Tag Archives: Forums

Ivandis – Review Spotlight

Image
Full Review by Lucky!

You can access Ivandis to see for yourself what it looks like, by clicking here.


Scoring:

Image First Impressions & Appearance – (18 out of 20)
When I first look at Ivandis, the first thing I noticed was the logo and the overall look of the theme, both of which were well done and looks like it took time to get right, which I commend you on. When I do full reviews, I like to break the impressions and appearance sections apart to make things a little easier to read and follow. So, let’s start off with the header.

Header and Navigation
As I commented on already, the logo is very nicely done and looks professional. I like what you did with the “I” with the sword instead of the letter, very attentive to detail. Looking over to the navigation links, I see some links that are appropriate for the game, and not so much for the forum itself, which I really like. The hover over effects are a nice touch, again, very attentive to detail. However, the “Shoutbox” link leads to an error message, probably because you have it set so guests cannot see/use it, which I can understand. However, If it was meant to be like that, you should remove the link from guests.

Guest Message
Reading the guests message, it looks very generic. If I didn’t read the description of your OP, I wouldn’t have known what Ivandis was. Now, that could have something to with my lack of knowledge of Runescape, however, I won’t be the only guest on Ivandis that may not know what the forum is about. If you give a little bit of information on what you are and what the features are of registering, guests that don’t already about it won’t want to register and learn. You are never sure, your website may make someone want to learn more and play the game, but they don’t know much, kind of like me.

Overall Content
After looking at the header and the guest message, the rest of the theme is just as nice. Normally, I am not a huge fan of dark themes, however, I really like what you have going on here. The colors are really nice together and are soft on the eyes. A lot of the time, people with dark themes have really bright text colors that make looking at the theme hurt, however, not on Ivandis. I really like the background that you have chosen as well because it just sets the tone for the main theme and just ties everything together. Overall, I am very impressed so far, let ‘s go on!

Image Site Layout – (18 out of 20)
Beginning, navigating Ivandis is very smooth, which is a big deal to capture a guest’s attention. Navigation links lead to where they are supposed to and do so in a quick manner. Looking at the actual forums, I like the layout. The layout of the boards is logical and what I really like is the amount of forums are just right in compassion of the amount of posts you have. The one thing that I did notice was “Player Support” really doesn’t have enough posts inside of it to warrant its own category, maybe move it inside the “Ivandis” category would make more sense? Doing so would leave four categories, which are perfect. The sidebar looks nice too, with the hooks that I would expect from an IPB powered board. However, near the bottom, there is some wasted space that could be utilized to display some more content. You could possibly make a “Top Player” hook or a “Random Topic” hook to expand the sidebar and offer more content to fill that gap. Other than that, I really can’t say much more because the content on Ivandis is amazing and I just can’t stop thinking about how meticulous the theme and layout are.

While looking at some of your forum descriptions, I feel they are lacking length and a good enough explanation of each forum.A good rule of thumb is descriptions should be at 2-3 sentences long and give a good enough idea of what the forum is about without the user having to click the forum to find out. What you have now isn’t bad, but could definitely be worked on to add more length and quality.

Image Statistics and Activity – (18 out of 20)
Looking over the averages of Ivandis, things are looking nice, noting you’ve only been open for 55 days. Let’s throw down some numbers shall we.

  • You have been open for 55 days and you have 9,953 posts. That equates out to 180 posts per day from your members. That’s a great number to start out with, really it is!
  • Currently, you have 228 registered users since you’ve been open, which results in 4 users registering per day since opening. Again, that is a nice number, especially due to the niche, which is narrow.
  • This is where things look really nice. You have 9,953 posts and 228 users, averaging that out comes to 44 posts per registered user. Again, a really nice number to have this early in opening. Keep that up!
  • Adding today’s posts up, it comes out to 84 posts, 20% of which were posted by LordMinix.
  • Adding up the staffs post totals, it comes out to 1,135, which is 11% of the overall 9,953 posts. Now, this can be a double edged sword here. Seeing a number like 11% is nice because it shows the other 89% of the community are the ones supporting the discussions, not just the staff. However, you also want to make sure that your staff are doing their part as well to post. To achieve this, normally a number around 20% is a good line to draw when it comes to overall staff participation. However, where you are now numbers wise is a really nice start and if you can keep this numbers up, you are on a track of success.

Another thing that I like is the posts are spread out amongst the forums, not just in one particular forum. Overall, I am very happy with this section! Nicely done!

Image Content – (14 out of 20)
I can’t go too much into detail in this section primarily because Ivandis isn’t supposed to be a forum, more a game. Therefore, I wouldn’t expect the forums to be littered with general discussion topics and such. However, the posts that I have looked through looked good and of good quality. Like I said, I can’t go too far in ratings here just because of the usage of your forum, but overall, good job.

Image Spelling/Grammar & Professionalism – (16 out of 20)
Overall, this section does really well on Ivandis. There really isn’t much to look over mainly because you have a lot of user generated content, which is subjective in itself when it comes to quality. However, regarding your “Vote” page, I did find a few things. Suggestions to the page will be edited in blue.

// Why should you vote?
If you enjoy the server, and want the server to continue running with a fair amount of activity, you should vote daily so we get higher up the RuneScape private server lists. By getting higher up these lists, people are more likely to join, thus making our server more and more popular!

// What do I get out of it?
Well for a start, no one likes to play a server by themselves! So, by voting you’ll be helping us but also helping yourself because the more players there are, the more fun it is for you!

Secondly, you will get a reward! When you vote on all the websites you can choose from a list of rewards and can claim this reward in-game, read further for instructions on how to claim your reward.

// How do vote points work?
Vote points are a way of saving your votes in order to spend them later. You can gain a vote point

// How can I claim my reward?
Once you have voted on all the sites, you will be requested to enter your username and choose a reward. After choosing your reward, simply log into the server or if you’re already logged in then just reload and the reward will be added to your inventory.

// How often can I vote?
Unfortunately due to the restriction on most of the RSPS Top Lists, you can only vote and claim a reward once every 12 hours. This is not something that we can change.

// Important!
Make sure your vote has been submitted before you click next! If you skip a website and try to claim a reward, you may have to start again, usually you can just reload the page and the sites you’ve already voted for and vote for the ones you skipped.

