Merging inactive forum sections

Discussion in 'Managing an Online Community' started by nicksource, Nov 29, 2019.

  1. nicksource

    nicksource Participant

    My forum was far more active than it is now, so I divided some areas up to more niche subjects, for example...

    My "Off-Topic" forum was split into 4 subforums:

    General Off-Topic

    These are all very quiet now, with several weeks if not months since the last post, but each section has several hundred threads in.

    Would you merge them back into one? Or is it best keeping these still separated (for whatever reason, SEO maybe?)

    I also think with 70% of my traffic being mobile, people would prefer to do less scrolling through the different forums. Less is more, right?
  2. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

    Yes, I think one of the biggest mistakes legacy admins make is not archiving / merging / cleaning up their forum structure. You need the forum structure to match what your current audience, not what it was five years ago.
  3. Jura

    Jura Devotee

    User experience wise you can use tags (if your forum supports it) to let people find similar stuff. Having less forums makes the forum feel and look more active. Easier to navigate through newer stuff too with fewer on a less active forum.
  4. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

    I think to some extent it depends on the nature of your forum. I have areas in some of mine that on the surface appear dead but in reality get a huge number of page views because they provide tech support for what would now be considered obsolete technology. It's not easy to quantify but I do know for sure that some of those page views convert to new members who do contribute.

    That said, as a broad generalisation I think the advice to merge and consider using thread prefixes or tags is good advice. Once done you should also try to encourage user participation by setting your own personal posting target in the newly merged area, even if it's only one post a day.

    Also, in my limited experience, owners who fixate on SEO often do so to the detriment of engagement. I would focus on creating quality content and let the software worry about SEO because most modern forum solutions seem to do a decent job in that regard.
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  5. haqzore

    haqzore Devotee

    Apply prefixes/tags while all the forums are still separate.

    Then merge them, retaining the prefixes/tags.

    This will retain any user experience benefit by allowing easy sorting and filtering.

    This will be complimented with tweaks/mods that put the prefixes in a noticeable area so users are immediately aware they're available.
  6. TheChiro

    TheChiro Devotee

    Merge to a single section and use the prefixes.
  7. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

    I would not merge them into one. Assuming you had valid reasons for splitting the content into those categories in the first place, they should probably stay split. As zappaDPJ pointed out, just because there aren't a lot of new posts, doesn't mean the content isn't being read.

    Scrolling is a huge part of the mobile experience. It takes less effort to scroll past a section they aren't interested in than it does to select tags and filter posts before scrolling.
  8. Ingenious

    Ingenious Fan

    I would merge them if individually each section is quiet. I avoid forum tumbleweed at all costs and prefer fewer more active forums than lots of inactive ones. But from the replies above, we obviously all have our own approaches.
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