I am embarking on an examination of our community structure. The community forums have been in existence for >15 years. Some boards were added, others were archived so that we have now over 300 boards catering the product support needs of about 100 products. Some of them have a huge user base, others… not. On top of that, we serve 9 languages (English, German, Japanese, S Chinese, Turkish, French, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese). The boards are grouped by categories and subcategories.
We feel that we have too many boards and we need to consolidate, or archive some. Possibly split some if it makes sense.
2 issues (well, at least):
1 – I am having a philosophical debate with myself while trying to correctly define the problem to solve.
Since most of the traffic comes from Google (lurkers), I wonder if the structure of board matters that much as long as they find what they need. The structure may matter for a minority of users who use a wide array of products and go from a board to another. And it matters definitely a lot to us, the community management team. In other words, a well-structured community and the time invested to achieve this, may matter to just a handful of employees. Is it worth it? Thoughts on this?
2 – I am going to do it anyways, so I need to define how to declare a board healthy.
I am tempted to approach this by retaining a series of monthly metrics like
of posts and replies
of active users
Additionally define tiers according to:
- Board age: a 1 month old board is still in a build-up phase, vs 1 year.
- Board language: I expect less traffic on a Turkish board vs. English just because the audience size is different
- Type of product: well established in the market or relatively new and “strategic”
Having these tiers would lead to different acceptability thresholds, for example.
Thoughts from you all?