Local forum

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Oldiesmann, Mar 17, 2019.

  1. Oldiesmann

    Oldiesmann Tazmanian

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    I'm considering possibly starting a forum for discussion of things related to the city I live in, and was wondering if anyone had any advice on getting one off the ground. I can't find one specifically related to this city other than sections of sites like City-Data.com and TripAdvisor, and forums for fans of local sports teams.

    The Metropolitan Statistical Area is pretty large, consisting of 15 counties across 3 states, so I'm sure if it's done properly it could work well, but my only experience in starting forums has been on more general topics (a band I like and a comic book publisher).

    I did try a forum devoted to local transportation issues several years ago but never put a lot of effort into getting it off the ground and it never went anywhere before I gave up on the idea.
     
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  2. haqzore

    haqzore Devotee

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    You may not have found forums for the area, but forums aren't your competition.

    Facebook. Nextdoor. Trip advisor. Etc.

    Which leads me to ...

    What are you offering that they don't?
    What are you doing better that they already do?
    What are you facilitating that isn't already facilitated elsewhere?
    What compelling reason will people have to sign up?
     
  3. Oldiesmann

    Oldiesmann Tazmanian

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    That's definitely something I'd need to consider, but the main thing I can think of off the top of my head is that it would be more encompassing than TA or social media - it would be a place to discuss anything and everything related to the city (news, sports, politics, nostalgia, etc.).

    There are a bunch of groups related to the city on Facebook - buy/sell groups, "old photos" groups, various neighborhood groups, etc. Even if there is a general discussion group for the city, it's not as easy to find posts about specific things without searching, unless the group is very good at using the topics feature.

    TripAdvisor seems to be aimed more at what there is to see/do/eat rather than general news/politics/sports.

    NextDoor is aimed more at neighborhood-specific discussions rather than city-wide discussions, and again doesn't have much in the way of sports/political discussion from what I can tell.

    My other issue is that all the good domains that would be fitting are taken or quite expensive (the .com has been owned by the local paper for 20+ years for instance and .life would be $40 a year - a bit more than I'd like to invest for a project that may not get off the ground).

    I'd be using free software and already have hosting so the only real investment would be time and the domain (though in the past I've just started forums as a subdomain of an existing domain and purchased a domain if things actually got off the ground).
     
  4. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

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    One thing you can consider is your city's official site. Take some time to assess what's there and read through the comments people leave. That might give you some insight into what your visitors might be interested in. Once you have a plan for your forum, you could consider contacting the group that runs the city site to discuss the possibility of them linking to your site. Providing your goal is to promote the city in a positive way, they may be interested in some sort of co-operative venture where they get to off-load a lot of the questions and discussion to you.
     
  5. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

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    Hi, and welcome to TAZ. Thanks for sharing your idea with us.

    I'm going to challenge your idea for a bit, so bear with me.

    1. You're not willing to spend any money.

    2. You're not willing to spend any time or effort.

    3. You don't have any compelling value that you've defined in a project plan.

    What makes you think you're going to be successful?

    I'm asking these tough questions because it sounds like you're looking for success without actually allowing yourself the full benefit of work to achieve any success, as if the idea itself will carry the day. I think you're on a gold mine of an idea and there are tons of things that you CAN do, but they all require a ton of energy, effort, time and money. The implementation matters as much as the idea, if not more. The first question to ask yourself is if you personally are cut out for the job? It's okay to say no. It will mean more time for your family, for Netflix, for not worrying every day about what you can do to make your community better. If you say yes, it could be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding projects that you ever build.

    If you do want to proceed, then you need to start putting together a community plan. You should approach this with all the seriousness of a business plan.

    1. What's your community mission?

    2. What are your community objectives?

    3. What are your specific tactics to achieve this objective?

    4. What resources can you immediately provide to build up content programming?

    5. What is your plan for things like community outreach, marketing, paying for your expenses?
     
  6. Lisa

    Lisa Chaotically Proportional

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    You realise Oldiesmann has over 4K posts and has been a member here since 2005 ... right? :ROFLMAO::LOL:
     
  7. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

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    Lol oops. I can't see any of that information on mobile.
     
