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What is your #1 problem running a forum?

#21
Dealing with people who go off topic is the the biggest problem for me. They dilute the quality of content on the thread and make it go stale very soon. I don't know why after repeated requests, this continues happening.

If I wish to go off topic, I clearly mention it or add it at the very bottom of my reply with an * attached to it.
 
#23
Dealing with people who go off topic is the the biggest problem for me. They dilute the quality of content on the thread and make it go stale very soon. I don't know why after repeated requests, this continues happening.

If I wish to go off topic, I clearly mention it or add it at the very bottom of my reply with an * attached to it.
Lock the thread. clean up the mess. Give warnings and then re-open the thread.
 
#24
Problem for me is when people from other forums decide to join only to harass me all the time.
What i do is discourage their ip address and send them off to other sites. They keep on thinking that it's down.
 

Yugensoft

Active member
#25
Dealing with people who go off topic is the the biggest problem for me. They dilute the quality of content on the thread and make it go stale very soon. I don't know why after repeated requests, this continues happening.
Same reason real life conversations wander around topics I guess.
Have you (or your mods) tried using the Move Posts tool? You can select posts and then move them to a new thread. It also lets you specify a reason that gets sent to the authors of the posts.
 

Robust

Well-known member
#26
You could have community-based moderation to counter spam, but it completely depends on your audience. This is used at reddit, to some extent, for example. If users are flagging something too much, especially multiple posts by the same member, it could be hidden until manual moderation action takes care it.

@Aayush Interesting ML problem indeed.

Machine learning would be very effective for forum moderation, actually, being able to use community-driven moderation and understanding of posts and members over time to dictate what would be considered spammy on that specific site. I don't think it'd be too difficult and you could definitely create an efficient solution, but it's not really economic to create for forums. Potentially a cloud based system where the ML part was separate to the add-on and add-ons for compatibility across forum platforms, that'd make it more economic to create but would require effort nevertheless.
 

JamesBrown

Well-known member
#27
Dealing with people who go off topic is the the biggest problem for me.
I've never insisted that threads stay on topic, like any conversation I let them go where they go. I might tidy it up later but I'm certainly not going to tell someone off for doing it. There are enough barriers to posting on a forum these days and to have people worry about being in the right forum and are on topic are big ones. I've frequented quite a few forums over the years where the moderation was strict, with warnings for straying off topic. Most are no longer here now.
 

Yugensoft

Active member
#28
I've frequented quite a few forums over the years where the moderation was strict, with warnings for straying off topic. Most are no longer here now.
Yes, I think admins have to watch out for this, I've seen the same effect. The forum starts getting more traffic, so inevitably it becomes more raucous, and then the admins feel the need to "restore order" (return to the peaceful early days), and start stomping it out. In their minds, they think they're doing some kind of right thing. But really they're just damaging the expansion of their post base, and in turn their future SERP rankings, and thus potential monetization.

It's also amusing to see every forum go through the same process when it comes to their politics/off-topic sub-forum. The admins make it in the name of providing a place for people to express themselves freely. Then after about a year there becomes too much of the "wrong" expression. And then the admins then post a sticky thread in that forum laying out their strict rules on how users can express themselves in it. And then the revolts and bans and people just going elsewhere. This is so common it's basically cliche.

This is part of the reason I made my "optional forums" addon. It allows a forum to better straddle the line between freedom and order, by allowing users to exclude themselves from the raucous bits, without clamping down on those areas for everyone collectively.
 

jauburn

Well-known member
#30
In their minds, they think they're doing some kind of right thing. But really they're just damaging the expansion of their post base, and in turn their future SERP rankings, and thus potential monetization.
Totally agree. If there's one thing that will kill a forum, it's an overbearing moderator.

People whose favorite word is "troll" should also be discouraged from moderating.
 

Alfa1

Well-known member
#34
Im not sure if this is the correct order, but here are the main problems I encounter:
  1. Mobile users posting anything anywhere without reading or searching.
  2. No language control and therefore all forums that are not in the main language fail.
  3. Content Discovery: there is no organized page to see all new content. Hence addons content stays under the radar.
  4. Too many addons required for basic functions, so addon conflicts are inevitable.
  5. No way to tie groups of members to their topics/forums of interest.
  6. Account Upgrade page is confusing and hidden deep within XF.
  7. Moderation tasks take up too much time, while 80% can be automatized.
 
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Aayush

Well-known member
#35
Getting advertising. We can get advertising from within our industry but have no access outside of it. We have very affluent demographics and out numbers, while not huge are very good. If anyone has a ad person/agency that they recommend, please send them over.
Jon Olson is a name that comes to my mind when I read Skis. He was a Skier, now he ventured into promoting gym clothes. Maybe you can try reaching out to him and look for possible collaboration.
 

Aayush

Well-known member
#37
You could have community-based moderation to counter spam, but it completely depends on your audience. This is used at reddit, to some extent, for example. If users are flagging something too much, especially multiple posts by the same member, it could be hidden until manual moderation action takes care it.

@Aayush Interesting ML problem indeed.

Machine learning would be very effective for forum moderation, actually, being able to use community-driven moderation and understanding of posts and members over time to dictate what would be considered spammy on that specific site. I don't think it'd be too difficult and you could definitely create an efficient solution, but it's not really economic to create for forums. Potentially a cloud based system where the ML part was separate to the add-on and add-ons for compatibility across forum platforms, that'd make it more economic to create but would require effort nevertheless.
It is indeed quite interesting problem to solve. I am actually quite interested to look into it as a hobby project because rolling it out as a service would be:
1. People complaining about user privacy. With ML, the more data points we have, the more accurately we can classify users. I doubt many would be comfortable having their entire forum cloned in a cloud.
2. Majority of the forum owners are hobbyist. I don't think hobbyist would invest in a 24*7*365 cloud infrastructure.

