31DBBB Day 9: Join A Forum And Start Participating

This is Day 9 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, a group project 60+ of us bloggers are doing together in an effort to help each other become better bloggers. You can read an overview here.

Today’s assignment is to join a forum and start participating.  Some of you participating may already be  involved in a forum which means you are ahead of the crowd.  If you already belong to a forum spend 10-15 minutes today on the forum asking and answering questions.  If you do not already belong to a forum it is important for you to participate in at least one.  We all have to remember that aside from the technical stuff that all of us struggle with, blogging is about relationships, and forums are a great place to build those relationships.

Here are a few benefits to joining a forum:

  1. You can ask questions. All of us have questions that need answers.  We need technical help, we need topics to write on, we need to know where to find experts, etc…  Forums allow us a place to ask questions where people are gathered around a common purpose.  (Keep in mind not to limit yourself to forums centered on you niche.  If you have tech questions join a forum for techies.  If you need ideas join a forum that discusses issues related to your topic.)
  2. You can answer questions. The best way to build respect and gain trust is to help others solve their problems.  If you don’t know the answer then help them find someone that does.  When others know that you are not just there to score a sale or recruit readers then they will be more open when you have the opportunity to point them to your product or blog for answers.
  3. You get free ideas. Joining a forum allows you to see the problems and questions that people need answers to.  This gives you an unlimited supply of post ideas.  If you can solve problems then people will turn to you for answers and also refer their friends.

Discussion

  1. What are some other benefits of joining a forum?
  2. If you are already a forum member, how often do you participate and how has it helped you?
  3. Can you recommend a forum that has helped you with technical support or site development?

The Extra Mile

A few other things you can do to take your blog, other bloggers, and this project even further today…

  • Reply & give other bloggers feedback on the little things they do.
  • When other bloggers include a link to a new article they’ve posted today, click, read, and comment on it.
  • Check previous posts in the series for new comments.
  • Tweet, share, & bookmark this post.

[photo courtesy of alexdecarvalho]

Larry Westfall is a husband, father to two children, and serves as a youth pastor near Charleston, WV.  His passion is to help those around him to pursue a life of significance.  You can follow him on twitter @LarryWestfallJr or read his blog at http://larrywestfall.com.

64 Responses to “31DBBB Day 9: Join A Forum And Start Participating”

  1. I invite you all to participate in OurChurch.Com's forums. http://forums.ourchurch.com/

    • Good reminder Paul. You forums are not something I've yet ventured in too and I have no idea why. Will make today the day that I do.

      • Except that the forums won't let me in.

        I've registered my ID and email address. It says I'm an invalid or inactive user and yet I have no expected welcome mail to activate. So I thought maybe reg had failed so tried again and it says this time that my username (stubbyd) already exists. When I try to change the password it tells me: no-one of that email addrss is reg'd here.

        Hmmm.

        • Stuart, I checked our user registration system and when you registered apparently you left the m off the very end of your email address. I fixed that and had the system send you an email. If you have any other problems, send me an email.

    • Been looking at that this last week. Time for me to get involved :)

  2. I wrote about a kind of forum.

    Meet me at the Mother Ship…
    http://greeninventionscentral.blogspot.com/2010/0

    • Check out your post and your site! Loved it! Your creativity is awesome and your content valid. Thanks for being a ready responder.

    • Hi L.L.,
      I left a comment on your post about the Mother Ship. So creative. And I agree that it is quite a project turning out a creative (I hope) post every day. I'm with you in the expiring state.
      Janis

  3. This is something I've been doing since before the web and since my very first steps onto the internets – ohh about 1987 IIRC.

    What I haven't done though – partly as a self-preservation thing and partly to keep some sense of privacy – is I haven't ever linked my ID's on forums back to my blog and have never referenced a post I made except possibly anonymously.

