Why do forums fail?

mattsayle

New member
I'm new to XenForo, and managing forums altogether, really. I've turned this official XenForo forum into my bible on how to setup, manage, and customize my new forum.

However, I've noticed something disturbing. Out of all the people asking for help for their forum, some requests only a year or two old, 99% of those forums have since been deleted. They are gone - completely.

Why do people start a forum, invest the time and money, just to end up deleting it? With how insansely powerful and well-built XenForo is - I have to assume it's a case of "putting the cart before the horse" and starting a forum without any clear plan on how to grow it, target their audience, and ultimately make it profitable. When they don't see the quick results they were expecting - they quit.

What are your thoughts? What are some ideas to make a forum "weather the storm" so to speak?

With this being said, even large forums like DigitalPoint, which I frequented many years ago. are pretty much ghost towns now. What can we do to breathe some life into the forum world altogether?

Would love to brainstorm this a bit.
 

JamesBrown

Well-known member
It was easier 10 or 15 years ago, forums had no real competition for a while. I remember when one of my biggest competitors was yahoo group email!

Broadly speaking, there is little or no room now for general chat type forums. To succeed you need to specialise in a narrow niche and become the world's most useful resource for than niche, or at least your country's best resource. If you can do that your forum will grow organically.
 

sbj

Well-known member
With this being said, even large forums like DigitalPoint, which I frequented many years ago. are pretty much ghost towns now. What can we do to breathe some life into the forum world altogether?
First of all, all forums struggle, no matter how big or how successful. Any big board I visited in the past took huge declines. All of them without an exception. Compared to 10-15 years ago I would say the participation on forums decreased 1000% or more. Because of the rise of mobile phones and social media.

However, I've noticed something disturbing. Out of all the people asking for help for their forum, some requests only a year or two old, 99% of those forums have since been deleted. They are gone - completely.
The problem with all newcomers are the same. They don't understand in what world we live in. I give the same example all the time. In 2005, you could open a forum about a topic and it would grow on its own. All you needed to do is to host a forum with an okay domain. That was it. People would come on their own and populate it without you needing to do anything.
In the last decade it changed dramatically. It is not enough to host a forum. YOU have to provide the content.

I feel sorry for all the people who spend hours and dollars without getting anywhere. Because they focus on the wrong things. Customizations, designs, styles are wasted times and money. If you don't have an established forum, those stuff are just useless and they drain you out. Because the time and money you invested in that, could have been invested elsewhere.

It takes a lot of time to grow a forum. It is not enough to host a forum. One needs a plan. A plan about what? About content. 99% don't have a strategy how they will put content in their own forum. This is the question they need to ask themselves: "Why should someone visit your website?". An answer of "because you can discuss x" is by far not enough and will fail. You need specific answers. You need something to lure them in. Something they can't find elsewhere. Discussions happen everywhere on the internet. Having another platform is just a grain of sand in the desert.

The discussions on your forum must be a by-product of your content. It means you must have a content on your platform to talk about. The discussions shouldn't be the product itself. And I see most of them having no clue about how to get content. They think having a forum node called "games" or "movies" will be enough and people will suddenly talk about gaming and movies. No, they won't. Because that they can do elsewhere. What can you provide?

Another problem is Google. You need content in first place so your site is found when someone searches for something. You need to put the content first and after a year or two, then you will get seen and people will come for the content.

Right now I am about to launch a Wiki about people in my niche. I will provide a database for my niche where people can quickly find info gathered nowhere else, not even on the official Wikipedia itself. I will have the latest biographies and dates and works of people no other site has. That is another content I will put in my forums. I couldn't do this earlier because I didn't have the right tools to do so but finally I do now. And nobody else will provide the content. I (and my team) will slowly build our Wiki. And later I will see the profits of it.
 
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Seeker-Smith

Well-known member
I'm new to XenForo, and managing forums altogether, really. I've turned this official XenForo forum into my bible on how to setup, manage, and customize my new forum.

However, I've noticed something disturbing. Out of all the people asking for help for their forum, some requests only a year or two old, 99% of those forums have since been deleted. They are gone - completely.

