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Members blog at WebmaisterPro. Covering topics related to online marketing, SEO, web development as well as software reviews.

What Makes Good Online Forums?

There are a lot of online forums on the internet, but not all of them are popular, and among webmasters who want to develop their own popular online, a common question that's often asked is "What makes good online forums?" Well, the truth is that forum popularity is online foruminfluenced by a lot of factors, and most of them have to do with the users and topics of the forums themselves.
In fact, technology is the least important factor in creating a popular online forum. What really matters is keeping users engaged and making sure that new content is generated regularly. So if you want to create your own forum, here are some rules that you should follow. 

Find A Reliable Forum Software
The first thing that you will need for your forum is a reliable online software. A good software should have very little downtime, good security protocols, IP recognition filters as well as a visually impressive graphics. A couple of good examples are vBulletin and XenForo, but feel free to choose whichever software you like as long as they're reliable. 

Encourage Controversy and Factionalism
A good forum is a divided forum, and this is because factions and controversy stimulate discussion. The more discussions users have, the more content the forums generate on their own. So if the forum seems to have a lot of very excitable groups, you should consider that a good thing. For example, in a Forum that revolves around a particular TV show, some users will support pairing one character with another character, while another faction supports a different type of pairing. These kinds of disagreements may cause controversy and a little bit of infighting among your users, but conflict is great for creating new content, which in turn helps keep your forum alive and relatively popular on Google. 

Encourage Outside Influence
Since most forums revolve around certain ideas and topics, it's inevitable for them to overlap with other groups and communities online. Forums about Economics and Investment, for example, tend to refer to a lot of news sources, like the Wall Street Journal (for mainstream sources) or Zero Hedge (for non-mainstream sources) to stimulate discussion. Or Internet marketing forum will refer to Moz for example. External sources should be welcomed as they bring in facts to any discussion as well as forces users to provide evidence for their assertions. 

Online Community Building
Large and popular forums should be considered as online communities, and this is because users eventually start to behave tribally when they become part of a forum. Once a forum achieves a critical mass, it will begin developing its own hierarchy, its own memes, its own set of unspoken rules and everything else that defines online communities. Web developers should embrace this organic development as it provides their forum with a unique character and, at the same time, help stimulate new content. 

Look for Reliable Moderators
Aside from the content, it's also important for to have reliable moderators in a forum. Moderators help prevent users from attacking each other, blocking spam from being posted on important threads, trolling, posting of questionable content and general confusion from happening in a forum. Moderators should also play an important role in enforcing forum rules, arbitrating disputes and creating a relatively calm debate environment for all users.
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