Category: "Forum Hosting"

Premium Forum Hosting Benefits

Premium Forum Hosting Benefits
Although you can easily find open source scripted discussion boards and HTML set-ups as well as advertising supported free forum hosting services, larger forums with many users really require a paid forum hosting service. If your forum is amateur in appearance and function, it can really put a dent in the commercial viability of a project, and end up costing you both potential customers and dollars too.

A premium forum hosting service provider will take care of all of the details of setting up any type of web message board without you having to install any new software on your own. A good host will know how to address all of the set-up details and provide you with around the clock support too. As with many things in life, when you buy a premium web board hosting package from a reputable supplier, you’ll get what you paid for with more web space and completely hassle-free maintenance for all of your hosting processes, and you’ll usually get a bunch of other built-in features for free too. Just because you’re getting first rate service doesn’t mean you’ll have to pay a fortune for it either, as competition has improved the breed and there are many good board-platform hosting choices available these days. A good provider will provide the installation of any software needed at their end and handle the complete forum/board set-up process while still offering the customer the ability to make sure their new board platform matches the theme of any new or current website they want it associated with. Customization tweaks and other requests should be offered at reasonable costs too.

The more user/visitors a message board or forum has, whether actual or potential, the more it underscores the need for a paid professional hosting service that can help make the most out of it. Both the site owners and the people who rely on their favorite Internet message groups and boards as trusted community resources in the subject area of their particular choice will benefit from a fully functional and professional platform. Web forums provide the worldwide Internet community with the ability to share information and conduct commerce in ways never before possible and they can be profitable too when they are set-up and managed correctly.

A fully functional forum platform will:

  • Encourage users to develop a sense of community.
  • Allow the staff to instantly post announcements.
  • Encourage users to help each other.
  • Active content appears higher in search results.
  • Allow all users to interact in a fun forum atmosphere.

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Learn How to Build A Great Forum

Hosting A Forum Is No Walk In The Park

Hosting a Forum is No Walk in the Park

Forum hosting requires more than a hosting plan and software. Any successful forum operates like a business. You’ll deal with: budgets, time constraints, management, scalability issues, advertising, networking… attracting new members… keeping old ones happy…

I’m sure my point has been duly noted. It’s not something you can simply set-up, put online, and bask in the limelight of success. It just doesn’t happen that way. Launching any website is a chore. There are countless details that are crucial to your success. You’ll have to develop an understanding of SEO. You’ll need to network and market your butt off. What makes growing a successful forum uniquely problematic is the fact that you need to have people on the discussion board. If you don’t, your forum is guaranteed to look like a ghost town.

Of course, I’m not trying to discourage you. I’m trying to make you aware of the job ahead. You want to be successful right? Well, you need to know this stuff. Now sit back and take some notes, while I tell this tale I tell so well:

What You Need to Know About Forum Hosting

The first step in your plan for world domination (or at least a good forum) is finding the right web hosting company. Quite simply, this is often the most overlooked component of launching any website, much less a forum. Every webmaster wants visitors. Every forum needs members. You won’t get neither without a reliable hosting plan that keeps your forum online. What’s more – you want a company that understands the specific requirements needed for hosting a forum, a company that understands the common problems and pitfalls that will inevitably occur when you’re trying to get your site off the ground.

Here are some web hosting fundamentals that you have to plan for from the very beginning:

  • Reliability. If your uptime is spotty, the reputation of your forum will be as well. You never want to cut costs and go for cheap hosting. You need reliable service and support.
  • Scalability. This is something you’ll want to keep in mind. Things usually start off slow, but you’ll want the ability to seamlessly upgrade your account to support an increase in traffic.
  • A Backup Plan. Active forums produce a ton of content and posts. Losing this data can be detrimental to your forum. Web hosting companies that specialize in forum hosting typically already have an hourly backup system in place. Bottom line: you’ll want to develop a backup routine – and stick to it relentlessly.
  • What Platform to Use?

    This is where personal preference comes into play. Ideally, you want to use a forum software that you are comfortable with. You want something you understand how to use, something you can customize, something you can tweak to your exact specifications. Here’s a tip: don’t just focus on what you think is cool. A forum owner is almost like a real estate developer – indirectly, of course. I say this because, like a real estate developer, you are building a community. You’ll want to take into consideration your target market – the type of people that will join your forum – and plan around their likes and dislikes.

