Old 05-14-2009, 12:37 AM   #1
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I'm just curious. Does anyone here own or maintain their own website and/or forum (not including Myspace type pages, but actual websites or forums like this one). I'm curious, because I some distant goal of mine in the future is maintain my own forum, and I wanted to sort of get input on reactions from those who do. Or those that belong to a diverse range of forums (even if you don't own them).

This goal is probably not something I'll be doing in the near-future, but someday I'd like to maintain a forum. Thanks in advance for any input or opinions.
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Old 05-14-2009, 02:28 AM   #2
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I do not, but I'm a member of but I'm a member of 3 other forums, not including this one

I was a member of one movie site which shut down, because the guy running it couldn't afford to pay to keep his site up and running.

The other movie forum I was with, I left because people were threatening to kill each other, and the police were called. Luckily this happened a few weeks after I signed up, so I left.

I KNOW their things you have to look out for!

Actually, I was thinking of running an acting job forum in the future myself. In the hope that people can help each other out insome way in regards to finding acting work.

Which is why I'm in so many forums! To see how their run.

Don't forget I'm in a several soccer forums also, as well as acting forums to!

So if I can be of any help, I'm here for you ohboy - feel free to pick at my brain!

I know their are people out there who run their own forums, and know more than myself, but anyways!

Hope I make sense here.

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Old 05-14-2009, 02:46 AM   #3
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You make total sense, Angvav. I actually have a few ideas for a forum for myself, which I'll be more than willing to share if somebody asks (I have a long explanation attached to it, so I'm not going to bother this forum with it without me being able to say "so and so asked me, what could I do?" ).

But I'll ask you, then. What do you think, in one sentence, makes a successful forum?
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Old 05-14-2009, 02:47 AM   #4
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Simple answer.

The people who use it.



Is it rude to ask what your idea is please?

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Old 05-14-2009, 02:54 AM   #5
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You know, I've thought a lot about the topic, and I actually never hit that idea. Pretty insightful. Thanks!
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Old 05-14-2009, 03:03 AM   #6
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Trust me.

It does matter what your forum is about.

If there are people out there as passionate as something as you are - then they might join your forum.

But what matters even more is what type of people that use it that makes a forum a GREAT one to use.

And a forum like that is one, well then, people would want to come back again and again!

I use this site as an example! We all love QL - and everyone in this site seems so NICE!

I wish to come back again and again!

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Old 05-14-2009, 04:21 AM   #7
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i started a forum for filmakers, actors, writers, drawers (drawing people not furniture ) and martial artists, but it never quite caught on.
I started a social forum for a film I was hoping to make, again, not much response.

I think you may have to find yourself a nishe, something that hasn't been done before, or start with a strong group of friends. I guess advertizement would be a big factor as well.

And I am GM-ing (Game Mastering) 2 groups, one long dried out lord of the rings group and one sci-fi fantasy one based on a star wars/star trek mix combined with a story created by me when I was a kid. This one keeps drippling on , but probably because it's a few of my close friends, who are now spread throughout the globe, trying to stay in touch

i may want to join a Battlestar Galactica Forum, and I'm on the Buck Rogers one with you, ohboy and systemcat, but frankly just because I was helping out with the video, i'm not in touch with the story anymore. Oh and two webcast groups... I would also join work related forums such as TV Production or acting.

Anyway this one is my absolute favorite, so whatever Brian and co did right here, you gotta learn from it
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Old 05-14-2009, 09:20 AM   #8
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I mod and/or admin on three other boards. I belong to waaaay too many boards as a member.

I like this board as well and I agree that it's the members who make it (like all good boards) a success. Getting the word out that it exists is tricky.

I think the next-most important thing is to provide organization through the forums you create on the board. Too many / unclear forum descriptions and people post in the wrong place. When a mod moves a post to another forum, the OP feels that they've done something wrong. Too many forums and you scare off the computer-challenged. Too few forums and you end up with a mish-mosh of unreadable information. A "members only" forum is also good, so that there's an advantage to logging in instead of lurking as a guest. One board I belong to recently had a small meetup at a publicity event. There were a few funny/interesting things that happened, so those attendees wrote up first-hand accounts and published them in the members-only forum. Search engines can't see them and their personal comments aren't broadcasted to the web.

