Forum Marketing Made Easy For Fast Results

There is nothing like the great insight that forum marketing can give you as an online business owner. Not just for sales but also as regards exposure and promotion. Free too, since participating in forums about your niche can provide you with very important information about building a strong targeted profile, that can make your forum marketing easy for fast results.

First of all, when you join forums about your niche, always adhere to the rules of the particular forum you want to explore and participate. Strictly following their guidelines, will set you safe to contribute in the right way, by always being helpful and providing good value. You want to just contribute and help others in the forum, to build your profile as someone who really is keen on listening and of being constructive, giving great value as well.

This behaviour will be very well received and will enhance your reputation and expertise in your niche. After this phase, when your relationship is well established in the forum, if the rules allow, you can begin living links to your sites, or to your squeeze pages so that you build a list of subscribers in the forum to whom you can market to later on.

When your contributions are perceived of great value by forum members, your reputation is enhanced considerably, and you do not need to repeatedly hint at your links for visits to your sites, letting instead the forum members themselves seeking you out for more information and recommendations about the product or services that you want to promote.

This behaviour has to be subtle, not pushy, and never too obvious. You just keep giving out helpful information and your posts will be very welcomed and easily acted upon, when recommendations are given about their needs and desires. This way you are the one they turn to when they need problems solved, and when this happens you are definitely on to a winning mode in that forum. Forum marketing now seems easy for fast results and earnings are escalating.

The name you use in the forums, use it as well in every project or product that you make or promote, so that people in the forums, seek you out easily in the search engines as well as your promotions of course.

If your status rises in the forum, who knows, may be even a JV with the owner of the forum is possible or you could ask other people participating, to be your affiliates. You could offer them special deals, discounts or may be higher percentages of commissions. The possibilities are enormous when your authority in the forum, as the expert giving out good recommendations, answering participant’s questions etc. is well established.

Continue keeping the proper boundaries of the forum and don’t promote directly your products or services until someone asks you for recommendations to your products or services. Only then, it is OK to give directions to your websites’ order pages or to the relevant links that gives them what they are after.

If you remember that is never your intention to push for direct sales to the members, you are only going to concentrate on their interests and wants. Only when the participants approach you directly to a specific product or service, will you then oblige by dropping a link or send them to your squeeze pages. That is it, and don’t self promote in forums ever or you risk getting banned.

So, because you are doing the correct forum marketing in your niches, according to their rules and terms, your online marketing in forums is such a great resource that is pushing your credibility and expertise sky high among the niche forum communities.

How to Make Money Online With Forums

Those who want to know how to make money online with forums should not only know only about the methods, but also the ways to get traffic. It takes time, but can be very rewarding in more ways than one.

Money Tip 1: Standard Methods

The most common advice you will find for how to make money online with forums is in the standard online advertising methods: Google AdSense, banners, and pop-up ads. These methods can work, although they tend to clutter up a forum and make it look “spammy”, which can sometimes decrease your site’s rankings with Dmoz (the largest internet directory system) and other directory administrators. If you decide to use these adverts, try to ensure that it adds to the aesthetic appeal of the website and doesn’t become a hindrance.

Money Tip 2: Try an Affiliate Program

Affiliates programs can be casually constructed between like-minded sites/forums or can be conducted more formally by using an affiliate network such as Google Affiliates and Click Bank. If you do not want to sign up for a network, visit other sites that promote programs or information complementary to yours. Offer to allow them to post ads on your site and receive the same in return. Using a network has an advantage over this casual method, because the results are much more quantifiable and the big networks have access to the best products and services.

Money Tip 3: Premium Members

When you first start out with your forum, it is best to concentrate on building a community before you introduce money making methods. However, once your forum starts taking off you can introduce a premium section where members pay to read and post special content. Alternatively, you might have an adverts section that either requires payment per thread or premium membership. Some people spend years building up a free forum to a point where it has a solid reputation, and then one day turning it into a membership only forum. You have to choose what suits your forum best.

