Use forum ranks to make members feel valued

by Martin Reed on 29 April 2007 in Articles

Your members are the most valuable asset your site has – if you do not make them feel welcome and valued, they will soon go elsewhere. There are many ways of preventing this, and all of them come down to making your members feel valued.

In this article I want to talk about an easy way of doing just that – through the use of rank titles. When a member makes a post, information about them such as their member name and avatar is displayed alongside their post. This information will also include a ‘rank title’ if assigned. By default, moderators and admin users are assigned a relevant rank.

Forum rank example

Screenshot showing forum rank title

In the screenshot above, I have circled the rank title so you can see exactly what I am talking about. Personally I have done away with the awarding of ranks based on the number of posts made – I believe it only encourages low quality posts. In the same way that I think forum competitions are a bad idea, this is another way of making people post through incentives, which is not the way to go about creating a successful community.

Forum rank titles can however, be a useful tool to utilise in order to make your members feel valued. If someone gains a reputation in your community or has been given a nickname, why not award them with a rank title to reflect this? Frequent jokes were made over at the Just Chat message boards about a specific member’s infatuation with goats – don’t ask me about the basis of it, but it seemed like a good idea to award this user a rank title.

Rank titles make members feel valued

Screenshot showing the use of a custom forum rank title

I didn’t make an announcement about the change, I just assigned it to the user via the admin panel of phpBB. As members of the community noticed, it was evident that they all loved it. When the member in question noticed, they too saw the funny side and even sent me a private message thanking me for their new rank.

By giving out custom rank titles now and again, you are engaging with your members and making them feel valued. This sets your forum apart from the competition, shows you take an active interest and strengthens the bond within your community.

Have you tried this method with your community? What have you done to make your members feel valued?

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Khoj Badami May 4, 2007 at 7:08 pm


Nice post!

I was wondering, what are the other ways to keep your members. How else can we make them feel valued?


SEO Tips May 4, 2007 at 11:30 pm

Hey, just bookmark this site for future reference in building a ‘live/active’ community. Keep on posting, I’ll come back and bother you later =P.

Martin Reed May 5, 2007 at 1:24 am

Glad you are enjoying the blog :)

Martin Reed May 5, 2007 at 1:34 am

Khoj: There are many ways to make users feel valued – keep reading this blog to learn more!

Some articles that may be of interest to you include:

Make your site feedback friendly

The value of email newsletters

Starting a forum from scratch

Smiley May 17, 2007 at 8:50 am

Leave my goats alone! ;)

I’ve always been loyal to JC, always will. Even now.

But, I have to admit, the rank did make me feel unforgotten! LOL

Martin Reed May 17, 2007 at 10:20 am

Hey Smiley – I was wondering when you would come across this article and find yourself being used as a guinea pig! I am glad the rank made you feel special ;)

Jennifer June 24, 2007 at 6:26 am

Brilliant idea. I shall do away with my current rank titles and bring in custom ones. Excellent! Thanks for the tip.

Martin Reed June 25, 2007 at 7:19 pm

Hey Jennifer – thanks for your comment. I think that standard rank titles can encourage posts as users try to work their way up to the next rank – however, do these posts really add value to your community?

Often members will write short, invaluable comments just to raise their post count and get closer to the next forum rank.

Custom rank titles are more personal and make your members feel far more valued. Custom ranks can also result in members posting comments of far more value.

Shana November 18, 2007 at 6:54 pm

This is something I’m trying to work on, I’ve spent so long setting the forum up my brain’s gone blank! I asked the members and it seems forms of seating are favourite at the moment, but I refuse to be referred to as a bean bag!!

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 19, 2007 at 6:04 pm

Shana – Ah the classic ‘forum freeze’; it happens to all us forum developers! I like the idea of asking members for suggestions, but think it is far better to just endow titles onto members by surprise!

Shana November 19, 2007 at 6:21 pm

I’m going to have to get the cattle prod out! All I need to do now is think of some nice titles and surprise them, so much to think about, creativity goes out the window when faced with practicality!

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 19, 2007 at 6:56 pm

Shana – Cattle prod?!? Sounds painful! Good luck with your titles, let us know how they go down with your members!

Shana November 19, 2007 at 11:15 pm

I went with the seating for now, but I’m exempt as admin!

Seating Entitlement – Deckchair (50 posts)
Seating Entitlement – Inflatable chair (100 posts)
Seating Entitlement – Rocking chair (500 posts)
Seating Entitlement – Arm Chair (1000 posts)
Seating Entitlement – Throne (5000 posts)

I’m waiting for my members to notice, better get some puncture repair kits in case they attack the Inflatable Chairs!!

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 22, 2007 at 8:32 pm

Shana – Interesting stuff! Don’t forget about the custom rank titles that I wrote about in the article – they can really make your members feel special.

Shaun April 16, 2008 at 9:28 pm

I’m just starting a forum for Yoga Practicioners and Teachers, it’ll be live mid year, however I am an avid forum user and I like that as my posts increase I move up a level. In my experience in a forum with a good ‘tone’ and one that is decently moderated – the titles one gets as they are more active members is a sort of incentive.

Also you can always go in and give someone a custom title if they ‘emerge’ as something other than their general title.

Perhaps I will find this different as I get into the forum more from and Admin perspective.

Either way, great blog… I’ve read it from start to this post so far to inform me on my venture.

Martin Reed - Blog Author April 21, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Shaun – Forum titles based on post count can be advantageous, but in my experience I find that you risk people posting low quality content just so they can achieve the next ranking. My members love their custom forum ranks – they feel special and valued, and they don’t get rewarded solely for their post count, but rather for their overall contribution to the community.

Thanks for your kind words about the blog – it’s great to have you around.

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