At the beginning of June, I wrote an article entitled ‘Cut down on the forum categories‘. In the article, I wrote about why there is nothing worse than having too many forum categories if they are not going to be used.
I argued that you should keep forum categories to a minimum and only add more once a good quantity of content relevant to them has been created. This way you can set up the new category and move existing, relevant threads to them – this gives you immediate content for the new category and justifies its presence.
When members request new categories
Your members will often ask for new categories for your forum. Often, they do this without having a full understanding of just how forums and communities work. Much of the time, they feel that if a category is set up based on a specific topic, it will naturally fill with content.
Of course, this may well happen – but it rarely does. From my experience, if you add a category based on members requesting a new area on the forum, it will often languish dormant and empty. You want to avoid this at all costs.
There is a way of satisfying your members and your own forum development goals, though.
Listening, trialling and experimenting
If demand for a new forum category seems to be high but you are still concerned that it will not be utilised, you can set up the new category on a trial basis. Let your members know that you are willing to trial the requested category for a limited period (a month, for example) and will decide on its permanence based on its use.
If, at the end of the month the category is being used and filled with content, you can keep it as a permanent feature. If it is empty and unused, you can remove the category and your members should understand.
By taking this approach you are engaging with your members and showing your willingness to listen to their feedback. By establishing a new forum category on a trial basis, you are showing your users that you are willing to give their ideas a try. If the new category doesn’t work out they will understand and accept that you were at least willing to put their ideas into practice.
If the category is successful, then you will have an additional area of value within your community and your members will have a greater sense of shared ownership as they suggested its creation.
Have you set up a new forum category based on member requests? Was the new category successful? Have you created a requested category on a trial basis? How did it work out? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.