    Here’s a look at some of the most popular forum options:

    You’ll want to explore all of the options and find what works best for you and your niche. There are open source and premium platforms available. You’ll likely want to consider mobile. A responsive forum can allow your members to easily interact on your site right from their phone.

    Laying Down the Law

    Creating Rules that Work
    So, at this point you should have a rock-solid hosting plan and a platform of choice. Hold your horses: you’re not quite ready to hit the launch button yet. In order to keep your forum on track and make sure your site doesn’t become as unruly as the Wild West, you need rules. You need to enforce them, too. Don’t do a ‘copy and paste’ job on this. Take a little time and put some thought into how to set up forum rules, terms and conditions, a privacy policy, and so forth.

    There are countless examples out there. If you are feeling a little lost in the dark on what you should include, hop over to other forums, or similar forums in your niche and take a look at how they’ve decided to set up their rules. Do some research, jot down a rough draft, and perfect it until you get it right. Forum rules are important. You need them in order to keep the conversation on track. Without rules (and moderation) you would be surprised how fast a forum can turn into chaos, which brings me to my next point: moderation.

    The Law Needs a Face
    You can have all the rules in the world, but they won’t do squat if you don’t have something in place to actually enforce them. When you first start out, chances are you’ll be able to monitor the threads and conversations going on yourself. Once things start cooking though, this can straight up turn into a full-time job. The good news is that if it gets to this point, chances are you’ve made your forum a pretty popular destination. You may even have some loyal members. You’ll want to reach out to die hard forum members and enlist them as moderators to help you maintain the integrity of the forum. Long story short – create some solid rules that will help keep your forum on topic. Then, enforce the rules and moderate where needed.

    And That’s Not All

    I could keep going. I really could. Building a forum is a never-ending job. The important thing is to separate the countless tasks into bite-size chunks. If you take it one step at a time you’ll be a step closer every day. We will continue this little discussion/lesson/rant/whatever-you-want-to-call-it next week. We’ll dig into some other things you’ll want to pay attention to. Until then – hasta la vista.

    Check out Part 2

    Got Tips? Share your knowledge in the comments!

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    How to Attract New Users to Your vBulletin Community

    How to Attract New Users to Your vBulletin Community
    When building a new vBulletin forum, many owners want an easy and fast way to gain more members for their community. Unfortunately there is no quick fix for gaining members, but with these tips you should see an increase in traffic to your site.

    One of the first things you should do is create board categories for your forum. By having too many categories it makes your site look empty. When guests see an empty message board, they assume no one uses it anymore and will head elsewhere. People come to these forums as a means to be heard and to communicate with others who are passionate about the same topics they are.

    Next, you should keep your website clean and bright. Making your website a pleasant place to visit will keep site visitors coming back for more. For example, if you are targeting an older crowd, you should have easy-to-read fonts on a light color background. This will make your vBulletin community look more professional and will encourage more people to stay and register.

    The next thing is a mistake many sites do – they hide content from their website visitors. You should never hide content from guests. Forcing them to register will either cause them to leave and get their answer at another website or have them register for the site to get their answer, but never come back again because it was time consuming. You want to have content that will turn visitors into members. Posting content that is engaging to the reader is an easy way for you to gain members that want to comment and share in the discussion.

    Finally, before you advertise your site, you should have some content already generated. New visitors will be more likely to comment on existing posts than generating their own. It will also turn an empty site into one with content, something that is very important for vBulletin forums when they start out.

    Whether your next forum site is for business or pleasure, the experts at URL Jet can help get your vBulletin site started. We are the #1 high performance vBulletin hosting leader, offering many different services to fit your needs. From web hosting to hourly back-up solutions, URL Jet does it all. Call us today at 1-888-699-2609.

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    Why vBulletin is Here to Stay

    When looking for forum software for your website, there are many different options, but the one that stands out the most is vBulletin. vBulletin is a superior way to display your forum. Here are a few reasons why vBulletin is the best way to display your forum:

    Professionalism/Styling: vBulletin has many different styles for you to choose from when creating your forum. If you do not like any of them, vBulletin software allows you to create your own styles and themes.

    Fast and Efficient: vBulletin was written in PHP, which is a great for forum sites. Many users will notice the difference in the speed and efficiency in your site.

    Adsense: vBulletin has integrated Adsense into their program, which is great if you have Adsense Ads on your forum. It’s an easy way to advertise on your forum.

    Support and Updates: It is a very stable platform to use your forum on. Whenever a security flaw is detected in vBulletin, it is corrected within 24 hours. The software is constantly being worked on to keep up with the technology around it.

