be a Good Host: A Quick Guide to Web Forums That Work

How to Be a Good Host: A Quick Guide to Web Forums That Work

Reader Comments (17)

  1. I have always heard that joining and becoming active in a forum is a great way to get traffic to your site so it would make sense that starting one would help solidify what you have already. You’re right in that if you start something you have to be involved. It’s like having kids. In the beginning you’d better invest a lot of time with them b/c if you don’t ….. well you know.

  2. I’ve always thought that hosting a party was a great analogy for running a forum. Both the host and the guests have their own responsibilities but the overall goal is mutual: to have fun and enjoy great discussions in a friendly environment.

    The parallel is pretty easy to grasp and it can even be extended to forum guidelines and other things that shape the feel of the forum. Like this rules bit I once read: ‘Anything that would cause people to lower their voices and look over at you at a cocktail party, is not okay here.’ How succinct!

    I started a blog about writing just a few months ago. In my experience, forums bring tremendous benefits even in the very beginning. I got a huge amount of support from my usual forum when I decided to pursue blogging seriously. The forum has become a natural audience base for me. It feels reassuring to know that there are real people out there who support you and care about what you’re doing. I think the confidence shows in my blogwriting as well.

    Good luck with Editor Unleashed forums, Maria!

  3. Quite right…we all know that the difference between a successful party and one that is only so-so depends on the work of the host/hostess. Relying on the guests to “make” the party is usually doomed to failure. As you note, the same is true for online venues: If you know someone who is a good host/hostess in real life, emulate their behaviors in your forum. You will probably be pleasantly surprised.

  4. I love the party metaphor and the point on using it as a challenge to be your most interesting, charming and compelling self.

    How do you know when you have enough of a quorum for a forum, or do you build it and then create the demand?

  5. Wow, this was a very timely post. I am just getting ready to start a forum. I’m a part of a few forum communities and they are an excellent way to drive traffic to your website. It’s free traffic and if you do it in the right way, that traffic can be significant, and you can make a very decent income based on that traffic alone. That’s how I’ve made most of my income this year.

    Thanks for these very useful tips. They gave me even more enthusiasm than I had before.

  6. Forums are certainly like parties, but what is more difficult is that it is usually a party of people who are initially strangers. So, you have to have your conversation starters ready.

    Our education non-profit [ABCTE] recently launched a forum [] for teachers going through our alternative certification program. I’m the moderator and it has been a lot of fun to see a new community develop. But yes, you must put in the time to let them know that someone is listening. Some members of our community are new to forums and it has been important for us to be supportive of their participation and the voice they have to contribute. And sometimes, like Bonnie Raitt, we have got to give them something to talk about.

    Jessica Morris, ABCTE

  7. Speaking as a reader/visitor (though I do have a blog) I have always preferred forums over blogs. A good forum provides a place for people of diverse backgrounds to interact and learn from each other. While blogs do allow for some interaction via comments, they don’t let individual visitors branch off in their own direction. A well run forum can allow for that freedom within the confines of the subject matter under discussion.

    Over time I have seen many of my old favorite writing forums go by the wayside, replaced by much more confining blogs. Some are excellent blogs, but the free flow of information is greatly curtailed. In short, I believe blogs are directed conversation while forums are open conversations.

    To shift the subject slightly, I have seen the question about blog/forum integration come up more than once recently. You need to consider your software selection carefully or you may end up trying to cobble together disparate pieces from different vendors.

    The package I use is Tiki Wiki. It has everything I need under one roof – blog, forum, newsletter, wiki pages (think Wikipeadia – though not done with Tiki Wiki), image galleries, articles, and trackers. The advantage is that everything is managed under one set of Cascading Style Sheets. This means that everything has the same overall look and feel.

    The disadvantage of Tiki Wiki is that it can be a little intimidating to setup and confusing to configure at first. You don’t have to be a programmer to use it, but having some technical savvy is definitely a plus. Just something to consider beyond the WordPress box.

  8. Maria, your comment that you should always be asking yourself “How can I be of use?” really stands out to me here. You’re right–it’s that kind of an approach that makes a forum genuinely valuable to the participants (which, in turn, helps it grow), and I think participants have gotten really skilled at sniffing out which forums are run by people with a hidden agenda and which are run by people who want to help.

    For me, though, that begs the question–what happens when the honest answer is, “I can’t”? Is that a sign that it’s time to take on additional co-moderators?

  9. Forums are a great way to find new readers, Iv used them in the past with great success.

    Not only are they a great way to communicate with your audience, they can be a great source of news and opinion, as well as a great networking.

  10. Also i feel that Topics (Forum)/ Categories should also be well defined and interesting to users so that they cud feel like writing in

  11. The days of building something online having people show up are over and it really takes a great deal of work to drive significant amounts of people to a website regardless of what it is.

  12. Nr 3 on your list is what have made our forum as popular as it is today, there are many forums out there where the tone tends go get hostile as soon as two people think different.

    The nice tone on our forum has really helped us and made the forum grow, and if people like it, they will tell others about this wonderful place they found. Free marketing.

    Our forum is not a huge one, we have about 500 unique visitors/day and because of the nice tone on the forum they think of it as a place where they can be who they really are without getting attacked by anyone. A forum is one of the places where you don’t want your visitors to be afraid of writing.


  13. Hey All, it’s always nice to meet new people..Just wanted to introduce my self as new comer into the forum and for you all please feel free to ad me to your buddy list

  14. I think running a forum has the potential of being really time consuming. Having good moderators is a must.

    It’s the people that make the forum, as you have pointed out.

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