What are some alternatives to forums in community engagement?

johnbrent609

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As a blogger, I see that forum are a good way to engage bloggers and webmasters with same interests but to follow a forum is a dedicated and time consuming as my experience. A blog could not do multi tasks like a forum did but beside forum cms, what would be the best way to organize information and let users interact with each other in a helping and collaborative way?
 

Mike001

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That is a great question John, I have had the same type of question for quite some time.

I have used forums in the past with my sites and have found that not only are they very time consuming to maintain, which really did not bother me, I enjoyed the interaction, the problem that I had with forums was that they can draw a tremendous amounts of spam. I have had forums hijacked by some very unscrupulous individuals that have placed ads all over the forums and then made it next to impossible to remove the content is was being added so quickly.

I found this true even with email verification subscribers. After months of trying to keep them clean and pertaining to the topic I finally removed them and stuck with email communications through the site with my users. I am still looking for a good platform that would support user interactions and keep the bad guys at bay.

That is one of the reasons why I have such respect for the guys and gals that run these types of forums. It takes a lot of dedication and work to keep them running in a positive directions.

I will be curious to see what types of responses that this thread receives.
 

johnbrent609

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.......... I enjoyed the interaction, the problem that I had with forums was that they can draw a tremendous amounts of spam. I have had forums hijacked by some very unscrupulous individuals that have placed ads all over the forums and then made it next to impossible to remove the content is was being added so quickly.
Have you used any plugins or addons to prevent your forums from spams?

I found this true even with email verification subscribers. After months of trying to keep them clean and pertaining to the topic I finally removed them and stuck with email communications through the site with my users. I am still looking for a good platform that would support user interactions and keep the bad guys at bay.

That is one of the reasons why I have such respect for the guys and gals that run these types of forums. It takes a lot of dedication and work to keep them running in a positive directions.

I will be curious to see what types of responses that this thread receives.
I think nowadays we have more tools to stop spammers like Google reCAPTCHA or a forum needs good Moderators to manage and control it.

How have you managed your forum, just you or you have a team to support your members? just curious about this.
 

Mike001

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John,

The forums I was running were over a year ago, and yest I did use what was available at the time to prevent as much span as I could. Not in the form of plug-ins as most of the BB's at that time had many features built in to prevent spam. I tried a variety of different platforms over the years but it seemed like all of them had issues with spam of some sort. If a knucklehead wants to get access to your system they will find a weak link and find a way to get in.

There are more tools now, I agree, but it is probably still and issue of some sort. The Google reCAPTCHA was a good tool when it first came out but there are even ways around that. I did not implement that in my forums as most users find it annoying and it cuts down on the user interaction in the forums. I did have a group of good moderators that had a good focus on the topics. It just became too much to manage for all of us. We were spending as much time trying to keep it clean as we were responding to questions and that defeated the purpose.

I have found that using the email system allows us to answer questions on a more personal level and we can usually go back and forth to find the solution for the user. Of course the disadvantage there is that we have no repository for the users to look through and find solutions, one of the big advantages a well run forum. And we do end up answering the same types of questions many times. But it is what it is. I do what I can to support the users as best I can.

Forums can be very successful as is obvious by this one. This is an excellent forum and very well run. If I try it again I think I will stay away from the big platforms like phpBB, Simple Machines, Vanilla Forums, etc. I think the more popular the platform the more people are trying to access it. I have thought about writing my own, then you could have some serious security implemented in it, but that is a lot of work to write a well rounded platform that would supply most of the features of a larger platform.

It is a give and take. You have to weigh the good with the bad. In my case the majority of my focus I wanted to be on developing good video tutorials on web development, and I found that I was spending more time on the forums security then on the tutorials themselves. I was getting away from the focus of the site. If your focus is to run a forum and that is the main reason for the site, then it would probably be a lot less of a headache.

There are plenty of people here that can help you regardless of what way you decide to go. I'll help all I can also.

I hope this helps.
 

Ron Killian

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Actually I've found that proper blog commenting, building relationships in the process, bring about more sales and opportunities. Many more opportunities. I just don't do enough of it. More so than anything else I've tried.
 

Mike001

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Ron, I agree that the commenting sections of a website can be very helpful in increasing sales.

I have found that interaction to lead to many more sales than the interactions I was participating in on my forums. I was mainly using the forums to address users questions on the technology I was teaching. But comments works well for that also it is just harder to group comments into logical categories.
 
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