Author Archives: Cosmic

Fighting Spam Effectively: The Three Layer Defense

Fighting spam effectively can be difficult, but using three different technologies, it can be quite achievable. Forums do not need to use member validation, or impose the requirement to first post in a particular forum. Instead, a forum needs to use the following three techniques to form a passive and active defense against forum spam.


Defense Layer #1: Good Anti-Spam Software

The most important aspect to any spam defense is software. Within this “Layer,” an administrator should use four different technologies to defeat spam. Those technologies are as follows.

  • reCAPTCHA: Google’s reCAPTCHA is currently the most effective anti-spam mechanism. There are other tools which integrate ads, or allow the user to simply slide a bar to verify that they are not a spam bot, but these are less effective. There are reCAPTCHA plugins for all major forum systems.
    • MyBB: http://mods.mybb.com/view/recaptcha
    • phpBB: https://developers.google.com/recaptcha/old/docs/phpbb
    • IPB: Built-In.
  • Q&A CAPTCHA: For bots which are sophisticated enough to split past reCAPTCHA, Q&A CAPTCHA is a very effective defense. Simply define a few custom questions, such as “What is the name of this forum,” or classically, “What color is the Sky?” and most bots will not be able to create accounts. Note that for larger forums, a bot may be designed to know the answers to these questions, so this defense should be used in conjunction with reCAPTCHA.
    • MyBB: http://community.mybb.com/thread-83250.html
    • phpBB: https://www.phpbb.com/support/docs/en/3.0/kb/article/how-to-configure-q+a-captcha/
    • IPB: Not necessary because of IPS Spam Services
  • Email Validation: This is a feature which most modern forum systems use by default. It stops a very large number of spam bots, but not all. This is most likely enabled on your board by default, but if not, I recommend enabling it.
  • Spam Databases: There are a number of alternatives for different spam databases to use. For IPB users, IPS Spam Services (which is bundled with your IPB License) is extremely effective, and prevents a vast majority of all spam. For non-IPB users, StopForumSpam is a very good option to use.
    • All major forum systems: http://www.stopforumspam.com/contributions
    • IPB: Use IPS Spam Services, which is built in to IPB.

 


Defense Layer #2: Permanent Bans & Cleanup Tools

Despite the strong defenses of layer #1, there is a class of spam bots which will evade them, and still cause issues on your forum. If your forum is large enough, these potential spam bots include human beings.

The most effective tool for dealing with spam bots who have passed through layer #1 are immediate, permanent bans. But also, you will need to use a good removal tool to remove their content from your forum. Below are instructions on how to do this on major forum platforms.

  • MyBB: Use the following plugin, or the “Delete User” feature of the ACP: http://mods.mybb.com/view/goodbye-spammer
  • phpBB: Refer to the following support topic: https://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=1187175
  • IPB: Hover over the user’s name and click “Mark as Spam.” Searching “Mark as Spam” in the ACP will allow you to configure what this button does.

However, there are some spam bots which are so clever, that even the most intelligent admins cannot be sure that they are spam bots. There is one final defensive layer to use against these nasty customers.


Defense Layer #3: Moderator Queue

Sometimes, a user will register, post a perfectly allowable topic asking a question like “What dating script should I use?” Once a couple members have replied, then will then say “Actually, I decided to use <insert  link here>. It’s a very good product!” When a new user posts something suspicious, the admin should then add that user to the moderator queue. That way, if the user turns out to be a real person, and it was all a misunderstanding, then the user can be taken off the moderator queue. Here are instructions on how to do this.

  • MyBB: Create a new group and check “Moderate new posts” on the edit group page. Add suspected spammers to this user group as their primary user group.
  • phpBB: Create a new user group, and configure its permissions for each forum to “Moderate new posts.” Doing this is beyond the scope of this tutorial, although a google search for “phpBB Moderator Queue” will help configure this. When you identify a suspected spammer, add that user to this user group.
  • IPB: Create a new user group. When editing the group, under Forum -> Restrictions, set “Moderate content of everyone in this group?” to “Yes.” When you identify a suspected spammer, add that spammer to the user group you just created. Make that the user’s primary user group.

Basically, the moderator queue requires moderators to manually approve each post by the user. This can be burdensome, but if a user continues to spam after being added to the mod queue, then the admin can then proceed to ban the spammer.

NOTE: Do not set up your forum to add newly registered users to the moderator queue, unless you are very certain that that is a good idea. Only add spam bots who get past layers 1 and 2 of your anti-spam defenses to the mod queue, and do so manually via the ACP. Adding all users to the mod queue by default will discourage them from posting.


Conclusion

Spam is a problem which many forums have. Using a three-layer defense, administrators can thwart all spam, and keep their forum clean of advertising. If you found this tutorial useful, or have any questions, please leave a comment on this blog post.

Thank you for reading!

Tutorial: Deploying your Forum on a VPS

A Virtual Private Server is the next step above shared web hosting for any website. If a website on a shared host is running slowly due to high volume traffic, or is having issues with its hosting provider due to maxing out limits such as bandwidth or disk space, then a VPS is a very good option to consider. This guide walks you through the details on how to launch your forum on a VPS server. The assumption which I am making is that you are using a web host which uses a cPanel control panel. If you are not, the process is a bit more difficult, and beyond the scope of this article. However, most web hosts do use cPanel, so this tutorial will apply to  most of the readers of this blog.


