Whenever a client asks me to add a discussion forum to their website, my first questions are: Do you have anyone to moderate it? And will anyone use it? Here’s what can happen if both answers are negative.
The Future of the NHS Forum was launched in 2006, on the 60th anniversary of the National Health Service. It accompanied the book of the same name, which featured views from experts and politicians of all shades. Since then, the forum has gathered a mere 36 entries and 15,858 registered users (and rising).
A browse through the members’ list explains all – they include “slots avenue casino”, “AdultMasterXXX” and (suitably for an NHS forum) ViagraComprarOnline. As air will fill a vacuum, so spam will fill a forum.
Of course, one way to get your new forum going is to do what letters page editors of under-read magazines have done for years (and I’ve worked on quite a few): make them up. And if that sounds a bit desperate, imagine having to resort to making up your own blog comments…