    Anyway – here's my post about this:http://www.churchtechy.com/2010/05/technical-foru… which is also a twofer as it's a list of forums that I use ;)

  4. I do participate in forums, but often find feedback condescending rather than engaging. That is a great lesson. To get a real debate going, which is desirable given that debate = connectedness, we must be more open-ended. A nice patronizing point can close down all debate. Rather open up the debate. More than that if you manipulate the debate a little visitors will keep it going for you and that means more traffic, higher rankings, with less effort. I do also feedback constructively to good posts, etc., but generally find it ends there. Dialog is what we must strive for – which seems easier said than done. However, having explored dialog in my MBA, I must say it is a very desirable objective – not only digital but also analogue dialog.

  5. One way to facilitate debate is to be controversial – provoke, get it out there, have a go, live at the edge – oh sure you risk having your head blown off by the feedback, but as long as you are not insensitive or in our case, un-biblical, you should be okay – hey the prophets of old did it, so why not us. Controversy provokes debate and gets people talking – see my latest blog on leadership as an example: http://www.4u2live.net/2010/05/stewardship-is-gre

  6. I joined the OurChurch.com forums and another forum (waiting to be approved for that one). I will try to spend more time there today when possible, although we have some things going on that will limit my time online for the next few days.

    I think forums are a great place to get ideas for blog posts and form relationships. I'm looking forward to getting to know some people in these two forums and go from there!

    Have a blessed day.

    My post today:http://wp.me/pG2Wu-e0 (Part 2 of "My Second Chance")

  7. I've been using forums (mostly tech) for many years. I agree with @Peter that many times the feedback is not nice. Maybe it's a techie thing.
    The 3 forums I take part in (although one I just found today) are: http://www.theworshipcommunity.com/forums/ http://www.praiseandworshipforum.com/forum/ http://www.christianpraiseandworship.com/christia… (the new one I found today)

    No post up as of yet, have worship tech stuff this AM. Hopefully I will have a post later today.
    Peace,
    B

    • You could be rigth that it's a 'tech thing' as I notice teh beliefthat if you're a tech then you should know or should be able to find out.

      If you need to ask then … I'm not sure why this is as in real life (IRL) these folks are probably lovely folks – in fact the very first conference system I was on was via my BBS and folks that were combative / aggressive online were the nicest folks face to face.

      Don't ask me why – that's a job for a shrink ;)

  8. I joined a forum today for probably the first time. The great part is that it builds community and allows you talk with others in your niche. If you are seen as a valuable resource within the forum, then chances are your blog will also be seen as valuable to others. Here is my post for today about joining a forum:http://trainingcrucible.blogspot.com/2010/05/p90x

  9. I forget how many forums I am apart of. I have signed up for all types that fit an interests or stage of my life at some point. I always have high hopes of learning from others or connecting with a few and most times have found that I don't end up achieving my goals as I had hoped. I usually start off by participating in a few discussions that are already active and then post something. There is one Mommy group that I am apart of that could be used as a model for many others because of how active the members are with helpful responses. I am also currently apart of forums for Mommy bloggers and Twitters and I have either found that they feed back is a bit controversial like @Peter said, condescending or they are just trying to promote themselves and gain followers. I had really high hopes to connect with fellow Mommy bloggers and had hoped to form a group to do 31DBBB! I'm glad that didn't work out. I am enjoying this group so much better because everyone wants to be here to learn, not for the sole purpose of promoting and gaining followers.

  10. Great job Larry! Thanks for writing for us.

    Believe it or not – forums are a new experience for me. Looking at some and deciding to join one [I chose the OCC Community] has reminded me that one reason I got involved in blogging was for a chance to develop relationships. Tips so far have been very helpful. Thanks everyone!

    Now to the task of finding more appropriate forums to explore. Am I missing something about how to find them?

  11. I have only made use of the ourchurch.com's forums. Since I am a customer of ourchurch, it is very helpful to get insight from other web admins. How'd ya do that?, etc.

