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Felicia is a woman running a forum armed with a unique title, unique genre, friendly community, and broad discussions area. Check out her efforts at her forum called Psychology of Writing and read below how she paved her way towards her goal. Maybe you would find a psychology behind running an online website as well, who knows?
1. phio_chan: What made you interested in making online forums?
I was introduced to online forums in 2008 and found that I enjoyed the different communities that I found myself in. I jumped from a numerous amounts of different forums–never quite finding what I was looking for–before deciding to give creating my own forum a try. The communities are what always pulled me towards forums, it wasn’t necessarily the look of the forum or what features it had, and I loved interacting with the community. The one thing I always wanted to emphasis with my forums was that it was a place that people could call “home” and that it was a place just kick back and have fun.
I never knew if I would be a good creator or Administrator, but I still wanted to give it a try and see if I could establish a forum with a great community. I think I’ve been successful in doing just that because the community of Psychology of Writing is fantastic. They have great ideas and are generally just fun to be around. To put it simply, the communities that I came by is what really got me interested in making my own online forum.
2. phio_chan: What was your inspiration for creating Psychology of Writing?
There have been quite a few events and other things in my life that inspired me to create Psychology of Writing. Like I previously stated, I was introduced to role-playing back in 2008 and like many other role-players, it started on a place called Gaia. At the time, it suited my needs as a role-player, introducing me to the role-play community, but after a year or two, I decided to move on to find a forum that was more geared toward role-playing and a place I could expand my skills. I was at the next forum for about a year (or so), became a staff member there, but things were rocky there and I didn’t like what I was seeing, but at that point I had found a great role-play partner and together we decided to make our own forum. Things ended up not working out on that forum and the friendship fell apart. So, instead leaving the online forum community, I made my own and that place became Psychology of Writing.
I created Psychology of Writing not only because I love writing, but also because I wanted to find a place where I could control what happened instead of relying on others and to create an online home for myself and others who may be looking for one. On Gaia it was hard to find a role-play partner and many of those partners weren’t necessarily at the same level as I was. Not saying that role-plays found on Gaia are bad, but they just necessarily weren’t for me. I moved to the new site, but things with the admin went south as did the standards of the site, so I left. The forum I started with my then friend went well for about a year, but things between the two of us fell apart after I came back from my honeymoon, so I was not really welcomed there any longer. I moved on to create my own site and I couldn’t be happier with the way things have turned out on it. The site is also not only for role-players like a few of the previous forums I had spent time on, but also for writers, artists, and those who just like to socialize. So, as you can see, there have been quite a few reasons as to why I created Psychology of Writing: my love of writing and role-playing, more freedom, bringing people together with similar interests.
3. phio_chan: What do you think of forum softwares available right now?
All of the softwares have both good and bad aspects of them, but I don’t think I’ve come across one that is just flat out terrible. As an Admin, I used ForuMotion, phpBB, and finally MyBB when it comes to creating forums, while as a member I’ve used the three previously mentioned along with vBulletin, Invisionfree, and IP.Board. I, personally, don’t particularly care for the latter three that I mentioned, the design and layout just aren’t what I was really looking for when it came to creating a forum.
ForuMotion is good starter software, in my opinion, as everything is pretty much set up for you. I would recommend it to people who may just be getting started as being an Admin and may not know exactly what they’re doing. Both phpBB and MyBB are for more advance Admins who are willing to learn coding language (if they don’t already know it). In my opinion, phpBB is more complicated than MyBB; though, I’ve never installed a MOD on phpBB, I’ve heard that it can be difficult. My co-admin of my previous forum told me it could be difficult and I have also read about other Admins having difficulties with installing MODs. Again, I never tried doing it myself because I didn’t have access to it, but when it came to the Admin Panel, I always found it overly complicated, hence why I didn’t chose phpBB as my forum software for Psychology of Writing.
When I first tested out MyBB, I knew it was what I wanted and was going to use for my new forum. It had the look that I wanted and the Admin Panel was very straight forward. Also, MyBB has a great support forum where you can get assistance with anything from not only staff, but also very knowledgeable members. Adding new modifications (generally referred to as “plug-ins”) is also very easy and straight forward. I would recommend MyBB to anyone who asked me, but in the end, it really depends on your wants and needs. MyBB just happened to be perfect for me and my forum.
4. phio_chan: What do you think should be taken into consideration in paying for a domain or host, website wise?
There’s a lot that should be taken into consideration when choosing a host or where you purchase your domain from. Firstly, you need to know what your budget is; this will narrow down your search quite a bit. I would suggest going with a paid host because you will have more control over your site, your database, and what have you. Free hosts can be good for beginners, but most free hosts don’t allow you to have control over your database or you have to pay for your database if you decide to move to a different host. I’ve heard people say how they had to pay hundreds of dollars to get their database information from a free host in order to move. When it comes to any host, however, you have to do your research and I think this is the most important step of picking a host of any sort.