Traffic Tip: Use Article Marketing

This is related to blogging, but it can be pertinent to learning how to make money online with forums, too. Writing good, original, useful and informative content on your area(s) of specialization and allowing others to use them on their sites can generate traffic to your site. When someone else uses your free content, they must retain the resource box with your site/forum’s URL. Then, when someone reads that content and likes what they see, they can click your link and view the forum. This also helps build backlinks when it comes to climbing the rankings.

Multiple Income Streams

There is no one way how to make money online with forums; there are many, and most are very similar. One of the best methods to get your forum in the black is to shore it up with multiple income streams. By judiciously utilizing several methods, you will bring money in steadily, albeit in smaller increments, but those small amounts will begin to add up with time. It also decreases your reliance on a certain method, such as AdSense or banners, allowing you to make your site more to your own tastes and to make your forums more user-friendly.

By learning how to make money online with forums you can eventually have your online community become self-sufficient-maybe even generate a profit! Almost all monetizing strategies for forums revolve around increasing site traffic, and this does not usually happen overnight.

Internet Marketing Forums – Using Forums To Establish Yourself As An Expert In Your Field

Forum marketing is a very effective way of getting your name and reputation established. The best way to find relevant forums is to type in your relevant word or phrase “+” the word “forum” in your browser. Then check out a few forums before deciding on the one or ones of most interest and relevance to you. You can also use the words “best” or “top” when searching for your forum to see what is rated the highest by other users.

There is such a thing as forum etiquette and it really pays to make sure you read up the forum rules and rules for posting before you are banned, accused of spamming or generally annoy regular users of the forum who use their forum as an effective communication tool for their niche or area of interest.

Once you are familiar with how the particular forum works, then I would recommend you just spend time there getting familiar with the forum dynamics, key players, main topics being discussed etc.

Then pick out some discussions you are interested in. If you can answer any questions without sounding promotional, then do so. Alternatively, you can comment on what someone wrote. If you disagree with a post, then do so, but keep it a fair comment and use your words constructively. This way you will not draw attention to yourself for all the wrong reasons. You may find others agreeing with you also and even build up a following this way. People who stand out for the right reasons do tend to get greater recognition.

Some forums do not allow links in the comments section and confine them to the biography of the user. If this is the case, then this is where someone can find your details if they want to find out more about you. If you are allowed to put links to your site at the end of your comment, then that is great.

Try to post comments on the most active threads and posts with the most views. This way more people see your comment. If you offer some relevant information or solution on your site, then anyone interested in learning more will be most likely to go over to your site and check things out. If they found the information useful, they may even recommend it to other forum users.

If I was to leave you with a last tip for successfully using forums, it would be to never try to sell anything on a forum. Be yourself without being promotional. When you are seen as a credible contributor to forums, more traffic will venture over to your blog or website.

Establish yourself as an expert in Internet Marketing Forums [http://www.orlakelly.com]. Go to [http://www.orlakelly.com] for some top tips to help you excel at Forums and establish yourself as a real expert in your field.

How to use Forums to Generate Web Income

There are numerous forums on the internet and it is important to spend time searching for the more highly respected ones, which are well managed with good moderators who maintain the standard of the forum by strictly enforcing the rules.

In these forums you will find members share a common goal to make money on the Internet. As you start participating regularly in the forum, you will find yourself learning faster and earning more…guaranteed. Top forums are the stomping ground for the best Internet marketers on the planet as well as the training ground for thousands of up and coming Internet marketers. They are a place to share ideas, find answers, make friends and develop partnerships. The top forums are an organic, always growing, support resource for your entire internet marketing business. The only way to benefit from these forums is to experience them yourself.

Prior to actually joining a forum, spend sometime just browsing the forum and reading some posts to see that it actually suits your needs and that you feel comfortable in the environment. On joining a forum it is vital that you read the rules as you will find they do vary from forum to forum. Be sure to fill out your profile and most important be sure to complete the signature section, which will allow you to put your website details, which will lead to back links, as postings get indexed by the search engines.. The forum rules will dictate how many characters or lines or urls you can add.

Once you have joined a forum look for the category that invites you to introduce yourself and take advantage of this. Remember, you are not there to advertise your business, your signature will do that for you, simply tell the forum where you are from and a little about yourself. Then I would suggest that you read through some of the posts, get involved in some of the discussions and see if you can offer advice or help to some of the questions raised. Your main function in a forum is to contribute positively and constructively. You will find that by reading posts you will also learn so much as you will find advice and answers from the top gurus. As you become more familiar with the surroundings you can then start new threads with questions of your own.

