What are forums great for?

Forums, love them or hate them.

I’m predicting they’ll make a come back as people realise the value of slower form and longer term value discussions.

Done well, forums can bring long term stability and sustainability to a community. We can also learn to look at communities with a longer term investment.

They are great for:

  • formalising ideas
  • seeking help
  • collaborative note taking
  • inspiration
  • get answers
  • giving back
  • Support each other
  • Networking
  • Learn new ways to do something

What else?

And here’s my Tweet version of this:

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Forums are peerless when it comes to permanent long form content. It’s not unusual to have topics that are five or ten years old to still get replies and have more value added.

I also like that while personalities are not the focus within a forum, the content is; it’s easy to established experienced and helpful people based on the length of time they have been on the community, the number of contributions and their member/respect levels.

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The long termness of it forums is what excites me the most.

What about forums that feel personality led? How do you feel about those?

I think Indie Hackers and dev.to / forem come under this category.

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I miss Forums when ppl on Discord ask the same questions multiple times :sob:. Wondering how you will be onboarding Rosieland members into the Forum vs. Discord server of Rosieland? Or are you going to move away from Discord?

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Yes, the long term value for forums is what people seem to have forgotten.

My plan is to use Discord for more casual chat and connection. It’s perfect for reaching out to people to ask if they are interested in doing something together. I’m also hosting audio events there too, which Discourse doesn’t cater for.

Whereas Discourse becomes a somewhat more intentional space. And is also searchable via search engines, which will hopefully bring positive impact with a longer term view.

Of course context matters, but I do think most communities should aim for a chat (e.g. Discord) + a forum (e.g. Discourse) combination for their communities. The tools compliment each other.

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I think personality led communities are no different from brand led in terms of people lining up behind an ideology, passion or interest.

Your personality is key to driving this community forwards given that you encompass many different topics with overlapping discussion areas.

The main difference on a forum is that because we are not using an immediate chat format, there is more formality to replies which reduces the level of personality people inject. This allows the topic to become the feature.

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Forums are fantastic (indeed, essential) for maintaining access to your content. Live chat platforms are great for that instantaneous connection, but forums give you longevity and allow you to easily refer to older content at any point.

In the WordPress community we have a project-wide policy that discussions can happen on Slack, but all decisions are made on P2 (P2 is the name for our contributor team blogs that serve the same purpose as a forum in our community). This not only helps for ensuring that all decisions are easily recorded and searchable, but it also means that people can get involved in discussions regardless of their timezone.

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I like that.

It also reduces the fomo and overwhelm of trying to keep up with messages on Slack. It’s a struggle to keep up at times.

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Great to read the replies so far. They really resonate.

I totally believe in this too. The FOBO (Fear Of Being Overwhelmed) is slowly but surely taking over the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) with synchronous chat platforms like Discord and Slack.

My assumption is that forums provide a space to consume and contribute on an individual’s term with less chance of feeling overwhelmed.

I believe forums ever so subtly create an opportunity to encourage gratitude – at least in comparison to real-time chat.

A forum post from a day, week, month or years ago can get a thank you. How cool is that!

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