Part 1: Evaluate

The first question which you must ask yourself before moving to a VPS is this: is it a good idea? A VPS server is not cheap. Leasing one can add up to about 40 dollars per month. However, if you have multiple sites, this is a very good idea, because you get full control over everything, and you only have one bill to pay. Finally, you do not require much technical expertise to get everything running. Here is an approximation of how much this may cost you.

Web Hosting: $20.00 /month (From DigitalOcean)

cPanel/WHM License: $20.00 /month

Total: $40.00 /month.

This gets you 2GB of RAM (which is enough), 40GB of disk space (30 GB in practical terms, because the VPS has overhead which takes up some of the disk space), and 3 whopping terabytes of bandwidth. There are other providers, but most of them have similar pricing.

You can decrease this bill in two ways. First, you can buy a year-long cPanel/WHM license, which costs $16 per month, but you have to pay upfront. Second, you can buy a cheaper VPS instance, such as the DigitalOcean 1GB instance for $10. That makes the bill $26 per month. However, I have not tried the DigitalOcean 1GB instance for cPanel. In theory it will work, but it may not have enough RAM to work well enough to run cPanel/WHM at full performance.


Part 2: Create the VPS

I am going to provide instructions for this step in the form of a step-by-step procedure. Here are the instructions.

1. Visit the following URL and create an account: https://cloud.digitalocean.com/registrations/new

2. Enter your credit card as billing information.

3. Click the “Create Droplet” button on the DigitalOcean control panel.

4. Select the $20 or $10 plan. Your choice. I recommend $20.

5. Select the region for your VPS. This doesn’t really matter. Whichever one is closest to your member base, or yourself, is best.

6. If you want, check “Enable Backups,” but you will be charged extra.

7. Under “Select Image” choose CentOS, and then version 6.5 x64. DO NOT choose a more recent version of the OS. It will not work if you do.

8. Do not add an SSH key, unless you know how to. That is beyond the scope of this tutorial.

9. Click “Create Droplet” and wait a little while.

After you finish step 9, you are done with this part of the tutorial! Next, you will need to install the VPS.


Part 3: Install the VPS

1. Go to the following URL: https://cloud.digitalocean.com/droplets

2. Under “IP Address,” find the droplet you just created, and copy the IP to your clipboard. For example, let’s say your IP address is 127.0.0.1.

3. If  window machines (see step 4 for Mac or Linux):

  • Download PuTTY: http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/download.html
  • Run putty.exe, which you downloaded in the previous bullet point.
  • Paste in the IP address from step 2 into “Host name (or IP Address)”
  • Click “Open,” then “Yes.”
  • When a command prompt appears and asks “Log in as” type “root”
  • Wait for a few moments. It will then ask for a password. Enter whatever password you entered when creating the instance.

4. On a Mac or Linux machine (alternative to step 3):

  • Open up the terminal. On a linux machine, you should know how to do this. On a mac, enter the Launchpad, then type “Terminal,” and click the only option that pops up.
  • Into the terminal, type “ssh root@127.0.0.1”. Make sure to substitute whatever your new VPS server’s IP address is instead of 127.0.0.1.
  • Wait for a moment, then type in “yes” when it asks you to verify the fingerprint. Don’t worry about checking it.
  • Type in the password you entered when creating the VPS in the previous part of this tutorial.
  • You are now logged in!

5. type in:   yum install wget

6. Wait for a moment. You may have to type in “Y” to accept the installation.

7. Type in:  wget http://httpupdate.cpanel.net/latest

8. Type in:  chmod +x ./latest

9. Type in:  ./latest

10. Wait for about thirty minutes. Do not close the connection.

11. You are now done! Visit the following URL to install WHM via their GUI:  http://127.0.0.1/whm .

12. The default options which WHM provides will all work. For nameservers, enter ns1.yourdomain.com, and ns2.yourdomain.com.

Now your VPS is set up! It’s time to transfer your site over to it!


Part 4: Transfer your Site

The following steps should be done fairly quickly, and in the dead of night, while your members are not online, and your board is set to “offline.” If you don’t do that, then content posted while you are going through the steps will be lost.

1.  On your old host, go into cPanel, then Backups -> Download a Full Website Backup -> Generate Backup

2. Wait for the backup to be created, then click the link which appears under “Download a Full Website Backup” to download it to your machine. This may take a while.

3. On your new VPS server, log in to WHM by going to http://127.0.0.1/whm (where 127.0.0.1 is the server’s IP address).

4. On the left sidebar, type into the search bar “backup” then select “Restore a Full Backup/cpmove File” from the left sidebar.

5. Scroll down to “Settings” and select “Restore with File.” Select the file you just downloaded from your other server.

6. Do not change the other default options. Click “Restore,” wait for a long while for your browser to upload the file, then for it to be updated.

7. In the search bar mentioned in step 4, type in “basic.”

8. Select “Basic cPanel and WHM Settings.”

9. Scroll down to the bottom. For each “Nameserver ___” field that isn’t empty, click “Add an A entry for this nameserver.”

10. Go to your DNS control panel provided to your by your domain registrar (Godaddy, etc).

11. Simple solution: Set your nameservers to the DNS servers provided by your registrar (they should have an option for that. If you never changed the nameservers, then this is already the case). Add the following A records:

  • yourdomain.com  ->  127.0.0.1
  • *.yourdomain.com   ->   127.0.0.1

For some registrars, you should enter @ instead of yourdomain.com, and * instead of *.yourdomain.com.

Wait for a few hours for the change to propagate.

12. More complex solution: Add glue records for “ns1.yourdomain.com” and “ns2.yourdomain.com” which point towards you VPS’ IP. Then, set your nameservers to ns1.yourdomain.com and ns2.yourdomain.com. If you don’t know how to do this, your registrar’s support department will. Wait a while your your DNS propegates (will take several hours).

