Message Board Central - Tutorial
Starting a Message Board
Start Up Basics
1. Pick a topic for your board.
2. Choose a board host.
3. Name Your Board.
If you do have general board, the name should still be interesting. The "Electric Eclectic Forum" may not tell me much about what goes on there, but it sounds vastly more interesting than "Joe's Message Board."
4. Create a Look and Feel.
To be sure that the colors you choose are the same on every computer, choose non-dithering colors.
Getting People to your Forum
Once you've set up your forum, you need to get people there and get them to post. Here are some suggestions on steps you may want to take.
1. Post a couple messages yourself to get things started. One should probably be a welcome message. The other should be a question or comment that will entice people to post (something controversial, a question for people to answer, etc. Forum games or get to know you questions (like where are you from, or what's your favorite this or that) are also good starters.
2. Invite friends and specifically ask them to post something to help get the forum moving.
3. Visit message boards your frequent and invite chatters there to come visit your new board. If you don't frequent any boards, start visiting some. It's rude to just spam and leave, so make sure to make posts of real content while you are there in addition to your "visit my forum" post.
4. Moderate your forum well. Check in frequently and make sure every message gets a reply quickly. Regarding SPAM, while you want to delete some spam immediately (pyramid/get rich schemes, posts that are obviously selling something, etc.) you may want to allow spam of a more personal nature (people letting you know about their homepages). My theory on that is, try to draw them in. Visit their page, sign their guestbook, invite them to come back. Some forums have a policy that you must make one non-spam post before advertising your homepage. This practice also works well.
5. Submit your site to search engines and directories. You can find a good, thorough, article on how and where to do that here. Two important sites not mentioned in the article that you should try to get listed on are DMOZ.org and Google. DMOZ is the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory on the Web. Not only do a lot of people visit this directory, but a lot of other search engines and directories use the listings in DMOZ, which means if you get listed in DMOZ, you'll most likely get listed other places too. The catch is that they are highly selective, so don't even try submitting your site until it is somewhat active. Google is currently the most popular search engine around. The catch with getting listed in Google is that you're likely to get a better listing if they find you (in stead of you submitting your site to them). If you have a site that is already listed in google, link your forum from and google should find you. If you aren't listed within a few months, though, definitely submit your site. One more thing, most search engines and directories you can submit your site in for free (at least the good ones you can).
6. Join webrings. Most will let you place the webring code on a separate "webring page" which links back to your forum (since sometimes you can't put that type of code directly in your forum--depending on who provides it.). While webrings may not be a big traffic builder, the traffic you get from them tends to be people who like the kind of pages listed in the ring, so it can be worth it to join a few. Here are some good places to find webrings: Ring Surf and Webring.
7. The catch 22: It's hard to get people to post if there aren't various people already posting on your board. If people visit and see very few posts, all old posts, or all posts from one user, they aren't likely to stay. If all the posts on your board are currently from you, one trick is to make a few posts under a different username. Another way to get a stagnant board flowing is to visit other boards and ask people to respond to specific posts on your forum. Find someone who seems to post a lot, post a question they would be interested in, then ask them specifically if they could respond to your post at your board (link directly to the URL to your post if possible.) Or, if someone on another board posts an interesting article or comment, ask them to stop by your board and post there too (I've often asked people on poetry boards to re-post their poems on mine...it works very well). After you've gotten a few people to post this way, repeat step 3.
7. Other Places to List Your Forums
Other Useful Sites
Forum Search Message Board
Other Webmaster Resources
...or visit the webrings below.