A UK-based, world-wide, board I belong to has a Members Only forum that no one is allowed to discuss "out loud." (It's in the rules and you'll be suspended if you violate the rule.) You can only access it by $$$ subscription and members talk about anything (even personal stuff) curse freely and complain about spouse/BFF/family/friends/home/school/job -- anything. They have a weekly rant thread where you can say "I hate it when my boss..." without fear of having the boss find it in your work computer's history. The all-time favorite thread on that board is called "Things you can't say 'out there'..." On that thread, they complain about what others have posted on the general-public forums. ("She's an ******* to make a comment like that about (politician)." It's really funny when someone starts ranting about StupidGirl and StupidGirl quietly posts "I can see these forums, you know." I make sure to comment about something innocuous at least once a month so that no one picks on ME in that thread.

You can sign onto that board (membership is worldwide) at any time of the day or night and at least 60 people will be online and posting. Monday-Wednesday are peak days and hundreds of members will be signed on and reading/posting. During the season, they actually have to limit access to certain forums where people post play-by-plays and (my favorite) gossip and trash talk. The subscription fee covers the temporary bandwidth increases. (They budget and manage really well over there, never complaining about costs or needing financial help.)

Good boards are reliable (such as Brian's), maintained, and don't go down on a regular basis, lol. There's one board where the admins and mods constantly brag about how superior they all are, yet every two months it crashes or gets hacked for a week or two. When they return, they pat themselves on the back thoroughly. The diehards come back, but they lose a few members every time. What's really appalling is the board crashes regularly because the owner doesn't renew the license/domain/hosting contracts on time. How difficult is it to put a note on your calendar! That's just unprofessional.

Finally, the admin/mods keep things running smoothly in terms of posts. Not just moving threads, but dealing with (or ignoring) conflicts between members, setting up clear guidelines for usage, and not playing favorites. One of the boards I am a member of has an awful admin/mod who expects to be worshipped. If you post anything disagreeing with her delusions of grandeur, she'll delete your post and then make snarky comments about you.

Be sure to estimate and budget the costs of running a website and forum. Ads are a turnoff to many people, but they do defer some of the costs. While everyone loves to look at pictures and videos, cool avatars and siggys, it adds onto the cost of running the site and oversized images will discourage users on slow connections as well as those peeking in from work. You might want to put limits on those items up front.
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Old 05-14-2009, 08:10 PM   #9
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I had a forum for acting to. But no one ever joined LOL

I notice with forums that a lot of people join, the forums normally have something to offer.

Downloads, info, meet people, chat.

I think finding a niche is important, but I think the people that use a site is MOST important.

Be careful who you let into a forum, nothing makes a forum or site more successful than the people who use it.

I know it is impossible to find out whom enters a forum, but anyways.

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Old 05-15-2009, 09:15 AM   #10
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I have 9 years experience running my own forum and help out with technical issues here as well. If you have any questions, please let me know.

There are certainly some "Fatal Mistakes" about forum administration which I can post...

Your forum should have a subject that you or one of your partners/friends who are going to post frequently are familiar with. There are a few topic-less forums like offtopic.com, but they're rare. If you want people to keep coming back, you'll want people who will post interesting things that others want to keep coming back and reading. Good posters are your "killer app".

Take it easy on adding forums. The first temptation of some forum admins is to add 20-30 forum areas for people to talk. However new visitors may look at the meager number of new posts each day in each of your 30 subforums and decide the forum is "dead" and not want to participate. Start small. 4-6 forums and subforums. Over time, as your forum gets more popular, you can start splitting up forums.

Unless your forum is going to be about Politics or Religion, I would strongly consider setting a policy not to allow their discussion. Later on, with the forum member's approval (through a poll), you might add a sequestered forum just for Politics/Religion/Current Events/etc. but I would not add one when you open your site.

I would decide how public or private you intend your forum to be? You may draw an audience that prefers a more private forum and so you would have to tailor the forum to meet that need if that is the kind of audience if you want to keep attracting.

One thing I can tell you. After an indeterminate amount of time, it might say "Forum Administrator" under your name, but you won't really own the forum. This feeling that you are just a guest on your own forum can be unnerving.
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Old 05-15-2009, 05:38 PM   #11
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Thanks to everyone for the insight and valuable (did I spell that right?) information.
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Old 05-16-2009, 01:43 AM   #12
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Forums are free to run I think, unless I'm wrong.

I know it costs if you have your own website.

From what I hear it's not cheap. But I'm not exact on costs, if any.
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Old 05-16-2009, 11:30 AM   #13
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Not all forums are free to run. If you're hosting it on your own domain (which I do) you're going to be paying for things like domain registration and server space.