Why do people start a forum, invest the time and money, just to end up deleting it? With how insansely powerful and well-built XenForo is - I have to assume it's a case of "putting the cart before the horse" and starting a forum without any clear plan on how to grow it, target their audience, and ultimately make it profitable. When they don't see the quick results they were expecting - they quit.

What are your thoughts? What are some ideas to make a forum "weather the storm" so to speak?

With this being said, even large forums like DigitalPoint, which I frequented many years ago. are pretty much ghost towns now. What can we do to breathe some life into the forum world altogether?

Would love to brainstorm this a bit.
A lot of times its the admins fault. Being rude, or allowing spam, flaming etc. People get turned off easily. I've running since the late 90's. We have become very restrictive to new registrations to reduce spam and problem users. That said we are still growing. But as another poster said narrow niche.
 

greenchicken

Active member
Why do forums fail? Thats easy. Facebook
I started in the forum business in 1999, I have had well over 50k users registered on my website since then, I am lucky if I have 2000 users visit on a regular basis now. Back in the day people were paranoid about forum privacy and now they post anything and everything on facebook using their real name while getting data mined at the same time.
 

sbj

Well-known member
We've signed around 600 new members every month for 13 years, during lockdowns we're doing 4 times that.
Registrations are not a good indicator for activity. There are hundreds of forums out there with hundreds of thousands users registered (mainly because they are so long in the game). But if I check their "new posts", I see what, 30-40 new posts daily...

I was part of an Alexa 100 site. We had up to 40k visitors online at one point at any time (except for the night). Every single second you got a new post. Thousands of new posts daily. Now, that site is lucky if they have above couple of hundreds.
 

imno007

Well-known member
You can ask the same question about everything really.
Why are some music bands gone? Or why are some car models not available anymore?

Most stuff is temporary, some stay around for a long time. I started my own forum in 2001 and is still going strong...
In large part, this. After 10 years, only about a third of small businesses are still around....
 

greenchicken

Active member
since 04 googs helped me pay off a 30 year mortgage in 5 years, bought me a new boat and motorhome, Also enabled me to have a stay at home wife while being 100% debt free. I still make good money, just not as much as I used too
 

duderuud

Well-known member
Sounds like a really large forum haha!

Sometimes I wish I started about 2-5 years earlier. In the late 90's the ad CPM was really high, you could make some serious money when you had some page views. In our hayday we had around 15 mln page views a month. Then came social media...
 

greenchicken

Active member
Sounds like a really large forum haha!

Sometimes I wish I started about 2-5 years earlier. In the late 90's the ad CPM was really high, you could make some serious money when you had some page views. In our hayday we had around 15 mln page views a month. Then came social media...
it was the only one of it's kind at the time and I did really well got multiple offers from people to buy, never could part with it and still running strong. it's just that googs has gotten so picky about everything that makes it annoying now to me. Someone posts a wrong word, bam the googs is after you, someone posts a pic of a girl in a bikini then bam the googs is after you. Regardless what happens with them I will survive, I have a great core group of users more than willing to pay their part of the costs associated with running the website.
 

duderuud

Well-known member
Yeah, Google is a pain in the butt when it comes to that stuff. Got exactly the same problem.

Even one simple word can give you a warning, bloody irritating.
 

greenchicken

Active member
Yeah, Google is a pain in the butt when it comes to that stuff. Got exactly the same problem.

Even one simple word can give you a warning, bloody irritating.
If they weren't so vague about everything it would be better. They will say something is in x thread, you go there and there is nothing there. After a few weeks of trying to hunt it down you just say to hell with it and delete the whole thread
 

Max Taxable

Well-known member
Why do forums fail? Thats easy. Facebook
And Twitter, other social media sites combined with the proliferation of mobile devices, and the relatively slow rollout and adoption of mobile-friendly forum software. Plus if it ain't an app for the phone it ain't gonna get much traffic, relatively speaking.
 

greenchicken

Active member
And Twitter, other social media sites combined with the proliferation of mobile devices, and the relatively slow rollout and adoption of mobile-friendly forum software. Plus if it ain't an app for the phone it ain't gonna get much traffic, relatively speaking.
and if it doesn't work well on a phone your forum will be dead because on my forum it's about 75% accessed on a phone. Guess I need to get an app made for android
 

Brogan

XenForo moderator
Staff member
XF2.2 has PWA which is essentially the same as an app.

 
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