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Should ProBlogger Add Forums? Poll of the Week

I’ve been considering adding a discussion forum area to ProBlogger.net since I started this blog and have recently been lobbied increasingly by readers to consider doing so more and more (update: I’m not talking about replacing the blog – but adding forums as another way to discuss the topic – this blog would continue to operate as normal).

So this week I’m going to ask you for your opinion in our Poll of the Week.

You can vote ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘I don’t Know’ in the sidebar.

I’d also love to hear your reasons for voting as you have in comments below.

Before you do let me outline a few of the Pros and Cons as I see them:

Pros

  • Forums would give readers a place to post their own thoughts and experiences – I know that most bloggers don’t have a blog where it’s appropriate to share what they know about blogging for money (it would be off topic) and a forum might be a place where they could share what they are experiencing and know
  • Increased reader participation – I love the community here and would love to find more ways to get us all interacting
  • Questions could be answered better – I get a lot of questions from readers – some of which I am able to answer but many of which I don’t have time or expertise to respond adequately to. Forums might see answers found for more questions.
  • Forums would give space for ongoing discussion on topics – one of the frustrations I have with blogging is that comment threads tend to die off when the post drops off the front page. As a result useful conversations can end prematurely

Cons

  • My limited experience of forums is that they can be a lot of work to moderate
  • There is a risk of inactive forums – there is nothing worse than going to a site’s forums to see inactivity. I suspect with current readership levels that ProBlogger forums would be reasonably active but there is always some risk
  • Distraction from the Blog – Some of the people I’ve floated this idea with have suggested that it could detract from the blog itself. My own opinion is that this could happen but that it could also add to and supplement the blog really well depending upon how the forums were managed and integrated. Interested in your thoughts on this one.

I’m certain that there are many more Pros and Cons but I’m not going to exhaust the list here and now. I’d rather hear your opinion.

Are forums a good idea for ProBlogger? Why/Why Not? Would you use them? What areas would you like them to cover? Your ideas and thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

PS: I should say that I’d only go the forums route with help from key readers taking on roles as moderators. I’m envisaging a number of moderators taking on different sections which I think would be a good profile building exercise for them and obviously a massive help for me in terms of workload. I already have a copule of volunteers to take on a part of this.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Success of your forum = Having solid moderators

  2. Well, I for one don’t think that is a good idea.. The interaction is going on pretty well in the comments and a forum isn’t really a good idea in this case, IMO.

    Also, though the number of cons may be less, they far outweigh the pros.

  3. Rachel says:

    Actually.. forums and blogs have the exact same content structure – they’re just displayed in different ways, and forums have slightly wider front doors.

    See this post discussing forums and blogs and this template showing a forum view of a blog.

  4. Craig says:

    Yes to a simple forum anyone could ask a question in about problogging and problogging alone. There were times in the past when I wanted a place to ask a question and couldn’t find the appropriate audience. However anything more than a simple one and people would get out of control and so would resources to moderate it. One of the three blocks in the problogger header could be used to list latest discussion to encourage contribution or it could be a single page of discussion links like Rachels there.

  5. Khurrum says:

    You’ll have too much to deal with if you start forums. Mod issues, user issues, politics amongst people etc.

    I think it isn’t needed… but if you can get some solid mods to keep things smooth then nothing user builds loyalty like a good forum.

  6. Mel from BU says:

    you take all the ProBloggers and I’ll take on everyone else ;)

  7. nicob says:

    You can find some free easy-to-use forums on http://www.stepwebz.com.

    StepWebZ.com is also an online provider of services and content solutions for webmasters and bloggers, providing an array of simple tools allowing the addition and management of constantly updated news on blogs and websites.

    They also provide tools allowing the addition, management and enhancement of extra useful features, like polls, search facilities, surveys and rating boxes on websites and blogs.

    nico b

  8. @Rachel–

    I read your post before seeing you link it here. While I agree with your basic premise that forums and blogs are identical in terms of content structure, let me disagreeably say you’ve missed the boat. In fact, the boat is halfway across the pond by now.

    If you look at blogs and forums in the most simplistic sense, that of presentation, then yes the argument can be made that they are the same thing. Sure, you can drop a few plugins in and kermudjen the content to be more community based. Drop in a few guest bloggers or regular content editors for charity and you can call it a forum.

