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Looking to start a board for my town

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Jeff Fuqua, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. Jeff Fuqua

    Jeff Fuqua Well-Known Member

    I've been bouncing around the idea of creating a message board for my town and wondered if anyone knew of any which are successful. I've surprisingly not found much in my searching.

    The idea would be to make it a resource for people to get reviews of local businesses, talk about issues which impact the community, upcoming events, etc.
    CallieJo likes this.
  2. Dodgeboard

    Dodgeboard Well-Known Member

    My board is a small town board.
    Brandon Sheley likes this.
  3. craigiri

    craigiri Well-Known Member

    Jeff, I started and studied these since way back in 1997! There were even some CMS packages back then for doing just that....

    I'm going to issue a little warning though. I'm a bit of a muckraker and political junkie, so I naturally got into BIG trouble with my board in our town of 25,000 in NJ. The pols didn't like it, nor did the ruling political party! They actually spoke out against me and the board in the local paper, etc.

    But I stirred up a LOT of stuff. We even got covered by the Philadelphia papers (15 miles away), etc.

    It would be hard to create a forum where some type of politics will not enter the mix - especially if the particular town (like most) have their share of corruption, nepotism, waste, etc.

    I put up a forum on my board in 1998, but had to pull it down. I figured out that a blog fit it MUCH better - because that was I could write the main subjects and others could comment.

    Just giving fair warning. There are often secrets under the covers in small towns!

    Edit - all in all, my suggestion is that a full forum type is the wrong way to go, and maybe a blog-type is better so that you control the mix!
    Brandon Sheley and Jeff Fuqua like this.
  4. Dodgeboard

    Dodgeboard Well-Known Member

    The best advice I can give is....be anonymous. Register your domain name using a proxy/identity blocking service, and tell nobody who runs the board. NOBODY! As people start posting about corruption in the town and who's sleeping with whom, the threats will come. I get at least one threat a month. "Take down" demands, from people or restaurants who feel slighted. Remaining anonymous, so far, has kept the subpoenas away. Have only ONE moderator, and keep their identity secret as well. There should be no know identities in a board like this. Urge your member's to sign up with an anonymous moniker and not to use personally identifiable email addys.

    Oh, and NEVER post under the administrator account unless it is a board update. The administrator is not allowed to have a position on anything. Have your own posting ID for this. And keep the two separate. People will turn on an admin for disagreeing with their political ideology.
  5. Jeff Fuqua

    Jeff Fuqua Well-Known Member

    Veeeeeery interesting stuff. I had envisioned this as something non-political which, in reality, is probably impossible to do. And I can imagine that there might be quite a bit of liability issues.

    I'm going to check out DodgeBoard.com for sure. Thanks for all the advice.
  6. Jeff Fuqua

    Jeff Fuqua Well-Known Member

    Question: What if I were to only allow registrations through Facebook? Reason being, I would think if people were forced to use their real identities, it would lead to a lot less of the issues you guys are mentioning.

    Or am I being unrealistic?
  7. Lee

    Lee Well-Known Member

    Theoretically, that is a good idea - people will not only watch what they are saying, but they can be held accountable for what they say more so than with just a screen name.

    But on the other hand, I think it might put of some members. I don't use my facebook details to sign up anywhere, for example.
  8. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Signing up via Facebook doesn't stop someone choosing a different name and avatar.
  9. Jeff Fuqua

    Jeff Fuqua Well-Known Member

    True. My hope would be that it might appeal to those who do use Facebook and would help with the growth of the board.

    Is there any way to restrict avatars/names to only those used on Facebook?
  10. MattW

    MattW Well-Known Member

  11. Neal

    Neal Well-Known Member

    www.accringtonweb.com and www.blackburn247.co.uk seems to be doing quite well still. Both based on towns in the Lancashire area of England.
  12. craigiri

    craigiri Well-Known Member

    Do you UK folks have the same kind of hardball politics?