Total Score – (84 out of 100)


Final Remarks:
Overall, I am very impressed with Ivandis and where it has come in little over a months time. Keep up your statistics and content and I think you will do just fine. It was a fun time looking over Ivandis and snooping around to find the things I did. I did very well and you deserve the 84 score!

Image Strengths:

– Statistics
– Dark theme is nicely done

Image Weaknesses:

– Condense some forums that don’t need their own category just yet
– Maybe watch the profanity within posts?

Open Carnage – Review Spotlight

Open Carnage
Full Review by Jadster

You can access Open Carnage to see for yourself what it looks like, by clicking here.


Scoring:

Image First Impressions & Appearance – (13 out of 20)
Let me start of this review by giving out my personal thoughts on Open Carnage. When I visited OC, I was a bit confused as to what OC was all about. I looked at just the theme and banner but could not figure it out at all. The banner / logo really confused me as to what the site was about but after I read the blue box underneath the header, then I found out what OC was all about and realized it was a gaming related website. Personally, I found that a bit disappointing that I had to read a notice to find out what the site was about. If anything, I would say that your banner / logo should represent your website & have some sort of inclination as to what your site is about. This way, people won’t have to go and read to find out what the site is about. Looking at your theme, for a gaming website, I feel that a dark theme was a good choice as you don’t see very many light themed gaming sites that work well but I feel that a dark theme works best for gaming websites. The color of your logo seems very nice but with a space background behind it is what threw me off because I didn’t see how that connected with gaming in any way. Overall, I feel that the banner / logo should show more about what OC is about and you could add a bit more to the theme to help with that as well. So, let’s move onto the Site Layout of Open Carnage!

Image Site Layout – (15 out of 20)
Let’s look at the site layout of Open Carnage now. When looking at your categories & boards, I can say that they are pretty well organized. You have a good amount of categories and a good amount of boards in each of those categories to keep them filled up and keep things spread out so you don’t have too many boards in a category or too few. As for navigation around OC, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the navigation. It is very easy and simple to navigate and find things around OC. So overall, I do not see what is wrong with your site layout and your site organization is good. And again, navigation through the website is very simple and easy. So let’s move onto the next part of your review, the statistics & activity.

Image Statistics and Activity – (16 out of 20)
As it stands, Open Carnage has 50,926 posts but the amount of threads are unknown. You also have 305 members which if we were to average those numbers, you would have about 167 posts per user which is a great number! With that many members with an average of that many posts per user, that is outstanding! By far, this is the highest Post per User ratio I have ever seen by far. Looking at the activity though, it is hard to tell how active people are because you have the time limit as “In the past 30 minutes”, so it is hard to rate how your activity is when it is reset every 30 minutes. But looking at the stats every 30 minutes, with 14 guests & 2 members, that is great activity for Open Carnage. But again, without a larger window, it is hard to tell the activity of your website. Overall, I think that the stats & activity are by far one of the biggest positives of Open Carnage by far, so let’s move onto the content of your website!

Image Content – (16 out of 20)
Looking at the content of Open Carnage, I would have to say that your website holds a lot of good, quality content. With all the members that you have and all the posts, your content is skyrocketing through the roof along with the stats. But after reading some of the content that is posted around Open Carnage, I can tell that a good amount of time is put into the content to make it very detailed and provide quality information to the community of Open Carnage. I read several threads in the News Room and each and every thread that I read had quality information and each one had links back to the original source which is very professional. Showing where the information originally came from instead of ripping it off of them makes the site show professionalism. So overall, I would have to say that the only thing that brings down your site content would be small posts, such as 1 liners or single words. If you can minimalism that, you will get much higher and go much further with Open Carnage. So let’s move onto the last bit of this review, the professionalism and spelling / grammar of OC.

Image Spelling/Grammar & Professionalism – (16 out of 20)
Looking at Open Carnage and all the content that I read through, your site has some great content and the spelling / grammar was near perfect but wasn’t there just yet but that is to be expected, nothing is ever perfect. By far, the best grammar & spelling came from the staff members which isn’t a huge surprise. Most of your members are good with spelling & grammar in their posts but every now and then there are errors which isn’t a huge deal to be honest. And looking at how professional your site is, seeing how active your staff are and how proper their posts are, they are very professional with what they do. They make your website look very professional which in the end will help benefit your website in the long run. This will keep members around and bring new ones in as well. So overall, I would have to say your site is very professional and your site has great grammar & spelling by far. So that is all for this review, now let’s finish this up with my final remarks & your strengths & weaknesses.

Total Score – (76 out of 100)

 


Final Remarks:
Open Carnage was a great site to get the time to review. I enjoyed taking the time to review Open Carnage and getting to read some of the threads and articles you posted, especially in the News Center. So by far, this was a very interesting gaming website to review to say none the less. But anyways, thank you very much for requesting a review here at FP and I hope to be able to review OC again in the future!

Image Strengths:

Stats & Activity
Professionalism

Image Weaknesses:

Site Logo / Banner

New Forums – MODs to help you start (phpBB3)!

This article was first posted on our blog on 04/02/2011. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.


When people start a new forum, it’s normally very exciting, and they want to experiment with everything. I know from personal experience; I would start to build a forum using one forum software, get bored, and want to try another one.

For me, the next big step was to add countless MODs to my forum. Most of the MODs I added had no effect, and sometimes, I even stopped maintaining them out of boredom (e.g. larger mods like cash).

This post is to give new (or experienced) webmasters more insight into what people really want to see on a forum and which MODs simply bog down your forum.

Simplicity is bliss!

Many new forum owners who run forums on free software often miss the key developing points to kicking off a forum. You have to remember that MODs alone won’t increase your activity; the posts on your forum make the MODs worthwhile. Overflowing your forum can lead to slower load times for each page, which can drive readers/posters away.

About a year ago, I did a post exchange with a small forum, and it was almost painful. The load speed, amount of MODs–everything. I recently saw it here in a bubble ad, and it was cleaner, lighter, and as active as my mind after a red bull.

There are a few MODs which are essential for new forums. I’ll be using phpBB for all the examples, but I’m positive that MyBB and Zetaboards have the same or similar MODs.


