Since the beginning, great consideration has been given to whether or not Swapfig should have its own forum. Now that the site has a lot more users, and a steady audience of people actively using it, it's time to think about it yet again.
Reasons for Swapfig having its own forum...
- Much more engagement from and with Swapfig users. While the main site would function as normal, adding a message board would encourage repeat visits. It would also encourage users who might not actually be interested in trading to engage with other people.
- Everything under one roof. The closest thing Swapfig has to a forum is its Facebook page, and that hasn't worked out incredibly well. Of note: the forum doesn't necessarily have to be hosted in the same place as the main site.
- [Potentially] greater presence on the Internet. Having our own forum could help more people discover Swapfig without having to spend money on advertising.
- Motivation. We would have a much better idea of how well Swapfig is doing from comments in the forums, rather than having to hope that someone actually lets us know via our Contact form. It would also help us reach our audience a lot more easily when changes are made and - goodness forbid - something bad happens.
Reasons for Swapfig NOT having its own forum...
- Out of respect for other forums.
Swapfig probably wouldn't exist, nor would have gained as much traction as it had, if it hadn't been for some of the mainstream LEGO fan forums. One in particular was extremely supportive with helping Swapfig get on its feet.
- Much more maintenance (in terms of hosting). Although there are ready-made solutions available, running a forum is more or less like running another site. Available hosting space, bandwidth and the server specifications are important considerations, especially if interest in the site explodes.
- Much more maintenance (in terms of moderation). As we've seen with our House Rules, some people using Swapfig like to mess things up for everybody. We don't want our day job to become moderating a forum on top of everything else. We're also not going to give just anyone moderator status.
- Trolls. Every forum - including the popular LEGO ones - has a bunch of "special" people who set themselves up as trolls, know-it-alls or self-appointed spokespeople. While we really would prefer not to have any whatsoever, we know it's going to happen anyway.
Whether or not we incorporate a forum into Swapfig will eventually be decided as part of The Big Redesign... but we'd like to know what you think. Leave your thoughts and comments below.