So, many years ago when I used to run older forums (over 750k members was massive back in the early 2000s ha) built on vBulletin, phpBB etc. probably one of, if not the first “Trust Level” system in 2006 lol
Anyway, there was a website called Postloop.com (some of you I’m sure know of it) which allowed you to pay real users to make meaningful and quality posts on your forums to help boost activity.
It made the first year or 2 of a forum’s life a bit easier to get the activity levels up to where you no longer needed the service.
As forum software died in popularity (before the popularity of Discourse), Postloop also died. Because there were less and less new forum installs and only existing busy but dying or surviving forums built on vB, phpBB, InvisionBoard, etc. Some are around to this day, many others sold and died in other ways.
My Question: Are there any similar services?
Or, even a post exchange between forum admins, where we can literally post on each other’s Discourse forums to help boost activity?
Just a thought as my Discourse forum hits 2 years in May 2024. There’s 2k signups, 1k users, so just trying to see how else I can boost activity. Or what are the best ways you guys have found.
Thanks for your time!
Not that I’ve heard of, but does seem like there is opportunity for that in the years ahead if more people are wanting to launch new community/forum sites it can be a hurdle to make these look interesting enough that anyone wants to sign up. Then once you get past that it can become too much non-meaningful and low-quality posts but that is a different issue.
I’m always a little worried about activity for activity’s sake. Based on normal patterns, I’d guess you have ~100 users who post a few times a month or more. Bringing in outsiders to that small group will change the dynamics of your community. There’s a risk you’ll sacrifice what your current users value in the name of growth.
Why are your top users participating? Ask them! If there’s a market for what they are doing, it’ll be a lot easier to find people who want to be a part of your community. Even better if your community provides some sort of value to people interested in learning more.
People finding content via organic search is the best way to get new users, but it can be really slow. Obviously the more content you have the better your odds people will find your community. When a site a really small, it can help to have even one person regularly contribute new topics. I’ve been that person and it was fun to think of something to post the next day.
Something I’ve seen work is to set up topic challenges. If you have a category or tag that feels under-represented, pick a week and ask people to start new topics in that category or tag. Prizes might help, but they aren’t necessary. (If you award a prize, make it a random drawing from people who participate!) It might take a few tries to get the community into the habit.
When you see a great post or someone who has been investing time into the community, reach out and thank them. When you see someone new to the community, welcome them personally. One advantage of a small community is that it doesn’t take a lot to make people feel part of the group.
Ultimately you’ll want people in your community to take on these sorts of community building tasks. It might take modelling behavior that you want to see and encourage people who seem interested to be responsible. Be sure to give them status (TL4, works well) so that they feel appreciated.
For establishing a new community site, one potential idea that could help for this would be to offer some pay for new members to join, at something like $10 a month. I could potentially offer this to anyone who wants to sign up for one of my sites and make some contributions in posting per month, could start a new topic in the marketplace for that but don’t know if anyone would be interested in $10 a month that isn’t a lot of pay.