13. While DNS is propagating, check the status by typing your domain name into http://www.intodns.com/ . If it pops up any red errors, then fix them (or contact your registrar’s support department). Don’t worry about yellow errors.

14. Make sure to switch your board back to “online.”


Conclusion

You’re done!

This tutorial explained how to convert your forum which is now hosting on a cPanel web host to a VPS. We hope you found it useful!

Selling Advertisements on a Forum

To a forum administrator, advertising is the single most vital aspect of a community. Not advertisements which spread the word about the community, but advertisements which bring revenue into the community. Revenue is like oxygen for a forum. It allows the forum to keep alive by paying the bills. It allows the administrator to do new and unique things with the forum, which often cost money to do. It allows the administrator to purchase advertisements, services, good software, conduct contests, and allows the forum to survive the increasing bills which come with growth. Every new forum which plans to become successful must identify a means of earning revenue through advertisements.


Sponsor Ads: How to earn Revenue Through Sponsors & Marketplaces

For a forum to be appealing to advertisers, it needs several things.

An identifiable, valuable niche. Every forum has a user base. In advertising, this is called an audience. What kind of people use your forum? What types of products do they all want to buy? For example, if you have a forum about cars, you will appeal to advertisers who sell car related products. Webmaster forums will appeal to hosting providers, template designers, and other webmaster forums. A general chat forum is less valuable in this regard, because it appeals to a very broad, difficult to identify audience.

Monthly pageviews and clicks. Advertisers are interested in two statistics. Impressions and clicks. Impressions are important because impressions are the metric which advertisers use when deciding whether to advertise on your forum. Clicks are important because that is the metric which advertisers use when deciding whether or not to continue advertising with your forum.

Good Ad Placement Options. Advertisers are interested in ad clicks, and the better the ad’s placement, the more ad clicks they will receive. Header ads are more valuable than footer ads and sidebar ads, and global header ads are more valuable than those. Ads which display below the first post of a forum’s topics are perhaps the very most valuable ad, because it is hard for users to ignore these ads. The better the placement options and larger the banner sizes, the more likely people are to purchase your ads.

Promote Your Advertiser: Your advertiser will know how successful their ad is by looking at the number of clicks they receive through google analytics, or a similar service. That means that if you link to your sponsor through a forum post, and a user clicks on that link, then your sponsor won’t know the difference between that click and a click on their banner ad. For that reason, take any opportunity to mention your advertiser in discussion, particularly if you own a small forum.

Once your forum has been optimized to make the most of the above suggestions, you can see sponsor ads either to your existing forum user base (useful for webmaster forums), through an informal online marketplace such as ForumPromotion.net’s marketplace forum, or through a larger marketplace such as BuySellAds. Note that the larger marketplaces will not be useful for new or small forums. A new forum will need to sell ads through its own site or an informal marketplace, and more successful forums will find the most success by advertising through something like BuySellAds.

Keyword Ads: How to earn Revenue Through Adsense and Similar Products

Keyword-based ads can be a very high quality source of revenue. Using a service like Adsense, websites are paid through two means. Per click and per thousand views. There are two terms which you will need to learn. CPC means Cost-per-Click, and is how much you get paid per click by the ad provider. Your CPC is a function of how valuable your forum’s keywords are. If you have a forum which is all about auto-insurance, your keywords will be very, very valuable. If you have a forum which is about medieval history, then your keywords will be less valuable. Another term which you will need to learn is CPM, which means cost per 1,000 impressions. Do not be deceived by the “M,” which is not short for “Million,” but short for “Mille” as in Millimeter (a thousandth of a meter).

To make a profit using services such as Adsense, you will need to optimize the following.

Ad placement: Every time a user clicks an ad, you get paid. Therefore, ads must be visible. Header ads, and ads below the first post of a forum topic, are the most valuable.

Subject matter: Your forum’s subject matter should concern material which will involve a lot of valuable keywords. This will increase your forum’s cost-per-click and cost-per-impression values, and also the sell value of your forum.

Impressions: “Impression” is a fancy word for “Pageview.” The more page views your forum has, the most a website gets paid by the CPM rate, and the more clicks the website’s ads will (theoretically) get.

To start advertising using keywords, simply create an account with Adsense and copy their code to your forum’s template.

Which should my forum use?

Small forums should find sponsors, because they will have a small number of impressions, and sponsors will be willing to pay more for ads with small impressions than Adsense will. Larger forums will generally gain more revenue from BuySellAds or Adsense, although BuySellAds appears to be the most common of the two options for large forums.

Freely hosted forums will usually be required to go with sponsored ads rather than adsense.


Conclusion

Advertising is vital to the successful continuation of a forum. To advertise successfully, a forum must place ads well, have a targetable demographic, and gain as many pageviews per month as possible.

The Pyramid, Part 1: How to Measure a Forum’s Success

When an administrator first creates a forum, it is completely empty. No posts, no nothing. Turning an empty forum into a forum with one million posts can appear to be a very daunting task. It can take years of hard work, expensive advertising, and unbelievable effort. But, is creating a forum with one million posts really a realistic goal? Is it even a desirable goal? There are other paths to success. Other ways of measuring how good one forum is when compared to another than simply post count.

Community is what truly matters.

