Are you currently running your own message board? Have you been thinking about starting one? For those who can answer either of these questions with a “yes,” I want to share some of my best tips for running successful forums. These have been collected thanks to my years of personal successes and failures during the golden age of the dial-up BBS and the modern era of Web-accessible forums. Why be stubborn when you can learn from the mistakes of people like me?

Successful Forums Tip #1: What’s the point?

What’s the point? Who hasn’t seen someone’s brand new forums and asked that question? It’s certainly the first thing that runs through my mind every time I see yet another person advertising his or her brand new forums in their forum or e-mail signature.

Forums are a-dime-a-dozen these days. Even if you don’t have your own Web hosting account, there are plenty of people out there willing to host your forums for free. After all, if you end up having a popular one then they have a whole new audience for their advertisements and you’ve done all the hard work for them! But just because you can run your own forums doesn’t automatically mean you should.

Before you even get started, you should seek answers to the following questions:

  • Why do I want to run my own forums?
  • Who or what is my target audience?
  • What will members get from my forums that they can’t get elsewhere?
  • How will I recruit new members?
  • How will I keep members coming back?
  • How will I deal with trolls?
  • Who is going to help me manage my forums?
  • How much time can I devote to my forums?

If you have answers to all of these, then you are probably ready to get started. But if not, don’t panic just yet. In the rest of this series, I’ll help you find your own answers to those and other pertinent questions.

To see this and other tips in action, feel free to stop by my personal forums, TechDiscussions.com, or Lockergnome’s own forums.