We theorize three components feed on each other in a cyclical manner so that a site owner is willing to work on his or her forum community over an extended period of time:
- User activity
- Motivation for site owner
- Effort by site owner
User activity motivates the site owner to put effort into his or her forum community. In turn, this generates more user activity which creates renewed motivation for the site owner which compels him or her to keep working hard. We believe this cycle is one way to describe why site owners are willing to invest so much time and energy into their forum communities. It also illustrates how the site owner feeds off the users and vice versa. Can’t have one without the other, it seems.
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.
One of the strongest driving forces behind Ninja Post forum software is the desire to help users build new friendships. In this day and age, the “friendships” borne by Facebook and other social networks help classmates reconnect and colleagues (both old and new) stay in touch. However, the word “friend” is usually too strong to describe such relationships.
By contrast, we believe there is nothing more effective than a forum community for inspiring true friendships among people who are passionate about the same topic but would otherwise never cross paths. Friendships thanks to forums that last for years and compel cross-country meet ups are not uncommon. Fostering such relationships—we call them strong ties—is incredibly gratifying, and a compelling reason for any site owner to launch a forum.
Another, more subtle driving force behind Ninja Post forum software is the ability to create weak ties that link all community members. By dint of joining a community, new users automatically have a shared interest with existing members and create a weak tie. Thousands of weak ties band together to create a motivational force field. This force field propels members in their quest for truth, search for entertainment, and ways to improve their lot in life. As the old adage goes, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”