Community is a sense of belonging. It means knowing the people around you. Sharing ideas and experience, discussing something that both sides don’t necessarily agree on in a civil, constructive way. They have arguments, quarrels, outcasts, and an occasional blow-ups. But they also have revelations, jokes, memes, and celebrations. In a way, a community is a living organism which changes and evolves, but stays strong, at least until it loses its energy and begins to die. A forum’s success is defined by its sense of community, but there is one problem.

How does one quantify a forum’s community? Being able to quantify a community is necessary so that an administrator can track progress and adjust the path of his or her forum accordingly. This is usually done by post count or page views, but neither of these is an active indicator of how well a forum’s community is doing. A forum can have millions of posts, but still be dead, and millions of page views, but only traffic from search engines. A forum could have a hundred people online but nothing to talk about, or fifty registrations per day with an atrocious bounce rate.

That is why, today, I am introducing a new way to quantify the strength of a forum’s community. It is called the Forum Pyramid.

ForumPyramid

The Forum Pyramid is similar to the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, which is a concept used by sociologists. A newly created forum starts at the very bottom of the Forum Pyramid, and moves upwards as its community strengthens, and downwards as it weakens. The pyramid has six levels, and each forum on the internet can be said to exist at one of the levels of this pyramid. The pyramid is shaped in this manner because of statistics. There are probably a million forums at the bottom of the Forum Pyramid, but only a few at the very top.

The Six Levels of the Forum Pyramid

  • Level #1: Emptiness. An empty forum has no activity. It could have zero posts or a million, but none of them have been made recently.
  • Level #2: Filler. A level two forum contains posts which were made for the sake of posting. Posts made by staff, exchangers, or packagers, with no real purpose or soul behind them.
  • Level #3: Discussion. A level three forum contains interesting discussions which include facts and a few revelations, but not yet any disagreement or truly useful opinions.
  • Level #4: Debate. A level four forum contains discussions which have two sides. Debates, disagreements, and give-and-take. When discussing anything, be it politics, cars, or webmaster techniques, anything worth studying is worth debating, and debate is a strong indicator of a valuable community.
  • Level #5: Drama. A level five forum includes not only debate, but also discussions about the forum itself and its internal affairs. The forum becomes serious enough that its members take the forum itself seriously, not just its subject matter. The forum begins to have a true sense of being something.
  • Level #6: Community. A true community has a complex web of nuances, secrets, inside jokes, and memes, all revolving around ongoing discussion and drama. The strongest characteristic of a community is that it has its own unique atmosphere, mood, and users who are recognizable and aware of each other.

Over the next few weeks, I will be writing a series of articles concerning this pyramid, which I originally created for this series of blog posts. Using this pyramid, we will be able to better understand how a forum starts out, and what an administrator needs to do to turn their forum into a success. The next part of this series will be entitled “Climbing the Pyramid,” and will describe, in full, how to move a forum up to the very top of the Forum Pyramid, and thereby create a thriving, valuable community.

Weekly Staff Interview Series #11 — MasterA

Hello!

This week, we have a very special edition of the Staff Member Interview Series. MasterA is the current owner of ForumPromotion, who acquired the website a few weeks ago, and has initiated a number of discussions concerning how to improve the ForumPromotion community. This interview discussed many topics, ranging from questions allowing us to get to know MasterA better, to questions involving MasterA’s proposed changes, and his advise for new Webmasters.


Hello, MasterA! Congratulations on your recent acquisition of Forum Promotion! My first question, as with every interview, is this: what can you tell us about yourself?

There is a lot I can say but let’s start off with the basics. I am a 23 years old student currently studying a mathematics PHD and residing in England. I started my first forum when I was 14 so I do have 9 years experience in managing forums. My first forum was a gaming forum and it was hosted with Forumotion. I have also owned many other forums and websites, one being Business Stadium.

Other than administrating websites, what hobbies are you interested in?

You should already know that I enjoy mathematics but some of my hobbies include watching anime, playing badminton, reading and boxing. I am part of the badminton team for my university and we play against other universities regularly.

What other interesting facts can you tell us about yourself? Foreign Languages? Pets?

I have learnt many languages during university. I learnt French, Chinese and Japanese but I am only on a limited proficiency for all 3 languages. I don’t have any pets but I want to have a dog.

Do you currently own any other websites? If so, what can you tell us about them?

Currently, I only own Forum Promotion. I closed down Business Stadium due to not having enough time previously and now I am only focusing on FP.

What made you choose Forum Promotion?

Well, I came across Forum Promotion via google when I was trying to promote my forum, Business Stadium. I thought that Forum Promotion is a great place for webmasters to learn and I have always loved it. I had a short break from managing websites, as I was very busy with life, but when I came back, I wanted to buy an established site. I came across Nerdie selling Forum Promotion and I decided to buy it because I love the community.

As owner, you’ve had a chance to experience the community here at FP in a very unique way. What are your thoughts on the community here at FP?

I think that the community is very friendly. I have talked to many people and we got to know each other very quickly. I got a lot of nice suggestions coming over which I enjoyed reading and hope that the community can help me improve FP by bring them what they want.

Many of us are excited to see the changes which are on the horizon. Which single change that you have proposed will, in your opinion, do the most to benefit Forum Promotion?

I will say that keeping plans open and let member vote for new features will do a lot of benefit to Forum Promotion. The reason is because members are more likely to stay active on the forum if they are able to participate in the major decisions of the forum. We want members engaged in the community and feel valued. I think a big mistake many forum owners are making is that they are not getting their community engaged enough and eventually the forum will go downhill. Even large forums with millions of posts face this problem and can end up becoming dead forums with no active members.

You have been very open with your plans for Forum Promotion over the last few weeks, both with members and staff. Do you advise other administrators who use Forum Promotion to use similar strategies with their own websites?

