Discuss Communities - Online Community Management Topics

Forum Management It’s a Community, Not a Forum

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Articles about managing forums, members and staff, policy creation, and general moderation.
I think it’s time we shift how we see our discussion forums in 2023 and beyond.

This is because we might actually get a second chance at making forums popular again.

AI is on the rise. It will significantly change the internet and how we get information when it becomes automated. A lot of human-created things will fall into the grip of AI. Humans will still create their things but with the maximum effort of artificial intelligence.

This will take the human connection away from us.

We have already seen evidence that something like that doesn’t work well. We saw it with the pandemic when we could no longer physically contact one another.

But the pandemic has diminished to a point where most contact is safe. AI is only going to evolve. It will seem intrusive to many, but in reality, it will do a lot of good for society as a whole, especially as it accurately gains information.

As I said before, this opens up an opportunity for forums to once again rise to power.

Social media will integrate AI to keep up. The forum will be one of those communities that still focus entirely on human connection, so we must start looking at our forums as communities instead of discussion forums.

There is a Difference…​

A discussion forum is just that – a place to go and post discussion topics and replies.

A community is a group of people who share common interests that network and engage with one another.

Forums offline are typically debates and events that don’t last long. Communities are organizations and groups that band together for causes and last years and years.

Apply the same concepts to forums and communities in the digital sphere.

You might think a forum and a community are the same. But is your forum a community? Is everyone on the same page? Is it a network? An engagement hub? Most importantly, is it like a family? A community is very much like a family.

A standard forum is a quick place to get answers to something. Of course, AI will make getting answers way quicker than a forum will ever be able to provide.

But a community is people who know and enjoy each other. It’s a developed friendship. It’s a loyalty of people. And AI isn’t going to stop that from happening as long as we have free will and thought.

That’s what a community actually is, and that’s what you should strive for on your forum.

How to Make a Community Out of a Forum?​

First of all, you have to shift your mindset and attitude away from being a forum administrator and focus on being a community manager.

Traditionally, we’ve always focused too much on vanity metrics. Post counts. Member counts. Being the biggest forum in the niche.

You have to quit doing that.

You also have to quit focusing on trying to beat your competition. If your goal is to be the main forum where people come to get information about your topic, then you’re still in forum mode and not community. AI is going to take that mission away from you. And then your forum will be done after that.

But if you go all in as a community, you can change your mission to be a place where like-minded individuals visit to connect, engage, and network with one another based on your topics. They come for each other rather than the best information.

To change the mood and feel of the forum more into this idea of a community, you have to change and show it through your leadership.

You also may need to reorganize your forum to focus on members rather than content. Change boards and sub-boards to reflect a community rather than a place to seek information about the topic.

It might take a drastic change. You might lose some members in the process because they may be there for information only. But if you’re serious about going from forum to community, then it won’t matter because you have people in mind rather than metrics.

We’re at a pivotal moment in the history and future of forums because of the significantly growing evolution of AI. We can get back into the game, but it will take changes. A change in your mindset and attitude will be the biggest change. What will you do?
I think it's important to point out that ...
  • XF Homepage
  • Invision Community Homepage
  • VBulletin Homepage
All refer to community, not forum. When the legacy forum developers don't even self-refer to the word forum, the word is dead. The reality is that while forums are dying, communities are thriving.