You can increase your presence on the internet very quickly by actively participating in a few forums and constructively posting 3 to 5 times a day in each forum. Spend time in the forums every day just browsing, reading through topics and responding to posts as desired.

Some forums have categories where you can submit your articles, do not ignore this if you have articles to submit because other members may select them to send to their lists. Also fellow members could be e-zine owners and they might just pick your article up for their newsletter. You may also find a category dedicated to discussion on all topics related to self-improvement. This most certainly fits into a money-making forum because power, energy and creativity translates into being able to make more money.

You may also find categories dedicated to joint ventures, free e-books, reciprocal links, special offers as well as off-topic forums where you can discuss anything.

The more you get involved, the more you will learn and the more you learn and apply, the more you will earn!

SEO Forums – A Way Of Web Promotion

Forums are useful resource to promote and market your business enterprise. Forums are good means to increase back links and visitors for your website. The other benefit is that you can discuss your problem with a large segment of experts and specialists. For this it is necessary to make the use of best forums available online. Looking for the best forums and posting in these, there are certain key factors which need to be kept in mind.
Always look for those forums that are associated with your business enterprise. This will be beneficial for your website when you will associate yourself with the forum having the relevant connection with your website theme. The forums related with your business will increase knowledge about the terms and activities related to your business.

Find those forums that have solid reputation and good page rank. It is generally seen that some forums do not have good reputation. Quality forum sites always attract more visitors and create constructive and healthy participation. More ever you can find quality article links and constructive evidence of participants to prove their points.
Forums create an atmosphere of active participation. You can get opinions and solutions from experts and specialists for any problem or query. Find those forums that are very active and create large memberships. This depends on the status of forum websites.

Forum posting need certain factors to be kept in mind. Always read the necessary guidelines in the forums before posting. There are general notifications to be followed in posting. When you are posting for the first time it is good to introduce yourself and then start active postings in the forum of discussions with other members. The status of the participant goes on increasing with the increase in the number of forums posted.

Always do the relevant and topic related postings which suits best with the associated category otherwise there are chances of getting forum banned or blocked by the experts moderator. You can put your website link in the signature of forums but do care about the number of words allowed for signatures. Other factor is never start a new thread for a topic which already exists. Such threads are stopped as moderator does not want to create duplicacy in threads.

It is advised not to submit any harsh, irritating and taunting comments in forums. It disturbs the healthy discussion environment. Also never give humourous comments as it disturbs the seriousness of the topic. The mediator may ban such forums. Try to provide a topic with enough proof and evidence that attracts more and more participants. This will inspire more and more members to participate in your forum thread and thus increase the length of your thread.
Keeping all these guidelines in mind you will be able to utilize the best forums which assists you in overall marketing and promotion of your business enterprise.

Ways to Make Extra Money While Fooling Around on Forums

I know you may be a little skeptical about the title of this article. How in Gods name would anyone be able to make money fooling around on forums and chatting to new friends? In actual fact, this is not an exaggeration or some trick wording. This is exactly what you will be doing, no selling, no work at all. Nothing but posting on forums and cashing in on your signature file.

Yes you can make money doing nothing but fooling around on forums. In fact, I would say without exaggeration, if you are not having fun by making friends and making constructive statements that contribute to the conversation of the topic of the thread, you will actually not make as much money. You must strictly put business aside entirely and just have fun. Let me explain.

What you have to do is find a company willing to split their commission with you. Some go as high as 75% This is good for you because that is quite a nice cut. You join their affiliate program and then assess the product. Then join at least 40 forums around the internet that relate specifically to the product you chose. So for example, if you found a really excellent dog training course and you decided this was going to be your product. You would join all the dog forums you could find and start making constructive posts.

Most forums allow their user to put in a short line that shows in every post they make. All you have to do is write a simple teaser and the special link the company gives you to start profiting. Just make sure you are friendly and funny and good to be around. Make constructive posts. You will see a mountain of internet cash coming into your account within weeks. Try it!

