Phpbb2 My Favorite Mods
I mentioned in a previous article about all the ins and outs of using PHPBB2, an open source forum. Although it does have some quirks about it, the program is free and with a little help from the PHPBB community, not impossible to install even for the novice. The program you will upload, however, is fairly basic in nature therefore modifications [or, mods as some prefer to call them] can be useful to install. I have found several favorites that have worked rather well for me. Now, I am plan on sharing that information with you!
Chat - What forum isn't complete without a chat room. PHPBB2, for one. Yes, you have to install one yourself but the IRQ chat add-on is certainly worth it and it works much better than some that I have seen on sites that contain this feature. EZBoard is one such site that comes to mind.
Who Is Online - As an administrator you already know who is online at any given time. Unfortunately, the "stock" version of this feature shows people who have been online only for the past five minutes. Fortunately, a mod has been developed that can extend this feature to fifteen minutes or later. Is this important? No, but it gives you a more accurate picture of what your real time traffic figures really are.
Google Ads - A special mod has been developed to permit you to run and display banner ads, much like Google's AdSense. Hey, you want to make a little bit of money off of your site now don't you?
Smilies - You do love emoticons, don't you? Well even if you don't, they can certainly spice up any forum. Lots of neat "paks" have been developed, some containing animated icons too. Especially nice to have around Yuletide for easy access to Christmas themed emoticons.
Disable Board Message - Being able to customize the message you have posted when your site is down is essential to clueing in your members as to the time when your forum will once again become activated. This mod does just that.
There are numerous other mods and styles from which you can choose. Some are easy to install while others are moderately so. A small group of mods are difficult to install and will take you well over one hour to complete. Choose your battles wisely and be careful when you install updates to PHPBB2. By not selecting a "patch" file update you can erase any modifications you made in just moments.
Phpbb2 Selecting The Correct Update
In my previous articles about PHPBB2 I shared with readers my experience in shifting over to this type of software and I also listed some of my favorite mods and styles. If you already have downloaded PHPBB2 and are running it on your computer you have a great piece of open source software at your finger tips. As with any program you must keep it up to date. Let's take a look at some important things to consider in keeping your program current.
First of all, the best thing you can do is to subscribe to the opt-in mailing list for notification of any updates. You must subscribe as no one will automatically tell you your site is out of date although your administration panel will give that information to you. To opt-in please visit www.phpbb.com to subscribe.
Next, when updates are announced you must select between two methods: a "changed files only" update or a "patch" update. If you haven't made any extra special modifications to your program than the first choice is what you want. Simply download the information to your desktop, unzip the files, and follow the installation instructions on how to update your board. If you have added on some modifications than a "patch" update is for you. If you select the former method you will delete all of your modifications. Thus, only a patch update is what you want in order to keep your modifications in place.
So, that's it. Make sure you receive notifications of changes as they occur and select the right update for your board. When an update is announced, plan on installing sooner rather than later as many updates include important security improvements that can help to close holes in the program.
How Can I Monetize My Forum And Start Making Money With It
New forums are popping up around the net all the time, adding to the thousands of forums on out there already. Many of them will never make it past a few months; some of them become pillars of the ever growing internet community. What makes the difference you ask? The following concepts will explore why some forums become successful and how to turn the success into cash.
Forums are a place for people to exchange ideas. There are two key elements in that simple sentence, people and ideas. You need people in your forum and you need them to be talking about things that matter, things that will get others to join in the fun. This gets you to the first problem, getting people and getting them to talk. People don't like to join empty forums so you will need to get a few friends together and start posting topic others would be interested in talking about. When your forum is small, you really need to target a niche and get a good core group of regularly posting members. With many huge forums out there you are not likely to succeed with a broad forum. You can always expand later when your users ask you to. Start small with quality content, or if you already have a forum scale it down and find a target group.
If you are good with code or graphically inclined, you should spend some time customizing the forum so people feel like they are part of something special. You need to invest some time into making your forum look professional and inviting to people in your target niche. If you already have a forum maybe it is time for a makeover. Our visual sense is our strongest sense so a redesign will make a big difference.
