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Free Stuff: Message Boards

Additional Reading

One of the more significant ways to create a "sticky site" (a site which
people want to visit over and over again) is to add a message board. What is
a message board? It is a means whereby online group conversations can take
place. For example, you could post a question, several people could post
answers, and other people could expand upon those answers. On an active
message board, these conversations can go on for pages.

Okay, so let's say you want to add a message board to your site. You have
several options.

- You may want to use a service such as egroups, topica or communityzero
because these offer additional features which wrap a sort of community
around a message board.

- If your host does not allow you to install your own scripts (and this is
true of virtually all free hosts) then you must use a remotely hosted
message board.

- If your host supports user written CGI routines, than you can install a
script to run on your own web site. This is the best way, in my humble
opinion, to operate a message board as it gives you total control over
everything, including the board layout and contents.

We will explore each of these options below.

Communities

There are quite a few community-type message boards out there. The advantage
of these services is that you get quite a few other things to offer your
visitors. These generally include calendars, chat rooms, file sharing, lists
of links, note boards and so on.

On the downside, these services do not integrate well into your web site.
They are very detached and have a far different look and feel. In addition,
they do not tend to drive traffic to your site (since they are part part of
your site) and thus are not very good at adding "stickiness".

These type of message boards are great when your primary purpose is to host
a, well, community and your web site is secondary.

Communityzero http://www.Communityzero.com
In my opinion, this is the best of the community-type message boards on the
internet. I've found the servers to be quick and responsive, and downtime
seems to be virtually non-existent. Highly recommended.

Egroups http://www.egroups.com
Egroups was purchased by Yahoo several years ago. The service is one of the
largest (if not the largest) of it's type. Egroups has just about every
feature you can imagine and it has become very popular. However, their
servers are down so often and response time is so poor it's difficult to
imagine how they remain in business. Usable but with some issues now and
then.

Topica http://www.topica.com
Topica is an up-and-coming service and it is very good. It has all of the
usual features, but the servers sometimes seem slow. Recommended.

User Installed Scripts

This is, in my opinion, the best way to create a message board as it allows
you to have complete control over your board. When you use a script, you do
not have any banners or advertisements to entice your hard earned visitors
to go elsewhere (unless, of course, you put them there yourself).

The main disadvantages of these scripts are:

- Since it is hosted on your own web site, any activity counts against your
bandwidth and disk space limits.

- You must maintain the script on your site yourself, which can be a chore.

Discus http://www.discusware.com/discus/
This is the script which I use, and I must say that I am very happy with
it's performance so far. The script is easy to install because it has been
entirely automated. Just answer the questions and follow the instructions -
very simple and straightforward.

This script is so good that I cannot even recommend any others. It's fast,
full featured and easy-to-use. The message board that results is excellent.
This script has a free version which has just about everything you will ever
need, and a professional version which costs a few dollars which has just
about everything else.

Remotely Hosted Scripts

The final option is to take advantage of scripts which are hosted on another
server. This has the advantage that the script is maintained and supported
by someone else, and uses their bandwidth and disk space instead of yours.
Of course, the disadvantages are that you lose control of the board, the
boards are generally not extraordinarily customizable and, most importantly,
since they are advertisement supported they tend to be peppered with banners
which pull visitors from your site.

Boardhost http://www.boardhost.com/
One of the better message board services. Their boards are quick, rarely
down, and very customizable.

Beseen http://www.beseen.com/board/index.html
A threaded discussion forum for your web site. Build a sense of community
between you and your customers. Allow your visitors to interact with you,
your staff and each other by posting questions and comments. No programming
required. Easy setup and simple to maintain. Customizable to your look and
feel.

Bravenet Web Services http://www.bravenet.com/
As visitors can publicly discuss topics of interest in your Forum. Posting
new messages and replying to existing ones is simple and fun. Your forum is
completely customizable so you can make it look just like the rest of your
site.

MyForum.Net http://www.myforum.net/
Myforum.net is an easy way to add customized, interactive forums to your web
site. They support username.myforum.net (which can be pretty cool), their
boards are easy to customize and, of course, they are free.

Additional Information

http://www.internet-tips.net/Msgboards/index.htm
Message Boards A way to make a very sticky site is to have an active message
board

http://www.internet-tips.net/Msgboards/ethics.htm
Message Boards - Ethics Nothing is more sad than a once proud message board
being reduced to rubble by a malicious moderator.

http://www.internet-tips.net/Msgboards/contributor.htm
Message Boards - Contributor Message boards thrive on contributions. In
fact, without contributors there is no board at all.

http://www.internet-tips.net/Msgboards/promotion.htm
Message Boards - Promotion Message boards are very useful in getting people
to return to your site, but they must be promoted in order to be of maximum
benefit.

http://www.internet-tips.net/Msgboards/moderator.htm
Message Boards - Moderator The best message boards are wonderfully and
expertly moderated. The worst are frequented by nothing but spam robots.

http://www.internet-tips.net/Sticky/msgboards.htm
Sticky Sites - Message Boards You can add a message board to your site to
get people to want to come back over and over.


About the Author

Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets at
http://www.internet-tips.net - Visit our website any time to read
over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve your internet
profits, enjoyment and knowledge.

 

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