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Caihlem
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Number of posts : 300
Registration date : 2007-06-18

PostSubject: Starting a Forum   Wed 20 Jun - 22:31

Making a Forum: The Basics


Although it may make some people smile (you know who you are), this aspect is often neglected. Other see this as a daunting task, which also isn’t the right way to deal with it Razz

Through out this tutorial, I will try to develop some ideas and methods on how to start a forum in as good conditions as one could hope Wink


Getting Started


Ok, let’s start with the basics.

The first thing you need to start a forum is… a theme. (Will you people stop smiling! Razz)
By theme, I mean the forum’s aim, or main subject.
Examples could be:
- A discussions board on the new movies,
- A RPG on dragons and mystical beasts,
- A graphics forum
Basically, the choice is yours for the picking…

Well, in fact, life’s not that simple pale (Is anything? Razz)
You also want your forum to have at least some originality…
If your forum is simply a copy-paste of this other forum, why would members go to yours rather than the other one?

So, your forum needs a theme and a hint of originality.

Ok, fine, but what’s a hint of originality?
Well, I suppose it means that a little effort has to be put into your forum Wink

Personally, I’d advise these few points:
- An original graphic theme,
- Some personal ideas

Graphic Themes are easy to make, hell, I made my first three solely on paint lol!
But you don’t want them to look messy either.
My advice here again is that, if you’re not confident enough, to ask a friend or go to a graphics forum for some help Wink

By personal ideas, what I mean is basically make it obvious that it’s your forum and not your version of that other forum Wink


Setting up your Forum

(Why are some people still smiling? Razz)
Contrary to popular beliefs, a good forum changes looks during its life span.

The first thing people see when they land on your forum will be:
- Your forum’s logo
- Your forum’s graphical theme
- Your forum’s layout

Obviously nice looking themes attract more members, so I won’t rampage about this point
(Don’t look so happy Razz)

Now about the forum layout… (surprised?)
As mentioned above, people will judge a forum on its layout.
Of course, a messy type layout will be less attractive than a nicely organised layout…

Personally, I also prefer a smaller compact layout than a larger, more empty layout, but that’s personal opinion.

See for yourselves:


and


Both have the same number of topics and posts, but I personnally prefer the second Wink


Concordance

This may seem obvious to some, but the number of forums that don’t respect this is outrageous.
Your forum must respect the theme chosen.
Meaning, that if you’ve got a video game forum, a graphics section is not really welcome…


Rules

All new members hate these, but, unfortunately, rules are rules.
I’d advise that these be thought through at least a little.
A boring copy-paste of the terms you agree to when making your forum show no interest.
Instead, post some rules specific to your forum.
For example: if you have a RPG forum, you need rules explaining the game, how to progress, where to go and all that
Also, make these as clear as possible. Last you want is a potential member leaving because he doesn’t understand what to do, where or why Wink
Most good and successful forums have a good set of rules.
So, even though at first these may seem pointless, think of this point Wink


Staff

Most, if not all forums have a staff.
Now, of course, you’ve got to choose your staff carefully.
A moderator can edit/delete and even ban on some forums
An Admin can affect the forum as a whole
So, just one piece of advice: Don’t choose your brother/sister or best friend without having first thought it through correctly Wink


Another thing to keep in mind, is that when your forum is only starting, you should be able to manage everything yourself. Therefore, you don’t need a big staff to start off with. You can always increase your staff’s size later, once your forum has become more popular.


Extras

There is no guarantee a forum will have any success and there is always a part of luck involved. Anyone guaranteeing the case is either a liar, or a damn fool…
However, there are some known ways to increases your chances.

Partnerships
You might want to have your forum partnered with another forum.
What normally happens is you host his “partner icon” on your forum while he does the same on his forum. A partner icon is a small banner that when clicked, brings you to the forum Wink

Here’s the basic code for one:
Code:
<a target="blank" alt="forum_name" href="http://forum_address"><img src="image_address"></a>

Most partner icons have the same size. Here's an example of he size for those who wish to make one:

(89 x 31 pixels)

Up to everyone to choose their partners as they wish Wink

Competitions
Members as a general like competitions of all sorts
Of course, you want your competition to be related to your forum’s theme.
For example:
Graphics forum => graphics contest
RPG = > Combat tournament
Up to you to be imaginative Wink

Rules and Spamming
Yes, this may sound weird (especially from those who know me Razz), but you might want to consider this.
At first, go easy on the rules, people won’t want to stay if the rules are too harsh and there’s no ambiance.
You might also want to encourage a little spamming. Question to up the statistics and post count Cool

And Please…
The last thing you want to do is spam other boards, trying to publicise for your board. There are 2 sorts of publicity:
Good publicity, which attracts potential members
Bad publicity, which repulses potential members
This doesn’t mean though that it’s disadvised to publicise. Just keep it cool and only where allowed to Wink


And finally, be patient, most forums only get their first few members over the first months.

Written by Caihlem
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