Traffic, traffic, and more traffic. Every website needs traffic and everybody talks about how to get traffic so we won't dwell on it too much. We will look at how to make that traffic into cash instead. Now that you have a core group of users and your forum is looking all pretty, let's see if we can squeeze some ads in there. Affiliate banners such as Adsense probably won't make you money unless you have massive amounts of traffic so you are better off finding your own sponsors. Since you are targeting a specific niche of people you will have an easier time to find individual sponsors. You can use something like Adbrite where individual sponsors will sign up for your site, commission junction where you can lick niche specific sponsors, or you can implement a custom php solution, what ever you think might work best.
An even better way to make money is if you can directly sell services or products to your members. For example a forum talking about web hosts can offer web hosting directly, a forum talking about travel can offer downloadable wall papers and so on. Also a great idea is to have something like a gift shop where people can order T-shirts, coffee mugs and so on with the forum logo on it. You could also look into maybe a good drop-shipping retailer deal for arts and crafts related forums. The possibilities are so broad that we will discuss it in the next article.
For now the you have lots of work to do, target your forum at a specific niche, get a core group together and start producing some valuable content. If start seeing increase in your traffic you can start looking for advertisers or establish services for sale or get a product line together.
Web 2 0 Tag Based Forum
Web 2.0 generally refers to a second generation of services available on the World Wide Web that lets people collaborate and share information online. Web 2.0 application often use a combination of techniques devised in the late 1990s, including public web service APIs, Ajax and web syndication. They often allow for mass publishing (web-based social software). The term may include blogs and wikis.
Lately, a new Web 2.0 application has launched called SayOutLoud. SayOutLoud is an interesting and new approach to your average discussion board site. It's not a discussion system that you download and install on your site, but a one location where anyone can go and discuss anything at all. It uses tagging rather then using forums and threads to organize content. The system is extremely minimalist and is designed in a way that anyone can get in and start a discussion.
A tag is a keyword which acts like a subject or category. A keyword is used to organize webpages and objects on the Internet. Each user "tags" a webpage or image using his/her own unique tag. An image or webpage may have multiple tags that identify it. Webpages and images with identical tags are then linked together and users may use the tag to search for similar webpages and images.
When you submit your story to SayOutLoud, it notifies several other Web 2.0 services including Del.icio.us and Technorati about your post. Because these systems also support tagging, hundreds of users watching a the tag(s) you posted to will immideately discover your post. You can have the experts reading whatever you had to say out loud in minutes.
SayOutLoud also features your average discussion board functionality where you can search posts and users, manage your profile, and post new threads. Although the main difference is that everything is organized with folksonomy so when searching for users and threads, you can search by tag. Because of this, it also makes it easy for me to find people with related interests and to follow their discussion simply by searching for users on a specific interest tag. I type in "AJAX" and I get a list of members that are interested in Ajax. Same applies to threads. Furthermore, you can also view a tag cloud so you can find new and popular discussions.
Why Do Some Websites Have Message Boards
Remember when email seemed so quick and convenient? You could share your thoughts with a friend or group of friends within a period of a few minutes. Then the technology of instant messaging was developed, and with it, message boards. Website builders quickly picked up on the use of message boards, seeing how these boards allowed instant communication between everyone viewing their website.
A message board can be found in several different formats. Some websites require visitors to create an account, with a user name and password, before they can post a message on the board. Other websites have message boards that are open to anyone to post anonymously. Their post will show up instantly on the board. Sometimes, a message board will be watched over by an editor, or moderator, who can reject or delete posts based on whether the content of the post is appropriate for that website. On these boards, posts are often delayed for a brief period of time so that the moderator can read over the post. Some message boards are divided up by topic. These are also referred to as threads. Visitors to the message board can pick a topic, and when they post their message, it will appear under that topic.
So what is the benefit of a website having a message board? Some websites are actually built around message boards. An example of this type of website might be a hobby website for people who like to paint scenery. The site would have a message board where artists could come to talk to other artists to get ideas or tips, or to find out about a specific topic related to painting, such as where to buy a certain type of paint or brush. Other websites have message boards to encourage traffic on their site. Think of a music group, for example. By providing message boards for their fans, they are encouraging their fans both to visit their site and to spread the word about their group, which would in turn increase album and merchandise sales.
If you are looking for information on any topic, a message board is a great place to visit. And, if you are building your own website, consider adding one; there are many benefits, and it will be appreciated by everyone who visits your site.
