Ghost Town Effect - What is it and how to deal with it

By Alex. · Nov 7, 2009 ·
  1. Alex.
    Understanding “Ghost Town” Effect

    What is a ghost town?

    Ghost towns are towns or small cities that have been complete abandoned by human life forms. This is due to dire economic conditions, natural or human-causes disasters, war, etc. How does a ghost town have any relation to an internet forum? Read on.

    How does a ghost town apply to a forum?

    Using the concept of a ghost town, we can call forum areas or sections ghost towns. These are forum sections that have not received sufficient activity in 30 or more days. Now, don’t confuse specific forum sections that you know get little activity, such as a archives section or site feedback, which don’t get week-to-week activity. The other forums are experiencing “ghost town” effect.

    What causes "ghost town" effect?

    One of the main causes for ghost town effect are a high number of forum sections in ratio to the number of active members. The key word here being active. Not the total number of members. If you have 20 forum sections, and your total member base is 8,000 members, however, only 50 are active, your forum will experience severe ghost town effect.

    Other reasons that may cause ghost town effect are members who lurk and do not post. This will be due to your forum’s content, it may be getting stale or it just doesn’t interest the user like it used to. Public forum disputes are a sure fire way to suffer from “ghost town” effect. The results for such an altercation are devastating. There are numerous possibilities that a forum can experience “ghost town” effect from, but these are the most common ailments.

    How do I fix “ghost town” effect?

    One of the main things I recommend doing for forums that are new and have a lot of forum sections are to do away with unneeded sections. You simply do not need 20 sections of discussion when you have less than 500 active members. What you do to remedy this is to do away with unneeded sections, as stated. Or, if you have like-sections, you can choose the smaller of the two and place it as a sub-section. Thus saving space, and giving the illusion of an active forum when only one is being posted in.

    If your forum has or is slowly turning into a ghost town, you want to find out what’s causing the problem before too much damage occurs. Once you have found your problem, fix it. In addition to that, change something on the forum for the better. Then send out mass email telling your members of new features and what you have in plan for the future. Making members feel special is a sure fire way to get their activity back onto your forum.

    If your forum faced an altercation, find a way to get both parties to reconcile their differences. Become a mediator, but do not engage in the argument. Find out what caused the altercation. In 90% of cases, it’s something regarding the forum that caused the altercation in the first place. These are the toughest fights you will ever face when combating “ghost town” effect. As you will have members with varying viewpoints. You don’t want to be the teacher in this, you want to be the best friend or what I like to call a mediator. If you allow "ghost town" effect to take control of your forum, any newbie coming to your forum will instantly be turned off from joining.

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