    I may have to try others…
    http://www.ronniespoon.blogspot.com

  12. I have looked at OurChurch.com's forums but have not participated. It's another one of those things that looks like it could eat up some valuable time from this busy pastor. I can see how you could get helpful tips for your blog if you are on the right forum. I have already gotten many useful tips just by particiapating in this 31DBBB exercise. (It's almost been like a forum, hasn't it?)
    My post is up today: The Gladness of Sadness http://junctionforjesus.blogspot.com/2010/05/glad

  13. I am part of a couple of online forums. Both have been very valuable for feedback for me on my spiritual journey. I'm amazed at the friends I've made in the process. A few of those friends have become regular readers of my blog and I always appreciate their interaction with me on what I write. At the same time, I'm pretty careful about self-promotion on these forums as it would be very weird for me to be soliciting followers rather than just being a friend. I'm sure if I had a technical blog I wouldn't worry about pointing to my "how to" posts, but since I belong to more relational-based groups, I want to keep my interaction with them based as a friend, not a salesman.

    Thoughts?

    My blog today is about my wife Jamie who went back to work after a 17 year absence. Yesterday brought up a lot of emotions in both of us:http://is.gd/c7rUB

  14. Oy vey! Only one hour of sleep last night, and much to do today….including mosey on over to the OurChurch.com forums.

    When I've got spare time, I sometimes find myself interacting on the forums at coffeegeek.com. I occasionally build websites, and I use jquery a lot, so I've been on those forums (jquery.com).

    All of this reading has made me think more about the online community that's always happening out there, and lots of people are able to dedicate a good chunk of time every week (every day?) to blogging and to reading and commenting on other people's blogs and forums, in spite of having families and full time jobs. If that describes you, I'd be interested in hearing how you work that into your schedule on a regular basis. Of course, I'm in an unusually busy period at the moment (see my first sentence) so right now it's hard to see beyond the tip of my nose.

    • I didn't know you did you programming…perhaps I did and the last week's information overload has had a moving sale on info in my brain.

      I have always been more of a mainframe person, but I am learning Java so I can expand my options. I recently joinedhttp://www.dreamincode.net/ to get some java advice and tips.

      • Yeah, I occasionally throw together a website as a side job here and there. I don't really know any Java, and I know just enough jscript to be dangerous. My focus is more on the HTML and CSS end of things, and I let jquery or other plugins do the work I need.

  15. Good one Larry.
    Certainly good to join a forum in your niche, I have been lazy in that of late.
    Particularly – it is good to get referrals from the forums – for a while I was involved in Camera and VFX forums and got a lot of visits – it was very cool but also intimidating :O

  16. This one's tricky, because I don't know where to find forums that have the people I'd most want to connect with:
    - Non-Christians who would be open to spirituality but are turned off by church
    - Christians who are open to rethinking church ways for the sake of the world

    Any suggestions?

  17. I used to spend quite a bit of time on forums. However, as blogs and social media tools like Facebook and Twitter have grown in popularity, more of the conversations that use to take place on forums are now taking happening in those spaces. Now I rarely go to forums and when I do it’s to search for an answer or ask a technical question.

    I’ll probably do the assignment because it’s the assignment, but I’m really interested to hear if other people find the assignment worthwhile.

    • Honestly I don't find the assignement all that worthwhile. Like you said a lot of the conversations going on in forums are happening in other places. It does mean that it's harder to create new relationships but it also means that it's harder to develop relationships in forums where the conversation is sometimes….lacking. I don't know, I always feel like the new kid on the block when it comes to forums and I almost ALWAYS get to meet the neighborhood bully first.

      • I've not found it worthwhile because I already "do forums".

        I disagree that a lot of the conversation is taking place on twitter or FB – some of the forums I go to are amazingly busy places and it can be daunting to try and keep up. The trick, as with twitter, is to let life pass you by and dive inw where you can or where you fancy.

        The bully unfortunately is prevalant on just about every forum and it is up to the mods to police that properly. However they rarely do as these characters generate so much content. Best bet is just to ignore them – it's not like they can virtually thump you ;)

    • this one is a little of a bust for me for the reasons you mentioned Paul…twitter and facebook are much easier for me to navigate and get feedback/answers than forums.

    • Agreed!

    • (I'm at my parents' place, and can't seem to properly log in to intense debate…oh well)

      I'm with you. Forums, for me, are where I go to get questions answered, and not so much for discussion. I remember back in the day when Handspring came out with their competitor to the Palm Pilot, and I ordered one, being on forums discussing it a lot. As I said in another comment, I occasionally discuss coffee stuff on coffeegeek.com, but that's it as far as discussion on forums goes.

