I recently discussed the benefits of starting a forum instead of buying one, so I wanted to flip that around and talk about the benefits of buying one as opposed to launching a new one. All of the benefits can be summed up with one word: maturity.
An established community is already launched. This means that it can already have a good domain name, a nice design and software that is installed and configured. It is receiving traffic, has a database of members and contributions and active members who are adding more content every day.
One of the benefits to starting a forum instead of buying one is that you can help shape the culture. But if the community already has a great culture, that’s a big benefit. In fact, that is one of the things I look for when considering buy a forum. I don’t want to have any major philosophical differences. I don’t want to buy something that embarrasses me or makes me look bad or isn’t fun for me. If there is a culture match, that’s a great benefit and then I can help further what is already in place.
Along those same lines, a forum that already exists, if it is well managed, can already have a great infrastructure in place for moderating the community, when it comes to removing content, documenting actions and contact members. If the community is already well managed, that means less setup time for you.
Of course, all of the above represents a best case scenario. Maybe the community gets tons of traffic, but has been neglected and there is a lot of spam. Maybe the community doesn’t get much activity these days, but has a massive database of legitimate content from previous contributors. Maybe it is well run and active, but they haven’t monetized, so they aren’t making any money. Maybe they have an ugly design or a bad domain name.
Many things can increase the value of a forum. So just because it may be missing certain elements doesn’t mean it isn’t worth something or a lot. The areas that it already has are areas where you didn’t have to do the work. Areas where it is lacking are the ones where you may need to focus. That can be tricky as you’ll be the moneygrubbing new owner who wants to change everything!
But when you consider why you would want to buy a forum instead of starting one, it call comes back to maturity. Just make sure that it is mature in the areas that you need it to be.