 

NV Last Topic Post Title

This is an extremely simple MOD that requires minimal effort to install. In layman’s terms, the title of the last post in the latest thread in a forum is displayed on the index. For an example of this, look at the Forum Promotion index.


 

Avatar Resize 1.0

This MOD is one of the most handy ones I’ve ever had the pleasure to install. It simply resizes all avatars that users upload automatically, meaning that each member hasn’t got to worry about finding a 100×100 picture of Pikachu to fit his/her profile.

Now, there is a slight downside to this. Instead of the MOD resizing the picture, uploading that, then displaying it; it simply shows the picture you used in smaller dimensions. This means that if you uploaded a 2mb picture for your avatar, it would still be a 2 MB image; its dimensions would just be smaller. Keep that in mind when you use this MOD.


 

3. PM on Registration

This can be used to welcome new members, link to the forum rules, link to the introduction page, and anything else you like! This MOD is widely used on forums of all types.

You can even make a slight profit from it and have people pay to advertise in the PM! If you were to do this, you probably would only want to sell one link, and it should probably be a text link (maybe in a different colour to differentiate between normal and sponsored links).

Making the PM look spammy is the worst thing that you can do. If you registered to a forum and the first thing you saw was a PM with tons of animated GIFs and spam links, you’d Ctrl + W and leave the forum for good.


 

It is recommended that you download MODs which have been approved by the MOD development team of your forum software. They will test for bugs and exploits, and only approve clean ones. Use BETAs and User Developed MODs at your own risk!


 

However, these are only some of my personal suggestions; if you need support starting a forum (i.e. under one thousand posts) and would like a free service from me, feel free to PM me!

I’m an expert in phpBB who has helped a forum with over 200,000 members with technical problems, so I’m more than capable!

3DS Pedia Review – Review Spotlight

3ds Pedia
Full Review by Subz

You can access 3DS Pedia to see for yourself what it looks like, by clicking here.


Scoring:

Image First Impressions & Appearance – ( 19 out of 20)

I like the template and the backgrounds, its very Nintendo orientated. I can see that your forum is very active and I like the chatbox at the top of the forum, which gets members chatting and being active while not posting on the forum.

You have a nice light theme, which works very well with your theme. The forum icons for each forum works well with your forum genre too.

I like the member of the week addition, which helps get people posting and wanting to earn triple coins, which they can use in the shop to buy things.

Image Site Layout – ( 19 out of 20)

The layout of your forums is really good, which allows a lot for discussions like current Nintendo discussions and past Nintendo Console and Gaming discussions.

I like how there is a wide scope for Nintendo related discussions too; given as your members have a lot of room for discussion. Also if your not a Nintendo fan you can just go into the media, anime, and graphic design and including other consoles boards for more different types of discussions, which is good as there are more gamers that use PS3 or Xbox as well as Nintendo.

Image Statistics and Activity – ( 19 out of 20)

I have been online a few times browsing your forum and your forum has been active, 30+ members online throughout the day. You have done very well for the amount of time your forum has been online for; almost 80k posts and 1300 members, I would be very pound of the forum if that was me. This is quite good for a year, there are not a lot of forums which gets this many members or posts within a year.

You have done great, I wouldn’t change what you have been doing.

Image Content – ( 20 out of 20)

I think its great that you have staff and active members making topics around the forum, as a new member I like that its not just the staff making topics throughout the forum. I would get me more involved in the forum and willing to make topics and get discussions started as I know other members would get involved and get more discussions started. I think that is quite important to see that members are also making threads and getting involved in currents discussions, as it makes the forum more active, so that when members log in they can see there are fresh topics to reply to, since their last login. All members love to see that.

Image Spelling/Grammar & Professionalism – ( 19 out of 20)

The forum grammar is very good throughout the forum, by members and staff! I like how everyone is posting with proper grammar and punctuation.

Professionalism is great by everyone.

There is nothing I would change here, which will help new members when making posts and topics. Also it will help newer members in using better grammar and punctuation themselves in their posts and topics, instead of slang or shortened words.

Total Score –
(
96 out of 100)

 


Final Remarks:

Image Strengths:

[one] Great Activity by members and staff
[two] The grammer all over the forum, looks very professional
[three] Member of the week is great as it gets members to stay active and be able to buy things from the eshop

 

Image Weaknesses:
[one] The chatbox may take away from having more active posts around the forum
[two] I would look into getting a better logo for the forum as the current one could be better.
[three] I would add a general discussion forum as that would get members and staff talking about non Nintendo genres and could get more discussions going.

Forum Administration – The Comprehensive Guide!

This article was first posted on our blog on 11/02/2011. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.


This question has been on the lips of webmasters and forums owners all around the world. I often get direct messages on twitter asking how its done, but 140 characters is never enough!

All content here is learned from past experience. I’ve been a webmaster since the age of 9, ran 4 forums and been staff on 6. I’m helping everyone here by sharing my experiences!

So let’s begin. In this post, you’ll read about the following:-

  • Kicking off your forum with the right attitude.
  • How to effectively publicize your forum.
  • Generating original posts and threads to get users involved.
  • Effective forum group permissions (only for older forums).

1. Personality, perspective and motivation.

The one mistake I see when people begin a forum is in it for the cash. Forums won’t tend to make money from the get go. Guides you read elsewhere are written by people who have started a forum in a brand new niche, and people responded well to it.

Running a forum is much like growing a flower. It takes time, care and attention. Those looking for a quick solution to an empty wallet, I’m sorry but this guide isn’t for you.

When starting a forum, many people will have a massive drive to make it successful. You spend all of your free time making posts and promoting it, but many people lose this very quickly. Many have risen to the challenge and not many came out of it at the other side, and I’m no exception. I helped run the Discussion Bulletin Board, it had great potential and over 1000 active posts a week.

This guide will help you to make the most out of your forum and having the most fun from it in the process! Everybody can learn something new, so older webmasters will get tips from this too!

2. It’s all about appearance.

From now ( dot dot dot dot) to now. That’s all the time you have to make a first impression. I see so many people with great forums but have an awful theme. Many webmasters will have spent a lot of time on their forums, meaning they would have gotten used to it and don’t pay much attention to it.
New users? Not so much. If they load your page and see the default logo, MySQL errors all over the place and thousands of spam threads, say goodbye to a returning user!