    Social Media Integration: vBulletin has options to integrate popular media sites such as Facebook and Twitter into your site. This can help with promotion and attract other users to your website.

    With all of these reasons, it’s no wonder vBulletin is here to stay. With such great forum software, you need a great company, such as URL Jet, to host your vBulletin website. We are the #1 high performance vBulletin Hosting Leader. Call our experts today at 1-888-699-2609 or visit our website, http://www.urljet.com/, to see what else we can do for you. Our friendly and professional staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have about your vBulletin hosting project.

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    Design Matters: Picking the Best vBulletin Layout for Your Site

    Design Matters: Picking the Best vBulletin Layout for Your Site
    Chances are you are just starting your vBulletin forum and one of the first things you will have to do is choose a layout. This may seem like a daunting task, but with a few tips you will feel more confident in your site.

    When choosing a style for your site, you should choose something that is easy on the eyes. Pick colors that go together, look professional, and fit the time period. Also make sure the style is simple and the information is easy to find. Many people do not like searching and would rather click the back button on their browser than search your site.

    With any forum, starting out you get to decide what categories you want for your forum. In addition to this, you will have a few members on your site. Keeping these two things in mind, you should limit the number of categories on your site. To encourage discussion and to turn visitors into members, you should keep them simple and broad. Doing this will keep your forum from looking empty and unappealing. Users go to these sites for discussion and to have their voice heard. If a site looks empty, they will end up going elsewhere. Once you gain members, you can then expand your site.

    Finally, you should remember your site’s demographic and try to appeal to them. Think of categories your members would want to talk about. Look at other sites to gain ideas, but remember that you are just starting out, so naturally they will have more members and more categories than you. You can always ask other people in your demographic to see what they want to talk about. The answers may surprise you and could help determine your site layout.

    While choosing the right site layout may be difficult, picking the right company to host your vBulletin community is easy. At URL Jet, we are the #1 high performance vBulletin hosting leader. Call us today at 1-888-699-2609 or visit our website, http://www.urljet.com/, to see the other services URL Jet can offer your business.

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    WordPress Hosting for High Traffic Sites

    Wordpress Hosting for High Traffic Sites
    WordPress is a good choice of platform to host a high-traffic website or blog because it was designed to be able to handle large amounts of traffic from the start. However, you will need to make sure your web server, caching system, and file sizes are actually able to handle high traffic volume. WordPress can handle only as much traffic as can be supported by the hardware it runs on and the two main obstacles to handling large volumes of traffic are processor limitations and network limitations. The processor limitations show up when a website’s traffic puts high demands on a server’s processor power and memory resources. The WordPress application depends on MySQL to store data for producing output and each request that WordPress makes to MySQL for data creates additional loads on the server. Although WordPress is optimized to reduce the number of different actions required to perform its functions, the plug-ins or themes you use in the WordPress installation can also affect in the reliance on MySQL.

    When traffic to a site is extremely high, the number of simultaneous connections to the database put a big load on the server and some connections may not go through and will result in the “connection timed out” display on a visitor’s browser. Because WordPress is a web-server-neutral application, it can run on several different platforms, including Apache and Linux, but any server that fully supports PHP and MySQL can get the job done. As PHP interprets the WordPress code, it can also affect your server’s performance when it creates a new version of the PHP program for every PHP file that a visitor requests. This means you need to be aware of the demands traffic puts on your server. Network limitations become a factor when a server’s connection to the Internet is too slow to serve up the pages you want as fast as you like. Because your server’s network provider connects to their internal network with an Ethernet adapter at a specific designated speed (usually 10Mb/s, 100Mb/s, or 1Gb/s) the server cannot transferring files any faster than that speed. Actually, a server cannot really even transfer files at the maximum rate specified by the adapter because the server is constantly sending and receiving routing information and only part of the full bandwidth is actually available for transferring files.   Because your network provider has limited bandwidth that must be shared, your network provider’s capabilities will limit transfer speeds more than the server’s network adapter.

