I’m the administrator of the discussion forums over at my companies’ site (Mad Scientist Technologies). The site has had a discussion forums since really the beginning, but I have noticed a trend with the forums – I’m the only real person there! The only users in the forums are spam bots, and it’s depressing. I gone through all the work to create a nice place for people to discuss technology related topics or ask for help, but the only company I get is spam bots. That isn’t even the worst part, you would think spam bots would be plastering there spam all over the forums, but no – there not – they’re as quite as a church mouse.
Warning this may become ramble-y in parts, while attempting to draw ideas.
So that brings me to this post, I have a forum and all I have in it is three discussions I started and thirty some spam bots that are the equivalent to the mice of the Internet. With all this, I have thought about discontinuing my empty forum over there. I do know that my company’s site has no real traffic and no community, and one would like “why did you setup a forum, if you have no community to use it?” Well, I thought if I build it they would come, but it was just a feature I decided that the site need – just to get that check-mark in the feature matrix of a project list.
So the dilemma is do I keep the forum around and hope that real discussions start to happen, or do I shelve the service and devote my limited time to more worth while projects…
One would argue, ‘if you keep the forum, why do you think it has failed so far?’ Well, I do have few thoughts about that.
- The main site has few to no articles to draw an audience
- Since there is no content, hence no audience, no community
- Then there is social media – Facebook, Twitter, etc. Why should I sign up for this forums just to post maybe once, when I could share my thoughts on Facebook/Twitter/etc.
So, if I fix the above problems I may get some actual use out of my discussion board. But the last point is one I couldn’t fix if I tried – it would be very difficult to convince someone that should post on the board instead, of on the big social sites.
Now if I drop the forum what do I lose, as mention above – the bullet point – the more I think about it, what the point. Yeah it a nice marketing like point but beyond that it’s nothing. On the other hand, if I drop it I get a more benefits, such as: no longer needed to maintain *another* web application – upgrades, pruning spam bots, and talking to myself in a empty forum (which is what I’m kinda doing here — moving on).
But one of the problems I can see, it a small problem, if I drop the discussion board it will throw off my site navigation. You’re problem thinking ‘WHAT!’ When I updated the design of the site’s navigation in version two (which is really v1.3 which was to hold over the site till I got the real v2 completed – that whole another post) I layout the navigation items in a balanced style – at least balanced to me. So if I drop the link to the forum, the navigation will be off balance. So that is the only negative I can see from dropping the discussion board.
So, I’m left with a ghost town of a forum that probably should be removed until it is really (if ever) needed. However, by removing the discussion board top level navigation link my design loses a little of its design.
If you made it this far, what is your opinion? Share your thoughts below or on twitter via @mad9scientist