If you need money now, like I mean in the next hour, try what I did. I am making more money now than in my old business and you can too, read about Martin Thomas in the link below. When I joined I was skeptical for just ten seconds before I realized what this was. I literally could not wipe the smile off my face. You are about to discover something different.

Imagine doubling your money every week with no or little risk! To discover a verified list of Million Dollar Corporations offering you their products at 75% commission to you. Click the link below to learn HOW you will begin compounding your capital towards your first Million Dollars at the easy corporate money program.

Forums in the Classroom – Enhancing Student Learning and Engagement

As a learning aid, discussion forums, on the other hand, have shown to stimulate critical thinking, improve communication skills, foster a sense of community among students, and encourage collaborative problem solving. Further, online forums enable students to work together on projects and participate at-will in evocative dialogues centered on course content.

Students will, however, have different reactions to text based discussions. Some may be frustrated by having to type everything they want to say while those with superior writing skills will have the advantage. Ironically, strong writers may not be the same students who exhibit verbal superiority in the classroom. Consequently, those who are ignored or interrupted during class discussion will often avail themselves of the expressive opportunity and display stronger “voices” in discussion forums.

Forum characteristics that may benefit students are…

Forums can be empowering for reserved students who prefer more “space” to formulate responses and opinions.
Forums allow for different learning styles. Those students more focused and effective after school hours can engage at times more suitable to their learning aptitudes.
Students can immerse themselves in alternative viewpoints and view how others develop their conclusions.
Students can learn to communicate collaboratively and form relationships around academic goals.
Active forum participation can improve students writing and communication skills.
Participation in forum “discussions” demands that students actively engage course content.
Individual knowledge and understanding is increased through shared student abilities and reasoning.
Students can elect to receive (or not) email notifications of new posts or when threads they’ve posted in have responses.
Students can brainstorm together, plan future projects, share research ideas and rough drafts, study as a group for future exams, and much more!
For instructors, the most convenient attribute of online forums is the asynchronous nature of the communication. As ongoing forum discussions are logged, administrators aren’t “put upon” to immediately and cleverly facilitate engagement. Rather, they can take their time to consider effective ways to guide and intervene in student interactions. This applies to students as well, providing each with time to ponder and construct their responses.

Some of the benefits of forums as a learning aid are…

Instructors can create unlimited forum discussions to support course or project efforts.
Instructors can easily update/modify project goals by group or individual.
Instructors can statistically monitor participation levels of students as well as review their individual contributions.
Links to specific resources can be shared individually or with the group.
Student interactions can be closely monitored, measured and assigned credit for their efforts
Quotes from students can be included easily in subsequent threads (recognition stimulates engagement).
Knowing others will read their posts, students will typically reference course materials more thoroughly before submitting responses for scrutiny.
In discussion forums, students often interact enthusiastically with little prompting from instructors.
Learning power and responsibility is transferred to students as teachers take more passive roles as moderators.
Students are often more willing to openly and vigorously debate instructors and each other in discussion forums.
Summary

To successfully incorporate discussion forums as a learning tool, teachers should be knowledgeable in their administration and committed to the necessary level of engagement. Once acclimated, when students are able to combine and coordinate lessons from the classroom and the discussion forum, a deeper, broader understanding of the subject matter will be the result. Further, once students are comfortable in the new forum environment, instructors will find themselves in more passive roles as students take greater interest and assume more responsibility for the discourse.

With proper management, discussion forums can dramatically enhance the student learning experience. To quote educational research scholars Harman and Koohang; “A discussion board as a learning object is a prime candidate for adopting the constructivism learning theory. Constructivism learning theory includes elements such as collaboration, cooperation, exploration, higher-order thinking skills, knowledge construction, learner driven goals and objectives, multiple perspectives, multiple representations of content/idea/concept, negotiation among learners, learners previous experience, real-world situations/problems, social disclosure, social negotiation, and the use of primary sources of data.”

Water Feature Forums – Oh My!

What a hoot! I’m learning a lot and fast about the nature of on-line forums.

I can only speak of my experience with forums related to the water garden or water feature industry. I have decided to join a waterfall and pond related forum and start sharing my somewhat biased views and experience with pond liners.

