How long usually it took you to build your forum to a sustainable level

This question is to experienced and successful forum owners on the community. I am an ambitious forum owner who have been facinated after seen discourse. I throw away my plans to use invisionpower and vbulletine at the very moment I saw discourse and its demo on

Now I have a forum which I use discourse as platform and I found it is mobile friendly and users friendly.

It has been three weeks now, still search engine traffic is not coming. I generate content by seeding three users and adding questions and answers myself. I do it in a natural way, but still no search engine traffic.

I would like to learn from your experience, how to grow a forum to a sustainable level, how to get users to forum and make them to contribute … etc.

More importantly, how long it took you to achive a sustainable growth level.

If anyone want to see my forum before repling (I blured it not to be a spam)


I do not know about building forums but i can direct you to people who do.

  1. The admin zone
  2. Builder society

Both are forums with people just like you and even more experience.

Thanks you very much.

I am looking for experience from discourse community builders, with particular exeprience with this software.

I’m not yet a forum owner but I will be in the near future. The advantage I will have is that I will be catering for an established community that has a need for a good online forum and doesn’t have one currently. Are you clear on what value you will provide to users?

I also think that you need to consider a user perspective for your forum because it has some obvious deficiencies.


Shameless plug for a site that runs Discourse



Our community is a very good example — because it is a very tiny niche. If it worked like this for us, it will surely work at lest that good for the others; but most often should be much better than this. is a Ukrainian goat keepers community.

In terms of numbers, it took us ~2 years to get to what we are today:

  • ~30 registrations weekly, with zero marketing effort
  • all views are from organic search from a few major search engines, including Google
  • 170 active users daily out of 1400 registered users
  • 320k views per month (using default recommended integration with Google Analytics)
  • 300-500 new messages sent daily
  • 90k messages and 3k topics total

This is a wide topic.
It took us a team of a few people and 2 years of constant daily effort to get to this point.

We read a lot about writing, editing, and about building communities (here at Meta and in FeverBee).

The summary of our activities:

  • contests, both one-time (with very good prizes), and month-to-month ongoing (with small and funny prize)
  • a lot of thoughtful topic renaming, splitting, joining
  • ban of texts and images copied from the internet when it comes to serious topics
  • find out topics not discussed enough on our competitors’ websites — and put a lot of effoert to make them boost in our comunity
  • a lot of individual work with community leaders and potential influencers (it’s all about people!) — we had to learn to “read” people’s mind, find out their preferences and invite them to activities that get them excited
  • regular invitation of those who are online to participate in topics they might be interested in
  • translation adaptation to our industry field and nation, so that people feel cozy
  • ongoing composition of rules that set our community as being very different and much better than any real and potential competitors; and ongoing moderation to keep everything as dictated by the rules.

Community is a hard work… But thinking, analyzing, trying out new things and regular action will always be rewarding.

Nonetheless, I’m sure there should be other models of community development, which require much less effort. For example, if the community is not the main thing per se, but rather a complementary hub for the users of your product — if this is the case, you’ll get plenty of users free and effortlessly out of the box (I suppose so, but never did it in practice on my own)


Thank you for your input. Really value your time taken answering this long answer @meglio

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@Remah @Mittineague Thank you too. @Remah I have seen many webmaster forums. Many of them like this, talk thing I am talking about. They are fine. But thing is most of them vbulletine, SMF, Phpbb or invision, so I wanted to give them mobile friendly site with new look. Can you explain me further what are these dificiencies I will in debt for you. I will owe you one. Thanks in advance.

For me, it was a matter of 2 years. Focus on people and learn as much as you can on community management
Feverbee and CMX are the best in this space.
Where are you coming from? could help you :slight_smile:

My numbers on

Topics 3.0k
Posts 38.8k
New Users 1.7k - 200 in the last 30 days
Active Users 481


Thanks you. I am from Sri Lanka and Living in China. This summit is beyond my reach. However I will keep up with Feverbee and CMX. Thanks again @alefattorini

Let me know if you need help. I’m a community leader and strategiest as well.

