Creative Commons License photo credit: Beatriz_Mojica

I feel like I need to say this: there’s nothing wrong with a community being “just” forums. Nothing at all. There’s this push in some circles for them to be more and that’s cool. I love when people try new things. I encourage everyone to explore their ideas. That’s how we get better, that’s how we learn. But, problems arise when we think that forums by themselves need anything else. They don’t.

First, this is nothing new. People have, for a very long time, had sites with forums that weren’t simply about forums or whose focus was not forums. So, that’s not new. Either approach can be awesome. They’ve always been a great complement to other things – and they’ve always been fine by themselves.

MySpace grows leaps and bounds. Facebook hops in next. Twitter’s all up in this. Various other buzz brands pop up, as well. vBulletin starts developing into more of a social network application. That’s all great, there is plenty of room. I love all of it, please keep going. But, don’t use this as a means of saying forums are not good enough by themselves or that they are better with more things.

This post was partially inspired by a thread at I had already planned to talk about it and I don’t want to single out Ludachris, the thread’s poster, but any means. There’s nothing wrong wrong with what he’s saying. He started a great discussion and raised some great points, too.

Just because your forums may be missing something, that’s not really an issue with forums. If you want a feature that’s missing, make it. If you need a new platform, move to it. The idea of these tools is known, but it is also flexible. You can do a lot of different things with the various community software platforms out there, including forum software. Make it happen. Go for it. See what works and share your experiences.

What some might view as issues with forums may actually just be differences in software or medium. There are things that forum software can’t do… until you do it. Some may be tired of forums and that’s cool – that’s a matter of taste. Just as some may be tired of communities trying to do more than just be forums when they’d be best served just focusing on the forums themselves.

It can be very difficult to launch a new site that does 15 different things, especially if you expect all 15 to be active. Instead, you can launch with 1 and get that part active and then once you have that memberbase, you can then poll that memberbase about the areas you want to expand into and get verbal commitments that they will participate in that new area. And once that one is active, you can do it again.

So, just remember that it’s a matter of perspective. There is nothing wrong with being “just” forums.