As of late, I have discovered that sharing my bias towards pond liners with a forum full of pond liner installers is something like trying to pass out Bibles at a porn convention!

Some startling statistics that could explain why:

1. More than 37% of all waterfalls have serious structural damage within 3 years of it being built.

2. 57% of homeowners say they’re rather unsatisfied with the way their waterfall came out – after the project was completed.

3. Nearly 1 in 3 waterfalls and ponds are leaking water within 9 months of completion.

4. 27% of all outdoor waterfalls and ponds have pumps that are either too strong or too weak – causing unnecessary expenditures down the road.

5. 63% of ‘do It yourselfers’ said they wish they had the proper information from the ‘get go’ or they wished they would have hired someone!

These statistics are from the pond liner industry itself (Bob Wilder, 48-Hour Waterfall). I can confirm and attest to these figures myself. I have built over 1,900 concrete and rebar waterfalls and ponds over the past 30 years. I have ripped out and replaced dozens of defective liner ponds and replaced them with concrete ones with lifetime warranties. Pond liner guys will not attach more than a one-year warranty.

They make no guarantee against rats, mice, ground squirrels, gophers, tree roots and sharp objects. They know the truth, they just don’t share it.

Some guy on the forum was questioning the need to fill up the catch basin of a pondless waterfall with loose rock and gravel, thus covering up the sump pump. I thought this was a good question, because I wondered the same thing myself.

Water from a pondless waterfall is captured in a basin at its base. With a liner pond, they teach that after placing the pump in the bottom, you then fill it up with loose gravel. I’m thinking that would create three problems:

If you have to service or clean the garbage off the intake of the sump pump, you would first need to pull out all the stinky, slimy, poopy-laden rock.

The basin would not hold much water if the rock takes up most of the space. When you turn on the waterfall, most of the water is sucked from the catch basin before the water can cascade back to the basin.

There would be no room to install an auto-fill system, which means you would need to fill the basin area often with a garden hose to prevent the pump from running dry.

So I decided to be a nice guy and post my article, Pondless Waterfalls: Concrete vs. Liners, on the forum. This was a really bad idea – much like trying to untangle a nest full of rattle snakes.

Before I could post answers to several questions that were posed by a sincerely curious forum member, I was locked out of the website. By guess who? The administrator of the site, who was also the owner of the site, the webmaster, and the very guy who made the original inquiry about pondless waterfall construction!

According to him, several forum members complained to him that I was a spammer trying to sell my waterfall system. What? I don’t sell concrete and rebar. Nor do I sell high-efficiency centrifugal pumps, or Thoroseal, or galvanized grating to place over the basins, or anti-vortex drains, or rock! So what did he mean by saying I was trying to sell my system?

Well I soon figured it out, and it turns out that they probably meant I was trying to malign their system, not sell mine. I did a little research, and guess what? Mr. Administrator and Mr. Domain Owner was also a pond liner installer. End of mystery!

Read my article Pondless Waterfall: Concrete vs. Liner and you will get, as Paul Harvey says, “the rest of the story.”

Happy koi, peace and joy.

Douglas C. Hoover, CEO of Aquamedia Corp, Master Waterfall Builder, architect, engineer, freelance writer, author, designer & builder of over 2,000 waterfall and ponds in CA (30years). ). The “Ultimate Training Course” has been reduced from $149 to only $39.95. ). Author of “Waterfall and Pond Construction Manual,” was $49.00 in bookstores, and for a limited time only $14.95 available as a downloadable e-book. Invented the AquaFill electronic water level control system for ponds, pools, fountains & spas. http://www.aquafill.com. Watch a HowTo video at YouTube.

Construction Interview – What Questions Will I Typically Be Asked on a Job Interview?

construction interview: There are many good, construction interviewing Q&A books available so an construction executive should never be unprepared on an construction interview. Typical questions include:

“What can you tell me about yourself?”
“What do you know about our construction employer?”
“Why would our job and construction employer be of interest to you?”
“Describe your construction leadership and management skills, and provide examples of situations that reflect those skills?”
“How do you perform under pressure and provide an example of a recent, high-pressure, work situation?”
“What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?”
“What motivates you?”
“Why did you leave your last job or why would you leave your current job?”
“What kind of compensation are you looking for?”
“Why should I hire you over the other construction executives?”
“What is your greatest, work accomplishment and civic accomplishment?”