Also, hosting a site is not necessarily expensive if you do research on the different hosting companies, what they offer, etc. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that it's not just about how much space a hosting company is offering for a set fee but what kind of the support are the offering as well. I've chosen a smaller company and althoug they might not offer as much space for the same price as some other companies, their service can not be matched. Any problems I've had, whether it was someone hacking into my site or me deleting something by mistake, when I've called I've been able to immediately speak with a human (not pushing a bunch of numbers hoping to get to a human) and the problems have been solved almost immediately. If it was a problem that took longer to solve, I received frequent email updates (about every 2 hours) until the problem was resolved.

If hosting a website with an associated forum is something you really want to do and have the technical know-how needed to do it, it is something that can be done for a reasonable amount of money.
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Old 05-16-2009, 07:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angvav View Post
Forums are free to run I think, unless I'm wrong.

I know it costs if you have your own website.

From what I hear it's not cheap. But I'm not exact on costs, if any.
Forum Software
The problem with free forums like ProBoards, EZBoard/Yuku, etc. is that they hold your data hostage. You will never be able to "buy your way out" if you want to move on to something better -- you're stuck. They would rather keep you captive as an unhappy forum operator, than give you your data at a cost. Also, if they have a collossal data meltdown (like EZBoard did), you may lose some or all of your forum posts with no recourse.

phpBB and SMF are the better free forum software out there. I am running a phpBB 3 forum and it's actually not bad. They're very easy to install too.

However the premium forum software around is vBulletin. That is what Al's Place runs and that is what my forum runs. It's $200 and there are yearly renewal fees. Also let's just say we're spending a little more than $6 a month to host our websites.

Domain Name
This is your street address. Without it, people can't find you.

Registering a domain name is as cheap as $8 a year from NameCheap or GoDaddy. I do NOT recommend their hosting packages. I strongly advise folks to not register their website and host their website at the same company.

Hosting
This is your actual "space" to build your website.

Web hosting starts for as little as $6 a month with the PHP/MySQL/Apache needed to run a forum. Use WebHostingTalk.com at the very least to weed out the bad webhosts (iPowerWeb, 1-and-1, DreamHost, GoDaddy), and ideally to find ones in your price range that won't lead to premature hair loss.
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Old 05-17-2009, 12:46 AM   #15
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Wow, I really am glad I brought this topic up. I had no idea how complicated such matters are. However, I do appreciate you all taking the time to help little ol' me. When I have the time and energy, as well as a bit more techincal knowledge on using computers, do actually get a forum started on my secret topic, then I will thoroughly review everything that was said. I must say, I have a whole new respect for what forum owners do.

Thanks again!
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Old 05-17-2009, 04:13 AM   #16
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Thanks for the great info everyone!

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Old 05-19-2009, 11:38 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by feldon30 View Post
I have 9 years experience running my own forum and help out with technical issues here as well. If you have any questions, please let me know.

There are certainly some "Fatal Mistakes" about forum administration which I can post...

Your forum should have a subject that you or one of your partners/friends who are going to post frequently are familiar with. There are a few topic-less forums like offtopic.com, but they're rare. If you want people to keep coming back, you'll want people who will post interesting things that others want to keep coming back and reading. Good posters are your "killer app".

Take it easy on adding forums. The first temptation of some forum admins is to add 20-30 forum areas for people to talk. However new visitors may look at the meager number of new posts each day in each of your 30 subforums and decide the forum is "dead" and not want to participate. Start small. 4-6 forums and subforums. Over time, as your forum gets more popular, you can start splitting up forums.

Unless your forum is going to be about Politics or Religion, I would strongly consider setting a policy not to allow their discussion. Later on, with the forum member's approval (through a poll), you might add a sequestered forum just for Politics/Religion/Current Events/etc. but I would not add one when you open your site.

I would decide how public or private you intend your forum to be? You may draw an audience that prefers a more private forum and so you would have to tailor the forum to meet that need if that is the kind of audience if you want to keep attracting.

One thing I can tell you. After an indeterminate amount of time, it might say "Forum Administrator" under your name, but you won't really own the forum. This feeling that you are just a guest on your own forum can be unnerving.

On Politics/Religion/Current Events/etc., with two forums, that pretty much drove me away. With these two it was a "click" of members that had some of the highest post counts, shooting down every one that didn't think like them.

One forum I belong to how ever I think has the right idea over that matter of posting. They have it as a group listed right on the board index that in order to read the posts and join it you need to agree to it's rules. If you don't your just booted from the group but not the forum unless you've done some thing really bad.
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Old 05-19-2009, 02:58 PM   #18
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Quote:
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One forum I belong to how ever I think has the right idea over that matter of posting. They have it as a group listed right on the board index that in order to read the posts and join it you need to agree to it's rules. If you don't your just booted from the group but not the forum unless you've done some thing really bad.
That's a great idea.