    Some network providers also offer the ability to handle bursts of data that can temporarily exceed pre-set transfer speed limits in instances when demand is the highest. The bandwidth of a connection is important to high-traffic sites because if just one dozen people hit a site at the same time, and that rate is sustained over time, a site would need at least a 15Mb/s connection to keep up. The bandwidth of the connection is important to any high-traffic website because an adapter with a maximum speed of just 10Mb/s could be overwhelmed by just one dozen sustained visitors.   You don’t have to receive 100,000 hits a day to cause problems either.  If your visitors concentrate access to a particular time of day or automated spam tries to access your system multiple times, it could result in many dropped requests. A 100Mb/s connection could handle very high rates of simultaneous traffic, but most network providers won’t offer that level of speed without extra fees, and most current shared hosting plans like WordPress don’t offer it at all. Most hosting services provide a fixed amount of overall transfer and if your account goes over the limit, you will get charged for the extra data transferred. The general rule is that the higher the transfer limit is, the more your hosting plan will cost. There are hosting services that do offer unlimited data transfer plans, but they will obviously cost a lot more, although maybe not as much as paying for transfer overages on a high-traffic site.

    One way to optimize the performance of your high traffic website and avoid extra transfer charges is to use a Content Delivery Network in conjunction with your site that will help you avoid expensive overages and the bandwidth limitations imposed by some of the more popular hosting providers. In the end, your server is only as capable as your network provider is, and if your provider cannot provide the bandwidth you need, you have two options. You can try to negotiate a better price for increased bandwidth, or you can simply find a different provider that does provide the resources your high traffic site requires.

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    Monetizing Forums

    Monetizing Your Forum
    Forums and message boards have become a big part of the Internet over the last decade and today you can find thousands of different groups gathered to share the latest info on just about any niche topic, passion or pursuit you can think of. The power and global reach of the Internet has made it easier than ever before for like-minded people to get together and thoroughly explore the products, people, places and things that interest them the most.

    Although many forums have been born out of a passion for a particular subject or topic, it takes more than passion alone to keep a site up and running actively on the web these days. If you’re a forum owner, you know that it costs money and takes time to run a successful forum. If you’re independently wealthy, or just feel like operating your forum at a loss due to your enthusiasm for a certain niche, that’s fine. However, in the real world most forum owners need a way to recoup their expenses and cover the time spent managing their forums.

    Fortunately, there are now a number of different ways forum owners can cover their operating costs and even make a profit in many cases:

    • Paid memberships – Paid memberships can generate income from a two-tiered content system when a forum has good enough free content to attract new members and a level of even better content available only to the paid members. The object is to convert the free visitors into premium or paid members as quickly as possible.
    • Advertising Networks – Advertising networks like Google’s Adsense and the Yahoo! publisher networks are some of the most direct and proven ways to monetize a forum. VigLink is another way of monetizing content with links from targeted content to advertisers. Most forums deal with specific niches and there are many smaller ad networks server these targeted niches. The trick is finding the one best suited to your users needs. Income is earned whenever forum visitors click on the rotating ads that are supplied and maintained by the advertiser network. Depending on a forum’s specific focus, third-party ads alone can often generate enough income to maintain a forum.
    • Advertising – You can sell direct ad space on a forum to potential advertisers that are related in any way to the specific content on your site. There are also programs like OpenX available that will allow you to sell advertisements for specific geographic regions too. Remember that selling ad space also comes along with account management duties like maintaining ad inventory; chasing down late payments; and uploading new ads.
    • Sponsors – Sometimes specific companies with products related to your forum will step up and sponsor your site. Enticements could include “sponsored by” banners, product prizes or even new forum threads dedicated to discussing a company’s product.
    • Affiliates – As an alternative to direct advertising, forums can carry advertisements for affiliate programs that relevant to the forum and can be worked into the discussion threads. Companies or other sites selling products related to a forum niche like books and DVDs are always good potential affiliates.
    • Donations – Sites without a lot of advertising on them can ask for donations after they explain what good purpose or cause the money will be used for. Although most donations are simply usually utilized to run a forum, visitors that do donate can be given special privileges or access to specific content similar to a paid membership in order to sweeten the deal. A Paypal donation button on the site can be a very useful tool when asking for donations.
    • Product Sales – Although direct product sales comes along with the duties of maintaining inventory, collecting payments and shipping, selling products with a shopping cart plug-in on your site can be an effective alternative to affiliate programs or t direct ad sales.
    • Classified Ads – Some of the larger, product-oriented niche forums have had good success with classified advertising sections onsite. If enough members will pay a small fee to advertise their stuff for sale or trade on your site, it can generate significant income.
    • Sell Links – Forum owners can always offer links to other sites for a fee. Third party link brokers like Text Link Ads will handle the details if you wish, or you can sell the links by yourself, and collect the payments and insert the links on your own.

