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Are There Benefits to Having a Closed Forum?

Discussion in 'Forum Management' started by System0, Jun 7, 2014.

  1. System0

    System0 Active Member

    An open forum can be indexed by search engines and generate more traffic and more user registrations.

    A closed forum allows a little more privacy for members. From an administrator's point of view, it also removes the problem of spam registrations.

    At the moment, I have a closed forum. I like the idea of the community being private to the world; however I also know that I am potentially losing out on a lot of traffic.

    I am curious as to what members here have: An open forum or a closed forum?

    Have you ever considered switching?

  2. Moshe1010

    Moshe1010 Well-Known Member

    Depends on the niche. If your forum has private stories of people or other confidential information then making it public is kind of risky. All other ideas that I can think of, make it public.
    System0 likes this.
  3. Gazhyde

    Gazhyde Well-Known Member

    I think it depends a lot on your forum as much as the niche. If your forum is "closed", then how do people join it/find it in the first place?

    If it's completely private you could create some public areas visible to guests, where you can then vet them as potential full member. That way you start getting content indexed, assuming you put some good content in there.

    You don't have to make it all visible either. 90% of my forum is completely open and indexed, but we have some areas which are only available to registered members who have posted a minimum number of times. It's not a super-secret area, just away from the lurkers and more relaxed in terms of moderation.
  4. System0

    System0 Active Member

    @Moshe1010 The niche is internet marketing.

    @Gazhyde Forums are placed in a subdirectory called members. The home page has a landing page that promotes the forum (kind of in the same way that XenForo has a landing page on the front). There is also a blog to help generate more traffic. Plus, I promote the forum heavily on my own blog.

    I opened the forum up to public registrations last night. I am sure it will be the right decision :)

    The one thing I need to decide now is whether to remove the front landing page. Should I keep the front page to help "sell the forum". Or should I move the forum to the main page so that members are pointed directly towards the forums.
  5. Gazhyde

    Gazhyde Well-Known Member

    Exact reason I removed WordPress and made Featured Threads Portal my home page.

    Any content pages on WordPress I needed to retain either went in to XenZine articles, or I created a static page node to hold it. Setup some 301 redirects to make sure any incoming links still found the content.

    Life so much easier now :)
    System0 likes this.
  6. wickedstangs

    wickedstangs Well-Known Member

    I have a closed forum/store and only let people in when they want to order something.
  7. System0

    System0 Active Member

    That's a good idea. I'm tempted to do that. I am using Featured Threads already, so it will be easy for me to set that up. I think it makes it easier for people to refer people to the forums etc too and there is less risk of someone visiting the root of the domain and then not clicking through to the forums.

    Has it always been closed, or was this something you introduced?
  8. wickedstangs

    wickedstangs Well-Known Member

    Always been closed I send them there from my other open forums. That way we can discuss what they need and want.
  9. System0

    System0 Active Member

    Ahhh ok. So you can filter traffic and users from your other forums.
  10. Martok

    Martok Well-Known Member

    I run a gaming community, having originally been part of another one where most of it was private and only available to full members. When I set up my community, we started in a similar way with a few forums open to all but most were behind closed doors. After a few months we made the decision to open up most of the site to the public. There was no good reason not to and we were happy to shake of the 'private club' image. We do still have a closed area that is available only to full members but most of the site is now visible.

    One advantage of doing this is that I've been able to use adverts on the site. These are only visible to guests and registered members who aren't posting much (I'm using http://xenforo.com/community/resources/user-criteria-by-waindigo.813/ for this and there's also http://xenforo.com/community/resources/cta-criteria.3006/ which does the same for posts over a period of time).

    Like @Gazhyde I'm using Featured Threads & Portal as my front page and is the best solution for a portal that I've tried.
  11. System0

    System0 Active Member

    That is kind of the same setup I have now @Martok . Premium members get access to a private room where they can discuss issues away from the public eye.

    I have not introduced advertisements as yet; however it something that I plan on introducing in the future and displaying to free account users.
  12. Markos

    Markos Well-Known Member

    Why not both?

    As i understood, you want to have a "premium high quality forum" for paid members and also the seo/social visibility of a public forum. I think a good compromise it's to have a public forum with a Free and a Premium area. It's like a "Trial" or a "Freemium Product". Users will try the free product, and if they like it, they upgrade on the paid solution.
  13. System0

    System0 Active Member

    That's essentially what I have now @Markos. I'm excited to see how the forum grows as a result of the new setup. :)
    Gazhyde and Markos like this.
  14. Markos

    Markos Well-Known Member

    Great move. :)
  15. System0

    System0 Active Member

    Thanks. I'm seeing a lot of activity already. Perhaps due to the fact that it has just went from a closed premium forum to an open free forum. But I hope that this trend continues over the coming months.
  16. clove28

    clove28 Active Member

    I'm planning to close the registration and make the whole forum private once we reached 1k active and dedicated members. We'll make it invitation only. It's better to have 1k actively participating members than 10k passive members because of dilution and lack of tight bonding among members.
  17. meetdilip

    meetdilip Active Member

    I would keep some part open, may be archives of non confidential nature and non premium content open so that new comers have an idea about forum content. Or we can always keep it invite only by where members get invite codes to invite new members.
  18. D.O.A.

    D.O.A. Well-Known Member

    I have a NSFW shock website that is now invite only. I just deleted 44,000 facebook accounts that joined with that stupid button and posted nothing, so I'm back to 46,000 members and invites. I have a 'contact us form' hooked up to post in its own threads and it's full of "CAN I HAVE INVITE PLZ". If I was running a forum about fixing lawnmowers, I'd want all the exposure and links to registration that I could get. With my current niche, people beg to get in. So yeah it's totally dependent on what content you are offering people. I have maybe three forum sections for public access now and we still have 1000 lurkers. Eventually I'll lock those too. Invite only feels like a 'tighter' community and the increase in posts and submitted content proves it for me.
    clove28 likes this.

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