This is a good question. Different administrators like to take different approaches. The reason why I keep my plans open is because the community builds up the forum and I want everyone to get involved in important decisions. Whilst the administrative team will make the final decision, we want you to have a say. I recommend administrators on other forums do this, as it encourages members to be more involved in the community. It is also important to listen to what members say.

What other advise do you for webmasters who use this forum?

Make the most use of Forum Promotion by regularly posting offers and updates for your website. Members will be more likely to join your site if they see something interesting happening on your website. Another effective way of promoting your website is to engage with the community and participate in discussions. Once people get to know you, they will more likely join your site and help you out and that will make a different.

Thank you very much for doing this interview! Do you have any final comments?

Good luck with your website!


Thank you for reading!

The ForumPromotion Editorial Team

Weekly Staff Interview Series #10 — Shole

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of our Weekly Staff Member Interview Series!

This week, we have decided to interview Shole. This member is a staff member of Forum Promotion, and is the Assistant Team Leader of the Package Team!

Now on to the interview!


Hi Shole, the question I like to start off with, just like everyone else, is what can you tell us about yourself?

There are a lot of things what I could tell you about myself , but I will start with what’s the most relevant. I love forums and sites, creating and administrating them is great for me, it is a hobby for me but I still take it serious. So far I had only forums and even managed to build my own hosting company that I sold, but now I took a different path and created a blog. So far its going great but I am not really sure what I am supposed to do except post articles and promote it. Its really a new field and it is interesting but I feel that there is a missing link, unlike forums blogs seem to be far less interactive.

Now to the boring stuff. I am 21 years old soon to be 22, I am playing basketball professionally and studying Literature in Romania. Currently I am residing in Serbia and I play there for a 2nd Division basketball club. Some of my other hobbies include watching anime, reading(includes mangas), cooking and writing.

I also work as a freelancer/ghostwriter on oDesk and that’s where my biggest income is.

How has your time here at FP been? What do you like about the community?

Wonderful, I always liked FP but at times my real live would take me away from it. I meet amazing people here and I love each and every one of them . Who doesn’t right? The time I spend here is really enjoyable and pleasant, it can get a bit boring at times when I have to actually do packages and stuff, but ‘I still enjoy my daily login into this site.

What can you tell us about The Writing Hut?

The Writing Hut is my blog, it has a simple goal which is to create some sort of writing network where people can share their opinions on different topics. So far TWH’s main focus is on Social issues(feminism, feminazism,internet happenings, gamergate,racism, we call it brain damaging thoughts) , anime, mangas , poetry and stories but we might expand it with new categories or cut some of those. Indeed we have a goal but its not so stable, it can change from time to time as so far I am trying to figure the blogs identity out. In the future I am sure it will hold a lot of interesting articles that will be worth reading, for now if you like things from the 5 categories mentioned earlier you should check it out.

Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

My current and only personal project is The Writing Hut, I work daily on improving it and creating a clear goal for it. So far I am a bit stuck but still I am trying to make something out of it. As far as other projects goes I am working on a few Books and eBooks for a few clients online, it takes a lot of time out of the day but I got to earn my bread somehow.

As the Package Team Leader Assistant, what goals do you have for the package team? How do you think it should proceed in the future?

There are many things that are on my mind when you say “Goals for the package team” but the first thing and my biggest priority for now is to build a team together with Lorcan that will provide high quality posts , topics and comments to the members of FP. So far we are working on some things that will help our team members to complete their job and satisfy our customers needs to the fullest.

To be honest I think the Package Team is heading in the right direction, we have great and active members, an amazing team leader and we have the full support of all the other staff members and regular members for which I am grateful . There were indeed times where we found ourselves in a pinch but we got out of it so you can say that we are heading the right way.

What do you mean by equality for package team member? Has it been achieved yet?

This made me laugh. The phrase came from I think the 1st or 2nd time I joined the group chat for the staff members. We were all talking and having fun and we came to the discussion about what team is better and what team has more powers and such. So as the only package member (at the time I wasn’t the assistant leader) I was the lowest ranked amongst all of the people on the chat, therefor it was concluded that the Package Team was the lowest ranked staff position you could have at FP and so came I shouted “Equality for PT member” which became some kind of goal. It doesn’t mean much its just like the feminazis (not to be confused with feminists) shout equality but mean more privileges for the female gender, its the same here I just wanted more power.

As far as if it is achieved yet, no not yet. I am on my path to do glorious things for the PT and I will not stop until we are known around the web as the best of the best.

What advice can you tell newer admins here at Forum Promotion, on what they could do to better their new forums?

There are not many tips I could give those admins, after all they are all experienced and very intelligent , therefor I have seen that they are capable of solving any problem in the best way.
Joshua, M and now TF are longer on FP than I am , they know the in’s and out’s so there is not really much I could help them with.

The only thing that I can say to them is: You can’t please everyone so try to make a decision that will always benefit the forum , not one member only.

What are your thoughts on the Forum Promotion Blog? What kind of articles are you interested in reading? Any suggestions?

I like it , but I feel that it is a bit invisible . Some might say the blog is fitted perfectly into the FP theme. What I would like to see about it is to stand out more. I would love to read about how to run my blog, that would be a great help for me. Other then that I am interested in the interviews as I like to get to know people better.

Thank you for your time, I am honored to be interviewed.


 

And that wraps up this weeks staff member interview! Thank you for reading this, we hope you will continue reading these every week that they are posted!

