Forum Promotion Forums Are Not An Answer
by19 Nov 2009
[ This may be a "negative" article in that it details what should presumably be avoided, but does not offer alternatives. I do not bother because I think such advices as the following have been covered here well enough: submit contributive content on a regular basis, participate in discussions, visit like-minded forums, and etc. That said, my article covers a very particular type of forum that I feel too many people think is a decent answer to the problem of promotion. In detailing what I see to be the flaws in that assessment, I hope that my article may be of assistance to a new generation of hobbyist message board administrators (the demographic I feel is prone to buy in to the use of forum promotion forums). ]
When I say "forum promotion forum," I mean a forum set up specifically to promote other forums, and provide a number of "services" to assist in development, such as "post exchange," reviews, and forum-related discussion. I should probably note, however, that I am most definitely not referring to forums such as TAZ and AA, which differentiate themselves by not being specifically for promotion (and promotion related services, such as post exchanges and signature ad placement), and in another important way which I will detail next.
Unlike administrator resource or webmaster forums, a "forum promotion forum" often does not consist primarily of established administrators who are secure in the promotion of their forum, and are genuinely interested in assisting others and providing input without blatantly waving an advertisement. This brings me to the Catch-22 of the average "forum promotion forum": the members attracted to such forums want to promote their forum, but are not interested in joining other communities (unless it will further promote their forum). That said, when you submit your topic in the advertisement section, it falls on blind eyes because the readers are only other promoters.
What about non-promotion related services like reviews and forum-related discussion? I will respond to the latter example first, as it is much briefer. Forum related discussions should theoretically help administrators because you are engaging in, or reading, feedback with fellow administrators. The problem, again, is the demographic of the community: administrators who do not already have established communities, and are primarily around to promote their forum, rather than engaging in interesting forum-related discussions. Sure, there are jewels to be found, but the prevailing demographic contributes to an atmosphere where posts are good enough to count toward the attaining of services, rather than the attaining of knowledge.
As for reviews, it is hard to find quality because you are not often enough getting people who are genuinely interested in and passionate about reviewing forums. These people who there should be more of have communities that are already established. Also, they are confident about their knowledge, and they do not simply seek post count.
Most certainly, reviewers should not be expected to give top-quality reviews for free, and [insert amount of posts here] may certainly not be worth a well-thought-out, several-paragraphs long review. The problem is that, at forum promotion forums, reviews are more like categorized one-liner praise for what's there (you have a favicon, you have posts, you have topics), whereas criticism is lacking and extremely generalized (you need to get more posts, you need to get a better logo). I think what makes reviews worthwhile is that the person giving them has built a community that got off the ground, and not only because it only exists to feed the need of people to promote their forums. Such people are more often found at administrator resource forums.
Finally, here are my thoughts on the post exchange. I certainly have my feelings about post exchanges, which I less flatteringly refer to as a form of "astroturfing." However, I understand that my feelings do not make an argument, so I will instead focus on the following points. Post exchanges may help with activity, but they are much more likely to do so when coupled with more up-front tactics like simply submitting quality content or regularly submitting thoughtful replies to your members. However, as is known by some forum administrators, there are paid posting services out there that guarantee a certain "quality," which should be all I need to say about that to make the following point. Post exchange participants at forum promotion forums tend to be low quality, as those participants are, as I said, mostly inexperienced administrators who haven't gotten their forum off the ground, and so are not likely to have the necessity of quality content nailed down as something they should be contributing to at their forum, and therefore yours.
By Kevin Malone of The Infinity Program.
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Last edited by Tanapangarap : 20 Nov 2009 at 08:50. Reason: Added my name, and the site I run, at the end of article.
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