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Making Discussion Rooms Private: Pros and Cons

Discussion in 'Community Announcements' started by Kevin Muldoon, Feb 8, 2015.

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  1. A Rise Forums member mentioned to me that they would prefer discussions here to be private i.e. hidden from search engines.

    As many of you know, Rise Forums was originally private and no threads were public. One of the reasons for making rooms public (except the premium members room) is because it allows non-members to see these threads. That allows us to share threads with others on Twitter. It also allows these threads to be indexed in search engines. Which, in turn, encourages more people to sign up. Being freely available to everyone also allows people to browse the forum for a while and get a feel for the community before signing up.

    Therefore, from a promotion point of view, making most rooms viewable by non-members will help us grow quicker.

    However, I do understand the benefits to having a private forum, as many people will not like the fact the questions they ask can be found by anyone on search engines.

    The premium discussion room is private. Therefore, for the time being, that is the best place to publish anything private. Though I realise it is not the same as Rise Forums is not currently organised with different discussion rooms in the premium members area.

    Would love to hear all of your thoughts on the issue.

    Would you like there to be more private discussion rooms?

    Kevin
     
  2. One way you could do is only part of the first post is visible and all other replies / comments are shown as hidden with an option to sign in and view the reply. This is something appthemes has implemented for their forums (if you see without logging in you will see on the first post visible and all other posts with an option to sign in and view the reply.
     
  3. This is really personnel choice, It have both pros and cons. Open thread bring traffic, and help to more signup. Private room is sometime essential due to content of discussion which need privacy.

    Make sure good thread that are solving problem (or tutorial) are available, So most of the time a thread should be public. Sometime it could be kept private on request of original poster
     
  4. I'm curious how many active users of Rise forums found it through search engines. It would be interesting to survey everyone to find out how they found the forums.

    Some people might be more open to discussion if the forums were private.

    I just had an idea... maybe make the private discussion room open to active members once they've posted a certain number of posts (to prove they're not spammers or whatever).

    I wish the forums were private. I know a lot of people will read them, but I wish it were just people who were part of the forums, because those are the people I'm talking to.

    Another side of the coin is that if it's all searchable, why join? I know, you can't post and discuss without joining, but you can read and learn without joining. Making it membership only, even if it's still free, could compel some people to join.

    Also, there could be more private discussion areas just for members... maybe a third open to anyone, and two thirds private.
     
  5. Thanks for the feedback everyone.

    I have seen many forums using this myself. It is not too difficult to implement as there are many add ons available for it.

    Yeah I agree. Making some tutorials publicly available will entice people to sign up.

    At the moment the only private room available is for premium members. Making it available to members of a certain number of posts is one option, but takes away one of the benefits of being a premium member. Granted, that is something I need to review soon anyways as I should be focusing on growth.

    Some people take time to sign up to a forum. There are a lot of forums in which I have browsed for a while and then signed up months later. Prakash's suggestion of limiting the number of views is a good one. It would allow search engines to index content and would allow first-time visitors to view a thread. However, if they keep returning, they will be asked to sign up. I think that could be one of the best ways to encourage people to sign up.
     
  6. Here is my opinion.
    I like everything to be open I guess simply because it does bring traffic to my own site. Not that I am answering just to get traffic but I think having it open helps those of us who take the time out of our schedules to help grow Rise Forums. I get quite a bit of referral traffic and I am assuming it is because people like my answers and then go read my blog?

    I never say anything online that I don't want someone else knowing, whether it is private or not. It's called the interwebz for a reason :)

    I do like @prakash idea though of limiting it on views. I have seen quite a few forums do it this way. That might be a good middle ground. Like you said, your signups might decrease if you make everything private.
     
  7. I looked into the addon that is available that limits views. It does not seem to be supported well and contains bugs. I will keep an eye out for an alternative.

    I believe referral traffic can be a good way to encourage people to participate. On the downside, it can also attract people who give poor responses and simply post garbage messages in order to display their signature. However, locking signatures behind the paid option and moderating things correctly, should stop that from happening (you can never eliminate it).

    Thanks for all the feedback. It's good to hear all your thoughts on this issue.
     
    Brian Jackson likes this.
  8. I would suggest adding a box with USP's of being a member of the community, somewhere below the header above the forum overview. It should be visible to guests only.

    Also, I remember there are forums that are using a shortcode to lock content for registered users only. For instance, if I were to share a coupon code, I could lock it using [premium] coupon code here [/premium] shortcode, making it available to members only. This would allow for all the content to be public, but lock the benefits to members only. I am guessing this would entice guests to join the community. I am not sure whether XenForo has this option, but I know it could work wonders for the amount of registrations.
     
    Heather likes this.
  9. Good idea Boris. I did a search on Xenforo, but could not find any solution for displaying shortcodes on forums.

    At the moment, the best way to handle this would be to have a special offers room that could only be seen by registered members.
     
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