After research I conducted personally (through a psychology project for college), ~60% of the people I asked judge the content of a website on it’s appearance. This means that your theme and in some cases your MODs* possess the crucial seconds you need to convince a user that your forum is worth going to.

* This is for people who have a shoutbox and Topic Notifications installed. Meaning that every new thread is shouted, so if you have spam your shoutbox is full of spam threads/shouts.

So how do you optimize your appearance for others? Well I’ll tell you!

  • Custom Logo (Just request one on FP!)
  • Custom Theme (More expensive but worth it)
  • Uncommon but good MODs.
  • Unique niche (so your threads aren’t common!)

The last point above links in to the next section, so if you’re confused now, don’t worry!

3. Content, content, content!

First off, I’ll define niche for those quote don’t know:

A focus within a particular area, which is either popular or unpopular. This works to an advantage, as you can tap into a resource already producing results, or begin a trend and get results from the start!

For those who have experience in administrating a forum, but not so much posting in it, this is for you. I’m tired of seeing people not posting on their own forum, yet paying extravagant amounts of money paying others to do it for them!

Generating content is the most strenuous part of running a forum. I’m not going to lie to you, it gets slightly boring when you have 200 threads but only 26 posts. It’s demotivating, but that’s where post exchanges come in! I’ll go into that later on though.

Creating original threads that don’t make you look like you’re copying every forum is hard work. I often look round forums whilst browsing FP (just out of curiosity, I’m a natural born geek and I love to spy on others progress and look at page sources when I find an interesting feature) and see that many have the same “Favourite song?”, “Favourite sport?” etc. You get the idea. Forums nowadays are filled with generic content, and it gets boring! People are always out looking for excitement and something new. So why not be the next Facebook? The next Youtube? The next Myspace? Well maybe not Myspace, but you get the picture.

Try and research before buying a domain. Your domain is the 1st protocol, the first thing a user will read before looking at your site. If you have reeetylsswr.co.cz it’s not going to look too attractive. Whereas is you look at a site such as Facebook.com; the name is genius and relates directly to the content. This is EXACTLY what you want to be achieving.

Whilst doing your research:

Make sure that you write down a variety of niches. You need to compare what’s available and what you can achieve greatly in. Nobody wants to come to a forum where the owner hasn’t got the first clue about what he’s writing about. It’s like going to a gaming forum and the owner being 95 and asking if the new Gameboy Colour has come out yet. Yes, for those wondering I still play pokémon on my GBC.

You need to then write down a list of preferred domain names. Try and make a header/box with preferable/necessary words for the domain, and base your ideas around those. I spent around 3 days researching just for my domain alone, and ended up running the financial side of the Discussion Bulletin Board. This is literally the extend people go to to make successful forums, so if you get it right from the start you’ll be fine!

Creating activity around the forum, and keeping it there!

This is most likely going to be the most read part of this article. I ran a poll a few weeks back and this was requested, so for those who wanted it, here goes!

Activity. The most bewildering factor when it comes to starting and running a forum. As I said in the introduction, I have around 3 – 4 direct messages on Twitter daily asking me how it’s done.
Webmasters the world over have written guides on how it’s done, but I assure you these are my tips and I’ve seen them in action.

First I’ll list an overview, and go into detail later on:

  • Turn your cap backwards, relax!
  • Everybody’s equal!
  • Nobody likes spam, get nutritional!

Turn your cap backwards, relax!

Strict modding of forums is a major downside. Many people look for a place to hang back and relax. So why remove loads of posts or warn people constantly when they’re having fun?
Obviously warning/removing racial or hate content is the exception, but swearing isn’t exactly murder so don’t treat it like it is! Everybody needs to let off steam, so let them do it online where they’re comfortable and you’ll see the posts come rolling in. If you create what is essentially a Youth Center but online, you’ll become popular in no time at all. I used to be a GMOD (Global Moderator) on a popular hacking forum (won’t mention the name) and they allowed anything up to and leading to swearing in all manners. People were happy to post, argue and debate all over the board because they could act like themselves on the board as if they were talking in real life.

Everybody’s equal!

This has to be the most annoying part of any forum; the admin who thinks he’s superior to everybody else because he runs the site. People will often leave the site if they think their opinions are not valid, or that they are just posting to keep the staff happy and not because they truely want to.
When I ran my first forum, I took the attitude that it was an honour to have each member. In my opinion, every admin should take the same approach and should come to realize that a forum is nothing without its members. So if you come across as too arrogant, try loosening up and letting people have their say. Take all suggestions into consideration, because if 1 person wants something, I can guarantee more people will want it too.

Nobody likes spam, get nutritional!

This witty one liner made me laugh when I ripped it from my overly active mind.
People won’t want to come to a board covered in ads, the Admins hoarding 352094492 links in their sigs and posting 1 word answers to increase their post count. Generating discussion amongst members is the easiest way you can increase your post count and keep the members there! They will want to constantly keep checking their threads to see if new replies have been made, and then post again. It’s a cycle, but not one of the vicious kind.

To create such discussions, try and avoid religious or moral discussions. These will almost always turn in flame threads where members have arguments and turn out very badly. So badly that members reading the thread may consider you to be a slacking MOD and turn their back on the forum. So take the first point above into consideration, but keep a careful eye out.

4. Advanced administration – Forum Viewing Permissions

This is just a short section to give people a tip that not many new admins use. Allowing guests to read threads when the forum is new is important. They will want a reason to come back to your forum, and won’t want to if they feel like they’re being forced into doing something they may regret later on. I mean, as a user you never know who has your email address. Why give it out more than you should have to?

When you start to get regular activity (I’d say more than 20 active members, deny guests the right to read threads. Much like myself, they will most likely check out the forum stats before they leave. If they see that you have an active member base they’ll be tempted to see what all the fuss is about. This is the critical point where all the tips above come into play!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this lengthy guide, it’s taken me 4 days to write and I’ve stayed awake till 1am GMT tonight to finalize it!

If anybody has any questions, be they elaborations on points above or additional information, give me a PM or post below!

Interview with Matt Mecham @ IPB (Invision Power Board)

This article was first posted on our blog on 07/10/2010. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.


