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Kersus

Seeking Forum Critique

http://tripleoakleaf.myfreeforum.org/

I see others have asked and picked up a gem or two in the feedback, so I thought I'd give it a try.  

My Forum-Hack/PHP-Fu isn't the best, but I'm working on it a bit in my spare time.  

The forum has grown steadily since inception - slow, but steady.  Only a handful are regular posters.  My main attraction was picking up a few Q&As for some high profile figures in the gaming community.

I'm working on building bridges with other sites, but one can not just join another forum and plug your forum to steal users - so it's a process of becoming part of the community and THEN plugging the forum.

Well, that was a babble.... Any thoughts?
Zudane

Well, I'd have to say that it's nice, but you have quite a few forums right now, not sure about if you want to consolidate them down some, but you might consider it.

And you might want to stop naming forums "General... " because I counted 14 forums that are "General .." something.

And to grow faster you might want to think about what niche you fit into, rather than trying to cover everything.  It's better to be the place to go to for _______ than just a place to go to.
Kersus

Thanks for the thoughts.  I've been slowly consolidating forums here and there, and will continue to do that with a few more.  

Hmmmm.... I hadn't thought about 'General' being a problem... I can see that some don't need that title.  I'll alter that and see what people think.  Thanks.

It's niche is simply the diversity in subjects and people who visit that would likely never bump into each other normally online.  It's difficult to scrunch down to a niche.  It's sort've an gaming forum with general subjects to patter away with and some ongoing play-by-post games.  As I mentioned, the biggest thing is that many of these people would never be on each other's forums otherwise.  I'm not sure how to turn that into a selling point and advantage really...

I know a smaller niche would serve better in many respects, but it sort've has a life of it's own.  The biggest thing is I take great lengths to give the users what they want.  For instance, there was demand for a politics forum and with much hesitation, it was added.

I appreciate your ideas, and certainly am open to more ideas and/or criticisms.  
Bravo

General forums can and do succeed, it's all a matter of how well they are run.  Yours seems to be run very well so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

However, if you put yourself into the shoes of someone visiting your forum for the first time, where do they look, and what do they see?

    tripleoakleaf.myfreeforum.org
    The Furiously Eclectic Triple Oak Leaf Forums with Gaming, Sports, Drinks, Philosophy, Religion, Media and more!


I see one of the categories as Role Playing Games, well that's good, but what kind?  Personally I used to enjoy AD&D, but I don't know if your forum has sections relating to that or not.  Or perhaps you have devised some form of forum role playing game.  That would interest me, if I knew more of it.

So, to me it just seems a bit too much hard work to actually find out what your forum has with regard to content.  I am not alone, the vast majority of surfers will give your site 10 seconds from discovery to clicking out unless they find something that appeals to them.

What do I see in your site within that vital 10 seconds?  Not a lot really.  Some kind of highlighted section would perhaps be of use.

But then again, you seem to be doing ok.  It just depends, perhaps you only want as users the type of people that would have a look round first, that of course is a possibility.
Ask Mr. Religion

For each forum try to have a sentence describing sample content. I note in your "Bible Thumping" section (ahem!), that there are two forums listed without a simple sentence descriptor.

AMR
Kersus

I think I addressed that 'General' issue.  Is it better now?

I have thought long and hard about "Triple Oak Leaf forums is the place to go for ______."  I was wondering about having a revolving box with a half a dozen answers for that at the top... Is there a way to do that?  If so, please point me toward the howtodoit thingy.... - yes I've looked.

I actually combined two of the Bible Thumping forums and gave it a description.  You should come over and plug the Reformed Theology Institute!

Bravo, you left me with some questions I'm not sure how to answer (assuming I answered the calls of the other users properly - fingers crossed).  Could you please elaborate on your thoughts and possibly direct me in some potential solutions.  The RPG Category does state (Pen & Paper) - but maybe that's not enough.  There is a place for AD&D in the HackMaster World Forum, but perhaps I'm not selling the specific forums enough.  I believe you that people will stop, look and leave if I don't improve some things - but I'm unsure what those things exactly are.  How would one highlight a section?  

The purpose is to bring in diverse users that wouldn't normally hang together.  I know the topics are far from a niche.  Some users only play in the Political style forums while others only the gaming ones.  Yet sometimes they interact and become friends - this is a bringing together of people.

It started as encompassing most of my interests - but some of those forums were removed through lack of interest and others added upon request.  It is starting to move with a life of it's own.

I urge you all to have another look since my changes and see what you think now.

I truly appreciate your efforts to help me with this forum.  The advice has been great!

One of the things I wonder about is the advantage of integrating it with the Portal.  I don't totally understand the Portal aspect, but have looked through it and some howtodoit spots....

Cheers,
Zudane

As for the "revolving box" you could try the news ticker, that should have what you need.

But you don't need to really SAY that it's the place for something, it just needs to have that... feel.  The idea behind it is like Bravo said, people give a site about 10 seconds before deciding whether to continue looking.  You want to give people a reason to join.  But again as Bravo said, the site is doing fairly well already, but being a general site your best bet for more members is word of mouth.
Bravo

I think by revolving text you mean a marquee?  If so, here is HowToDoIt
Kersus



Thank you all again.  I've tried playing with the Marquee.  It's a matter of finding the right one that settles in as useful and not annoying.  It won't accept spaces, so I'm using periods as spacers.....

A problem that I'm running into, is that that IE6 doesn't view it properly.  IE7+/Firefox does.  Opera views it differently but fine (2 lines instead of one).
Zudane

ie6... people are trying to kill it, there's a TON of problems with IE6.  You could just tell people that have IE6 to upgrade to ie7/8 or use firefox.

i'd say don't worry about making it work for IE6, if people use it they should upgrade, it's the worst IE still in use.
Ask Mr. Religion

Kersus wrote:
Thank you all again.  I've tried playing with the Marquee.  It's a matter of finding the right one that settles in as useful and not annoying.  It won't accept spaces, so I'm using periods as spacers.....
Well it looks like you have it figured out, Kersus! Kudos!

AMR
Kersus

Again, thanks for all your help.  It's been a nice learning experience and even fun!  

I'm still open to more ideas and/or criticisms.

   

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