Dave, I’d like to expand my Web site so that I can get more traffic and produce more pages, so I’ve been thinking about adding a discussion board. Seems like it’s pretty easy with third-party sites. But I’m not sure. What’s your opinion about adding a discussion board?
Unless you have a strong readership and busy online community that doesn’t already have a discussion venue, I think you might make a mistake here. To have a good discussion forum, I think that you need at least 100 regular visitors to the forums, of which at
least half need to be frequent contributors. Really, you want at least 100
contributors, in my opinion, because they’re going to run the gamut from
frequent posted to lurker with one posting a year. Otherwise things just
languish and look dead.
If you have a half-dozen people who track what you’re saying and
occasionally add their two cents, you get some nice comments on a weblog
and look popular. If you go to a discussion forum where there are two
discussion threads and a typical message has ‘1’ viewing and ‘0’ responses,
it might reflect the same amount of posting from the same number of
visitors, but it looks far, far worse and is much less likely to cause
someone to bookmark the site and/or recommend it to friends.
Others have different perspectives on this topic, but having gone down that road more than once, I predict that many of the
new forums people create today will be shut down for lack of activity within six months.
So should you add a discussion board to your site? I suggest not. There are other ways to add and manage content, ways that leave you less worried about whether your visitors are writing entries or not.