Invision Power Services Chieft Software Architect and founder of the forum software, Matt Mecham has accepted an interview with ForumPromotion. We’re thrilled to be interviewing this highly skilled software developer. IPB is currently leading the commercial forum software market in the eyes of many, and has remained loyal to it’s customers where vBulletin and Internet Brands hasn’t.

Matt’s a busy guy but he managed to answer these questions by working around his busy schedule. Cheers Matt.

Did you think ever IPB would get as big as it currently is?
When Charles and I started IPS in 2002, we never dared to think that we’d end up employing over a dozen people and doing something we love doing for a living. I still had a full time job at the time and I couldn’t see that changing. We feel very fortunate to have been able to turn a small PHP script into a business that continues to grow.

Of course, we’re never complacent and always strive to improve. I don’t think you can really take too long to enjoy the scenery. There’s always competition nipping at your heels and that drives you on. I get up every morning and can’t wait to get stuck into the day’s challenges.

Where do you see IPB in 10 years?
That’s a very good question. If you had asked Apple that question 10 years ago, I’m not sure they would have said “Leading the way in portable music players and smartphones”.[more] With this industry trends change dramatically over a short space of time so you have to always be willing to adapt and change. 10 years ago the notion of ‘social networking’ was still in its infancy so few could have predicted the impact Facebook and Twitter have on the web today.

For IPS, I would like to see us continue to grow and still pushing the boundaries of community software. As long as there are people, there is a need for a centralized community.

What do you do to help the mod community?
We love our modifications community and we continue to work with the community to help nurture it. First and foremost, almost all of the IPS staff are very active on the forums. This includes all the senior developers. I think this is important for many reasons but in regards to modifications it means that we can listen to feedback on how to improve the built in systems in our products.

We host a ‘community resources’ section on our own site that allows modification authors to list their mods. We give them a ‘contributor’ badge on the forums if they have modifications listed. We also have ‘contributor’ forums so that modification authors can ask direct questions to the development team and each other.

We’re always trying to improve documentation on our systems. IP.Board 3 was a huge step up for modification authors because it introduced applications and hooks which makes writing modifications much easier.

Both Brandon and I come from a modifications background, so we appreciate the challenges and needs that it brings.

Developing such big software must be very time consuming – do you ever feel like giving up?
It’s very much a team effort but I never feel like giving up, not even for a minute. I can’t express how much I love what I’m doing. I love the challenges and the people. I am constantly thinking of new ways to drive our products on. Development can be time consuming and frustrating but I thoroughly enjoy it. I’m lucky to do something that I enjoy for a living.

How would you recommend new webmasters go about promoting their websites?
It largely depends on the community. The basics are the same for everyone, though. Harness social networking, don’t be afraid of it. IP.Board comes with Facebook and Twitter integration. Allow your members to share links to these sites so that their social circle can discover your forum and content. I’ve tweeted links to our community forum and that topic can have a few hundred guests on within ten minutes. I’m not saying that those guests will register and become long standing members, but you have to admit that it is a powerful tool when used correctly. I’d say that you have to make it as easy as possible to register and join in. Enabled Facebook Connect. It’s reasonable to assume that most people have a Facebook account so being able to register simply by clicking a few buttons will increase registrations.

Even if you intensely dislike Facebook, don’t underestimate its reach. Facebook may be a short lived fad but it currently has 500 million users. It’s fast becoming a ubiquitous sign in method. I love forums and websites that allow me to sign up using Facebook.

What impact will the growing popularity of social networking sites have on the usage of discussion forums?
When I want to go and see what my friends are doing, I check in on Facebook. I can see their status updates, videos and pictures about their weekend. When I want to make contact with my customers to get feedback on our latest products, I go to our forum.

This isn’t revolutionary but it underlines that social networking sites have a different purpose to forums. Of course, there is some cross over but you cannot replace a forum with Facebook and vice-versa. There is always going to be a need for organized discussion that focuses on specific topics.

More and more people are going from vBulletin to IPB – what does IPB3 have over vBulletin 4?
I think there are several factors in the mass migration from vBulletin. The biggest being that Internet Brands have completely destroyed their brand and customer loyalty in the past year. They have slayed their golden goose. Inertia will keep sales ticking over but the dinosaur is definitely staring at the asteroid.

Of course, disgruntled vBulletin customers are only a small part of our customer base. We do still keep an eye on the situation but we are now also paying great attention to other competitors with a more modern, stable platform we can focus our competitive efforts on

Personally I see the growth in social sites as a good thing. I can broadcast links to topics to my social circle who can choose to share that information on. I can sign up to forums without filling in a long complex form and waiting for an activation email. I can update my status updates from a single source. More people connected means more traffic if you leverage it correctly.

How do you compete in the competitive battle between vB and IPB? – are you winning?
We produce good software at a fair price. We treat our customers with respect and listen to their opinions and needs. I don’t think we need to do anything more.

What do you think about other free forum software alternatives e.g. phpBB, how do they compare to IPB?
I think there’s lots of great free software out there. I have a lot of respect for developers that donate their free time to those projects. I’d say the gap between commercial software and free software is growing wider as the web moves on and we adapt to it. In many ways simply having a ‘forum’ isn’t enough. Customers are looking for an integrated suite of applications they can use to built a complete and feature rich site.

Kier has begun development on a new forum software – XenForo – what are your thoughts on it?
I have a lot of respect for Kier. We only really started talking after he left vBulletin and we have a lot in common. He’s a very skilled developer with a lot of experience and an existing “fan” base which will be a fantastic boost in the early stages. Lots of new projects fail because they don’t offer anything new and are not significantly different from existing and well supported applications so it’s nice to see XenForo approach things a little differently.

XenForo has a lot of visual flair which is great to see. It’s certainly generating a lot of buzz at the moment. I really do wish Kier and Mike all the best and look forward to many years of healthy competition.

You can check out IPB here – http://www.invisionpower.com/products/board/

Why New Promotion Forums Suffer – Introduction

This article was first posted on our blog on 01/05/2010. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.


In today’s world, there is usually up to 100 new promotion forums popping up on the internet every day! Promotion forums come and go faster than regular forums for some reason that admins are yet to comprehend. New forums receive very little, to no traffic at all in their first month of opening; (so services containing links are very useless and will turn the member off to not requesting the service.)