Too many people get all worked up about politics and religion. There's no give-and-take or learning going on - it's all preaching both for and against every position. They use their signature lines and include side notes in unrelated threads/posts to get their position known/brag about their favorite politicos, but take offense when others do the same thing. I'm often tempted to tell them to "shut up" when the pots call the kettles black. lol

I used to be very good friends (online and real-life) with someone on another board, but her posts against religion and one-sided politic positions made me very uncomfortable. During a phone conversation, I realized that I just didn't want to associate with her anymore because she was a little . I ignore her now in real life and online. (I mod on that board, so it takes great restraint, lol.)
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Old 05-19-2009, 07:59 PM   #19
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Just back to web hosting, I have a my own websites with a bit of MySQL and PHP and they work very well on ipowerweb. I started a phpBB forum a while back and it worked quite well, but I never had a chance to test it with a serious amount of users. So I'm not sure how they'd do under pressure.
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Old 05-19-2009, 10:21 PM   #20
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Forums I've been in, well, you can get booted off, but then, people can be sneaky.....

And log back on under a different name.

But I guess everybody would already know that!

How silly of me to say this!

Another thing people seem to talk about alot is over posting.

Webmasters give out warnings on the provizo that people may over post to get higher up the rank if that makes sense?

Not that theres anything wrong with warnings or over posting.
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Old 05-19-2009, 11:01 PM   #21
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Quote:
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Webmasters give out warnings on the provizo that people may over post to get higher up the rank if that makes sense?
I've read that as a rule for many forums, and some forums don't even give posting counts, I believe, to avoid that problem. I don't know, I always like the ranking system, but of course, it can be abused when people post nonsense just to increase their rank. Of course, that could just be when rewards come with the rank. Here at Al's Place, they are just for fun (I think), so one wouldn't see much of that.

So yes, that makes sense.
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Old 05-20-2009, 12:17 AM   #22
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Quote:
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Forums I've been in, well, you can get booted off, but then, people can be sneaky.....

And log back on under a different name.
It's not as easy as you think to do that. If an owner/administrator is paying attention, it's quite easy to pick up on someone doing that. I use a phpbb board and I can see what IP address a post is coming from. So to get by me, someone would not only have to reregister under a different name but mask their IP address as well, or use a differ ISP, or do something so that that number is different. I actually had to codify it into the TOU of the board that there was a one person/one member rule when a couple of people tried to sign up with 2 or more user names...although I really can't fathom why.

As far as posting counts, I think they're absolutely nuts and will never understand the need to post, post, post just to make them go up. For me, it's the quality of someone's posts that count, not the quantity of them. On the board I administer, one of the things I heavily remind people of is the "edit post" function and encourage users to use it if they feel the need to add on to what they've posted and no one has posted after them. If users don't, I'll often go in and merge their posts together to accomplish the same thing. I'd rather see users have lower post count numbers and cohesive thoughts that make sense than several thoughts in a row spread out over several different posts.

If anyone is looking for a host for a website, I HIGHLY recommend the company Liquid Web. I've hosted sites with them for over six years and I can't say enough about them. The customer support is outstanding and is the main reason I stay loyal to them. I originally learned of them when I had to find hosting for the website for the company I was with. We ended up going with LW. When it came time that I was looking for a webhost for my personal site, I didn't even think twice about who I'd go with.
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Old 05-20-2009, 03:22 AM   #23
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You make good a good point there.

One thing I didn't say which you sort of did is this.

I have seen people log into a certain forum after sending mean threats to someone.

This person did manage to register again - twice.

Both times from different computers.

How can you stop someone if you cannot recognise their IP address?

See my point?

Honestly, it's nice people that make a forum nice, but thats my opinion!

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Old 05-20-2009, 10:25 PM   #24
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You'll notice that post and user ranking/reputation are disabled here. It just creates competition and infighting which might be fun on certain forums, or have a specialized use like advice forums where you want to know if the advice from certain people is more valued than others. But for a fan forum such as this, an even playing field seems to be working.

And yes, watching for banned users to come back under different names is one of those things which are like Defense Against the Dark Arts. Some people can be quite determined. I think Brian has been lucky to attract such a diverse audience for this forum who were brought together by one TV show yet there is not as much conflict as you might imagine.
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Old 05-25-2009, 12:10 PM   #25
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I had one user who kept picking fights with people by name. When I confronted her, she committed "board suicide," asking to have her ID removed permanently. I was more than happy to comply since she turned every discussion into a series of personal attacks.
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