Page 1 of 1

How to run a forum

PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 12 11:13 pm
by Tantalus
Richard "Lowtax" Kyanka, founder of the Something Awful forums, does a humorous lecture about internet commerce, running a forum and attempting to maintain quality as well as what kills a forum.

Just want a general discussion about forum practices, is paying for an account the best way to ward off trash? Is DXAlpha stagnating, or maintaining a stable and intimate (not too far now) community?


If you do anything, just have a watch. It's quite outdated now due to it being recorded in 2005, but some of the factoids still ring true.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 12 12:08 am
by Psychotic
I never liked Something Awful nor understood why people do, I just found much of the community really put the "Awful" in Something Awful.

I'm also not a fan of setting up a pay-to-use system for an internet community. The main reason for this is because when I see a price on something I feel that the product has some implied worth. It has to be worth that cost if I am to spend even a dime on it. As it stands, SA is not worth that cost. What I can find at SA I can find elsewhere, for free.

Lowtax can claim that the idea behind the cost was and is to prevent the common "forum trash" but that doesn't stop anything. The pay-to-use nature of SA hasn't stopped people from breaking forum rules, being an average asshole and, in general, just posting absolute garbage, and why would it?

The final and most subjective (in my opinion) reason I dislike Something Awful forums is not related to the forum itself: Size.

I like Alpha (these) forums because it's not nearly as big as Something Awful. I like smaller forums because I feel disconnected when using larger ones, I feel as if my opinions and responses don't really matter much in the grand scope of things, I also prefer smaller ones because it's easier to pick a face from the crowd.

I prefer large forums when I want quick tips and assistance on something.

I prefer small forums when I plan on posting regularly and desire a more family/community-like feeling.

I would love to watch the full video if it's available for download (so I can download and watch it later) but seeing a few snippets leads me to believe that I'd probably agree with some of what he's saying anyway.

I think there are a few reasons forums fail or "die out" after so long, note that the following are just my opinion:

  • The forum has no clear goal or ambitions: This can be applied to a lot of everyday things, really. If you have no idea where you're going or how you want to get there you may end up walking in circles achieving very little.
  • Rules aren't clear or enforced: Self-explanatory and one of the reasons why trolls start to breed in large quantities.

Other points like "advertising" or "original content" could also be up there but I don't find that as important as the two mentioned simply because there's a plethora of large forums doing virtually the same thing. I also find these to be a bit of common sense: If you don't advertise in some way then yeah, your website/forum isn't likely to become known. If you tell even one person that can snowball into something bigger, such as viral advertising.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 12 12:32 am
by Tantalus
I personally think Lowtax makes a great point about advertising. When it comes to 'e-goods' at least, good things will advertise themselves.

In some ways they're employing reverse psychology by not advertising, using a paid account and generally deterring people away from it (as can be seen in this supremely awkward interview done by G4 Attack of the Show and 'Dr.' David Thorpe)


PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 12 1:31 am
by Psychotic
Yeah, I can see that: Trying to deter people away but in the process making them curious as to what SA really is so they take a look around anyway.

I just don't like SA in general. It's a big forum, it's popular, and it's a giant rip-off. That's essentially what I don't like about SA. Their motto is "The Internet Makes You Stupid" but half of the stupid things on the internet either came from SA or from 4chan's wonderful (/sarcasm) Random board.

Whilst the price is cheaper than it was, you're still essentially paying for something you can see on a specialized forum and if not there, then it's probably going to be on 4chan's Random board, and I don't understand why you'd pay for that.

Their "reverse psychology advertising" is a good way to market their product, however. I might not like Something Awful but as I've said, it's big and it's popular and they've clearly done something right to achieve this.

The thing is though, you have to look at how they began to get the full picture. It's all well and good to say SA doesn't need to advertise now but that can be largely attributed to their reputation and the sheer amount of viral advertising SA gets from those who lurk or post there. It's the same with 4chan: 4chan gets lots of visitors and reputation simply because of its Random board, which most internet enthusiasts know about and tell other people about.

10-15 years ago, though? Reputation and viral marketing would've still worked but when you're a new company it's hard to get either of these going, noting that SA didn't even start out as what it is today, it started out as something completely different and moved onto bigger and better goals and this is largely because the admins wanted it to.

[e] As for Lowtax's comment? I actually agree with that. I still think proper marketing has it's place but content is key. If your website doesn't have good content then who cares how it looks?

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 12 3:21 am
by Aidan

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 12 7:25 am
by Psychotic
Adverts to make money or adverts to market it?

The former: At one stage this actually happened, some people even made an effort to click once a day, week, or whatever, out of support for the admins. I'm not entirely sure what happened to this.

The latter: The problem with this is that marketing costs time and money and those who endeavour into it usually do so because the return is worth that price. Obviously, I can't speak for the admins themselves, but I'm not convinced that Alpha would truly benefit from marketing, or that there is really a point.

Has Alpha stagnated in activity? Yes, it has, in comparison to how it began over 10 years ago. Should this have been expected and is it surprising? No, it is not. It was bound to happen eventually, it was just a matter of when. Why it did isn't so hard to surmise: The popularity and population of DXMP started to decline and people started leaving for newer and bigger games.

Has DXHR and, to a lesser extent, the modding community helped at all? It's helped the Deus Ex community in general but not necessarily these forums in general, namely due to the advent of the Eidos Montreal Deus Ex forums, aka the "official Deus Ex forums".

Is it an issue, does it matter that this forum is no longer as big as it used to be? Subjective, it is if you think or want it to be. I don't have a problem with the forum as it stands, even before I "forcibly retired" I was used to those who post often now and as I've stated in my first response, I don't think it's an issue because I like smaller forums.

Personally, I feel a forum is dead (not in the process of failing or dying) when:
  • Nobody posts. Literally nobody.
  • The owners no longer have the desire or the funds to keep the project running.

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 12 9:11 am
by ynnaD

Brought to you by Viagra enlargement pills, because natural growth, can be helped.

Imagine that in a cheesey american voice...

PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 12 9:24 am
by Psychotic
ynnaD wrote:Imagine that in a cheesey american voice...

I didn't just imagine it, I went out and said it, too!