Feel free to comment below on the interview. Also, feel free to ask the person that got reviewed any questions you feel like!

Weekly Member Interview Series #8 – Reverie

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of our Weekly Member Interview Series!

This week, we have decided to interview Reverie. This member has been a member of Forum Promotion since March of 2014.

Now on to the interview!


Hi Reverie, what can you tell us about yourself?
Well I’m 22 and I currently am in college to become a teacher. I love movies and video games and I enjoy just talking to friends.

How has your time here at FP been? What do you like about the community?
My time here at FP has been interesting! I joined the party kind of late but have known several members through past forums. I like how the community tries to be a helpful one!

What can you tell us about Atrium?
Atrium is my baby basically. This project has been something I’ve been beyond excited for and the growth has been astonishing! Atrium is a place to come together and talk to all sorts of people! We not only have a general community, but we have advertising and little services as well. We even have resources (Zetaboards Themes, Renders, Avatars, Sigs). Atrium is a well rounded place in my opinion and I love the atmosphere we have created!

Are there any other projects you are currently working on?
Nope, Atrium is my only project right now! I really don’t think I could afford time for another forum due to also having a busy life as well.

I see that your forum, Atrium, has a thriving community. What were the most effective methods you used to gain members and posts?
Honestly it’s all about contacting old friends, making new friends, and just combining new with old to create a diverse community. Word of mouth has been amazing, but we’ve also had great friends who have helped us along the way that we are more than grateful for.

What advice do you have for members here on ForumPromotion who are new to administrating forums?
Do not give up on a project. Try sticking with one project as long as possible. I feel that many new admins are not sure of themselves so they feel the need to create multiple forums, in this case most of the forums die and they all become wasted time. Put all your effort into one and you can expect some great results!

What are your thoughts on ZetaBoards? Have you ever considered switching hosts?’
Zetaboards is one of the best free forum software! It has many pros while there are a few cons it is an overall enjoyable experience. I’ve considered using other hosts in the past but haven’t done so yet!

What would you suggest to improve Forum Promotion? It could be anything.
My suggestion would be to enforce more community participation. I feel as though most of the posting around the general forum (not the post exchanges and etc) are by staff members. It would be nice to see more of a community atmosphere while also keeping up the advertising and other sections.

What are your thoughts on the Forum Promotion Blog? What kind of articles are you interested in reading? Any suggestions?
I’ve actually never read many forum blogs. I would love to see tips for other advertising forums and such, I know there was a topic that once had some good ones though most are dead now. Or a topic such as “How to create an atmosphere” or something along those lines would be nice.

Is there anything else you would like to talk about during this interview?
I would just like to say thank you for asking to interview me, I appreciate it! I hope I could help in any way.


And that wraps up this weeks interview! Thank you for reading this, we hope you will continue reading these every week that they are posted!

Feel free to comment below on the interview. Also, feel free to ask the person that got reviewed any questions you feel like!

Administrating a Forum: Be Polite, Enthusiastic, and Rational

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The most important figure in a newly founded forum its its administrator. A forum can succeed or fail solely based on how the administrator conducts himself. A polite administrator can encourage members to stay active through his personality but an out of touch, robotic, or rude administrator can very quickly destroy a forum.

There are three qualities which a good administrator has: politeness, enthusiasm, and rationality. These qualities need to manifest into not only every post the administrator makes on his or her forum, but also the forum’s rules, structure, and policy.

Being a Polite Administrator

When a forum is new every single post made on it by someone other than its founder is like a miracle. Without new posts a forum can quickly starve to death. Posts are like breathing; if air is deprived from a person for only about a minute that person will die and cease to exist forever. Similarly, forums are kept alive by new posts. If the forum becomes inactive, the inactivity will continue, and build upon itself, until the forum is a graveyard.

What does this have to do with politeness? Everything.

People like being complimented. One reason why people post on forums and websites, or talk at all, is for self-confirmation. So that they can know that whatever they are doing is a good thing. If someone posts a link to their website and wants feedback then that means they want to be told not only how to make their website better but they also want to be told that their website is good and valuable; even if it is lousy. If someone posts on a topic in an anime forum saying that One Piece is a great anime, then deep down, they want to be told that they are spot-on, and that they did not waste their time in watching it.

What I am suggesting that administrators do is this: when someone posts a message on your forum encourage them to post more messages through positive reinforcement. Not only will it make members feel good about themselves but also about the forum they are posting on. It will also make users happy so that they do not create controversy on your forum.

Here are some ways to do this:

  • When someone posts a suggestion ALWAYS say that you are considering it and that it is a good suggestion even if it is terrible. Of course you can point out problems with it but also lace those logical points  with different compliments.
  • When someone posts a link to their own website always say that the website is good, regardless of whether it is or not, then proceed to point out whatever issue make it less than good, without outright saying that it isn’t any good.
  • When someone breaks the rules give them the benefit of the doubt. Send warning/reminder messages to them exclusively via private message and not via the public forums. Do not talk about the status of someone’s account (warnings, etc) in public and if someone does ask just find a very polite way to say “no comment.”
  • When someone says they are interested in something do not say that whatever they are interested in is no good. You don’t have to compliment it but if you really don’t like itsimply don’t post on it at all; unless whatever they mentioned is against the rules.
  • Write rules & announcements as simply and informally as possible.
  • Do not publicly discuss things like “bans”, and do not mention specific consequences in your rules. You can mention those in private guidelines for your moderators.