Forum Essentials Dress Up Your Site For The Holidays
If you manage a message board community, a key to your site's success is the lively banter between members. Without conversation, your site will quickly die off. You can't police your forum and respond to every post, but there are a few things you can do as an administrator to get things moving again.
Hold a contest. Yes, who doesn't like to win something, anything? You don't have to spend a lot of money and the prize can be as simple as a magazine subscription, free membership for one year to your site, or an electronic gift card for the lucky winner. Want to go big time? Find a merchant to sponsor a gift; in exchange for their donation give them free advertising on your site for an agreed period of time.
Update your icons. The same old, nondescript icons will certainly bring about the yawns. Spice things up by swapping out one set of icons for another. Holiday themed icons are a favorite.
Change your background or theme. Holiday themed backgrounds that promote a warm glow in the hearts of your members will retain your visitors like nothing else. Put away the stale, antiseptic backgrounds and put some holiday pizzazz into your forums.
Cyber Grab Bag. No, I haven't tried this one...yet! However, I do know of sites where members play "Secret Santa" with other members. This can be in the form of a surprise email, an electronic gift, or a donation to the recipient's favorite charity.
There are many other ways to get your site moving again. Use this festive time of the year to come up with a plan that is certain to spark interest in your site. If in doubt as to what to do next, ask your members...they'll know!
How To Become A Successful Freelancer Designer On The Contest Forums
Do you want to know the best method to become successful as a Freelance Web, Logo & Template Designer? This article will help you save hours hunting around for the best forums and techniques to succeed!
There is no better way of improving your skills, getting recognised and building up ideas than to compete in the Graphic Design Forums. With so many different contest forums on the web it is difficult to pick out the ones that are best suited to for you. There are literally hundreds of web sites offering freelance services and forums.
A good way to help you decide is to think about what kind of results you wish to get out of joining. Some people join to compete against other designers in the hopes of winning competitions and receiving financial rewards. Others join up to learn from their professional competitors and slowly build up their skills and reputation. The problem with competing for money is that unless you are a well established and talented designer with loads of previous experience you are unlikely to win many if any competitions. How do I know this? Well, I tried to do that exact thing for over a year and it rarely paid off for me.
It is important to understand that top professional designers with years of experience will be regularly showing of their creative skills by submitting their superior designs. They have a system in place for quickly and professionally come up with brilliant designs to meet the clients specifications. However, don't let this put you off as competing against the professionals will help you to improve your own works.
When looking at current submission think of how you could improve upon that design. I am not saying rip off their designs, as this will lead to your account being banned from the forums. Simply acknowledge their work and come up with something equally as original based on the guidelines set by the client and submissions already present.
Here are some useful design forums to look at:http://www.sitepoint.comhttp://www.namepros.comhttp://www.designcontests.netNext weeks article will focus on these forums in more detail. We will also discuss how to successful build up a reputation.
Forums Talk And Make Money
If you have a website about a topic you enjoy, you can make money from discussion forums. Talk, post links to your site, get traffic. Traffic means money, right? If not, try different affiliate programs or Google Adwords. The worst sites should get a couple cents per visitor. Now here's how to talk and make money.
Search "forum" plus the topic of your site on Google or Alta Vista. For my first site, I searched "backpacking + forum" and in the pages of results I found several good forums. I also searched related topics like "hiking" too. You can also check about.com, and other sites that have forums on many topics.
Registration is usually giving your email address and choosing a password. Some forums allow guests to post without registering. Once registered, browse the forum topics, and post a response to anything, just to "learn the ropes".
Income From Discussion Forums
The point of posting in forums is to get readers to come to your web site. Sure it's fun to give advice and discuss things of interest to you, but that's secondary. With that in mind, do the following:
1. Always link to your site. If they don't allow any links, find another forum.
2. Don't "spam." Sales pitches will be removed. Offer honest advice, or express an opinion, then sign off with your name and the link to your site.
3. Ask for help from others. This is an effective and acceptable way to "advertise." Enter a topic like "Can I get some advice?" and post something like, "I just started a meditation site. If some of you would visit and tell me what you think, I'd really appreciate it." Have a link to the site. People love to help, and to give opinions, and they'll click on those ads while they're at your site.
4. Look at total "views." Many forums show the total times each "thread" has been viewed. When you see some with many more than others, get in on those, or start a new thread on the same topic. Go where the traffic is, and get some of it.
