Perception Is What You Provide
Perception is defined as "a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression". Basically speaking how you proceed to design and act on your community sets the tone for how successful your forum will be. Perception is a basic psychological need and that goes beyond on the internet where people judge things based on gimmicks such as design, activity, and even the software you use to power your community with. Lately I have seen far too many webmasters attempt to fool themselves and discount the power of perception. How you perceive a community and how your guests perceive a community may be two entirely different things. Basic psychology in web administration simply suggests to play to your strengths. In this article we are going to explain some concepts of perception, and use some examples that are deeply rooted in administrator debate in order to make you think – the goal is not to cater to your personal beliefs but to imagine how a guest may think. These examples are real examples from real forums; they are my experiences of forum communities I have joined with so much potential but have abandoned because of perception. How Does Perception Feel? Perception is a topic that can make or break you. It is literally how guests interpret your website and decide how to proceed. Simple things can sway the thinking of a guest and that slight shift in perception can be the breaking point between registering, passing, or becoming a lurker. Take this example and consider it:
- User JohnSmith registers on a forum that looks semi-active and makes an introduction. He waits to see how friendly the board is and after 4 days receives no replies to his introduction. Furthermore he takes a closer look and realizes no one is welcomed to the board. He notes the same few users are making posts while the majority have not stayed.
- Webmaster RumBeard owns a forum on pirates. In order to cut costs he uses free software from a provider such as Zetaboards and a subdomain. He then advertises his forum as the best.
- Webmaster Caesar sells his community on Rome to Webmaster Brutus who promises to keep it in order and to continue it. Webmaster Caesar ends up becoming the only active user and the only staff member trying to give the forum some activity.