The Problem With Forums

Discussion in 'Managing Your Online Community' started by Zardoz, Aug 16, 2014.

  1. Zardoz

    Zardoz Regular Member

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    There is a problem with forums that I seldom see mentioned, but believe is a huge deterrent to attracting and keeping new users. Quite simply, the problem is "status".

    As we all know, most forums have a similar signup process where you provide some basic info before becoming a member of the forum. It all sounds simple until one begins to consider the dynamics of most forums, where "newbies" are often treated differently simply because they are new to the forum. There are often cliques of "elite" members who sometimes display an us v/s them mentality, whether they know it or not.

    Since atracting and keeping new members is the goal of most forums, I believe that they could benefit greatly by considering the possibility of eliminating status symbols such as post counts, member titles (except admin and moderator), registration dates, etc... Let the content of posts speak for itself. Even the playing ground, placing emphasis on quality over quantity.
     
    Michelle Kelly likes this.
  2. LowWaterMark

    LowWaterMark Administrator

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    I did one part of this. When I converted from vB to XF, I didn't try to carry over any kind of member title steps. All members who have not been set a special title by an Admin are simply called "Registered Member" now. It gets rid of the "Newbie" or "Junior Member" thing which some new members find off putting. And, it prevents others from racing to post just to get the post count related status titles. That appears to have made a difference.

    I never thought about registration date or post count displays. If I did that, I'd remove them just from the postbit display in threads, but, leave them available when someone views a member's profile page.
     
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  3. Superboy

    Superboy Most Likely, I'm Insane.

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    Idk....I think it really depends on the site.

    I don't think that is the problem at all. I think the problem is more so Admins who allow this type of behavior to go on. If you let your members act like Arrogant Elitist then that is your problem.

    For me, Post Count is a sign of your identity. We don't judge people by their post count.....We have high posters people can't stand and low posters who people adore. Post count shouldn't be hidden......

    Registration Dates...Idk how many people look at Registration dates as a bad thing? I usually go towards Members who have been around Longer and/or have a higher post count. It helps me know who is likely trustworthy or just a random newb like me.

    Membertitles for me are a sense of my identity and Expression.....I want something Clever(I need to change my Member title on my own site now that i think) and it is allows me to show something for me and me alone. "Most like i'm Insane" is inside joke for my friends/members. It's no different than having an avatar.

    The best thing you can do is to make sure you celebrate each and every Newbie(Which is what I do). I keep an eye out for new members and I am usually one of the first ones who introduce themselves. I've spent many a day just sitting around talking to newbies who join when i should be working. Stuff like that makes newbies feel welcomed that the owner of a site actually takes the time to get to know them.

    More importantly, I encourage my members to be the same way. My team always introduces themselves not just as staff but a witty and catchy reply that shows who they are.

    It's like saying in the real world we should do without the social classes and remove any differentiation and defining characters and level the field. Ideally that sounds great but that's not how the world works and it has more to do with how you handle people instead of trying to more or less conform everyone to the same type of thing.

    Just my opinion of course :P
     
  4. Zardoz

    Zardoz Regular Member

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    I respect your opinion, but I disagree.

    It's not a matter of admins or moderators letting members act like elitists. In fact it's something that's actually quite difficult to identify, let alone control. Regardless, it's very real and can be quite intimidating to new users who often remain lurkers for years before deciding to register.

    Post counts and registration dates say nothing about who a person is, their words do. For example: Suppose a member has been around for years and has a gazillion posts, having earned a "Super Elite God Member" status. How do you know anything about that user unless you look up their past posts? A number is just a number, unless one adopts the "size" mentality, and many do precisely that.

    Come to think of it, an old saying comes to mind... It's not what you've got, it's how you use it.
     
  5. AzzidReign

    AzzidReign Regular Member

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    This is why I have made changes to the xf trophy system. We have ranks that are based on quality of the posts. Sure, someone can fill the rep bar up over the span of YEARS, but if you look at the awards earned and see they don't have anything that says they are helpful, then you will know. We can have 1 user with 1 outstanding post and be on the site for 1 month and have more bars in their rep bar than someone with 1000 posts who's been there for a year.

    I think it is up to the admin and staff to set the tone. We've always aimed to help the new members figure things out. I think that's why we are still standing while xbox-scene has since shut their forums down (they had users with that "elite" mentality and never wanted to help newbs out).

    I had an admin who wanted to remove all that info, but let's face it...some of those members are active just so they can show off their achievements. Who cares what motivates them, they are creating high quality content, thus becoming a better role model for new members.
     
  6. Tech Admin

    Tech Admin Administrator Admin Talk Staff

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  7. Andy R

    Andy R Lurker Administrator Admin Talk Staff

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    I think these are all interesting points and things any forum owner should consider when setting up their site. I've seen issues on sites with no Titles where certain high post members are just kind of "know it alls" and we have to communicate with them to try and get them to be more gentle. We often ask a member of the mod/admin team who has a decent relationship with that member to approach them via PM and suggest some ways to change. It's really important that newbies feel comfortable and not let little cliques drive them away. If they leave your site they will end up at a competitors site and that's not good!
     
    Brentnauer and AzzidReign like this.
  8. Zardoz

    Zardoz Regular Member

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    It was interesting, especially the comments.
     
  9. Tech Admin

    Tech Admin Administrator Admin Talk Staff

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    The comments are the usual "We hate change" kind of comments for the most part.
     
  10. Zardoz

    Zardoz Regular Member

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    If any of you were following my thread titled "The Problem With Forums" (same as this one) over at theadminzone.com I will no longer be posting there. That forum revealed it's true nature to me after I posted to a thread and apparently the OP whined because I disagreed with him and a moderator named PoetJC sided against me for no apparent reason, then a PM exchange between myself and an Admin named Daroldi showed me everything I need to know about them.

    I've effectively banned myself by changing my email address and password so I can never return. Just to be sure, I also added the forum to my router's block list. Nothing against this forum, but after this experience, I think I'm done with forums altogether.
     
  11. Michelle Kelly

    Michelle Kelly Someone who fumbles while they stumble

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    I agree mostly from my experience being a member of a lot of different forums. People with high post counts, or some kind of status tend to be treated more seriously than newer member or ones with low post counts. After all "Its the newbie why should we pay attention to them" kind of thing. Although a person may be newbie doesn't mean they don't know what they are talking about or their opinion means little.

    But I think its just human nature. In life we are taught to respect our elders. Well in forums, people with high posts counts or a status are the elders. So its natural for that. Even how long someone has been on the forum can be a forum of status.

    So I tend to discourage that on my forums now. People can find out that info about a member if they want, but in the threads themselves that information is not displayed with a person's avatar. Make the member focus on what is being said and consider that instead of seeing the member's post count or other status.
     

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