When there are a lot of comments here, I find that it can be hard to find the latest, because blogs are oriented around the fresh news more so than the fresh discussion.
Today I’m opening a forum system to enhance discussion, and make it easier to see the most recent discussion, so people can reply to one another more easily and to create a meeting place for DK tanks. Blogs are blog-article centric, whereas forums are forum-post-centric. Put another way, blogs are good at one-to-many conversations, forums are good at many-to-many.
Why forums at pwnwear?
A few reasons related to pwnwear:
I’m noticing a lot more of you guys are talking to one another, and not just me, there are good side-conversations going on which are often really important and interesting. But they’re harder to find, and harder to have in the first place, with a comment-based system.
It’d be nice to have forums for levelling and raiding Cataclysm is out and there is less theorycraft OPs to write, and more chatty discussion.
I wanted a forum system that allowed maths theorycrafters to use Latex (for complex formulas), so I have enabled that feature too.
I also think forums are a good structure for presenting information because of the list nature of thread titles, and with good forum categories it can be easier to find content.
Forums easily allow you to author a post and maintain it, on a particular topic they’re interested in. Whilst I will probably write most of the content initially, forums allow you to also contribute to DK tanking community. This last point normally is something I’d have looked for on other sites’ forums, which takes me to another reason I’m opening forums here.
To replace Twitter. I often tweet useful snippets of info which then disappear into the abyss of twitterdom. Forums would let me write very small but useful posts, which are neatly organised rather than vanishing 30 minutes later.
The decline of deathknight.info:
Lastly, my home forums since before WotLK are not so healthy. Since deciding to make a Death Knight my main before WotLK was released, I’ve been active at deathknight.info. Now, those forums have a declining activity level, but worse is that the site’s not being given the love it deserves by the new owner, and it the volunteer community are keeping it afloat. I’ve really done my best to rejuvenate the site, even organising volunteer bloggers to write for the front page. That fizzled because blogging isn’t easy and people lose interest. The owner hasn’t even changed the ad banners, never posts nor even moderates; the site is neglected and has less traffic every month.
The community of my fellow tanks at dkinfo are who make it for me, to be honest, and I hope they’ll come chat at pwnwear. I really value that group of tanks, and honestly it’s only for them I put effort into keeping dkinfo afloat. My friend Chris/Kenzi, the dkinfo founder, moved on a while ago. The writers in the tanking subforum are the ones whose opinions I particularly value. Now there’s probably only about 30 people in tanking forums who are active, and its often just us talking to one another or helping the occasional new tank.
To be honourable, I’m going to retire from being a global moderator and the Admin at dk.info. At time of writing, I’d made 2500 posts. I registered on August 11, 2008. As I’m not the owner, I’ll email him and let him know. I’m a bit sad about it.
To give some perspective on traffic, here are a few comparison points between dk.info and pwnwear:
|forum/site views Feb 2010||209,296||272,845|
I wrote even more on what I’d like in the forums over here.
My debate whether to have a forum or not
I thought long and hard about this. Should I actually have forums? There are many reasons blogs shouldn’t have forums.
Many blog sites have forums because they mistakenly think creating a forum structure magically creates traffic and/or an active community of posters. Some do it for vanity, then discover the vacuum of an inactive forum actually makes their site look unpopular, which creates an emotional barrier to entry for new visitors who don’t want to post in an empty space.
Others simply don’t have the traffic or visitation for a forum to ever be useful, and they rely on visitors to create content. That just fails. I have had a few guest authors on pwnwear’s blog and none of them have stuck around. I tried on dk.info too. Basically, it’s naive to rely on other people for your content.
Since I generate so much on my own, this won’t be a problem. If some people also create their own threads, that’d be awesome and a great outcome, but I’m not going to foolishly rely on others for content generation. That leads to failure, and is why many blogs shouldn’t have forums.
Also, if you only post blog content once a week or less often, you aren’t generating enough content to sustain a forum either. You need more velocity.
Technically, until recently there were limitations with forum integration with wordpress blogs, leading to a very messy outcome with the forums looking one way and the blog looking completely different, as if another site altogether, plus having no shared content across the two. I found a way to integrate forums seamlessly with pwnwear’s blog content. In the version I’m launching with, blog posts will be in both the blog and forums. I’ll selectively cross-post from blog to forums. In the next version, comments on articles will also be mirrored in the forum itself, so that if the community activity on pwnwear remains exactly the same, then you’d see lots of original posts from me in the forums with the readers’ comments as replies.
I was tempted to wait for the next version of wp-united to bereleased, because integrated comments between blog and forum is a success criteria, but basically wanted to start sooner so I wouldn’t lose good info in the ocean of twitter, where much of the smaller news is now.
Lastly, if you’ve got a healthy alternative forum somewhere (like dk.info used to be), then there’s no need to split communities up by creating a new forum. For example, there’s no need for another tank paladin forum, that’s nailed by the wonderful maintankadin forums. There wasn’t one for DK tanks, except dkinfo tank subforums and the ubiquitous tankspot. I’ve never felt Tankspot was my home, for some reason, no idea why since it’s a great community. Maybe it’s too big, or maybe too argumentative or too many newbies, I’m not sure. I still think it’s a fantastic site. The EJ forums just piss me off. Their single-thread monolithic structure is just silly and the culture of EJ is distasteful sometimes.
Forum registration is easy
Registration is actually fun; you have to answer a WoW question, then I’ll chat to you in the forums!
Once you’re registered, you can’t create new threads initially, only replies. This helps with quality and also eliminates spambots.