Now I have been running this forum with the help of a couple of friends for the last four plus years and it has been a lot of fun and I have met some lovely and interesting people, some of which I am happy to call friends. But if you asked me four years ago if you thought that you would be running the forum now I have to admit I didnt. Also if you asked me how much time and effort this forum would take up I think I would of answered "well not a lot of time". Well I am glad to say it is still hear but it dont half take up a lot of my time, by the way I am not moaning about that as I love running it.
Now are forums important for games and players of the games or will players naturally arrange stuff for themselves on various platforms? Now I guess this should of been the question I should of asked myself four years ago when me and friend decided to open the forum. I guess we actually did in a way as A Very British Civil Forum was born as we had a very good forum previously called Gentlemen's Wargames Parlour, which is still about and was the home of VBCW for a number of years but a number of problems with the forum, mainly that the forum was down more often than not, led to us opening up your one. If you like your forums I can recommend GWP3 as a good forum that cover a number of historical topics and periods.
So wide eyed we opened up the new forum and it took about a year to get the format correct and in fact I am always adding new stuff and taking down old stuff to make it better and fresher. Now this is one of the things about running a forum, you might of come up with the idea, you might be the driving force behind it and you might feel that you are the one doing everything for everyone, but the forum is not YOUR forum, it is the users forum and you should listen to what they say. After all the members are the one ones that use it, comment, start discussions, etc, all you have done is provided a place for them to do so.
In my case, VBCF, is easy to have and do because it is linked to a wargaming period and a niche at that, with no competition from other forums and fully backed for the authors of the game, which helps. I can imagine that a forum about general wargaming would be much harder to do, get members, need more work put in, etc, as the competition with other forums and alike. Just look at Lead Adventure Forum and see just how many different topics there is and the number of moderators too. But all of this is rewarding, knowing that you have helped bring people from around the world together and build a community around it.
But there is a down, darker side to running a forum and that when things are not going so well. Recently VBCF servers went down for a few days, along with the support forums from the hosts. This is a nightmare, no forum and no-one to contact about it. Usually when there is a outage, the support forum as still up and running so you can contact them and also it only last 24 hours at the most. Now this outage lasted a few days, three days and then a couple days after to get it up and running correctly. Now the first time I usually find out that the forum is not want in when I start receiving emails from members asking what is wrong with the forum, and in my case on Facebook on the VBCW page, through Facebook messenger, texts, you name it, I received it, okay I didnt get a carrier pigeon or a brick through the window, but you get the picture. Now you can do is answer the correspondences raised and contact the forum providers for updates. I have to say I with lucky as the forum hosts, freeforum.org, had a Facebook page and had gone to the trouble of setting up a support forum on another hosts so we could find information, report problems and read the updates and progress of the fix. Now this is important so you can them relay this information back to your members so they know what it happening, because it is easy to loose members to a forum not being available, thinking that it is closed for good or I dont care.
But it is all back, running and everything is fine. So what is the point of this post, well it is a bit of information really about running a forum and what fun it is but it is hard work. If you every would to take up a similar challenge and create a forum yourself, my advise is have a long, hard think about it, as it is a lot my work than you think but it is rewarding. Its something that you should find like minded people to give you a hand with the running of it and gosh the internet does half make that part easier, people will offer there help anyway after a while so the help is always there. But go for it and see if it works and if it does fine and if not again it is not a big loss.
I hope you find this of some use.
Have a nice day.