I am very strongly considering shutting down the forum, due to low utilization. This has been my inclination for some time now.
The forum was created 7 years ago, and social media platforms allow for most of what I had intended the forum to be used for.
You might see the forum in read-only mode as I perform maintenance on the back-end.
I’m looking at ways to archive everyone’s questions, posts, and contributions, so that everything doesn’t simply disappear when the figurative plug is pulled.
I’m open to ideas.
I like the forum and I’d be sad to see it go, but it does seem like it’s not utilized all that much. I check it nearly every day and it’s rare there is something new. I suspect that many if not most of your readers don’t bother to visit. You can probably change that by finding ways to drive more readers here. Perhaps consider posting some of your own articles here rather than on your main toolguyd “blog”. I think that makes a lot of sense for those topics where you want to engage with your readership more rather than just announcing a new sale. The forum allows more HTML and so on, it’s better for more detailed discussions. Perhaps “trending” topics in the forum might get a link from your main page? Do that and I think you’ll have more people visiting the forums.
Perhaps consider posting some of your own articles here rather than on your main toolguyd “blog”.
That was more or less the original plan, but social media became a far easier medium for such content.
I’ve delayed the decision a couple of times over the past few years, mainly because I don’t want to disappoint anyone, but it seems inevitable.
I know it’s not very active, but it’s been very helpful to me, and I would hate to see it go. The signal to noise ratio is maybe the highest of all the forums I visit, mostly because of extremely knowledgeable and generous people like MechaMan, Napalm and the amazing fred. I check it daily to see if I can be at all useful, just to pay it back. I’m happy just knowing it’s there.
Is there a time or money cost to keeping it going?
The monetary cost is manageable short-term, but frustrating when I see the full total at the end of the year. The maintenance time commitment is usually minor except for when major work is required (such as now).
There was just a little activity in June and July. There was activity in 2 posts in August 2023. One had a single reply to a thread from 2016, and the other was a new topic.
There has been zero post activity in the past 5 weeks.
This follows a couple of years of low activity.
Social media better satisfies most of the purposes I created the forum for.
Search engine behaviors have also changed to where the forum is unlikely to attract much fresh attention. There’s still a link on the blog, but it’s in the desktop sidebar or below content on the mobile page and rarely visible to the 80% of visitors that browse via a smartphone.
The forum has been all-but-dead.
Realistically, I don’t see it as being sustainable. Growth - even if I had the energy for, which I don’t - would be near impossible today.
There are alternatives, such as Discord or other public boards where content can be more community-driven.
I’m not going to pull the plug tomorrow and am open to thoughts and potential options.
Hm. I wonder if you could outsource some of the work related to administering the forum. Divided up among several people, it likely wouldn’t be much work. And that would give you capacity to market the forum and increase traffic. Marketing would be an added task of course, but it might not be necessary for very long.
The nice thing abouf forums is that the users create the content themselves. All you have to do is set the rules and enforce them. That last is what creates real value, and is why places like reddit are so useful and vital, and why places like Twitter/X are so full of toxic garbage. You already have gained a lot of respect for how you do that on the posts. In fact it’s part of your brand (to use marketing-speak.) The same would apply to the forum.