Being an Enthusiastic Administrator

A good administrator needs to post frequently, be involved in the community at every level, and be interested if not in every discussion, then a lot of them. Not only is enthusiasm about post count but also about appearances. An administrator must present an image of success to members and staff alike so that people feel that the forum is doing well. If the forum doesn’t appear to be doing well, it won’t do well. Below are a number of ways an administrator can show enthusiasm.

  • Your forum is succeeding. That is the image you need to present. And even if the forum is not active right now, you need to present the image that your forum has intrinsic value, either in the idea or in its content, and that it’s making a comeback.
  • Your members’ posts and websites are interesting. As mentioned in the section above; every post on a new forum is a godsend. You need to show interest and make a reply if you can think of a good reply to make.
  • Your forum is a great idea. If anyone is going to believe in your forum then it firstly has to be you. If you are bored by the idea of your foru then you need to shift your forum’s focus to something else. When you find an idea you are interested in, make sure that the people around you know how interested you are in that idea, and that you believe the website will succeed.

Being a Rational Administrator

An administrator needs to take an analytical approach to running a forum. That means quantifying the progress which has been made with the forum, analyzing which marketing methods have been most efficient, and working with designers to create branding which is calculated to engage users who are interested in the forum’s subject matter. There are many things which a rational forum administrator will do. Below is a rough list.

  • A rational administrator must be patient. That means accepting that it will take time for a forum to gain attention and giving staff members plenty of time to turn around their activity.
  • Metrics are very important when administrating a forum. By that I mean monitoring the post count and registrations as well as monitoring what causes the post count to increase (such as bumping a promotion topic on a particular forum, or buying an ad). This also combines well with patience because if an administrator can engineer their forum such that the post count increases at a steady rate the forum will be successful. It just may take time.
  • A good administrator must be able to understand, or figure out, what people want whether it is in a suggestion thread or whether considering what to offer guests who have not yet registered.

Conclusion

There are three qualities which are crucial to the successful management of a new forum: politeness, enthusiasm, and rationality. If you do not possess one of these qualities, however, then there is still hope. You can always find an administrator for your website who has one of those qualities, so long as you treat him or her with respect.

I hope you have found this article to be informative. If you have any questions, please leave a comment.

Weekly Staff Interview Series #9 — Eren

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of our Weekly Staff Member Interview Series!

This week, we have decided to interview Eren. This member is a staff member of Forum Promotion, and is one of our own at the Editorial Team, #BetterRedThanDead!

Now on to the interview!


 

Hi Eren, the question I like to start off with, just like everyone else, is what can you tell us about yourself?

My name is Kyle and I am 26 years old. Despite my age I’ve done a lot with my life especially in the realm of healthcare. I am a 4 year veteran of the United States Air Force specializing in surgical technology. That means I am a part of an operating room and I participate in surgeries alongside surgeons. I can assist in any type of surgery including C-Sections. I have been a volunteer (and paid) Emergency Medical Technician Basic for 10 years now (nationally, and two different state levels)and have a vibrant history of providing the care and treatment you would expect when calling for an ambulance. I’ve spent time as a volunteer fire fighter but never really gained an interest in that sort of thing. I’m a storm spotter with NOAA and the occasional Storm Chaser. As you would expect I’m a webmaster who has been doing forum administration for over 14 years now. I have a love for forums, design, and simple coding but my interests hardly ever extend past being a hobby. I am currently enrolling as a full time nursing student.

How has your time here at FP been? What do you like about the community?

My time at FP has been fun so far. I like the people who run the forum and those that make up the staff as well as the community at large. I also enjoy the topics we talk about and how we can, as a whole, bring back the concept of forum communities on the internet. Overall it’s a very good community and I’m excited to see how it’s going to evolve in the coming months under it’s new leadership.

What can you tell us about Political Debate Forums?

Political Debate Forums is a old but new community. It’s built off of an old political forum database that I used to administrate in 2010 but had been running on it’s own independently as soon as April 2014 as well. It’s an anonymous web platform for debate, discussion, and argument about all things political in the US and the rest of the world. It’s an ongoing project that’s received a lot of positive support and continues to grow at a good rate.It’s main mission is to protect free speech and to create a unbiased and mostly unmoderated platform while recognizing some order does need to be maintained.

You can visit PoliticalDebateForums at the following URL: http://www.politicaldebateforums.com/forums/

Do you have any advice for those of us interested in starting a new debate forum?

This is not an easy niche to start in. Don’t start up in it unless you are dedicated, like debates, have thick skin, and can relax on the moderation. For a long period of time you will be talking to yourself. When the forum does finally grow you have to keep a delicate balance of political thought and theory to maintain good order.

What methods were most successful when promoting Political Debate Forums?

So far the best method I have used is networking on larger political forums and linking via my sig as their rules allow. Most of these forums don’t really care if you have a link in your signature. Some won’t mention it. Asking the lead admin usually opens doors.

When moderating a debate forum, have you learned anything about cooling down arguments which get too hot? Could you share some of your experience with us on how to best accomplish this?

Free speech is the very root of a political forum and forums in our niche often die out when users are censored or feel censored. For the most part I recognize my users are all grown adults, most are of voting age and higher, and many are there for heated debate and argument. There are simple rules in place but unless we really need to cool something down or shut down a thread, such as in a case of general forum drama, we generally let things work themselves out. It’s worked very well so far.

Are there any other projects you are working on at the moment?

I have none right now but I am propositioned every once in a while to help on communities.

Are you a staff member at any other forums or websites?

No, my forum and life offline are far too time consuming to do much other than what I do at FP and my site.

What advice can you tell newer admins here at Forum Promotion, on what they could do to better their new forums?