Promotion Forums suffer because they are no different from the rest. I have seen a few forums that add a special touch. Poorly thought out forums consist of everything Forum Promotion has such as Social Ads, Banner Ads, Signature Ads, Packages, etc. My favourite line is “Dare to be Different.” Forum Promotion has put a lot of time into making itself unique, so why copy it? Develop your own unique services and a different way to carry out those services to make your promotion forum larger, better, and more professional/successful than it was before. Uniqueness is important if you want to be successful at a time when there is so much competition around. You need to stand out from the crowd and give users a reason to join your forum, against the other new promotion forums that are opened daily.

I hope these first few tips help you in your quest of building a successful and active promotion forum. This series will cover Admin Dedication, Dull Services, and more! Stay Tuned!

Discussion Hub – Review Spotlight

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Full Review by Twisted Fairytale

You can access Discussion Hub to see for yourself what it looks like, by clicking here.

 


Image First Impressions & Appearance – (17 out of 20)
This isn’t the first time I’ve reviewed Discussion Hub, so I’m glad to see improvements! When I first step through the portal to Discussion Hub, I’m greeted with a dark, soft theme that is very aesthetically pleasing. Every forum has its own, custom icon that relates to what the theme is about, which is always a plus when navigating a forum. It really adds to the aesthetics. Overall it is just a nice-looking theme, but there are a few very, very minor aspects that I would like to point out to help Discussion Hub improve.

First off, something doesn’t sit right with the contrast between the category headers and the background. The rest of the theme seems to set a little darker color scheme, and it feels like the category headers go a little too lighter than the scheme. Now, like I said, this isn’t a huge deal, it’s just taking my eyes a bit to adjust. So, like how I try to fix everything, I opened up my nifty Inspect Element and took a swing at some adjustments. This is what I came up with:

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In my personal opinion, I think the second color matches the scheme that the rest of the theme sets. However, that’s just my opinion. I would suggest some change of that though, so play around with it yourself! Like I said, it’s something small, but it’s improve-able!

Speaking of minor color changes, there is one area of Discussion Hub that my eyes do not want to focus because of the difference in hues. Here:

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The red text stands out, yes, but it’s actually less readable because my eyes skim over it, being unable to focus it in with the rest of the colors. My suggestion: Tone the red down a bit, make it a little darker. That way, it blends in with the theme a bit and is actually easily readable.

Now, these were minor changes. To get back to the overall theme, there isn’t much to say that it’s great. It’s almost simplistic with no major colors blowing all over the place. It’s something I would like to use on a board if I had one that required a dark theme. Because I actually had to get very technical to give suggestions, there isn’t much wrong with Discusison Hub’s theme, and I believe it serves it’s purpose very, very nicely. Seventeen (17) points to Griffend.. wait.. Discussion Hub!

Image Site Layout – (14 out of 20)
Discussion Hub features an out-of-the-way floating top bar which holds the portal to many vital areas of the site such as links to the index, user alerts, User Control Panel, and log out. Below, the logo takes a prominent stance as it overlooks its kingdom below. The main menu bar is filled to the brim with links, some better coded and placed than others; and some with the importance of which is debateable. Actually, let’s go into that. Discussion Hub really seems to like its menu links. For one, there are Facebook / Twitter links, not inches away from the same links on the sidebar. I would suggest, urge, push, whatever, that you only stick those links in one spot. It just looks better. Also, there is a search button and a search box. Another one of those: one or the other. It relieves the clutter and such. So really Discussion Hub needs to sit down and decide what to boot on their menu, because they definitely need to clean it up.

As the main act of the show, the index listing makes its appearance where it is finely organized and showcased. The index boasts beautiful organization and placement of each forum in its designated category. I don’t get the sense of one forum being out of place.

Taking the index listing head-on is the sidebar, found just to the right of the beautiful forums. Sidebars are sometimes frowned upon by administrators and designers, but I believe Discussion Hub’s sidebar is just about perfect in its content. The “Find Us On” and “Howdy [User]” boxes seem decent enough, though I personally would swap their positions. The one box that I have a problem with is the “(c) Discussion Hub 2014” box. I understand that Discussion Hub can be proud of obtaining a copyright, but it is certainly not something to flaunt and take up a whole box on your sidebar. Such copyright can easily be displayed at the footer of the forum, out of the way. Other than that, I believe the sidebar is constructed beautifully with useful information.

Finally we come to the bottom of the Discussion Hub empire. The board information is just the same as any other community. Online users, Who has been, blah blah blah. However, I see that Discussion Hub has moved the forum statistics up below your index. Good move! It keeps the footer small, and beautiful.

Overall, the layout of Discussion Hub really leaves nothing to be desired. There is only one “hiccup” I mentioned, which was the copyright box on the sidebar. In addition, the links on the menu seem to be formatted with extra padding on the left than on the right, which creates a lopsided effect after the Home button. Other than that, I have no complaints about the layout!

Image Statistics and Activity – (16 out of 20)
Let’s take a look at the Discussion Hub simplified statistics:

Zoom in (real dimensions: 732 x 38)Image

As a general discussion forum that has been around for a good while, there isn’t much to be desired. In addition, I took a quick glance at the complex forum statistics and found that Discussion Hub gets about 46 posts a day. That may seem low to some people, but it’s the start of something great.

Just about every one of Discussion Hub’s forums is active, with all having a post within the least past two days. Most are even more recent than that. Discussion Hub has accumulated an admirable amount of activity, but still can soar higher. Therefore, sixteen (16) points for activity!

Image Content – (14 out of 20)
As a discussion forum, the content of Discussion Hub solely relies on it’s members, and staff, to create valuable discussion topics. From what I can see, there is valuable discussion going on just about everywhere around the forum. There is a good bit of activity in “Forum Games,” but not as much as one would find anywhere else. The members and staff seem to create some great discussion topics, but what is lacking is quality responses.

Now, this isn’t something you can really control, per se, but many of your members and V.I.P.s leave comments that are less than three words. Yes, they answer the question asked, but that’s not much discussion going on. Even if they are less than three words, they don’t really contribute much to the conversation, which brings down your quality of overall content pretty significantly…

For the administrators of Discussion Hub, they contribute to the content by what sections they create and open up for users to communicate in. One of the newest additions I’ve noticed is the groups. After exploring a bit, the idea grew on me, and I like it! It provides more interaction between members who are in the same group, as well as encourages participation all around the website. It also gives members something to do, other than just sit around and stare at their screen until the next post.

