In the weeks ahead, I’ll be doing a number of site upgrades. Some of these will be minor features which you may not even notice, but the biggest planned addition will be discussion forums. I’ve received many requests for this feature.
I’m planning to use VBulletin, which is the best forum software I’ve used as a visitor and an administrator. It isn’t free, but it’s full of great features and well supported. I ran a popular VBulletin forum for indie game developers a few years back, so I have previous experience with it.
Due to the nature of personal development and the amount of traffic this site gets, the new forums will likely become very active. There’s no way I’ll be able to handle the moderation alone, so I’m definitely going to be looking for moderators. If you’re interested in volunteering to be a moderator, hold that thought. Within the next 30 days, I’ll post a call for moderators with a description of what I’m looking for. I’m mainly interested in people with previous forum moderation experience. The technical aspects of moderation are simple, but it takes time to develop the wisdom to handle tricky situations well, and that’s where experience makes a big difference.
I want these forums to become a high-quality resource for people who genuinely want to help each other grow. So I won’t allow them to be overrun by spammers and trolls. This won’t be a place for unrestrained free speech, but it will be a place where you can discuss important topics intelligently and make like-minded friends. I don’t care whether forum members agree or disagree with my personal views — I don’t always agree with me anyway. I want the forums to be a place for sharing ideas, advice, and stories; helping each other grow; enjoying stimulating conversation; and making new friends. And of course plenty of laughs are welcome too. Once a new forum is launched though, it tends to take on a life of its own.
I’m not sure how active I’ll be in the forums myself. I was very active in the games forums I ran, and I liked the interaction, but it was a significant time investment. I want these forums to be a place for many-to-many interaction, not merely a substitute for blog comments. As I explained here and here, I found blog comments to be a poor choice for community building for this site. I’ll play it by ear and see how much time I have to contribute to the forums once they’re up and running. I don’t want to remain aloof, since I’d love the chance to get to know some of you better.
Erin expects to be very active in the forums. She runs her own VBulletin forums at VegFamily too, so she’ll probably help me with the administration. These forums will serve as a communal location for ErinPavlina.com as well. Her traffic is only about 5% of mine right now, but there’s a lot of overlap between our visitors.
I still have some technical details to work out. I’ll probably need a new server to host the forums, since putting the forums and the blog on the same server could potentially slow things to a crawl, depending on how much traffic the forums draw. Another challenge is deciding what subforums to create. Obviously there are a zillion ways to subdivide the topic of personal development.
The forums will probably be ad-supported and donation-supported like the rest of this site, but they’ll be free to join, so you won’t have to pay any subscription.
I’ll post the call for moderators by the end of August, and with any luck the forums will be up and running shortly after that.