If your forum is new, it may look pretty bare. You will often have a membership count in the single or double figures, and you will have categories with a low number of posts and threads.
Don’t advertise emptiness
Which forum would you rather join?
Now, I am assuming that you would prefer to join Forum B – it is clear that this is a popular community with a good load of content and interaction taking place.
Have you noticed how we often check the topics, post and member count before even considering joining a new community? That’s because once we are online, we become lazy.
We don’t want to go through the time consuming process of registration and confirmation emails before we can contribute to a community – checking these stats gives us an indication of whether getting involved in a new community is worth the effort.
The easiest way of reducing the impact of your forum’s lack of content is to reduce the number of categories.
There is no point having 15, or even 5 categories if they are going to be empty. Keep things simple when you launch a forum – stick to perhaps three or four separate topics, and keep them generalised.
As these categories begin to be populated with content, you can then add new categories and move relevant posts over. This way, new categories you add will immediately contain content and prevent ‘the zeros’ from driving potential new members away before they give your community a chance.
Don’t forget to create content
Reducing the amount of categories your forum holds is not an excuse for not providing content. Sure, a community site is all about user-generated content, but if you are the only member of your community this task falls to you.
There is no excuse for having empty or sparsely populated categories on a forum. If they are empty, then they are not needed. If they have only a few posts, it is up to you to create the content and get the interaction started.