One suggestion I would like to give is to perhaps poll your users on what they want to see further in the forum. Open up a topic to suggest more discussion areas or future updates. That way, your forum is always growing and improving, based on what your members want to see.

Overall, there is a beaucoup of space for members to discuss what they want, and they responded very well with that space. There are great discussions occurring, and the administrators are doing an amazing job encouraging such discussion. Sixteen (16) points for content. Keep it up!

Image Spelling/Grammar & Professionalism – (16 out of 20)
There isn’t much for me to go on here, except for the content posted directly by Guardian and Kingcool, since they are really the “faces” of the forum; in addition to the forum itself. I want to touch first on the forum descriptions. Professionalism is often viewed by uniformity, and I wish I could say the descriptions were uniform. Unfortunately, half of Discussion Hub’s descriptions contain periods at the end, and the other half doesn’t. I get mixed vibes from this, since they’re not all the same. It’s something very minor, but something I would change quickly since it’s not that hard.

One aspect that is holding Discussion Hub back on its professionality is something very simple called username effects. I’m speaking specifically about the Administrators (can’t tell if VIPs have it or not). The Administration has a orange name with a neat little red glow. While that’s pretty cool, it presents a laid-back atmosphere, but also a bit childish. I mean, Discussion Hub already gave the the vibe of laid back, so I’m not sure how much you really want to be “professional,” and I wouldn’t suggest it to all forums, but if you did, the affects would have to go.

In addition, the administration seems to write very well-worded posts and announcements, so I don’t see an issue with the administration’s professionalism; especially since Discussion Hub seems like such a laid back forum. I understand this was a very short section, as it usually is. Overall, there are very few spelling mistakes all around, and there are only minor flaws here and there conflicting with your “professionalism.” Seventeen (16) points for spelling and grammar!

Total Score – (77 out of 100)

 


Final Remarks:
Discussion Hub is a beautifully built discussion community where I believe anyone could find a good “lounge chat” if they wanted, along with a receiving member base and increasing activity. To the administrators: keep it up! You’ve got an amazing forum with a lot of potential. Discussion Hub has always been one of my favorites, honestly!

Image Strengths:

Beautiful community built with tender, loving care.
Loads of content space for members to discuss.

Image Weaknesses:
Awkward copyright box on the sidebar.
Cluttered menu bar.
Lack of quality member responses.

Chilled Echoes – Review Spotlight

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Full Review by phio_chan

You can access Chilled Echoes to see for yourself what it looks like, by clicking here.


Scoring:

Image First Impressions & Appearance – (14 out of 20)
Kickoff! The first category I will explore is the overall impression made from the appearance of the forum. My visit for this review was actually not the first, so probably a ‘first impression’ is not very accurate. Either way, there will still be things to check out.

Chilled Echoes. I like the name, it is a unique one and I was not able to guess right away what the forum was about. To build curiosity is one good sign as it sparks interest. Visiting as a guest, I saw the default theme ‘Cygnus’. A dark theme is a feast to my eyes, somehow, so I was comfortable browsing around. The left side bar is a nice layout element, with straight, to-the-point navigation links. Quickly glancing below I saw that the forum was a compact one, not too small but not too big either, with lovely activity and statistics. There are forum events and competitions! And a list of various themes to use! Those elements, in my opinion, are lovely start-up details. Those definitely gave a sweet first impression, and especially for those who feel comfortable in general discussion niche, the forum is one inviting place, in my opinion.

Moving on to the appearance, let’s take a deeper look into themes you have offered.

  • Starting with your default theme, ‘Cygnus’. As I mentioned, dark theme is easy on my eyes so I have no problem with it. Good color contrast, especially because colors highlight the text better in dark background. What I feel can be improved from this theme are the banner and the side bar. The banner is a good one, although I would vote for a different font style and stronger color combination to make it stands out more. What do you think of script font type? And if possible, an image to represent the forum can be put there too to give stronger feeling of identity for the forum. What do you think of tag line? I like the line you used in your signature on forums together with Chilled Echoes’ banner. I think it would be sweet to have it on the forum too. As for the side bar, as you scroll down it feels too empty. I think if you make the side bar fixated to show the current menu and only the index body which scrolls, it would be perfect.
  • You mentioned ‘Tranquil Echoes’ as your special theme, so it comes second. In my opinion, it is well done, but I still prefer ‘Cygnus’ over this one. I missed the decorative header of icons and texts to represent the navigation links, the header is not as empty as this one, and the color combinations are more interesting with ‘Cygnus’ than with this one.
  • I notice you offer various base color scheme in other themes. That is a great job to try to match what members may like. My overall impression of the themes is generally the same; they are not too customized in terms of banner, icons, and colors. ‘chilledBlue’ and ‘IFSZ Revisited’ are the prime examples of that. ‘Lucemia’ has a fresh pink, but I personally cannot use such theme for too long as it feels too bright for my eyes. ‘St. Paddy’ has the best attempt of all. The description text of the banner is somewhat hard to read (I could tell right away it is ‘Luck of the Irish’, but ‘u’ seemed like ‘a’ sometimes). The color contrast with group colors work best with this theme. I also notice this theme is the default theme for ‘St. Patrick’s Festival’ section. Unique touch to perk up the event, which is cool. Also, in regards to these other themes, try to make some time to check around all elements. In ‘chilledBlue’, for example, the footer is messed up with Planet Nexus’ footer and the private message and reputation buttons still have default ZetaBoards’ button. Minor details to complete the overall atmosphere!

In general, I feel that you have done quite well with your themes. My favorite would be ‘Cygnus’ and ‘St.Paddy’ because they have more integrated elements than what standard ZetaBoards themes usually have. They can still be improved, though, mainly involving more decorative elements such as text style, colors, and images to make them more outstanding.