Before posting to any Web forum, check if it has a Search feature. If it does, try a couple of keyword searches for something like your problem; it just might help. If you did a general Web search before (as you should have), search the forum anyway; your Web-wide search engine might not have all of this forum indexed recently. When a project has a development mailing list, write to the mailing list, not to individual developers, even if you believe you know who can best answer your question.

Check the documentation of the project and its homepage for the address of a project mailing list, and use it. There is an increasing tendency for projects to do user support over a Web forum or IRC channel, with e-mail reserved more for development traffic. So look for those channels first when seeking project-specific help.

Ara Brui of Hornberger Management Company in Wilmington, Delaware, is a senior construction executive recruiter exclusively dedicated to recruiting corporate board members and senior executives for the construction industry. Focusing on a niche within the specialty of construction allows us to exclusively spend our time cultivating relationships with executives at the summit of the industry. Our focus delivers faster results that more wide-ranging firms simply cannot duplicate.

The Effects of a Shoutbox on a Forum Community

The shoutbox, as it relates to the Internet forum, is a feature, usually attached to the front page, which provides a space for a type of interaction similar to an instant messenger program in that there is more of an emphasis on synchronous communication. Also, since the shoutbox, by its very nature, so encourages spontaneous interaction between forum members, it is often viewed, especially by webmasters, with contempt for influencing the creation of messages of exceptionally meager value.

Indeed, the value of a shoutbox has, on numerous occasions, been made into a topic of discussion at webmaster forums. In such discussions, several arguments against the use of shoutboxes have been advanced, but the most substantive and common is, in my estimation, the assertion that the shoutbox siphons or robs member-generated content that would otherwise have been created as topics or posts.

That said, my intention is to show the following:

(1) the assertion that the shoutbox necessarily robs activity is specious at best,
(2) the other criticisms advanced against shoutbox use are merely window dressing, and
(3) there are ways to effectively minimize the perceived disadvantages of the shoutbox.

Countering The Main Argument

The problem with asserting that the shoutbox robs topics and posts is this: it simply assumes, without evidence, that, if the content was never posted in the shoutbox, it would have been posted as a topic, or reply to a topic. The assertion may, at first, seem self-evident: after all, the members visit and submit content, but with a shoutbox present, you may see them submit much of their content there while paying little attention to the topic listing area of the forum. This, in turn, creates the impression, in the observer’s mind, that the shoutbox offsets activity in the topic listing area.

What this ignores is that it is because the shoutbox is a different medium of communication that to compare it to the Internet forum’s topic and reply system is similar to comparing apples and oranges. The shoutbox, as I said, is more like an instant messenger program, which necessarily implies that the standard for starting topics is more relaxed, and so members who participate in it move from one topic to the next more freely and with little effort.

When it comes to participation in the topic listing area of the Internet forum, however, it is no secret that it is the administrator, or other staff members, who submit the majority of the topics, which means that the non-staff members (the overwhelming majority of an Internet forum’s population, hopefully), in comparison, rarely submit topics. Therefore, replies are limited to what topics already exist, which means that the majority of the topics created in the shoutbox are either nonexistent in the topic listing, or are not current.

Of course, it is not always the case that the administrator, or staff members, post the majority of topics, but this is very often the case for smaller Internet forums, especially the stand-alone, non-niche variety. This is important, too, since it is mostly these forums that struggle with activity that will have webmasters who care about activity being robbed from the topic listing area.

Also, since the shoutbox encourages such spontaneous interaction, and, as I said, allows participants to “move from one topic to the next more freely and with little effort”, it is wrong to assume that these topics would have occurred just as likely within the topic listing area, where there are more stringent rules or standards for communication; e.g., off-topic posting is more regulated, even in the off-topic section. Even if you have a “spam” section, moreover, this doesn’t encourage the same spontaneity as the shoutbox allows.

Finally, if a shoutbox really never encourages anything more than valueless interaction, why is it blamed for stopping valuable interaction from taking place in the topic listing area?

