How To Breathe Life Into an Inactive Forum?

In my opinion, a forum is one of the best ways to build and manage communities online. Truth be told, I’ve actually found myself to have been addicted to forums at certain points in my life. I’ve actually made real life friends and business contacts from the various forums I’ve been a member of. These days, though, while I don’t feel compelled to checking for new posts every half hour, I still visit my favorite forums at least once a day to check on new conversations and reply to ones I feel I can contribute to.

I find that niche-based forums bring together people of like interest. But sometimes, this extends past interests. Long after i’ve given up on some hobbies, for instance, I still visit the forums I’ve been part of just for the conversations. Even if the technologies and software being discussed in certain forums had been long obsolete, some might still be active because of the virtual friendships formed.

Sadly, however, not all forums can survive the test of time. For one, members might move on to other interests. Or in the case of forums that mostly involve professionals and enthusiasts in certain fields, people can become busy with their own concerns.

I wonder what could help breathe back life into forums that have slowed down. Should the forum give incentives for new members (such as freebies like ebooks and other downloads)? Or maybe great content can be dug up and re-posted as fresh. Should the moderators get in touch with each individual member to check how they are? Or in the case of exclusive, closed forums, will being open to the general public help in revitalizing discussions?

I think netizens these days have grown to have very short attention spans, especially with character limitations like those imposed by certain microblogging services. Will forums survive in the long run?

11 thoughts on “How To Breathe Life Into an Inactive Forum?

  1. We typically find that it’s easy to bring a dead forum back to life by identifying where its uses are and going drop posts to the forum there. Users will come back to the forum slowly.

  2. I still think that forums are a good thing. Its just making sure that the relevent people are using them. I use one on the intranet, and it works realy well sharing thoughts and ideas.

  3. Forums are useful and great places, but sometimes it ist hard to activate them, when there ist no big community on the subject or big competition. It takes time and patience.

  4. I’d really love joining in a forum. Aside from what I’ve been doing lately,I’ve been an enthusiast of cooking games , I see to it that I’d be able to visit one of the forum sites that I’ve joined. Forums were useful if only, members should make it active and alive. Alive in a sense that this was always updated with the happenings of each members lives. There is freebies for active members and any propaganda that could help a lot in making the forum active. For, I myself have proven how effective forum is..for there are a lot of useful advices from members that can help you whenever problem arises.

  5. The quality of discussions seems to be the main reason I return to forums, whether its posts written by the moderator or members of a forum. Also asking for advise on a forum and getting ignored king of makes me think why bother, even if the moderator acknowledged your post that would be something. Keeping discussions active and current would be the biggest way to improve on a forums sticking members, even if you have lost the old members it can help to keep the new ones coming back.

  6. To solve the problem, you have to know why it dropped off to begin with. Was it the general lack of substance? No “fresh new blood” coming in? Lack of moderation? Overmoderation? Then, you have to address the problem substantively — and, I’d add completely transparently.

    But incentives? Not a bad idea.

  7. The worst idea is to start a forum without checking for similar ones around the net. Especialy if it’s a niche forum – in that case there’s usualy always one big forum with no competition – there’s just too few people to compete over.

  8. Still wondering wether to start a forum or not. I know they are a lot of hard work and hard to mantain and keep active.. Offering incentives is a good way to keep ppl happy. But other than that i think alot depends on the people you have on the forums.

    I see your site is Drupal with Drupal forums.. looks good.. I have tried to set that up myself but keep finding drupal a nightmare to work with. Guess ill keep on tryin

  9. Forums will survive. Like you said they are one of the best ways to really get to know people online. There’s only so much you can connect through things like Twitter.

    It’s natural for people to come and go on forums When my own forum slows down I try to increase my own posting. Start some new threads and conversations. Sometimes a few good thread starters are all you need to get your forum going again.

    Also you should always be looking for new members understanding that your current active members may not be active forever.

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