  18. The technical forums are often very helpful (and fun to help in, when you know an answer), but that's nowhere near what my blog's about. I've found the more spiritual forums to be short on activity or, um, well . . . not quite my thing. I suppose it's the edgy stuff that gets people talking, but I don't like endless debating and see no real benefit in it.

    So I'm interested in hearing from God, walking in the Spirit, book of Acts kind of stuff. Anyone know of a forum for me? I looked for several hours last night and didn't find anything promising.

    Blessings, Cindy

    • Your comment is full of wisdom. I was considering joining a Christian or an Inspirational Forum but I would not want to debate issues. I would hope that it would be a place to share ideas and inspirations. I am part of High Calling Blogs and just realized that is a forum of sorts–at least a community. So that will be my call for today.
      Janis

      • Hi, Janis

        Yes, I have a group of friends on WordPress, too. I love reading their blogs and hearing their input on mine. (I subscribed to your blog, btw.) And I love spending time with our ekklesia here (what a blessing!). Not sure the on-line forum thing is going to happen for me, though–at least not with this blog. :)

        Blessings, Cindy

        • Thank you, Cindy,
          That essence of community support is so important. Thanks for subscribing to my blog. I'm sure we'll have much to share.

          In Him,
          Janis

  19. I just want to say that More important that a forum is a community. Things have been kinda crazy weird for me lately, and just being able to network with 31DBBBers has made a huge difference for me. For the most part it wasn't even a stated question, just reading everyone elses blogs and comments. http://justapen.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/simple-r

  20. I though I've occasionally submitted things to forums in the past, it is not something I've spent much time or energy doing. I am now going to participate in the Original Writing Forum on http://forums.ourchurch.com/ .

    I am looking forward to posting some of my original work and getting constructive feedback on it. I do believe that forums can be useful, but the key is balance. It would be easy for me to spend too much time there, and also to spend too little time there to get the benefit of it.

  21. Not really having anything to do with todays assignment, but new blog up: To Pray Twice

  22. Nothing to do with forums . . . but I wanted to mention that my link post has seriously (well, for me) gotten a lot of attention. I did one awhile back, too, and people are still looking at it. I posted a list of links to other prophetic type blogs in which people were spontaneously addressing the same things as one another. Plus, asked for any additional links readers might know of.

    It was a real blessing to me, as I got to meet several new friends who blog along the same lines as I do. We're always trying to find one another, but it's not always that easy.

    • Cindy, could I get the link to you post with links to other prophetic type blogs? This whole link post and forum thing has left me frustrated finding blogs and people of similar interest. Guess I'm just too new to the ideas and want it all right now with not work! Yeh, I know, that's not healthy.

  23. Another important thing to do when commenting in an existing thread in a forum is to look and see how old it is and when the last comment was made on it. Today I made a comment on a couple of threads that were older and hadn't seen activity in a couple of months. Chances are it would have been better for me to create a new thread, or comment on one with more recent activity.
    The reason I say that is because you don't have time to do everything. You can't answer every question in a forum, so be wise in picking the ones that:
    1. Will actually help other readers
    2. Build community
    3. Expose you to other readers

  24. I've never been into forums. I did a few for some online business adventures, but they all seem so clunky and hard to navigate. And usually are full of too much useless commentary. No offense, but even the Ourchurch forum has too many topics to keep up with..

    I've toyed with getting into some car forums since my prime business is in auto shipping. But haven't done that yet. It seems to me social media, blogs and etc are a better use of time..hmmmm

  25. Forums are not really for me, and I don't want to join them just to "pimp" my blog.

    • Nolan, you shouldn't participate in a forum to pimp your blog. You should do it to meet other people who share similar interests, build relationships, share your insight and perspective with others, learn from others, ask questions, get ideas for blog articles…

    • In my opinion forums are for more than pimping your blog. But if you don't want to join I'm okay with that. Forums can encourage you and you can encourage others through them. Helping each other out kind of.

      Have a great day!