But yes indeed it is an interesting problem to solve.

Im not sure if this is the correct order, but here are the main problems I encounter:
  1. Mobile users posting anything anywhere without reading or searching.
  2. No language control and therefore all forums that are not in the main language fail.
  3. Content Discovery: there is no organized page to see all new content. Hence addons content stays under the radar.
  4. Too many addons required for basic functions, so addon conflicts are inevitable.
  5. No way to tie groups of members to their topics/forums of interest.
  6. Account Upgrade page is confusing and hidden deep within XF.
  7. Moderation tasks take up too much time, while 80% can be automatized.
1. What we've learned from interacting with really active forums is that owners want the user to just post the content. Then the moderators can do the rest of the work. Their primary focus is content generation and engaging users. They don't want their users to be confused and get demotivated to post. The heavy lifting of organizing it can be done by their paid staff.
3. What about the What's New page? Doesn't that help?
5. This is also something that I've been thinking of solving as a ML problem. A recommendation engine for forums which categorizes its users and when somebody who matches their persona interacts on a thread, they receive a notification.
6. Create a new page wherever you think that it's suitable and easier for user to upgrade. Maybe add a template modification linking to the page just below an ad(where the upgrade removes the ad).
7. How do you think that it can it be automatized?
 

jauburn

Well-known member
#39
Also cliche; moderators begin to see anyone who slightly annoys them as a "troll" in need of smiting.
Bad moderators are probably what caused me to take the fateful step into forum administration myself.

Temperamentally, the best moderators may be those least likely to want to be a moderator. And thus emerges one of the many, many problems of running forums in general. Most forums need moderators, but moderators can kill forums. Admins may see the problems soon enough to address them, or they may not. And then you have the issue of people giving their time to moderate, which makes the admin feel indebted to them in some way, perhaps keeping them on as moderators when it's clear that they're causing as much harm as good.

As an admin, you have to have an almost impossible ability to separate the issues that matter from those that do not. Certainly the "pay" comes nowhere close to reimbursing you for time spent. It has to be, in great part, a labor of love, education, etc. Even then, you have to check your sanity from time to time. After all, there are other ways to get your creative fix. Force of habit traps many of us, I think.
 
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Alfa1

Well-known member
#40
1. What we've learned from interacting with really active forums is that owners want the user to just post the content. Then the moderators can do the rest of the work. Their primary focus is content generation and engaging users. They don't want their users to be confused and get demotivated to post. The heavy lifting of organizing it can be done by their paid staff.
I really disagree with that. On a busy forum you should not need a mass of moderators just to do the following every day of the year:
  • move many off topic posts out of threads
  • move many threads to the correct forum
  • add thread titles to threads currently titles 'an urgent question'
  • move threads/posts from forum to other content types(profiles,conversations, blog, articles, wiki, tickets, etc) and vice-versa. Mind that often there is no functionality for this.
We do not have any paid staff on my big board. You are assuming a perspective that does not apply universally.
3. What about the What's New page? Doesn't that help?
It requires one page with all new (relevant) content, in an organized layout, with refreshing. 'Whats new' unfortunately doesn't come close. What we need is something that looks like new-posts, showing any content type of relevance. In XF1 I use a modified recent-activity with auto-refresh and lots of events hidden in there. Which helps somewhat. But it also shows unread content and its not visible to guests. In XF2 we can make it visible to guests which is a step forward.
5. This is also something that I've been thinking of solving as a ML problem. A recommendation engine for forums which categorizes its users and when somebody who matches their persona interacts on a thread, they receive a notification.
There is a developer working on something similar. However, when there is no interaction it should already be clear what content a member is interested in. There should be profile functionality for this.
It doesnt just relate to forums, but addon content is just as important. I think that addon content will become dominant over forum content in coming years. I am already seeing a shift on my big board.
6. Create a new page wherever you think that it's suitable and easier for user to upgrade. Maybe add a template modification linking to the page just below an ad(where the upgrade removes the ad).
We will never run ads.
You cannot link to a specific user upgrade.
There needs to be different upgrades for single payment, recurring, and one for each term. In reality its just the same upgrade. This makes any upgrade page messy. if you have 4 upgrades, available as single payment and recurrent and in 6 terms, then you have 48 upgrades on a page instead of just 4.
A user upgrade cannot be upgraded to a higher one. Lets say a member has a $5 a month upgrade subscription and they want to change that to $10, then this is not possible. They will need to cancel the first one.
This is why you will often end up with 48 upgrades, so that users can see the different options they have.

Anyway, my point is that if a function is not available, because its a paid function, then there needs to be a button for members to buy it. They should not need to go find out that they can get the function, how they can get the function and where. It should be simple: click and buy.
7. How do you think that it can it be automatized?
That is a broad question as it pertains to a lot of things. I have posted a lot of suggestions on the topic.
Almost all moderator functions should follow the same KISS rules:
  1. All information the moderator needs for a decision should be presented to the moderator without having to look it up. For example: always display accounts on the same IP when looking at a report or giving a warning. Or display homepage for users awaiting moderation. Or if members report Spam, then prefix the report as such so that moderators know they need to address this report first.
  2. Resolving the situation should be in a few clicks. (like the spam cleaner or predefined replies in @NixFifty 's Tickets)
An example of how moderation actions can be automatized: https://xenforo.com/community/threads/wmtech-sticky-multiple-account-info-paid.72646/page-10
Another example is in @NixFifty 's tickets which can automatically post a predefined reply if the user posts a specific text phrase.
Another example would be that if more than X members in usergroup Y report a post as Spam, then moderate post and if more than X members in usergroup Z report a post as spam then trigger the spam cleaner.