A common goal communities have when creating a website is to provide their members with a way to interact with one another. That’s where our specially-designed "Forum" page steps in to fill this need.
In the following article, we cover the various features found on the “Forum” page type, different ways you can use this page, and tips for managing it. Read on to discover the versatility of this interactive page!
The “Forum” page type was designed with features in mind to encourage community discussions on the website by allowing members to post topics and comment on existing ones. Within each post, members can include photos, add links, and use the basic formatting tools to emphasize certain parts of their message.
A record of all posts and threads are maintained on the page with a search feature available that allows users to filter through the posts. This way, they can quickly find what they're looking for! You’ll find topics sorted on the page from newest to oldest, with topics that have new activity automatically placed at the top. Within each topic thread, new comments are sorted from oldest to newest, so the reader can easily follow the flow of conversation.
When you have an interactive page type, like the “Forum,” it’s important that your members are aware of new activity on that page. Therefore, we’ve built-in multiple notification options for your members!
By default, members will be notified via email of new comments on topics they’ve created or had already commented on. They can also update their contact preferences to receive email notifications of all new forum topics and comments added to this page. For those that don’t wish to receive these more frequent notifications, they can still stay up-to-date on new activity through the weekly or monthly What's Happening emails that will include all new topics and comments added to the forum during that period.
Now that you’re familiar with the features available on the “Forum” page, you can begin to imagine the possibilities! Below we’ve shared some different ways you can use this page on your website.
Public and private discussions
The most common use of this page is to create a general community discussion board available to all approved, active accounts on your website. To help start a dialogue on the page, we recommend administrators create a handful of productive topics that members can begin to comment on.
If you'd like to create private group discussions, like a “Board of Directors chat” or a committee discussion area for Architectural Review Committee approvals, you can do so by creating a separate forum page and restricting access to only that custom group.
In the event you'd like to hide these private forums from anyone outside of that group, by enabling this extra privacy feature in your “Settings” section, you can hide the restricted pages from displaying in the page menu. This way, visitors and members will only see pages in the menu that they have permission to view!
Lost & found
Due to the interactive nature of this page, it also works well as a "Lost & found" area. Here, members can post about a lost or found pet or item in a single place. When using the forum for this purpose, we recommend providing specific instructions on how you’d like the post added. For instance, by adding “Lost” or “Found” in the topic title, members will be able to search by that keyword! We’ve provided an example of this below.
You can also use the “Forum” page type as a place for members to share their recommendations and experiences with vendors/contractors, restaurants, daycares, and other local businesses. This is a great way to engage your community and share helpful resources!
The ability to receive instant email notifications about activity on this page also makes it a great option for discussions around emergency events. You can use this page to share evacuation routes, disaster developments, and see where your community members need additional assistance. An example of this can be seen below.
A fun option for the "Forum" page is to use this as a "Recognition" page where you showcase the outstanding members in your community. Here, you can allow your members to give shout-outs to other members for good deeds and accomplishments in the community. This page also works well during graduation season where parents and relatives can congratulate and highlight their graduating seniors!
Managing the page
To create an effective “Forum” page, we recommend taking the time to consider the management of the page on your website. By providing a clear set of guidelines/rules of how the page is to be used in the page text at the top of the forum, your members will understand the expectations and potential repercussions of not following the rules set out by your community. An example of this can be seen below.
Another decision you’ll want to make is who will moderate the page. Administrators with the “pages” privileges will have access to edit the forum page, as well as any individuals or groups you add as page editors. This means they can remove all topics and comments not deemed appropriate or that break the guidelines outlined by the community. Additionally, those with the “pages” administrative privilege can block members from viewing and accessing the page by updating the page’s restrictions.
Also, we recommend that all of the forum moderators enable the additional forum contact preferences in their member settings. This way, they’ll receive instant email notifications about all new forum content being added.
The “Forum” page type is a fun, interactive page to include on your community’s website! Through smart management, a forum can generate productive discussions around an array of topics, allow you to gather feedback and new ideas, and foster active participation from your members on the website and in the community.
In the above article, we’ve shared a handful of ways to incorporate the “Forum” page on your website, but there are plenty more use cases! If you have other ideas for incorporating this page type, please share them with our customer success team. We’re always looking for more creative ways to use the features available on our service!