    The reality is that structurally they are completely different. If you look solely at the entity of A site – blog, forum, news site, whatever – you’ll see two different main groups. Grassroots (remember, keeping the scope on the one site and not looking at broader topics like blogs and how they revolutionize journalism) and Centralized. Sites that have User-generated content (e.g forums and social networks) are grassroots. They are by the people, for the people. Sites that have a single (or confined) source of content are centralized (e.g blogs, news sites, camera review sites, etc).

    They are not the same. If content is only defined as words, then yeah…blogs and forums are the same and mish-mashing display techniques can create one or the other. But content is not confined to words. It is also sources, histories, SME (Subject Matter Expertise) etc.

    Therefore, you can dress your cat up like a dog and teach it to chase fire hydrants, but it will still be a cat.

  9. Rachel says:

    I think you’ve missed my point – at a database level, blogs and forums are no different. The difference lies in the presentation, interaction and purpose. Hence, software such as Drupal stores both forum and blog posts in the same database table. The point is, one shouldn’t have to install two separate systems to handle blogs and forums. Vanilla appears to be moving in this direction as well :)

  10. Aaron says:

    No, Rachel, you have missed MY point. :) Blogs and forums, at the database level, ARE different. It’s that difference that makes a difference. Quite the opposite of what you have said, the difference is NOT at the presentation level because, as you have said, you can make a blog look like a forum or a forum look like a blog. That does not change what it is and what makes it what it is.

    A blog is a blog because of the origin of the content and how discussion is conducted. It is very different from how a forum operates. They are different. And I’m not talking about presentation.

    Trust me. I’ve done both extensively. I was an Advisor at SitePoint for 2 years. I’ve blogged for almost 2 years. I think I know what I’m talking about. :)

  11. Darren Rowse says:

    oooh – this could get interesting :-)

    should I call in everyone to watch? hehe

  12. Rachel says:

    We agree to disagree :)

  13. Darren Rowse says:

    DOH!

  14. Aaron says:

    As Darren plays the “color commentator” role. :)

    I’d ask you to define, publically, your definition of blog and your definition of forum. :)

  15. Aaron says:

    I decided this needed an official blog entry.

    http://www.technosailor.com/internet-community-blogs-vs-forums/

  16. hullabaloo says:

    Darren by placing the forums on a separate Host you also setup an alternate means of communication if for some reason your “Main” provider is asleep at the wheel. As for the difference between a Blog and Forum in a Forum “comments” are editable and refineable.

  17. Peter Davis says:

    I just have to LoL at the mention of Drupal being a forum. That thing in Drupal that they call a forum, well let’s just say I don’t think they should be calling it that. Comparing it to a real forum system like vBulletin is like comparing a string and two cans to Skype. :D

  18. dhd says:

    yea

  19. Chetan says:

    Actually i did not read all the comments in the page but am just answering to Darren’s question.

    Forums for Problogger would be just really great.
    This would become the greatest blogging discussion board.

  20. lussigagas says:

    300 is a great movie full of visual effects and graphics which made it different and much better.
    Acting was great, director did a wonderful job and chose great actors, full of action, and it is based on a true story.

  21. cyaniddi says:

    The battle between investment activity in the internet and real world became enough tangible. I decided to broaden the subject and tell the beginners (making professionals thinking) about the differences and vice versa similarities between investment activity in the Internet and real world.

    Simplicity. Effectiveness. Security. Perspective. Opportunities. That`s how we can outline the circle of the points, where the difference between two various investment worlds lies. In fact, investor, willing to deposit money, meets much more questions of the individual character.

  22. Jenny Barnes says:

    I don’t know how you forgot about Gary Conn. Tell everyone to unsubscribe to your blog and make 20 posts a day thereafter about random shit to get more clicks to the teet he sucks on aka Hostgator.
    http://bestgiftsher.com/ringtones/ring-tones.html

  23. Awesome man.. was it hard to get this site setup?

  24. I can’t believe you do not have forum yet! I love forums and would definitely have one if Success Circuit was read as much as ProBlogger. If you do decide to have one, if you need my help just contact me… I have a lot of experience.

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