Why starting a forum is a Bad Idea

Forums are a system of the past. I enjoyed forums back in the day, but they aren’t as useful these days. This article will discuss the pros and cons of forums. After reading this, you’ll hopefully refrain from starting a forum or come back with an awesome counter-argument in the comments.

What is the Forum?

A forum is a discussion board that relies on categories and ‘topics’ within those categories. A topic is created by a user, and usually includes a question, though, or piece of content. Other users can then reply to this first ‘post’. It is essentially a community, with different categories so they’re united thoughts are properly organized.

Forums are Less Popular These Days

Plain and simple, forums aren’t as successful as they were in the early 2000s and late 1990s. This isn’t because of any major flaws in forum software, so don’t try to reinvent the forum like too many people have. There are just better alternatives for conversation and community than forums.

They were popular for various reasons including…

  1. Forums provided an online commune for people from all over the world. This was a time when there was no assurance your friend or neighbor even had internet.
  2. They allowed for multiple public discussions in a world of email, private messages, and spammed chatrooms.
  3. There were hardly any better alternatives.

Social networks allow us to talk with real-life friends, online contacts, and random strangers. These systems allow for private AND public discussions, eliminating the need for instant messaging clients, forums, and other systems. There are better alternatives nowadays.

Modern Alternatives to Forums

  1. Twitter, who has ‘Hashtags’ which act similar to a forum’s categories. They allow for a free discussion with people from all over the world, or your nearby friends.
  2. Facebook, which has pages dedicated to specific topics that wouldn’t ever gain enough traction as a standalone forum.
  3. Social networks which have members from all over the world, allowing for larger audiences, more perspectives, and an easier way to find others interested in the same topic.

Simply put, forums are currently not as flexible as Twitter’s Hashtags (#TrendyPhrase). Facebook, Google+, and other social networks have so many members that even obscure topics have enough interested people to spark a discussion for. Forums simply don’t have that access or capability.

Now, it should be noted that I’m not discouraging all forms of forums. Some types of forums can serve a good purpose. Those types of forums include, but are not limited to:

  • Corporate websites that require internal & company-wide discussions.
  • Support for company clients.
  • A forum for something ultra-specific, which you can somehow find interested people to engage in.

Forums can still be successful, but…

  1. Even if a forum can be successful, social networks and other platforms are always a better alternative from a user’s perspective.
  2. Forums are not as easy to make money from compared to blogs, news sites, and other systems.
  3. They’ll require very high-quality content to be recognized by search engines.
  4. Will require a lot of effort.

Hopefully, this article helps you on your quest to create a great website. I intend to prevent you from creating a forum or to at least do it right. Comment below if you agree or disagree!

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