I find that the biggest problem facing forum administrators is burn out. The feeling of stress and even loss of interest in a topic you once either had a lot of passion for or a lot of interest in. Even the most dedicated and proffessional administrator can succumb to it and let themselves slip under it’s symptoms. I’m basically talking about administrators who have waited out the slow start ups of their forums and are known to be dedicated. I am not speaking about the random free hosted forum that pops up and is abandoned a week later. This topic is about administrators who have done their jobs for a few months to over a year or more. It’s something we all must be vigilant for as web administrators.
Burn out is when you spontaneously lose interest in something you had a passion for and stop caring in a way. You find yourself wandering away from your projects and drifting more to being a regular user on another board without power or responsibility. You shy away from a topic you we’re once known for. You withdrawl from your own community while still being informed of the negative actions having an absentee administrator can cause. It’s like the project has come to it’s natural conclusion for you…but in reality it was supposed to never have an ending. Many good forums have fallen because their leaders have quite simply given up or have lost interest in their topic.
I’ve experienced this personally. I used to be a political forum administrator of a larger political board and we kept very active. I left that forum when my fellow administrator, the founding adminisrator, stabbed his staff in the back for the words of a wealthy donator who sought power. Sounds like a fairy tale but a thousand dollars has a lot of sway when you are just dividing power you already own. Either way I went on my own and formed my own Political Debate Forum. After about 6-8 months I was tired. It was a great forum with so much great potential but I just wasn’t feeling it. I was tired of the topic of politics. What more is it than political squabble between those types of people who are overly opinionated and often hostile? As of today I finally sold my community to someone I felt could better lead. Luckily I was retained as an administrator so I can still help that forum become strong (even if I burn out over and over again). If I had not made the decision to sell I would have drifted from the project until all had left and it was once again a dusty and empty forum installation.
I see many forums like this on Forum Promotion. I go through the Promotion Director and I note who’s still standing. I see so many free hosted and even simple idea forums abandoned after a week but it’s even worse seeing the forums that had potential. Once active forum members who had dedication and passion for their communities but, unlike I did, let the burn out take them. Their forums are still around as dusty memories of what could have been and a reminder that they’re still in the website business somwhere…because servers do not run for free.
To any administrator reading this and thinking to themselves that these feelings sound familiar to their own situation I offer this advice. Hire people to help you and get a good forum member base. Try to be the best that you can be and try to reintegrate yourself into your topic. If all else fails don’t succumb to the burn out. Sell your forum, let a dedicated member have your forum for free, work out a partnership or something. Just don’t abandon your hard work without any return. You started this show…best finish it strong.