Building Community with vBulletin. A Forum Review.
Steve Shubitz - Owner/Founder/Webmaster of the geek/talk
Forums @ GeekVillage.com
best way to learn about building community with vBulletin, is
to examine a successful board. Scuba
Board is a "hobby" site which contains no advertisements.
I say "building community", I am not referring
to an obsessive fixation and or concern with generating page views,
unique visitors , or revenue. Your first goal should be to create
a virtual place where folks feel comfortable, safe, and can obtain
some benefit from the community. Your traffic and in a few rare
cases, revenue will be a natural result of this environment and
should never dictate your building community goal and procedures.
A lot of folks have debated the merits of a hobby site and more
particularly the lack of quality, ethics, civility, and the tendency
to slap dozens of adverts on the site and "pretend"
you are a business. While this is certainly true for a great many
of these sites, their are outstanding exceptions to this rule,
What makes Scuba Board tick?
1. A passion and love of the topic. No one on planet earth
should ever start a Forum because they want to make money.
Plenty of folks have tried and they have either failed or will
fail. Browse around Scuba Board, thread after thread contains
real content which helps the community. Delivered in a civil and
2. Mature "guidance" is mandatory. Contrary to
popular opinion, you don't "run" or "Admin"
a community. You provide the necessary guidance, which includes
setting an example for others to follow. Great communities are
run by the members. Great communities have members who reinforce
the "culture" and "rules". Your "guidance"
must include setting a civil and respectful example. If you do
this, your members will follow. If you set an example with profanity,
flames, attacks, and a general lack of civility, your members
will emulate your actions. If you watch Scuba Board for a few
days, you will see that the owners (KN and LD) don't post that
much. The examples and tone are set by the Moderators and the
members follow suit.
3. Rules and enforcement of same are mandatory.
Communities without rules and the necessary enforcement of same
will fail. Both must be implemented. Scuba Board has it's share
of rules. Even an unusual "Avatar" procedure. They also
rely on the members to enforce these rules. Their is no stronger
force in a community than peer pressure. Your goal should always
be to surround yourself with folks who share similar views on
community. Eventually a core group of members will step forward
to reinforce your culture.
4. It's not your community. That's not a typo. You may
have registered the domain and purchased vBulletin,
but your members built it and thus they own it. You can see this
at work in Scuba Board. Absolutely no "chest pounding"
and bravado on how great their board is from the owners. Let the
members "speak" and gain a sense of pride of ownership
and a stronger sense of the great community which they have created.
5. Still skeptical? Think you have the secret trick or
a new "hack" to create a mega super board? Not a chance.
Their are no tricks, hacks, or secrets. Just a lot of very hard
work 24/7/365. Read this
thread, to learn exactly what I mean about "pride of
ownership", "community", and saying thanks. Dozens
of posts by members full of praise and the willingness to "speak"
with their wallets to help the owners of the board. Not a "shill
post" or phony post present. Real folks helping the owners
on a voluntary basis.
Guiding a mature community can be a daunting task with periods
of skepticism and questions about your own motives. Given the
"Wild West" nature of the Internet and the cultural
expectation by surfers, who think that they can say and do whatever
they want, Scuba Board is an outstanding model and divine inspiration
for all of us.
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