Countering Additional Arguments

Redundancy

It has been asserted that, all other considerations notwithstanding, the shoutbox remains redundant, as the Internet forum already provides several ways to communicate. Sure, there is the private messaging system, which is like the topic listing area except more personal. Also, depending on what Internet forum software you use, there is a visitor messaging area within each member’s profile, and that is more like the shoutbox except more private. There are certainly other means, but those two examples should suffice. My concern, in any case, is why a webmaster would cut down on the ways members may communicate. I already explained why I believe the shoutbox is a unique method of communication, so with that in mind, I wish to share the following short essay by Richard Millington, “It’s The Interactions That Matter Most”:

Make sure you’re always spending the overwhelming majority of time working on elements that directly increase the number of interactions in your community.

If you increase the number of interactions (comments, likes, ratings, blog posts, befriending etc..) your online community will be better. If the number of interactions decrease, your community will decline.

Don’t be sidetracked with writing guidelines, resolving petty disputes, writing metric reports. Spend your time on issues that directly affect the number of interactions. Spend your time stimulating discussions, reaching out to members, soliciting volunteers, arranging events, rewarding contributors.

The point is to get members to communicate, whatever the means, as long as it’s on the forum. It helps foster a sense of community, as members are more often communicating with each other and therefore quickly getting comfortable doing so.

Case in point: two members of my forum (“saturnword” and “Dhampir Boy”) “met” after registering years ago, and were most active in the topic listing area. They frequently had one-on-one conversations in the shoutbox, and visitor comments area of their respective profiles, before they recently moved in together in real life.

Although they were using the several methods of communication afforded to them by the Internet forum, furthermore, their activity in the topic listing area only increased. I theorize that this is because the relationship they struck up with each other also helped to foster a sense of affiliation with the forum, thereby increasing their desire to make use of it.

After all, the challenge of every administrator is to make a member more interested in visiting his Internet forum than in watching whatever is airing on the television. What better way to do that than to encourage a sense of camaraderie among the members?

Obtrusiveness, Or “Ugliness”

The shoutbox, as a product, exists as a plural, not a singular. For Internet forums alone, several coders have constructed their own version of the shoutbox, and each construction has its own features, benefits, and disadvantages. That said, many webmasters should have the option to change the height and width of the shoutbox they choose to implement, and may sometimes be able to make other changes based on aesthetic considerations.

Furthermore, these shoutboxes designed specifically for Internet forums do a better job integrating by virtue of having been created with a specific Internet forum’s code and construction in mind. With the many shoutboxes in existence for Internet forums, some expertly crafted and others not so much, the “look” of a shoutbox becomes more a matter of preference than one of any substantive standard like quality of integration.

A shoutbox may also be considered intrusive because it was placed near the top of the forum’s front page, but this is usually the choice of the administrator, who should be able to place it near the bottom where it is may still be noticed, but doesn’t demand attention.

Webmasters: Tips For Shoutbox Implementation

Much of what I wish to say here was alluded to in the previous section, but it may bare repeating. If you want to add a shoutbox to your Internet forum, first of all, try to find one that was made with the software you’re using specifically in mind, as it is more likely to look more “natural” with the styles you’re using.

Additionally, you want to keep the shoutbox from featuring too prominently on your Internet forum’s front page, so be conservative with its height, and make sure to allow members to minimize or close it.

Lastly, I would make the shoutbox viewable only to members, as it should only be of concern to members anyway, and is unlikely to help with guests’ first impressions.

Conclusion

I don’t think the shoutbox is necessarily much of a positive or a negative; rather, it’s but a minor perk. At my forum, which runs on vBulletin, the shoutbox is near the bottom of the front page, just above the “What’s Going On?” box. I couldn’t care less if the box was even lower than that, but its current location is fine. I do not like it near the top because I want the welcome message, sample topics, and forum list to be foremost in catching one’s eye.

By posting new topics with my own substantive input whenever I can, I help maintain the activity of the sections of my forum. Along those lines, the idea is to start (or revive) topics on a regular basis so that there’s at least content for members to look at (and look forward to). If you’re not doing that, perhaps the reason why it feels like the shoutbox is sucking away activity is because there isn’t much activity there in the first place