Promoting more ‘high level’ discussion?

Posted on by in Forum News & Updates

Hi everyone,  this post isn’t informative about SEO or web marketing in any way – if that’s what you’re looking for I suggest you read another post.

I’m proud of what this site has achieved since launch just 16 months ago, nearly every SEO that I speak to these days has seen the site, and we have had well in excess of a million unique visitors.  Last week in fact we had record traffic days and I’m anticipating a great year of continued growth.

The challenge that I now face, and the one that I am looking to you – my peers – for advice on is:
– “how can we now promote more high level discussion on the forums?”

Don’t get me wrong, this is a general SEO forum, open to anyone of any level. Answering queries from those that have zero experience (and may infact have zero interest in search engine optimization, outside of their particular issue) is a pleasure, and I love the fact that this site will have helped in such occasions and saved people time, effort and ultimately money.

The thing is though, when I see threads that are genuinely an in depth discussion about search, well, it warms the heart. When I started the site my aim was to foster this discussion in an environment of sharing and build a resource of members that can be counted on for active debate.

high level debate

So this leads me back to my question:
- “how can we now promote more high level discussion on the forums?”

1) The answer probably isn’t in banning all the link droppers, nor is it in punishing people for poor quality responses (which lets face it isnt scalable anyway, Id need an army of moderators).

2) The answer probably isn’t in no-following all external links, or removing people’s signature privileges, when sitepoint tried that they had a revolt, and huge drop in quality posts as well.  When did it a lot of their moderators left in protest (including one moderator, a young, impressionable, clean cut Rand Fishkin who blogged about it here), proving that its not just the spammers that lose interest in the forum.

3) The answer probably isn’t in dishing out infractions either for posts with a lack of compelling content, digitalpoint is a great example of what happens when trigger happy mods dish out infractions by the thousand – the whole thing becomes an administrative nightmare

banning members

So Im pretty good at working out what probably isn’t the answer,  but I’m struggling with what could be the answer.

There’s lots of things that are currently being used to drive the community forward, we’ve got experience awards, members badges with live stats, a nice ranking of user titles based on forum engagement, a VIP section once you have over ‘x’ amount of posts, and this week as you might have noticed I’ve been pushing the guest blogging angle a bit.

While all of the aforementioned has undoubtedly played a part in the growth of the site so far, I can’t help but feel that there are some great ideas out there that would solidify this site as the best forum for discussion of search – I want to make it that so I need your help!

I am grateful for any suggestions any of you may have as to things we could or should be doing, and you never know – this post itself might just spurn some decent conversation (ahh the irony).

If you have a suggestion, but don’t want to make it in public, just PM me on the forum.

Thank you all for your thoughts.