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Advice on starting a forum

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by sleaver, Feb 28, 2011.

  1. sleaver

    sleaver Member

    Hi, this is my first post here so hopefully it will go well!

    Anyway, I'm thinking of starting a forum basically because on another forum I visit you can ask a question and because it's not very well structured your post can be on the second page before you know it and never get noticed. Obviously that isn't the only reason as I'm also interested in the subject, there's a market for it and I would possibly like to have a go at building a community.

    However having never started a forum that's where I'm hoping some of you could come in! I really like the look of xenForo so that would be high on the list but what should I consider before possibly starting out on this? Obviously I know its not a case of install the script and 5 seconds later you have a thriving community so I would be grateful for any advice you could give.
  2. Floris

    Floris Guest

    Get a good idea of what you want out of your community.
    Find a fitting, affordable and available domain name. At namecheap.com
    Find a VPS or other hosting appropriate to your expected traffic flow. Linode.com is on my top5 of recommendations.
    Get a XenForo license, so you have time to build and test and play.

    Learn the system, play with forum structures and their settings. And re-start when you're happy and know what you want (or continue with whatever worked).

    Create a private category for administration and archiving.
    Create a semi private category for the public, where only team members can create new content. For your announcements and official information.

    Create an offtopic board, there will always be topics you can't place elsewhere.

    And create a category with up to 5 boards for the on-topic topics you're interested in the most for your site.

    Start slow, start little, and grow naturally.

    But think things through, and simply have fun doing it all.

    And back up daily, weekly and monthly, rolling archive and offsite.
    fos likes this.
  3. fos

    fos Active Member

    I would like to second Linode.com I don't think there is a better host in the market.

    dieketzer likes this.
  4. Johnny Large

    Johnny Large New Member

    It looks like linode has some interesting plans and features. How about their support?

    I'm with iWeb at the moment. Everything is superb, except their support... mind-blowing...
  5. 0ptima

    0ptima Well-Known Member

    You dont need a VPS to start off a forum. Something like the basic package at site 5 would be more than enough.


    If your site takes off, you can always upgrade your hosting package.
  6. sleaver

    sleaver Member

    Thanks for all the comments so far.

    With the hosting I was wondering if I should go down the VPS route straight away or start off with normal hosting until it possibly gre and then upgrade as has been suggested.

    Also what sort of effort is involved in getting something like this off the ground? Stuff like promotion, getting members, maintaining and growing the community, that those sort's of things?
  7. Ati

    Ati Active Member

    This is just my personal opinion: I've tried several shared-hosting solutions over the past 5 years (with a vb forum). I had to leave most of them because performance was so poor, the forum was not accessible many times because of database issues. The forum now has less than 2000 members (max 100 online at a time, but usually around 50), with just over 250,000 posts (it was a lot less at those times!). So we're not talking about a huge forum here. My last host basically sent me away, saying that I tie up 90% of their resources. That's when I moved the forum over to one of my servers (that is actually being used for other purposes as well), and the max load I get is 0.2. How this could possibly tie up 90% of a hosting company's resources is beyond me... :)

    So basically, you have zero control over what's going on with your forum with a shared hosting plan.

    I'd say if you don't need a dedicated server, go with a small VPS.

    Again, this is just my personal opinion, don't take anything I said above for granted... :)
  8. Russ

    Russ Well-Known Member

    Get dirt cheap hosting or a friend to host you while you toy with the forum, learn the software and build the design. There is zero need for paying for a VPS/Dedi while it's resources aren't even being used. Learn it, design it, launch it.
    Dragonfly likes this.
  9. Floris

    Floris Guest

    My post reads specifically that I personally recommend a VPS, and to use whatever is appropriate for your site. For some that's a mere shared hosting. For others who take their site seriously and want full control as super user, it's at least a VPS.
  10. sleaver

    sleaver Member

    OK, I already have hosting that I can use for testing because as has been mentioned the resources will not be used, it's when/if the site goes live that it will be a consideration. So in the mean time are there any views on this query?

  11. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Hard work, dedication and time.

    You can advertise as much as you like using AdWords, Facebook and Twitter, which will result in hits, but without the content to keep them on the site, it's ultimately pointless.

    It's been said before but content is king when it comes to forums.
    If you can provide content that isn't available elsewhere then you'll be on your way to building a community.
  12. Crazyfruitbat

    Crazyfruitbat Well-Known Member

    I agree with Brogan, content is king with any type of website and loving social networks will all help build a site.

    As for everyone recommending Linode, I would agree as they are a great service BUT if you have never run a site before you may want to pass on them as its effectly setting up a blank box from scratch, putting linux on it, setting it up ready for the site etc. not as easy as these guys make out.
  13. AnthonyCea

    AnthonyCea Well-Known Member

    • Get a domain
    • Get a web host
    • Get your forum software installed
    • Get Brogan to run it !!!
  14. sleaver

    sleaver Member

    Agreed, but when starting from scratch there's no content. Is it just a case of advertising the forum as much as possible to get a user base going to supply the content? For example, when Clip the Apex was launched (sorry if this wasn't the case) was there a small community of users contributing to the content while it was getting noticed by others joining?
  15. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    We had just 2 members on our first day and went from there.
  16. Sar

    Sar Active Member

    And then get a job!

    (I know, I know, it was just rhyming)
  17. sleaver

    sleaver Member

    Then just a lot of hard work to get it where it is now?

    How did you go about getting people to join and contribute when there was just two of you as I would assume the content was quite minimal at that time?
  18. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, for all questions.

    We posted a few links here and there and got some friends (and family) to sign up initially.
    But 99% of them didn't post, they just joined for moral support so it was very much a case of sticking with it.

    Some days we had no visitors at all so it was fairly disheartening, but gradually things picked up.

    It's by no means a huge forum now but we do at least have some original content which isn't available anywhere else. Well, I say that, but it has been copied and pasted on hundreds of other forums, but we are the source.
  19. AnthonyCea

    AnthonyCea Well-Known Member

    You have the right idea Brogan, don't lose heart, because the majority of users come to read your content as guests and will never join or contribute to your forums, this is why members who make great posts and contributions are so valuable, they are rare commodities now days for sure.
  20. Dean

    Dean Well-Known Member

    A plan is good to have.

    Personally: on an existing forum I slowly built personal contacts over time using other means of communication - meeting in person, telephone, email. Then when opening day occurred I called about 25 of them. At the end of day 2 we had many members. There were a few things undesirable about the forum we were originally on, nothing terrible, we basically needed a bit more room.

    I've made a point to discourage members posting links to our site simply to draw attention to our new site. If the content is there they will do that naturally with links to specific threads.

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