… and more to the point, do I have the both the skills and commitment?
I’m thinking of starting an online community forum!
Early last year, I was looking for the answer to a particular problem I had with a piece of knitting I was working on. I won’t bore you with all the details, but suffice to say the pattern I was working with was not too clear. After a couple of Bing/Google searches, I found a web forum called Phoenix Knitting Forum (so called as it had ‘risen up from the ashes’ of a previous forum), that had the answer. Well it showed me part of the answer and invited me to become a member if I wanted to see it all. I quickly signed up and within a few weeks, I had progressed to being a quite active participant. It was a great community and I enjoyed the help I received and the bits of advice I was able to offer.
Then, just around the end of February there was suddenly a bit of problem. One of the moderators had said that there had been a few issues with the forum and the administrator was looking into the possible causes. Although you could get to the site, users were not able to login. A few days later actually getting to the site failed. I Googled the error code that had been generated in the Opera browser, but it turned out to be just a general error code that gets created when there is a problem accessing a server, so no real help. I had no way of contacting the administrator or any of the moderators outside of the forum as all contact was either through the forum message boards or by a direct message. All this had gone.
I had been a member of the Ravelry knitting and crochet social networking community for some time and I knew they had a “Q&A” section and I soon discovered that the Phoenix Knitting Forum had its area on Ravelry. I signed up and quickly found that one of the moderators was the same person on both sites. I had a feeling that things may just start to get better. However, It’s not the same as a real forum and nowhere as user-friendly as the previous one, but with nothing else and no sign of the Phoenix rising again it was a case of make use of what we’ve got.
Then last week a friend, who I’d not spoken to for a while, asked me about the forum because they were getting an error message. I explained that the forum had gone down at the end of February and it had not recovered. I told them they should use Ravelry as a lot of the forum members were on there too. They then suggested that I should start up a new forum and quantified this by saying that I both the skills and time, just need the commitment. That got me thinking. When it became apparent that the forum was not going to reappear, I was asked if I would or could start a new one. I used the argument at the start of this post … no time, not skilled and no commitment. I hadn’t really taken the time to think it through and I was now wondering how hard could it be.
So I’m now in the early research stages of considering if I could do it. I would of course have to use one of the many free forum hosting sites. I have identified two such sites, Pro Boards and Create A Forum. There are others, but my initial research has led me to think that one these two maybe the best option. Of course, both are financed by banner ads, but then so was the previous forum so that should not be an issue.
I’m still at the “could I?” stage, but as the time and researching goes on, I’m getting closer to the “yes I could” stage. I would need to find one or two people to be moderators and set up some board names and categories, but that is still way in the future. I am not going to mention this to the group on Ravelry until I completely sure.