Alliance Tips for Quality - Return to the Alliance
So you've got a message board. You've got your topic, you've got your color setup, what do you do now? After all, people just don't appear out of nowhere, and your board is just one of hundreds of thousands out there. So what can you do to help yourself and your board avoid joining those thousands of pokemon, boy band boards, and wrestling roleplays in the ignomious category of dead boards?
Let's start with the basics. There are three major mistakes you can make right out of the box:
- The naming of your board and topic
This is key. Names like "Message board" and "Jim's board" not only make bad choices for message board search engines, but they don't exactly scream "click on me" when people run across them. Also, for some reason, general topic boards, unless the people on there are all friends, aren't very popular in 95% of the cases. It's imperative to make a distingushable topic, unless, as i've said, you've got lots of friends.
- Your background and text color choices
No one will post on a bright pink background. No one will post on a board with hard to read text. Much like a website, people can get annoyed very easily when it comes to eye strain, especially when there are so many choices out there that don't strain your eyes. A nice black/white/blue background usually works best, with clear text. There is a harm in trying to be too fancy.
- Spelling and posting
First off, many people are turned off by spelling errors, especially obvious ones that aren't corrected. It's a sign of laziness to not proofread your work on your board and text message. I'm not saying you have to be spelling perfect in your postings, but in your major areas for new people, that of "text area" and title, it is a must. As for posting, you can't just think that people will show up and start whole new threads on their first visit. That simply doesn't happen, as most new people upon arriving on a board don't have the gumption at that point to go out on a limb and start a whole new thread by themselves. And if you have a complicated topic that not many people know about, you should have a link to something that can explain the point of your board and what it's about. Even if it takes fifteen minutes every couple days, you have to start new threads for people to jump in on, and then over time, as connections are made, people will leading off with threads of their own. Which will make things almost self-running, over time.
Once you've got your basics down, there are a few other tips you should do...
- Greet every new visitor and make sure to respond to their first post
It seems like a ticky tacky thing to do, but it really builds a bridge between you and the new visitor. Also, if someone posts for the first time and there is no response, they'll either think they are not welcome or that their post was really stupid. (even if their post was really stupid, it's best to try to work with the person). People want to feel that there is some form of connection and that someone is listening, many times that's the difference between a "post once" and a regular.
- Posting on other boards
First off, no, not spam. As a person, there must be other boards that interest you that you can find. Maybe even boards on the same topic as yours. By participating in discussions on other boards and becoming a regular there (albeit it a regular that puts his URL in on his signature) you're getting exposure, and if you're any good at posting, you'll be making people curious asto more of your views. A good way to use your URL as a signature is...
"Blah blah, yeah, clinton is a jerk, and gore? He's a bore! He's a political whore! He's an easy chinese score! And yes, monica looked smashing in that blue dress! What a babe, blah blah, haha blah..."
Delusional Fool (your handle)
My board Or... Just type out the URL, http://www.insidetheweb.com/mbs.cgi/mblah!
In order to be unobtrusive doing it, make sure to post on that board's topic and keep up with that board's topic, and the URL just happens to be there. That way you're contributing to the moderators board and not simply spamming. If you're posting intelligently and are interesting, or even in some cases where you're not, usually people will follow the board link out of curiousity.
- Promote with search engines or with a clear link off your site
This is self explanatory, really. Many search engines list ITW or otherwise message boards. It's not enough to just be listed in with your message board providers engine, you have to get outside of that bubble. As for the link off your site, it encourages interactivity between your site and the reader of your site.
- Delete Spam
No one, not one person wants to see shameless spam (as opposed to honorable spam covered under point 2) on a message board that they are posting on. Delete it when you see it, don't just think it's not important or be too lazy, consider your message board to be your front room, and you're having guests over. In other words keep it clean and pick up the garbage thats infesting it. In short, kill the shameless spam, and kill it quick.
- Lastly, make friends and "network"
You've got a posting base of four people and others drop in from time to time. You're doing fairly well and you find out that three of your posting base have websites with link pages. Ask nicely to be put on their link pages and if they agree, you've just started your road of "networking". In other words, getting your URL out among the people that like you, or enjoy your board. If you've befriended other moderators through point 2, ask for reciprocital links in the text area. If your board is on a specific topic, or from a specific viewpoint, go to yahoo and find a directory for that viewpoint and make links that way.
But you must remember to keep posting through times of upswing and downswing. The difference between a board that dies off and one that comes back is, 99% of the time, a committed moderator that posts consistently. That point cannot be stressed enough.
So if you follow most of this advice as a guide, you should be well on your way to interesting discusson, and making good connections with other people. Good luck, and have fun.
This advice doesn't always work in all cases, but is culled from the Alliance Webmasters experiences strolling through thousands upon thousands of bad boards and noticing the things they have in common, as well as noticing the things that quality boards have in common. Thank you for reading.