Work on your design and style. I generally look at many of the forums that are posted on FP and quite a few are very sloppy in design or just generally look bad. I usually do not comment because I don’t want to be “that guy”. Design is the welcome mat to your forum and without a unique and welcoming theme you are shutting the door to a large portion of your potential success.

What would you suggest to improve Forum Promotion? It could be anything.

I would really like to see FP move to better software at this point. I don’t like free forum systems and this one especially is outdated. I’ll support whatever measure the new admin takes but I would like to see this forum expand, grow, and take on more important meaning.

What are your thoughts on the Forum Promotion Blog? What kind of articles are you interested in reading? Any suggestions?

It’s generally a good blog although I think we could do much more with it. For example it could be more a magazine styled theme and involve a lot more on being a webmaster. Right now it doesn’t really grab the eye or welcome the user in. I enjoy articles on design and administration tactics the most.


 

And that wraps up this weeks staff member interview! Thank you for reading this, we hope you will continue reading these every week that they are posted!

Feel free to comment below on the interview. Also, feel free to ask the person that got reviewed any questions you feel like!

The Banhammer – When to Use it and Why

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One of the most important tools which an administrator or moderator has at their disposal is the proverbial “ban hammer”; the ability to suspend a user’s account from the forum for a specific period or indefinitely. Using this tool frequently can cause people to leave a forum and that is not including just those who have been suspended. Using it infrequently can cause a forum to have a negative environment which can also result in people leaving. The aim of this article is to discuss when an administrator should ban users; for what offenses and after how many warnings.

The Three Tools a Moderator Has: Warnings, Suspensions, and Bans.

A moderator has three tools at their disposal. The first is the warning. A warning puts a user on notice and tells them that they need to improve their attitude on a forum or be removed. A Suspension is a more harsh measure. It is similar to a warning, in that it sends a message, but it is more severe in that it temporarily prevents the user from posting. The third tool is a ban, or a permanent suspension, in which the user is never allowed to return to the forum. A ban is a last-resort measure which removes a member from the community forever.

Why Use These Tools?

In general, there is only one reason to issue a warning, suspension, or ban. That reason is to prevent a user from doing further harm to the forum. It is important to realize that none of these tools can repair damage that has already been done. If a user was insulted on your forum, and the offensive user dealt with, the effected user will remain offended. They may continue to use the forum but they will be wary of it. For that reason administrators should focus on whether their actions improve the forum’s future situation or not. Banning a user soley for emotional reasons is not a good idea because it removes someone from the community who could contribute to it in the future.

When Should Warnings be Issued?

A warning is a message sent to a user which informs them of the consequences of continuing along a particular path. A warning should be issued in one of two situations.

One would be if the user has made a mistake which you do not want them to accidentally make again. An example of this would be posting a topic twice or in the wrong forum. For very minor instances it is sometimes sufficient to post a reply to the topic in question but make sure when doing so to make it a very friendly reply. If you embarrass a user in public you may end up turning a misguided user into an angry user. In this case, make sure to word your warnings very politely, even if sent in private.

The second scenario in which a warning is useful is to scare a user into following the rules. This applies when someone has broken the rules repeatedly and most certainly not by accident. Examples would be continually posting rude comments (a single rude comment can be viewed as an accident) or attempting to scam users. Note that a warning of this sort only works if a user has value in the forum and their account. If they are using a throw-away account or if they are a spammer a warning will not work. If the user has little dedication to the forum itself, and has no reason to continue using it, a warning will not work. Make sure that the people that you warn have some tie to the forum and a reason continue using it otherwise you are wasting your time.

If a user needs a stronger warning, or a temporary break, a suspension becomes necessary.

When Should Suspensions be Issued?

The purpose of a suspension is two fold: to send a strong message to the user (it is impossible to suspend someone without sending a message) and to also give them a break from using the forum. A suspension should be used in two circumstances. The first is if the user is ignoring warnings and needs a stronger message. Generally, one warning is sufficient basis to suspend a user, although a user should only be suspended after being given a warning, except in the most extreme circumstances. A suspension can be issued for any time period which the administrator likes. If a user appears to be uncharacteristically angry then a 72 hour suspension is sufficient. It is possible that the user is drunk, high, or had a recent personal tragedy. Three days is usually enough to clear up such things. Make sure in your suspension notice to include a sentence about how the user can still contribute to the community in a valuable way. If a user continues to offend, issue a longer term suspension each time, to give the user an indication that his action are becoming progressively more serious.

In some instances a longer term ban is needed. If a user displays disgust towards the website in general a portion of a month may be advisable. Such a ban can allow the user to cool off in a longer term and still give them a prospect of returning as a valuable member of the website.

When Should Bans be Issued?

A user should only be banned if the moderator has determined that the affected user has no reason to further contribute to the website in a positive way; and is likely to contribute to the website in a negative way in the future. An example would be a scammer: someone who has already scammed members on a forum has a terrible reputation. Such a user as in the example have no reason to use the forum at all so a permanent ban is not a bad idea. Also, if someone shows disgust for the forum, and for some reason continues to use it after continual suspensions, then that warrants a permanent ban.

Conclusion

A moderator has at his or her disposal three tools: warning, suspension, and banning. Warnings are used when a user still may contribute in a valuable way to a forum but needs guidance. Suspensions are a jolt of reality which can also serve as a break from the forum. Bans are a tool to prevent a user from using the website ever again; because the forum’s management has decided that that user is not worth the effort of a continued chance. When moderating a forum it is vital that a moderator understand these three tools, and use them with, above all else, with consistency.