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  #1  
Old 21 Jan 2008, 17:37
davide101 davide101 is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Maintaining A Sense of Intimacy as a Board Grows

For those of you that run large boards, how do you maintain a sense of community as it grows? I'm just getting to the point where our regulars are feeling overwhelmed by the number of new users (about 20/day). What have you done to keep these critical members of the community feeling connected?
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  #2  
Old 21 Jan 2008, 19:09
EricGT EricGT is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
It is tough to accomplish. I don't think the site can ever feel like it did when it was smaller. The best solution I have come up with, other than enforcing behavioral standards pretty strictly, is to have many different forums, each with its own personality. If the site as a whole gets too big to be one tight-knit community, create several smaller ones, each with its own distinct identity. Eric
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Old 23 Jan 2008, 08:49
matt_turpin matt_turpin is offline
 
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In my experience, forum users split off into cliques. Your core vererans will be one clique. I think they'll create their own sense of community in the face of growing numbers. It's like a big city - you might have your Chinatowns, maybe an Italian community, a Jewish area, etc, but at the end of the day, they all call themselves New Yorkers, or Bostonians or what have you. You'll have community, even if it's a hodge-podge of smaller subcommunities. Not necessarily a bad thing really.
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Old 23 Jan 2008, 20:32
davide101 davide101 is offline
 
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Matt, have you taken any steps to give these cliques a place to congregate? I want to make sure I accommodate the old timers without making the board seem cliquish. That's why I'm hesitant to have something like a "supporters forum" for people with more than x posts or those that have donated. Any thoughts on that?
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  #5  
Old 24 Jan 2008, 05:05
matt_turpin matt_turpin is offline
 
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I don't know of any forums that specifically cater to cliques, really. I don't think many admins really want them. I just figure, they're unavoidable. You go to work, and people clump off into smaller subcommunities/cliques, it happens in school, it happens everywhere- it's just what people do naturally when they're in a community with too many people in it to care about individually. The forums I own are still small, so I speak more as a member of lots of big forums. I think most people tend to resent being labelled, anyway. Actually, I think the new social groups feature of the 3.7 beta series of vBulletin might be an answer to this. It'll let like-minded individuals cluster without you having to cater to them specifically.
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Old 24 Jan 2008, 20:01
davide101 davide101 is offline
 
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I was thinking along these lines as well, although I'm not sure if the limited messaging capabilities of Groups will fulfil this role right now. Adding an outsourced chatroom (addon chat) has been a big help, as well as some more off topic forums. But it's still hard to get around the fact that the sheer volume of posts now makes it harder for people to feel the intimacy.
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  #7  
Old 25 Jan 2008, 16:20
Jafo232 Jafo232 is offline
 
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I would also suggest that as your community grows, so should your moderators and helpers. It is a lot easier keeping things personal when you have a "family" to help.
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Old 25 Jan 2008, 17:26
davide101 davide101 is offline
 
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Javo, that's a great point. January 1 we doubled our moderator staff and it's made a huge difference. There's a real sense of community among the staff, they talk out every major issue, and both the pace and quality of the moderating has gone up. I sleep a lot better at night, too.
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  #9  
Old 25 Jan 2008, 18:51
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COBRAws COBRAws is offline
 
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Real name: Jack
Its a difficult assignment, but as the times passes, one "veteran" category with or without a private forum wont be enought. I've had several forums with more than 4 veteran categories, now with the new vbb its easier for us, the admins, to give more privacy to them. But that wont keep everyone help either, so a few will leave your board and find another newly created. Since they dont want to share nor read information, but to keep a friendship with a group of people, not 700.000 members hehe
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  #10  
Old 13 Feb 2008, 19:23
FlyBoy73 FlyBoy73 is offline
 
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This doesn't work for everyone, but over time we expanded to have sub-forums for all 50 States, since my largest forum is very regional. While we still have a global introduction forum, each state forum has its own intro forum.. They also have many other state-specific forums under each state and region. Many of the state forums have private staff forums in them and many more..

We have also experimented over the years with Staff Teams for a variety of things such as helping hands to new members, projects and strategies, etc..

Cliques are always going to exist in forums and they can be a real PITA.. You have what I would term "good/helpful cliques" and then you have the "problematic cliques".

If you deal with one of the problematic clique members over a policy or other violation, the rest of the "team" often jumps to their aid, threatens to run off and create their own forum (this has happened a time or two), and cranks up the heat with other members. Dealing with situations with them shouldn't be taken lightly.. Often, they will work in the background against you and the community.. I learned to regret a time or two giving them multiple chances when I know I should have shown them the door.. It came back to bite me when it blew up later and much worse.. My staff and I decided after much discussion to IP ban around 20 of them we knew were involved in making life hell for others, scheme, etc.. There was a bit of an outcry by their friends and others that didn't know all the details (we don't share staff actions relating to banning in most cases).. Some ask for us to close their accounts, and we immediately did.. Despite many people's claims that our community was going to die over it, the exact opposite happened.. It became much better without them.. It also sent a message that we take the policies/rules very seriously...

Ok, that got a bit away from growing intimacy, didn't it..?
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  #11  
Old 14 Feb 2008, 13:06
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Deriel Deriel is offline
 
Join Date: May 2005
Real name: Fábio Bettega
In our forum we create a kind of game: Masters and Students. Every Master must have two "students" until they become Masters themselves. The system creates a interesting sense of "family"
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  #12  
Old 20 Feb 2008, 22:28
FlyBoy73 FlyBoy73 is offline
 
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That sounds like an interesting concept, Deriel.

Does that start with staff or just a member thing?

Are they listed as such in their postbit or anywhere else after they attain the "Master" rank?
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  #13  
Old 21 Feb 2008, 10:48
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Deriel Deriel is offline
 
Join Date: May 2005
Real name: Fábio Bettega
We made some simple rules and invited some of the best (and older) users to became the "first generation". After that it's almost automatic.

We use an algorithm - not perfect, but sufficient - to give grades from A to F to the students (we call them "Nolyoni" - students in Quenya, one of the languages created by J. R. R. Tolkien) in a bi-weekly basis. The promotion to master ("Saitor", also in Quenya) is after some weeks obtaining good grades. There is a custom userfield in the postbit that shows the rank.

And better: all the users try to make good posts, to receive a good grade =]
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  #14  
Old 24 Feb 2008, 04:20
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Amenadiel Amenadiel is offline
 
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just keep posting, participating.

You won't keep the sense of intimacy as your board grows bigger, that's unavoidable, but you should let your visitors and members know you're still there. Be sure to keep involved in micromanagement: moderation, conflict negotiation, newbies doubts.

You can't avoid losing the sense of intimacy, but you still can demonstrate your users you still care.
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