Have Something to Say? Start a Message Board
By Markus Ericson
In the early days of the internet the engineers developing the technology thought that one of its primary uses would be sharing of information and so the newsgroups or forums were begun. Basically, the forerunner to chat rooms, newsgroups were places where people could meet and chat on a very specific subject. This form of communication proved so popular that forums are still with us today. One really great way for you to encourage discussion on a subject you are passionate about is to start a message board. Message boards serve as a place to debate, to inform, and to query. The best boards have active communities that post regularly and keep a lively discussion going.
If you want to start a message board you should do some research first. Check to see what other forums out there deal with your topic. Try to find a fresh angle on it so that you are not simply duplicating a service that is already offered. Also, consider where your audience will come from - the most interesting topic in the world will flop as a forum unless you get contributors that are interested and active. If you can create a topic specific enough to hold focus and yet general enough to include a wide range of interests you will have a better chance of success. This sounds paradoxical but here is an example: a forum that deals with counted cross-stitch will be generally more successful than one that deals with cross-stitch. This works for the same reason that dividing the patterns on the store shelf works - people are generally looking for one or the other.
Encouraging members to your message board will be one of your biggest challenges. This is why it is good to start with a topic you are already passionate about. Start by getting friends with similar interests to join, and ask them to ask their friends. Include the forum link in your signature and visit other forums with similar topics. Don't write about your forum - simply participate in theirs and have the link listed. If you make quality comments and make a valuable contribution people will click on the link to check out your forum.
A message board is a great place to learn things, share things and discuss things. Starting up a message board will take some work, but the resulting community will be worth it.
A good place to start your own free message board is Excoboard.com
The author is a member of Excoboard.com, a free message board provider.
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