A lot of forums these days offer some form of virtual currency when posting, but many of these forums don't even put the currency to good use. It usually just ends up as another statistic to brag to your mates about.
In reality, not every forum needs a virtual currency, and just because you see another forum have a currency doesn't mean you will be at a disadvantage if you do not have one. Still, if you are considering adding a forum currency to your community, then ask yourself the questions below before making your final decision.
1. How Will You Give it Value?
Before adding a currency to your community, you need to figure out how you're going to give it value. Forum currencies are meant to encourage people to be more active, but it will not work if you have nothing that your currency can offer in return.
There are many ways that you can give a currency value. You can offer services, products, special privileges, or you can just give it the same value as a real currency.
2. How Will You Keep It Valuable?
Just like any other currency, a virtual currency can also reach a point of inflation where it's just not worth as much as it used to be. While offering services, products, and other things will keep some currency out of circulation it doesn't stop users from making more. So, after a while there are going to be users who have a LOT of your currency. You are going to have to find ways to keep the currency flowing, as well as keeping the amount of forum currency in circulation low.
One of the best ways I've seen of getting a bunch of currency "out of the public" is by having auctions based on real items. Forum Promotion has been doing this for a bit now, and I'm starting to see the funds of "rich" users decrease.
3. Will Users Actually Use It?
It's always good to question your users before implementing a feature that could forever be tied to the community. So, before adding a forum currency I would definitely question your users to see how they respond to the idea. See how many would actually use the forum currency to buy certain services and products. This is also the perfect time to let them suggest a few services or products that they would like to have available for purchase!
Obviously you're going to have to use your own judgement, but finding out if people are going to use it before hand is far better than having to uninstall it later because no one touched it.
So, those are the questions I think you should ask yourself before adding a virtual currency. Not every forum needs one, and maybe you are one of those forums. Still, I'm just a dude sharing his opinion online, so feel free to do whatever you want to do.
So, how do you feel about forum currencies, and if you have one then how did you give it value?