Slimming down a fat forum - dealing with bloat and old content - what to do with it all?

Ingenious

Well-known member
What are people's thoughts on trying to reduce forum bloat? As the owner of a mature (>20 years, nearly 500k posts) forum, I can't help but wonder whether nearly 30GB and 50,000 attachments of old content is serving a useful purpose. It's also becoming a pain point in terms of hosting costs.

Do we need to be brave and just cull content over a certain age? I mean who is reading content from 2002, or 2009 or even last month to be blunt?

Is there a way of getting old content offline to a static archive (and perhaps then manually curate it to remove bloat)?

How have other people approached this one?
 

Anatoliy

Well-known member
I think calling it 'fat' is a bit mean and judgemental sounding.
I think it's a great analogy. As with a human body - muscles give speed and power, fat - doesn't. Body has to carry and feed that fat, becoming not so fast and powerful as it could be without that fat.
 

Anatoliy

Well-known member
Do we need to be brave
brave but smart. )
I came that path few years ago. Unfortunately I didn't check those "old useless threads" in google search console before deleting. Some of them were bringing me organic traffic. But yeah, I deleted bunch of threads with just 1-2 replies. Like 15 years old thread
  • I'm going fishing tomorrow!
  • Yeah!
  • Go get them tiger!
  • +1
 

Anatoliy

Well-known member
I can't help but wonder whether nearly 30GB and 50,000 attachments of old content is serving a useful purpose. It's also becoming a pain point in terms of hosting costs.
I believe here's the solution for pictures.
 

Ingenious

Well-known member
Thanks @Anatoliy I saw that but didn't understand a word of it. I'll ask my server guy to take a look. It still keeps the bloat mind you, just in a different place.

As for old content and organic traffic, yes I do find it quite funny that all my top performing threads on Google have nothing to do with my forum's subject matter (they're all obscure discussions in my off-topic area). So what traffic Google does send, never actually signs up :)
 

Anatoliy

Well-known member
As for old content and organic traffic, yes I do find it quite funny that all my top performing threads on Google have nothing to do with my forum's subject matter (they're all obscure discussions in my off-topic area). So what traffic Google does send, never actually signs up :)
still moneymaker if you have ads or other monetization
 

Ingenious

Well-known member
still moneymaker if you have ads or other monetization

Not in my case - I sell adverts direct to companies in my niche - so they are all related to my niche. I've managed to avoid generic adverts or in-post monetisation so far.

@Max Taxable apologies - it was the lack of an emoji or some other clue it was a joke, I thought you were being serious (it's a sign of the times).
 

StarArmy

Well-known member
Maybe you could migrate the most valuable content to a wiki or articles or something and remove only low-quality stuff like people posting cat photos?
 

MySiteGuy

Well-known member
I would be very careful about what you consider deleting due to search traffic.

It's often the long tail which brings a forum much of it's traffic. Basically, the thousands of threads that bring in a few visitors per month versus the few dozen that bring in a few hundred each per month.

I would first consider soft deleting the threads or moving them to hidden sub-forums. Then letting it go for 3 months to give Google's search index time to re-index. If your traffic takes a big hit at least you'll be able to recover the threads.
 

motowebmaster

Well-known member
I too agree that you generally don't want to delete anything. I'll move some threads to a hidden "bit bucket" forum that essentially removes it from the view of search engines, on a case-by-case.

On the other hand, when I took over a competitor forum I hard-deleted a million posts before importing the remaining content into my site. The reason for deleting those threads is that they were not relevant to my site, hence why the competitor died in the first place.

If you have threads in a private forum, that search engines can't see, that is technically "safe" to delete but I'd consider moving them to a private forum first. Another concern is that member's post-count may reduce in a future maintenance event, forum migration, or manual update.

If all of your old content is still relevant, carefully consider. If image storage is your concern, there are plugins that will help reduce their filesize. I use one from Themehouse, but think Andy has a good option. I also removed any animations, Gif Animations, and extremely large file attachments that didn't make sense anymore - you don't need a plugin to see what they are.

I also use AddonsLab Link Checker to remove links to old avatar and photo sites. This in itself doesn't reduce storage, but will lighten your proxy cache a bit.
 
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