09 November 2005

Measuring the success of your board - Part 2

Some other signs your community is quality and in good health:

  • Speedy answers to tricky questions - this thread on WMW puts forward the case: "When quick answers are the norm, that means that the forum is well-trafficked, has a good range of expertise among its posting members, and that the members care about responding to new questions"
  • A normal distribution of member postcounts - a healthy forum is one where all members contribute. A forum where the posting every day is dominated by a few 'elite' will often be fairly unwelcoming to others, and you won't benefit from the widerange of opinions that only a broad group of people can bring. If you wanted to quantify that, I guess you could plot a histogram of the posts-per-day average of your members - you'd want it all grouped close to the average (low standard deviation, for the more statistically inclined amongst you!)
  • Great community spirit - the signs of this are worth a topic all of their own, but rough-and-ready signs include members calling each other by their real-life names, having nicknames for each other (this is quite common), meeting up in real life, organising competitions and other projects together (without you pushing them or even suggesting it), and last but not least, lots of members actively making suggestions on how to improve the site - though this might also mean that you've got a poorly set out board and your members are exasperated, often it's a sign that your members want to stick around as much as they can, so want to make that time as valuable as possible.
  • Regular, frequent return visits - if you find members regularly visit your board several times a day, you know they're hooked!
  • Word-of-mouth referrals - your board is so good that people are making the effort to include it in conversation with their friends - wahey! Either that, or your reputation and authority (see A is for Authority) in your niche means that your site is the first one people can think of sending people to when they have a question to be answered or a passion to be fulfilled - sweet!