Over the years, I have considered buying numerous forums, some that I saw for sale and some where the owner approached me directly. Though I have carefully considered a few opportunities, I have never gone through with it.
It’s not because I have anything against buying and selling forums – I don’t. It’s not that the forums weren’t valuable. It’s not that they couldn’t have made me money. I do love money. But there are a lot of things I could do for money that I don’t do. If you only do it for money, this article won’t really apply to you.
The biggest reason tends to be that I am not liking the culture of the community. The tone, the atmosphere, how people speak to one another. What they are or are not allowed to get away with – illegal or otherwise. I could always buy a community and change it substantially, but why do that? Why buy something I don’t think highly of as is? The members are used to a certain thing, why change it?
Of course, I could buy the community and keep it running as it already has been. But then we get back to the fact that I don’t like the culture – I’m not proud of it. If I’m not proud of it, then we’re back to doing it for the money. And, again, there are a lot of things one can do for money.
When you start a forum, you know everything about it. You know where it has been, you know what challenges it has faced, you know where the bodies are buried. You know the history.
Since you were there from day 1, in general, members tend to have a little more respect for you. Your motives aren’t as easily questioned, since there would not be a forum if you hadn’t launched it. When you buy a forum, one that has already existed without you, members will be not be as trusting of your motives. You are a stranger, that will have to earn their respect slowly and carefully.
The community manager who just bought the forum isn’t treated with the same benefit of the doubt as the one who started it. You are the new guy, changing the community for the worse, who just wants to squeeze every dime you can out of the place! Wow, I didn’t know you were that guy.
That’s the challenge. And it can be overcome by taking your time and involving members. It’s worth doing – for the right forum that represents the type of community you want to be associated with. But it does slow you down.
The thing I appreciate most about starting a forum, instead of taking over an existing one, is that I really get the opportunity to guide the culture, to shape the level of discourse. What makes me really proud of KarateForums.com is how people speak to one another. I love it. But that didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of work to cultivate that level of discourse and requires active management to maintain that focus. This focus allows us to attract people who enjoy this environment.
Because I have been there since the beginning, the community has always been this way. No one can ever say “you changed!” No one can ever say that I have been anything but consistent, direct and honest. I can say, with absolute conviction, that the community has had these goals from day 1.
This is very powerful. A member can’t tell me that I’m new and don’t know what it used to be like here because I was here and partially responsible for whatever it was at that time. Of course, people can play games with me – but they can’t play those games. When you have run a large community since before it had 1 post, the experience that you have gives you an incredibly deep perspective.
Now that I’ve covered this angle, let’s talk about the benefits of buying a forum.