  8. Oldiesmann

    Oldiesmann Tazmanian

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    I am willing to spend some money - I just don't want to pay for a premium domain unless I'm fairly certain I will be successful. I am willing to spend time and effort as well. I don't know if I would be successful - I figure if it's done properly it could be as there really isn't any one single platform for discussion of everything related to the local area (there are various forums/facebook groups devoted to various things - local sports, old photos/nostalgia, the local amusement parks, etc.), but something that would bring all that together in one spot could do well.

    It's definitely something I'd need to look into further. I really don't have a lot of experience marketing things - it's pretty much just been looking for something I'm interested in that there isn't a forum for and starting a forum, then letting people find it from there.
     
  9. Oldiesmann

    Oldiesmann Tazmanian

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    One quick update on this... I found a good domain that wasn't horribly expensive ($10 for the first year and $23/year to renew) and purchased it. Still haven't really figured out the rest yet, but it should work well if/when I do get the rest figured out.
     
  10. Oldiesmann

    Oldiesmann Tazmanian

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    Site opened to the public on Sunday. Only two members so far (and only one is local - the other is from the website for the portal software I'm using), but I'm doing my best to put up content that will interest people (such as my thoughts on local news, information about the scores of local sports teams, etc.).

    I ended up buying a second domain to use with the site - the first was a ".space" but others I talked to thought people would be more likely to remember the web address if it were something more traditional, so I went with a "<name>space.net" address instead (and am using the .space for a URL shortener service that my registrar gave me for free when I bought that domain).

    I'm sure it's a long shot but I'm hoping to grow the community eventually. Just need to figure out what to post to get people's attention. So far from looking at City-Data and TripAdvisor it looks like I'm going in a different direction.
     
  11. Craigles700

    Craigles700 Enthusiast

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    What is the url?
     
  12. doubt

    doubt Tazmanian

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    Probably the one in his signature.
     
  13. Oldiesmann

    Oldiesmann Tazmanian

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  14. haqzore

    haqzore Devotee

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    https://www.cincyspace.net



    Oldiesmann - I'm a Cincinnatian myself. I wish you luck, but to say you have an uphill battle is an understatement.

    In the discussion of this thread you mention, in short, being a "place for everything". But as I was alluding to (before I knew it was Cincy), there are already multiple active places like this.

    The Cincinnati sub- reddit is active.
    There's also an active Cincinnati discord server.
    There are Cincy "news" Instagram accounts with over 30k followers.

    I know they aren't forums, but... It's going to be quite a task to pull people away from those.

    And to give a blunt (unsolicited) personal opinion, I'm still of the opinion that SMF looks like it belongs on Geocities or Tripod. It just looks old. Period. I think it's a tough sell to get folks to start on a site that has the vibe of the 90s.

    Not trying to be harsh, just honest. Good luck my man.
     
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  15. fixer

    fixer I'm In My Prime

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    If you are going through with this i recommend to try to use "Near Me" as key words, I find my self often using ..."key_word Near Me" in google search

    I have trip advisor app but like doing a google search better and so far its never let me down

    Google can make some small changes to accommodate "Near Me" searches and really put a hurting on local forum and apps.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  16. southernlady

    southernlady Coder/Designer

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    Doesn’t always work.

    We live in our RV full time. If I say ‘near me’, I might get Atlanta, or Asheville (there in April), or Tallahassee (where we spent the winter) but have been in Elkhart, IN for 4 days now. So I am specific. If I want a restaurant near me, I google restaurants near ‘the city I’m closest to’.

    Didn’t work while living in a house either. Since my ISP was from a town 25 mins away, near me needed to be specific.
     
  17. Steve

    Steve Administrator

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    Seems we have an abundance of Ohioans on TAZ. Up in Dayton myself, well more like Fairborn now.
     
  18. haqzore

    haqzore Devotee

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    well, nothing is 100% i guess.

    but i use "near me" constantly. both around home & while travelling. always works great.

    but - i'm doing it on a phone. maybe thats why.
     
  19. southernlady

    southernlady Coder/Designer

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    Phone, tablet, laptop...doesn’t matter.
     
  20. Craigles700

    Craigles700 Enthusiast

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    That is true, if the user doesn't allow "Use my location" or LBS to run on any device, you'll be isolated. At least that's just one scenario.
     
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