On August 11th 2012 Forum Hour was opened by its former owner Justin Blanchard. The forum combined the concept of advertising with webmaster in a way which seemed to catch on well the forum community. The forum grew fast and it didn’t take long for it to reach several thousand posts. Alongside his friend Hunter, known as Eternal to the forum world, the forum grew at a fast yet stable pace and several unique ideas came forth. The most popular idea which appeared was the top poster of the hour plugin which displayed a 468×60 banner on the index belonging to the member of the forum who had made the most posts in the last 60 minutes. With the forum being active this was a great incentive for users to post more and certainly helped to boost the forums activity.
A few months after opening, Justin chose to launch a posting competition. It is from here where the forum started to go downhill. There are many problems with running posting competitions, the most obvious being quality. A change in the post quality could be seen almost immediately, posts became short and spam orientated while a group of members tried to boost their count by replying to the same thread 6 or 7 times with re-written answers. Justin’s mistake here was to not show a tough approach towards these members, instead he allowed them to continue with their posting antics. For many members who were trying to participate in the competition fairly, this was a great discouragement. The posting competition also ran for nearly 8 weeks, meaning many members got fed up of posting for that amount of time and not getting any reward. In a matter of months Forum Hour had gone from a fun community to a community only posting for prizes.
The posting competition was not the only major mistake Justin made in his time as the owner of Forum Hour. His staff management skills didn’t help the forum and the hiring of several individuals let the forum down. Instead of having an open support section where members helped members, a support centre was added, where only support staff could see the requests for help. This meant that the community was locked out of valuable information and in turn, this also had a negative kickback on the forums activity. After a while, the staff situation got completely out of control with several staff members being fired and hired at a nearly daily rate. The forum however, continued to live on and thrive. At the time, many people praised the forum and Justin became a role model for many aspiring administrators.
In the beginning of December a thread appeared on a well-known Promotion forum which gained rather a lot of attention, Justin was selling Forum Hour. He ran a closed bidding on the site which after a few days ended at $300 USD. For a forum of Forum Hours size this was regarded as many as too much, but Justin and the new owner, known as Chill Pill, both maintained that the forum was worth this amount of money. On the 10th of December 2012 the forum changed hands and the communities opinions soon followed. Many enraged members threw fits on the forum, insulting both Justin with accusations of cheating them and lying to them, while Chill Pill also received a fair share of abuse. The result of the sale was evident, 3 weeks after the sale the forums activity had dropped remarkably and many people began to speculate on how long it would be before the forum closed or sold again.
Chill Pill then introduced a brand new custom theme to the forum, which couldn’t have come at a better time. The forum was a great hit amongst the members and brought a few old members back to the forum. Unfortunately this was short lived and when rumours of other forums ripping Forum Hour’s theme appeared instead of dealing with them in a professional manner the Forum Hour staff team encouraged the rude and insulting behaviour of the members. After 5 pages of banter, there was still no reply from Chill Pill. Chill Pill’s activity has dropped rapidly in the last few months and during the month of March he as only made 5 posts. He came on to make a post explaining where he had been and that Forum Hour was not going to close, but the post was deleted only a few days later. Forum Hour now barely receives posts on a daily basis and most of the staff team are now mostly inactive.
Many people are wondering how Forum Hour went from a thriving, active forum to a ghost town in only a few months. There are many reasons behind Forum Hour’s demise and what many people don’t realise is that the forum was already going downhill before it was sold. After the posting competition it is possible that Justin himself realised what was happening and decided to cut his losses and get rid of it before it was not possible to sell it. He was lucky to get the amount of money he did and Chill Pill was the one to take the blow. The posting competition and poor management of staff was the major issues during Justin’s time as owner.
When Chill Pill took over he didn’t have the support of the community. As a person he has been known to be rather volatile and rude. This meant that a lot of people, even before the sale, didn’t have much respect for him. Had the forum been sold to someone else there is a good chance it would of still been alive and well today. Hunter, the other admin at the time of sale, was a hot contender with the community and would have been given a lot more support. Chill Pill only saw Forum Hour as an investment and a money-making opportunity; he didn’t have the love for the community which Justin and Hunter had. With him then losing interest in the forum and dropping activity on the forum nailed the last nail into Forum Hour’s coffin.
If you want your forum to avoid the same path as Forum Hour then remember to trust genuine activity and not that of competitions. A forum should be run out of passion, not with the drive to earn money. If you buy a forum, make sure the community supports you in the changes you make. Be open to questions in the beginning, a forum community becomes rather like a family and families don’t like someone new stepping in and saying they are now in charge. It is completely possible for a forum to be successful after a sale, but things must be handled with extreme care.