This article was first posted on our blog on 01/06/2011. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.
The formula for a successful forum is complex. Getting the balance right is an art–too many categories, not enough advertising, too many guests, not enough members. All these things are very important, but I’m sure that everyone would agree with me when I say that your members are the key to your success. Keeping your members happy will mean that they have a higher chance of returning to your forum day after day. This, in turn, creates an active forum that produces revenue.
Their Wish is Your Command
Nearly all forums have a category that goes by a name such as”Community Suggestions.” Here users of your site can post suggestions regarding what they feel could be changed or added on the site. This category plays a major part in assuring the growth of your forum. If your members request something, then trying to fulfill their requests (within reason) should be your main objective.
Suggestions are made to help you, not to criticize you; so reply to them in the right way. Try to refrain from being a pushover and just answering: “Ok, I will do that as soon as I can”. Try to discuss in a friendly tone with the members that have suggested this, find out what ideas they have and maybe a little on why they want a certain thing changed or added. Creating a discussion will get more of your members involved and more ideas may sprout.
The Big NO is a NO!
Don’t ever reply: “No, I don’t want this” or “I am not doing this”. It does happen that suggestions come in that are way out of proportion, or something is suggested that you are unable to do at the current time. It may just be the case that you really don’t want to do what has been suggested. It is in these cases you have to be careful on how you answer, explain why the suggestion cannot be implemented, maybe come with a compromise, just never turn your back and say no.
Don’t Be Too Quick
You may have replied to a topic, but that doesn’t mean that the members feel that the discussion is over. Don’t be too quick to archive a topic; leaving it open may bring you more feedback or suggestions. Leaving the topic open also gives a picture of you as an admin; it shows that you are not overly controlling and that you are open to change.
Your Reputation is on the Line
Remember that every time you post and every time you are dealing with a member or a member’s suggestion, your reputation is on the line. Treat every member fairly; don’t favor a certain member or push people down if they come up with suggestions that aren’t quite up to scratch. Be the nice, friendly, open and helpful person that your users want to see; and they will keep coming back, day after day.