Splitting existing forum into two forums on different domains


Well-known member
I have a forum that has been in existence in one form or another since the early 2000s. It has since grown into something that focuses on something that is not the focus of the domain name although it still deals with topics related to the domain name.

Basically my new idea is to create a new forum and domain name and split the current forum into two with topics and threads that are more domain name relevant in each forum. Hope that make sense.

Has anyone done this before? pluses minuses?


Well-known member
Haven't done it before, but I think the biggest hurdle is that you would essentially be splitting your members across two communities. Would your existing members be willing to split their time across the two domains even if the two topics were better defined?

Long term it could work well from a SEO perspective and would be easier to network with other communities if they're better defined with your plan.


Well-known member
There's also the fact that you would need an additional copy of XenForo for the second domain, plus the cost of additional licences for any paid add-ons too.
I'd recommend breaking this into three tasks to see if this will work for your site and your users. As @Optic and @Martok have pointed out, going down the route you're proposing splits your user base, their ability to easily communicate with one another (and impossible if people decide not to use both sites), and will cost you more in license fees.

As a first task I'd create a new category node and sub-forum nodes off the root and make a logical split by moving the relevant posts and threads into those new nodes. Even if in the end you decide this is all you do, then your site is better organised.

If you decide to then continue, create two new sets of user groups to replace registered users and mod groups (and any others you may have). You can then send out messages to ask users which set of groups (or both) they want to be in. At this point it shouldn't restrict access if they're not in the relevant groups for "the other side" but it will at least give you an idea of where people are at. This is a large undertaking but will really help you understand your users. If you have some good mods you could ask them to help contact your users to ask them the question and give them the choices.

With a small amount of interrogation of the underlying database, you can then run a few queries to see if people in groups on either side only are posting in forums on the other side, or messaging people with groups on the other side only. This analysis is important because it's the best way to show if users are truly using the site for both topics or communicating with your whole community whilst only identifying themselves with one side of the community. If that's happening and you forge forward with the split you could seriously damage both of the emerging sites. Some people may leave forever, and even if you try to reverse the split it may be too late for some.

If the analysis shows it's not good to make the split, then treat it like a bullet dodged and your site is still split into the separate categories so organised better.

Even if you don't do the full split, you can still change to a more relevant domain name encompassing both sides of the community if you want, and you'll have focused categories for your content.

If the analysis shows that you could split the community without negatively affecting your users usage of your community then having already re-organised it upfront, you can create a backup and restore to the new domain / site and just get rid of the relevant categories and sub-forums on each side.


Well-known member
Also check out the [bd] Reroute addon - if you split out your site into different category and sub-forum nodes, you can use custom domains for the one category structure. This will give you your split for threads and messages as well as domain name, but allow the community to share a common user base and license.

Hmmm... very interesting. That might be a good solution. Any examples of anyone using that to split a forum across two domains?


Well-known member
Or maybe I can just build the new site and populate it with the same database and just let them both loose on the world and let them go their separate ways. The original forums will still have the same posts... and the new site will get new ones when it get's "out there".

All options seem sloppy and complicated.
I really would go down the split it internally and do the analysis route. It will be more work - it will take more time - but ultimately it will allow you to make an informed decision on how to proceed: leave things split internally / use re-routing to use a second domain name / split out entirely. The longevity and success or failure of your forum(s) could literally rest on making the right decision....