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For webmasters reading this article, I will say that managing a team is a task in its own right. Finding good mods can mean difference between success and failure. And it doesn't end there. You have to put your heart and mind to it – all time.
Forums Take Up a Lot of Resources
Forums are database-type applications that generate web pages on fly. Every time a user views a page, it's being created from scratch. As forums become more active, this can take a heavy load on web server's resources. When our forums reached 2,000 members, we had to switch over to a dedicated server. When they reached 7,000 members, we had to upgrade to a new dedicated server… With several other websites stored on our server, forums are big resources hoggers, taking up bandwidth, disk space and, most importantly, CPU resources. This brings us to next point…
Forums Do Not Make Lucrative Advertising Stock
You think that with successful forums, generating millions of targeted pageviews each month, you would do well financially? Think again. Forums not only cost you a lot to run, they also don't bring in a whole lot of revenue, compared to regular web pages. Advertisers don't like to run ads on forum pages. So much so, that most CPM based ad networks won't even let you place their ads there.
Our experience with CPC ads shows that they may have a good point. Click-through rates on forum pages are significantly lower then on other types of web pages. There are ways to make your forums generate revenues, but trust me, it's not that easy. I will be writing a separate article on how we got our forums to pay for their keeping.
The Bottom Line
Forums are not for every website. Don't just put it up there and hope for best. If you can't or don't want to put a lot of time and effort into creating a viable community, just leave it. Having no forums is better than having dead forums. Having dead forums on your website may actually drive people away.
Research your field. How easy will it be to create a community geared towards subject of your website? Is it something that people want to talk about with each other? Are there other forums on this subject? How are they doing?
Get your feet wet. Join several forums and become an active participant. If possible, become a team member or a moderator in a large forum. Big forums often have secret team forums, where you can learn a lot about community management.
Think ahead. Where do you see your website in a year or two? Is this your main project and passion? Will you have time and energy it takes to maintain a forum? Above all: Will you enjoy it?
About The Author Anne Moss has been the webmaster of www.TheCatSite.com and www.Meowhoo.com, as well as several other sites, since the year 2000. You can read more advice for webmasters on her webmasters resources website –www.4NetNeeds.com. You may use this article in your website, provided that you leave the "About the Author" bit intact and make sure that the names of the websites mentioned are clickable and lead to the right place.