  26. I join a forum, keep up with it for a while and then other things take priority and the forum gets forgotten. Then I'll join another forum and the same thing happens all over again. The pattern keeps repeating itself. So for today's assignment I decided I would go back to some of the forums that I haven't visited in a while and make myself known again.

    I visited 10 forums on my list starting with the 1st I ever joined and working my way down the list.
    4 out of 10 were completely disabled and not found. 2 out of 10 moved to a new address and were found but my user name and password no longer worked. 2 out of 10 were found but the subject matter was so completely different I was no longer interested. 2 out of 10 were found and my user name and password actually worked. I updated my profile on one and participated. On the other one my profile was completely blank. I'm not sure if I never filled it in even though that seems unlikely or it was deleted for one reason or another. I filed in the profile and participated on that one as well.

    I guess the moral of the story is you have to stay active to make it worthwhile.

  27. I did try bbPress and then later buddypress (the same thing). Hopefully to get some interaction. I thought it would make my blog more community orientated. But alas the only contributions were made by people wanting to sell something.

    But as for engaging in other forums in your niche – it is a great way to connect and provide help – and not just to promote your own blog – although that will happen in any case – because of your valued interaction.

  28. I've never been to the Ourchurch forums, but my experience in general has been very negative. The stuff that goes on in those forums could hardly be called "Christian." In fact, it's usually pretty awful. It reminds me of the Ghandi quote, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ."

    In any case, here's today's post. It's amazing how business turnaround advice is so remarkably relevant to marriages in crisis!!
    http://preparation4eternity.blogspot.com/2010/05/

  29. I have found forums to be helpful. I do not visit them daily. I only pop in every once and a while to see what is going on. I have found that having people gathered around a common topic is very helpful even if you just read the conversations.

    FYI… I have visited and played around with a site called savor chat that allows you to create your own chat rooms for facebook and twitter users. It appears that this might be a good way to invite a few folks to have a focused conversation. Here is the link if you want to check it out: http://www.savorchat.com/manage/chat

  30. I think today's assignment took longer than 10 or 15 minutes–unless you were already part of a forum. After reading L.L.'s post, I realized I am part of a forum of sorts–High Calling Blogs. I won't use the words "nice" or "fun" but I will say that I am getting to know some of the writers there and I like the creativity and depth in their articles. I have also participated in their Photo Play feature which gives participants the opportunity to check out other blogs and leave comments there.
    In addition, I have posted to Christian Women Online a few times and I am getting to know the people there as well. http://www.christianwomenonline.net/blogs/janis%4
    It makes the world of blogging real as we share common values and interests.
    If you haven't seen my post from yesterday yet, take a look at: http://openmyearslord.blogspot.com/2010/05/sweet-
    It has been a busy day!

    In Him,
    Janis

  31. Some of the comments posted so far have given a fair evaluation of forums. Some are useful and some are self serving. I find that if I want a forum to be worth my time I have to spend some of my time interacting with those involved. Also, the forum has to relate to some particular area of interest or expertise.

    I spent some time on forums today to discover how to fix my website. It crashed earlier today. After a few hours I was able to find the answer I needed and it is now up and running.

  32. The idea of Forums are new to me. I'm not sure if I'm a part of other forums or not, but I joined the one here athttp://ourchurch.com this morning. I've interacted in a few of the ones already started and think that it can be a great way to learn from others, interact, meet new people, and have another online family. It's beneficial because if you have questions you can ask, and it may be something others are wondering about too; and if no questions you can help answer other peoples questions.

    For sight development and help I asked people that I knew had blogs or googled what I needed help with.

    Blog post for today is coming, I'm running behind.

  33. Hahaha–that's great! Only they probably wouldn't know what an abacus is. It never occurred to me to link twitter and facebook. I still haven't figured out whether twitter has any point at all. :lol:

  34. I used to be part of a golfing forum, but seriously, it is addicting, since it is a live conversation, in essence, so I have weened myself off forums forever.

  35. 1. I use forums to reach others in my niche and get needed advice
    2- As a homeschooler and mom I spend time seeking tips and advice in forums,I also share posts if therey are relevant to topics
    3.Twittermoms helps me with marketing tips.

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