I didn't like the idea of forums until I made a few posts, and saw my traffic and revenue climb for days afterwards. That convinced me. Just be polite, offer some value to others, and always have a link to your site. Many other secrets of using forums are covered in my newsletter, but this should be get you started. Talk and make money today.
The Demise Of Ezboard
For years, EZBoard was a community that offered relatively cheap and easy to maintain forums for managers. Virtually anyone could register, design, and layout a site and invite their friends to participate. Indeed, some of the largest forums on the internet are built upon EZBoard. Unfortunately, a recent system-wide hacking attack has destroyed the company's reputation and sent many managers packing. Let's look at the venerable community and the fatal flaw that has toppled the company from its perch.
At one time EZBoard boasted over 14,000 web communities. Many were started by individuals seeking a discussion forum for their favorite topics, while others were started by business people such as myself. The reasons businesses were attracted to EZBoard were two-fold:
1. We were not knowledgeable enough about PHP to create and manage a site for ourselves, and
2. We did not want to go through the expense of hosting our site on a dedicated server and, instead, used EZBoard's vast bank of computers to house our communities.
Admittedly, reason #1 was a huge part of why I stuck with EZBoard. Sure, I knew about vBulletin and related forums but purchasing a license from them and managing the site on a dedicated server was a pricey option, especially since at one time I was managing more than a dozen forums! I could handle the variable charges incurred from being with EZBoard by paying my subscription charges on either a quarterly, semi-annually or even yearly basis. I doubt that I dished out more than $500-600 in any given year, so it was cost effective for my business.
I should have known that EZBoard was not quite up to the task when their system shut down for several days in Spring 2004 after what was supposed to be a simple system-wide update of the forums. A few hours of down time was extended to several days and forum administrators were left in the dark for all of that time. More importantly, many forum members assumed the worst and peppered many an administrator's inbox with queries. Those days were not fun; EZBoard did recover and gave managers credits exceeding the number of days they were down. Still, if you relied on AdSense revenue - like I do - you lost big time.
History was to repeat itself on May 30, 2005, when a reported outside attack by hackers brought down EZBoard altogether. Yes, the boards were still working, but the majority of messages were gone and any new ones also began to disappear. EZBoard admitted almost immediately they were hacked and were working diligently to restore the 9000 boards affected. Soon, however, the news came out that much of their backup files were hacked as well. Forum managers wondered if EZBoard kept all their files on vulnerable servers or if the attack was done internally. Messages from EZBoard management were vague "in the interest of security" so nobody knew for sure.
As the days passed and forum managers realized that the restoral process would only be partial and take weeks to accomplish, a steady stream of managers began to hit the php sites to see about moving their boards. With trepidation I visited the PHPBB2 site knowing that my skillsets were limited in this area. However, I soon learned that this particular program was open source - in effect, free - and the Flash tutorials explained everything clearly and effectively. So, in one evening I set up the new site, transferred some files, and gave it a launch.
The best part? In the two years since I was with EZBoard my hosting company for web pages had upgraded their site enough to be able to house my message boards. So, instead of having web pages on one server and my forums on another, I could house them collectively. Most importantly, I would no longer have to rely on EZBoard's flawed backup plans and could backup all the files myself.
I still have one EZBoard community and I may keep it, for now. It is a small, but very well established where it is "sitting" and I lost only 4 or 5 files under the attack. Two of my sites I transferred to PHP and two others I decided to delete as they were slower performers. Fortunately, I had gotten rid of several smaller, no performing sites earlier. Still, I felt the pain of EZBoard's hacking incident and decided the time to move was now.
So, what is the future of EZBoard? That is hard to tell. They are promising a major upgrade which would include the ability allowing managers to back up their own sites. That would be a very good move. However, the administrative costs with EZBoard now exceed what managers pay with many standard web hosting companies. Few sites are large enough to require a dedicated server, therefore many managers will likely consider making the move away.
I was twice bitten from EZBoard and did not relish a third hit, thus my two largest sites are now with PHPBB2. The move was time consuming, but the new board has many more advanced features compared to EZBoard. Sure, I have more administrative things to do - like help AOL users who have difficulty signing up - but I no longer am subject to the whims of EZBoard. I am glad that a major risk factor has been removed even with the increased administrative responsibilities. You will be too if you decide to make the move.
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