I read an article a few years back (I forget who wrote it) which talked about the different types of cultures you find on online communities. It broke them down into six distinct types. Noisy, Defunct, Isolated, Practical, Restricted and Debating. Each of these cultures could be defined by the rules, activity patterns and typical behaviours shown. Noisy Contains lots of "low value" posts like "congrats", "me too!", and "Great Post!" replies. Lots of posts, little substance. Is more about the members post "look at me" types than anything which really promotes the topic of the forum. Defunct Is probably the most easily recognised. The lights are on, but nobody's home. Lots of spam posts dating back weeks and months. Isolated Focused on a very niche topic - maybe geographical-based, private, locked down invisible to guests. Restricted Enforces strict rules - no flexibility. No self-promotion No links in signatures Debating Contains frequent back-and-forth exchanges between the same people - trying to out-do, or prove the other wrong in some way. Many members may feel uncomfortable posting due to the more dominant posters overwhelming threads/discussions. Practical Moderated well - with the staff being approachable Most posts allowed, so long as they fall within the niche of the site (usually have a general chat area for more random posts) Lots of helpful posts/replies from members New Members always made welcome Civil, friendly, supportive Most people aim to have a practical forum, with a few targeting other cultures purposely (especially more niche sites). Where does your forum fall and is it what you want it to be?