Running an unpopular forum is like trying to crowdsource something without the crowd. There’s lots of work for little reward. With no reward, there’s no motivation. With no motivation there’s no desire to work hard. That’s why forums without a certain amount of traffic or a core group of “power users” fizzle out.
We’re not arguing that it’s “easy” to run a popular forum. It’s just that running a popular forum comes with some extra motivation:
- It’s easier to keep going through a tough time when you know that thousands of users are counting you to deliver.
- It’s easier to keep going when your users say or do something hilarious to brighten your day.
- It’s easier to keep going when you know your work helps your users help each other.
Besides the extra motivation, a popular forum offers more rewards too. For starters, there are many opportunities to generate revenue. There is a halo effect that reflects well on the main site. And, as we have discussed, content generation is easier and protection against spammers improves when there are more “eyeballs” on the site.