Tips for setting up a forum

By | April 9, 2012

There are a wide of forum packages available with various levels of functionality. It is highly important that your forum gets off to a good start, so this article provides some forum setup tips for novices.

Backup!

First of all there should be an easy way to automate the backup of your forum. Chances are it will be using a MySQL database, which should present you with a range of options. However some of the better forums also have an inbuilt ability to automatically backup to a directory, which is extremely useful.

Don’t rely on yourself making backups, as you might forget, plus the more busy the forum becomes, the more regular the backup should be, such as daily perhaps.

Spam protection!

Spammers are the nasty thorn in the side of most forum administrators, and they deploy all sorts of clever scripts to automatically sign-up, fill in profiles and basically generate links. Using captcha and security questions, will help stem the flow, but you will still attract spammers.

This means the tools and the administrators and moderators have, should enable them within a click or two to ban a spammer, as well as clearing out their profile, threads and posts. If a moderators had to do it all one at a time, they would become quite fed up with the situation.

Branding your forum!

How can you stand out against the competition? There are many ways, but branding is one of them. From the logo and header area, to the forum theme design and little touches. Using a brand consisting of a logo and slogan, then coupled with a house style to compliment the branding covering colours, fonts, layout and other related design elements.

So for instance if your forum, is going to be a sub-directory of a domain, with a main website in the root, the two different sections need to compliment each other.

Integrating a forum into a larger website.

If you have a website such as a Joomla, Magento or WordPress website you can integrate code such as RSS feeds or MySQL queries, to display latest posts and details from the forum, within another CMS.

Couple this development with good design work, and different CMS systems, should feel like they belong together.

Start small.

When people setup forums they often setup multiple sections, which for quite a while have a small selection of posts. Instead perhaps it is best to start with as few sections as possible, concentrate on building ‘threads’ within them, and then later enlarging the sections. This could help make the forum appear more active early on.

Use a popular forum package and stay updated.

There are many small forum packages available, but you don’t want to get caught up with security patches that are not fixed quickly, less features and a quieter community. It is often best to use a popular package, that is updated often and has a strong community which provides many benefits. However make sure you stay updated with the latest patches, not just for new features and bug fixing, but for security purposes as well.

About the Guest Post Author: This article was written by David who is passionate about web development.