    Some methods of monetizing a forum obviously require more work than others. Collecting donations, working with affiliates and hosting Adsense ads are all fairly passive methods of generating cash. Direct advertising or direct product sales are more active methods that will require a bit more work. However, in the end, the methods of monetization you eventually choose will probably depend on the traffic your site gets and the niche it is in.

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    Setting Up and Hosting a Forum – It’s Easier than you Think

    Setting Up And Hosting A Forum – It’s Easier Than You Think
    Many people are intimidated by the idea of starting a web forum because it seems like a daunting task that requires a lot of attention and resources. While it is a very big project to undertake, the process of actually setting it up and hosting it is pretty simple. The real work begins when it comes time to populate your forum and turn it into a lively discussion board that drives traffic, but you’ll never make it to that stage if you don’t take the first step and learn how to set up and host a forum.

    Choosing and installing forum software

    Web scripts make it extremely easy to set up a functioning website, without them web development would be a nightmare. So, considering how easy it is to set up a blog using a foundation like WordPress, it should be just as simple to set up a forum using the right script.

    However, not all forum templates are created equal. You should learn about their varying functionality and extendability to see which one best suits your purposes before installing anything. The main contenders in the world of forums are Phpbb3, MyBB, bbPress, Simple Machines, and a few others. Most of these should be available from your QuickInstall or Fantastico menu depending on your hosting, but you can also download them from their official websites and install them yourself.

    Here’s a quick overview of the two forum scripts usually recommended for beginners so you have a general idea of what they’re best for, make sure to do your own research and check out the features of each one.

    phpBB3

    PhpBB is an open source platform (like many forum packages) that’s been in development since 2000. It boasts one of the most complete feature sets of any forum software and it’s very flexible with a lot of room for customization. This emphasis on micro management can be a hurdle for beginners, but the streamlined GUI makes it easy to digest. The community is large and very active, they are more than happy to help people out with technical issues and they have created a cornucopia of different extensions and modifications. This is one of the most commonly used and reliable platforms and it’s suitable for almost every situation due to its extendability.

    MyBB

    MyBB was once considered an outsider when it comes to forum software, but it’s proven itself to be one of the most intuitive and easy to use solutions around. It’s open source which is always a plus, there is a huge community behind it and the development team gives it a lot of love with frequent updates. One of the most attractive parts about it is the streamlined administration panel, everything is laid out in a way that makes sense and even a beginner can figure out how to manage their forum just by clicking around on their own. Don’t let its ease of use fool you, MyBB is very powerful and extend-able and some of the largest boards on the net run it. The library of plugins and themes is mammoth and with version 2.0 on the horizon, it shows no signs of slowing down.

    Choosing a hosting plan

    Forums are a different beast than the average website or blog, the content is created entirely by the users which means that interactivity is a big factor- it’s much more difficult for a server to load a page worth of dynamic forum posts than a regular static article, the information is coming from a variety of sources. The database will be much more complex because it needs to store everything about the users and what they’re doing, which means the more they interact with the site and each other the more power you need from your hosting provider.

    A shared hosting plan from one of the bargain hosts isn’t going to cut it, sure they claim to give you ‘unlimited’ resources in a lot of areas but that simply isn’t true- it’s called shared hosting for a reason and those resources are being allocated to other sites as well. It may be fine to start out with a shared plan for testing purposes, but once (if) you start getting traffic you will need to invest in either VPS hosting or reseller hosting at some point to handle the load if you haven’t already.

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    Forum Hosting – As Popular as Ever

    Forum Hosting – As Popular As Ever
    Over the years we’ve seen many trends, from AOL communities to MySpace pages to Facebook groups, but none of these trends have diminished the power of the Forum. For when it comes down to it, people who are interested in, let’s say sailing in the Great Lakes, like to gather together in a forum about sailing.

    This is because forum hosting services bring together an entire community of people who gather to discuss a specific passion that’s important to them. Maybe the various forum members are on Facebook, or AOL, or MySpace, or maybe they’re not. With a forum, is doesn’t matter because forums, or message boards, are stand-alone communities that function independently on the Web.

    We’ve been hosting forums for more than a decade and have hosted forums that have thrived over the years, as well as brand new forums that caught on quickly and became a community hub for a certain topic. Regardless of what other trends are happening on the Web, forums are here to stay.

    For more information on OLI’s forum services, please visit our Forum Hosting page to see all that’s possible.

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