Before moving hosts I did a lot of research on the different hosts out there and what they had to offer. I think I researched hosts for about a month (if not more) before finally deciding to move to Hawk Host. Most of my research took place on a website called Web Hosting Talk, which is great place to get reviews, check out deals, and ask questions. It’s great because a lot of host representatives spend a lot of time there and will answer your questions. You can also find deals and promotions that hosts may be having currently. Obliviously it’s good to go to the host’s site to ask questions as well, but Web Hosting Talk is a great place to check out as well–especially if you’re looking for reviews. You also need to know what your site needs–how much bandwidth, disk space, etc.–that your site will need. Using WHT you’ll also be able to find out a bit more about what your site may need, but it seems that if you’re just starting out or if you’re site is relatively new, you want to start off with the smallest hosting package and then work your way up as your site grows.
The most important thing to do when finding a place to order hosting and a domain is to ask questions. It’ll save you a lot of hassle in the long run if you ask questions and do your research in advance.
5. phio_chan: Choose two words which describe your administration style.
As an Admin, I’d say I’m both a listener and relaxed. I really listen to what my members have to say and always take what they have to say into consideration. I’m not going to simply dismiss a suggestion or criticism just because it won’t work with the forum at the time. You never know what may be possible in the future after all. For example, a member suggested adding a section where members could submit articles, at this moment, I don’t think it will work, but I’m not going to throw the idea away. Instead I’ll keep it in the back of my mind because down the road, I may decide to add the section and it may even become a success. So, I’d say that one word to describe my administration style is “listener.”
The second word I would use to describe my administration style is “relaxed.” I’m not as uptight as some Admins are. I know how to let loose and have fun with the members of Psychology of Writing. We have a lot of fun on the site and I think that’s partially due to my relaxed nature. It’s not to the point that everyone can do whatever they want, I’m not going to jump down someone’s throat because they make a suggestion or because they made a mistake. I had someone tell me that they were nervous about making a suggestion because in the past they had been banned for it. I would never do something like that and personally, I think that’s a very silly thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, I do enforce the rules we have–especially if someone breaks a major one–but I’m not going to throw a fight because you double posted where you aren’t supposed to or what have you. It’s about balance, really, when you’re too relaxed, the members will think they can do what they want, but if you’re too strict, they aren’t going to want to hang around. Be relaxed, but firm. It can be difficult to find balance with being relaxed and too relaxed and it can also be difficult to listen to what others have to say–especially if it’s harsher criticism–but it’s well worth it in the end I think.
6. phio_chan: What was the best thing you learned as a forum administrator?
Patience is probably the best thing I’ve learned from being a forum administrator. If you’re not patient, you’re going to easily give up on something that you’ve put a lot of time and effort in. There are Admins that I’ve come across who will want hundreds of members and thousands of posts in a span of a couple of days, but in most circumstances, that’s not how it works. Usually it takes months, if not years, to create a successful forum. You have to be willing to wait and work at it instead of just giving up at the first sign of trouble or at the first sign of the site’s activity slowing down.
Also, you have to be patient with your members. If they make a mistake, you shouldn’t snap at them, but be patient and explain to them how to do something. Everyone makes mistakes and you don’t want to push people away for that. Plus, if you push people away, you’re going to miss out on what they have to offer you. Members have ideas and suggestions that could potentially help your forum to grown. Patience is definitely key when it comes to being a forum administrator.
7. phio_chan: Are you satisfied with your forum’s current achievement? What are you planning to do in the future? (You can also tell us about the major update your forum is going to undergo.)
I’m definitely satisfied with Psychology of Writing’s current achievements. I couldn’t ask for a better community, we’re active, we have fun, and we’re growing. I really don’t know what more I could ask for. We have had some bumps in the road, but what forum doesn’t? We went from a less reliable host that caused the site to be down more often than it should have been to a fantastic host that (thus far) we have had no downtime with. We changed domain names as well, but I don’t think that’s effected anything negatively and we’ve had a few spam bots for members, but those have been cleared out. I would have been more nervous if we hadn’t had any problems at all, honestly. Like I said, I’m completely satisfied with our current achievements and I am looking forward to the future achievements I know it will make.
There’s quite a bit planned for the future, and actually a bit planned for the very near future. We are going to be doing a lot within the next couple of weeks and maybe even the next couple of days. We often add new modifications to the site, for example, we recently put a blog system in. The members often give us opinions and ideas of what to add or change, so you never know exactly what’ll be added. We will also be holding more contests in the future along with events, but nothing is set in stone just yet. The big change coming to Psychology of Writing is the new theme, however. We are getting a new theme created by Mike Creuzer of Audentio Design; he’s been fabulous to work with and I cannot wait for the big reveal, which will be coming very soon. The forum’s layout is also going to be changing quite a bit. We’re going to be adding forums, omitting, and combining others. It’s going to be a bit of work, but well worth it, in my opinion.
It’s hard to say what specifically we’ll be seeing in the future, but I think what I’ve said above gives a pretty good look on what is and may come later down the line. Like I said, we’re always getting new ideas from members and people are always creating new modifications that may benefit us. So, it’s best to keep an eye on Psychology of Writing because you never know what may pop up.
Thank you for the amazing interview! Hopefully it helps to inspire people about building their site even more, find the psychology of their community, and use it to make their place grow even better. Lots of luck for you, Felicia! – phio_chan