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Thanks @Mittineague for the links. :slight_smile:

The key here is building relationships @xiaosube Unfortunately there is no such thing as ‘build it and they will come’ and never really has been. Communities are about value and motivation. If you want people to perform certain behaviours (i.e. come to your site and engage) then you need to give them a reason to do so.

Communities that survive begin with a core group of really committed members that have a strong relationship with either you or your brand – that’s their motivation. Their behaviours then form the basis of the value for future members.

Lastly, I strongly recommend against fake accounts and seed content.

At FeverBee we have a tonne of information about building and sustaining communities. I also manage a community of people that talk about it. You’re welcome to join us.

Best of luck. :slight_smile:


FeverBee is great. I am reading it these days. I am thinking deeply about all you have said. Me too does not like seeding content via fake accounts. Thank you for your input! @HAWK


How is your forum useful to me or others?

@HAWK and others describe the issues very well. Know your community and know your value proposition.

On your site, both issues are unclear and that is not helped by your content. After visiting your website I still have no idea how your website will help me.

Your About page says “A lounge for webmasters!” and your domain name clearly evokes a cafe-style. But your forum is not very relaxed with lots of earnest questions and mundane information.

  • You use a brand which has its fair share of controversy - I never use Starbucks - and you leave yourself open to legal problems with that organisation.
  • A lounge evokes relaxation: the noun means “a public room in a hotel, theatre, or club in which to sit and relax”; and the verb means to “lie, sit, or stand in a relaxed or lazy way.” Yet your content is not at all relaxing or social.
  • It is a bit of a problem that “webmasters” is a Google product.

So I would include other categories of user: website owner, web architects, web developers, web administrators, website authors, etc. For example: is a board where every one specially Web Masters , SEO Gurus, Programmers , Graphic designers and developers and other IT professionals are welcome to share their knowledge and thoughts …

And I would specify some things to search for that aren’t just in your category names.
> is a Webmaster discussion forum is a board to discuss issues like SEO, Marketing, Hosting, Programming, PHP, Wordpress, …

Seeding is not working

You have seeded the forum with conversations but they are unsettling to read because the personalities are uncannily similar. My mind will subconsciously pick up that the similarities are not normal. Then I end up disliking the site because I can feel that I am being tricked or conned.

  • They appear as the same voice even though you are using three accounts. I’m not saying that you need to eliminate all grammatical errors. Instead I’m saying that having three users making the same sort of errors means that they all sound like the same person.
  • Grammatical errors. You can use a grammar checker like the one in Microsoft Word to give you some ideas about what may be wrong.
  • Spelling mistakes. Using a spell check mean that you eliminate mistakes that can distract from what you are trying to say.

Content deficiencies

  • You don’t have enough specialist sub-categories to interest me.
  • Your posts focus on explaining things but you hinder understanding by spreading the information across different replies. These sort of topics should be should be in How-To / FAQ / Glossary topics or in a blog. An example is if I were looking for “The best way to host a website in mainland China” then I would be looking for an authoritative article that made comparisons easy. I would not be looking for a conversation where the key differences are spread over many replies.
    • It is OK to have the conversation but a blog post with a comparison table would be most useful.
    • Likewise, it helps people to see diagrams and maps. Because China is so large, I would like to know about geographical server locations, peering arrangements, the Great Wall, transit into and out of China. I searched on peering in China and took the first two links (Peering and the Chinese Internet - Dispatches by John P. Gamboa and VPNs & Internet in China: Everything you need to know). The usefulness of both articles is enhanced, a lot and a little, because of their diagrams.
  • If you used FAQS, How-Tos and the like then you’d avoid long topic titles like “Can someone explain to me what server pilot is? is it just a software or are they a host as well?”. I’m no SEO expert but “What is a server pilot?” is more likely to be an actual search.
  • etc.

@Remah Thank you very much for detail suggestions and honest critics.

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Happy to help. :smile:

I’m glad that I don’t have to start the hard way like you are. That’s why I pray that you will find people with similar interests to get your community going.

I learned the lesson. I think it is better we first build an audience through a blog or something. Then deploy a community.