    If anyone wants to see my long-ago site, here is link to the internet archive.
    I had a blast. But if you are in a position where being unpopular might hurt you (local business, etc.), you have to be very careful:

    I would never want to do one where I was behind the scenes. I don't like to hide. On the other hand, it would be possible to do one and keep politics largely out of it - BUT, I don't think this would/should be forum based. In such a case, I'd say having a small crew of various writers and then maybe a small forum...on the side. Or, just let them use facebook or other existing account to comment on your wordpress or other blog articles.

    Our area in Rhode Island has a number of good sites - but none are forums. Examples:
  13. Jeff Fuqua

    Jeff Fuqua Well-Known Member

    I've been thinking more about this and wondered if I could tinker with the permissions in such a way that people would have to log in with their Facebook account and not be able to change their name or avatar. If I could make that happen, I think it would go a long way towards taking care of a lot of the potential problems.
  14. Da Bookie Mon

    Da Bookie Mon Well-Known Member

    Yes, but the issue with forcing username is uniqueness. If two people from your city name say Jeff Smith join, the first one would register, second would be told name is in use and not able to register. Early phases of my facebook app (the one you tried this morning) I started recoding registering to not make username unique but decided against it just allowing them to pick a nick.

    I also will be adding an option soon to allow members to create their own forums to use in pace of facebook groups and events. You might want to consider using that via my app rather then trying to build what I already have in place :D
  15. Jeff Fuqua

    Jeff Fuqua Well-Known Member

    Oh, I thought what you were creating was to be the add-on. No way do I want to get into trying to code such a beast.
  16. Cal

    Cal Well-Known Member

    Unless you live in a big town or city it probably wont work well. However if you live in a city like Miami, San Antonio, NYC, hell even smaller than that as long as it's got traffic problems it could work quite well. Especially if you coupled it with a blog that highlights interests and happenings in the area. Might be giving me an idea actually.
  17. Jeff Fuqua

    Jeff Fuqua Well-Known Member

    My hometown's Facebooks group pages seem to do very well. One has over 2,000 likes. I've enjoyed visiting many of the site suggested here so will continue to ponder the possibilities.
  18. CallieJo

    CallieJo Active Member

    Jeff, just go for it man!

    The only advice I would give you is to make sure you have some fun involved into the whole thing. It's great to be a local resource, but make sure you have something fun for end users as well. The local resource element brings them in. The fun element makes people want to stay more.

    Here are some basic ideas you could add to a local site:
    • History
    • News (RSS feeds from local newspapers.)
    • Weather (weather.com etc have widgets you can add.)
    • Forums
    • Events (You'll need a calendar. Preferably one that can import events. Or use a forum to post events.)
    • Business Directory (Recommended businesses and/or places of interest like museums, parks, cafes, etc.)
    • Blogs (End users can blog about the area.)
    • Photos (Share local area photos and even art from local residents. PhotoPost integrates with XF.)
    • Local Contests (You can ask local businesses to donate prizes. They get free advertisement, and you get word of mouth advertising and prizes to give away.)
    • Shirts for sale (Cafepress.com comes to mind.)
    • Classifieds (Either an addon or a forum to post local items for sale.)
    • Games (Forum reply games, arcade, etc.)
    • Post Ratings (Adds an element of fun to posts.)
    • Videos (Can share videos of local happenings and people.)
    • etc...... :)
    Jeff Fuqua likes this.
  19. Jeff Fuqua

    Jeff Fuqua Well-Known Member

    Wow, CallieJo... YOU'RE HIRED! Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.
    CallieJo likes this.
  20. Dodgeboard

    Dodgeboard Well-Known Member


    If what you are after is everyone patting each other on the backs for jobs well done, pandering, people promoting their businesses and charities, then yes, good idea.

    But, if you want people speaking out against nepotism in the water department, a member of a prominent local family who killed their child, corruption in the city commissions office, Ruby the waitress who was caught putting hairs in peoples food...then you are going to have to insist on anonymity. We wouldn't have gotten 85% of our exciting threads, if users were forced to post under their real names.

    You've got to decide what kind of board you want...Facebook or an alternative?

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