Image Site Layout – (14 out of 20)
Chilled Echoes’ layout is straightforward. Short but compact. The sub-forums are made accordingly to the interest of the community, as I observe it, which is a good sign to do. I am especially fond of the event section. It is nice to see a general discussion forum dedicating such space for a fun activity for the community. All sections are also filled with decent activity and content in general; some may be less active than others but still showing life. There does not seem to be a need in expanding or merging categories/forums at the moment, except thinking further about a forum about sports falling under a section about movies. I am not too familiar with sports being considered an entertainment, and with its activity it can probably stand alone as its own section. Another possible idea is to ‘promote’ a sub-forum to a stand-alone forum when it has the chance to grow with exposure. ‘Critical Thinkers’ is my vote for now, since decent discussions seem to be on-going and hopefully exposure can make it grow even more.

My next concern is about the naming of the sections. Quite minor, but I notice the inconsistency with the names. The forum name is ‘Chilled Echoes’. The first forum is ‘chilledBulletin’ , but then you have ‘chilled events’ and ‘Chilled Echoes Extravaganza’. There is inconsistency in the way ‘chilled’ is used here. I like the idea of integrating the forum’s name to the sections’ name, but to have them all in one format would be better.

Last one is about the side bar in ‘Cygnus’ theme. Nice side bar set there, though it needs more content added there or else it would be too boring especially when I scroll down because the bottom part of the bar is empty. You can explore the active topics or staff list more, or advertise events of the community. With a sole link of ‘Promotion Bash’, the intention of the link was not clear at all; it is one possibility to put some teaser there to ignite more interest.

Image Statistics and Activity – (18 out of 20)
Now let us review the numbers a little bit. At the time I was reviewing the forum, it had 13,100 posts with 96 members. Roughly dividing the numbers it means an average of 136 posts per member! That is a great achievement, congratulations. Going through the member list, there are only a few registered users who have not posted yet. That is too bad, but every forum to its own lurkers. At least it shows that you have been doing a good job to keep mostly interested in engaging in the community after registration. Content is spread out quite well in all the sections. I will touch up what content I think you can offer more at the next section. There is a decent overall activity from regular members and staff members. Currently you have two administrators and one moderator. With a forum as big as Chilled Echoes, usually at least two moderators are put in charge to help provide better management. I know there are not too many sections to handle, and if both administrators can help moderation post it would not be a problem.

Image Content – (13 out of 20)
Now we are going to talk about content! Being the hardest section to write about, I hope I can offer ideas helpful for you. In my opinion, Chilled Echoes has quite a standard content on-going. Being a general discussion forum, the content is basically ‘general’. It is eternally gifted with abundance of topics to talk about, but the exact problem usually lies there. People often get confused about what to actually talk about when they have such a huge selection. Eventually they resort to common ones. I feel that this is what I see happened in Chilled Echoes. It does not necessarily mean bad; it shows that there are audience at the forum, and they are interested at the forum, as they regularly post around and respond to the threads. The types of discussion involved, however, are mainly generic ones. ‘Favorite’ threads or ‘current verb-ing’ threads are the prime example of what I talked about. Not much discussion could be pushed on in those kind of threads. I feel that some pushes can be attempted. What do you think about starting discussions about specific musicians at the music section? Or talk about what the members think about magic (the ‘real’ or ‘fantasy’ magic both works)? Or explore more about members’ cooking ability, maybe they have some wonderful recipes and tricks to share. Or mistakes they did in the past and how they learned to let it go or mended it. More sensitive topics can probably be locked from guests to see for privacy, but there are always more to explore. I also feel that it is okay for staff members to help bump old, potential threads with new thoughts or input. Who knows if discussions will bloom again. General discussion forums will have to explore their members to get everyone together and in return form a stronger link and more enjoyable stay. Definitely not an easy task. However, I see that potential from Chilled Echoes because I see dedicated staff members and some core active members which can be the start point of this inspiration.

Second point I am planning to ponder a bit more is the second category. I am personally a fan of such element in a forum; events help to bring some more fun to the community and bring the members together. I like the events you have provided so far. Some are simple, another one is more complicated but still not too troublesome. I am mostly confused with ‘Chilled Echoes Extravaganza’. Probably because it is more like a contest, a race, dedicating one whole section to it was rather confusing because there is not too many things to be done. A one composed thread under ‘chilled events’ would probably be better. Related to events and contests, such forums usually offer a spot in the index page to showcase the winners and advertise the event more grandly. I feel that this would be a great additional point to the forum as incentives for more people to participate. It also shows the great talents of the community which may be source of interest from visitors to turn into members. The header has big area to explore, and with ‘Cygnus’ you even have the side bar. They can be used to advertise content of the forum! Instead of just ‘Active Topics’ navigation link, a box of recent posts, threads, or most popular discussions with links to those threads right away would be more beneficial. I am not too sure about the design limitations of ZetaBoards, though, so I hope these ideas can be beneficial.

Image Spelling/Grammar & Professionalism – (16 out of 20)
Finishing up the review with an exploration to the professional side of the forum. From the forum names, organization, descriptions, and posts, Chilled Echoes has a good overall professionalism. I appreciate the effort taken to try to give unique names to the sections, which is a nice attempt to be different from other forums. With grammar, there are only several not-too-huge mistakes. For example, usage of capital letters in forum descriptions and hiccups like this in ‘Sports Bar & Grill’ description, with bold parts as the mistakes:

Are you avid sports addict? Willing to stick out the weather in the outdoors to watch your favorite team drive home the win? Or maybe you’re not a die-hard addict, but you have some knowledge of the sports? Whether you play the sport, or an fan this is your type of place.

The ‘Board Rules’ thread also says “This means that you won’t do any of the following: … (2) Refraining from making any comment that would be deemed racist or sexist. (3) Refraining from trolling or spamming.” With ‘following’, it would sound better to go straight to the things you want to refrain. The correction would be ‘…(2) Making racist or sexist comment…” That goes straight to the point without unnecessary words.

Total Score – (75 out of 100)

 


Final Remarks:
I enjoyed my time reviewing Chilled Echoes. The community has a fresh and friendly atmosphere to it, and I could see how it feels like home to several members. That is a wonderful feeling to achieve for a general discussion forum. The challenge is going to be harder from now on with the activity and other possible content to add. When in doubt, asking the community members can sometimes help. The more brains to think, the better! It also helps to bring everyone together. Do not hesitate to touch them all and build the forum together. Good luck!

Image Strengths:

Active member base with regular posting

Overall great professionalism from the management

Image Weaknesses:

Themes are not so well-organized

Forum layout can still be made more tidy

Lack of further discussions instead of generic ones