A new forum attracts people from all walks of life. Below are listed five of the most common personality types that a new forum is likely to attract.
Each one of the personalities listed below has their set of pros and cons. The job of a new forum owner is to control the cons and find ways to motivate and bring the best of the pros to grow the forum.
The salesman is motivated to be everyone's friend. They typically will not try to anger anyone and will reply with neutral comments to show contribution and keep peace with everyone.
The key is to curtail and control whatever the salesman is trying to sell and keep to a minimum. They are assets to the forum as they help keep the peace and keep new posts rolling in.
Pros: motivated to post, motivated to make friends and helps keep the peace, motivated to keep the perception of a friendly trusted person.
Cons: will eventually try to sell something in the forum, may stop contributing and never come back if sales are not generated.
The intellect's are a rare find and they usually find you. They are motivated by correcting and providing in-depth information about a certain subject.
It is useless to argue with an intellect as they usually have years of experience and can point to the exact sentence in a book to prove they are right. Intellects are tremendous asset to a forum in that they can keep topics from straying and provide valuable insight.
Pros: highly knowledgeable, motivated to provide correct information and usually best candidates to promote to forum moderator.
Cons: can be stubborn, trigger debates and are not likely to descend from the heavens to admit they were wrong.
The clueless typically are new to the forum subject and unlike those who ask progressive questions and learn, clueless members just cannot seem to get it. Clueless members will often ask the same question several times or just keep asking for clarification after several examples have been provided. This of course leads to members replying angrily and becoming frustrated.
The best way to deal with the clueless is by providing FAQ sections and sticky post with "how to" instructions.
Pros: asks all the simple questions and posts frequently.
Cons: can prove difficult if indeed they never get it, can convert a friendly forum into an angry lynch mob with pitchforks and torches.
Angry and frustrated members usually find the forum as an escape from their daily routines. It's important to understand that they are already angry and frustrated by the time they show up at the forum.
Just about any little thing can trigger an angry outburst from this type of member. Usually a quick private message can calm this member down and get them to become solid contributors over time.
Pros: usually knowledgeable about the forum topic, can be motivated to be a solid contributor and usually make the best watchdogs against forum poachers or rule breakers.
Cons: will start a fight, can quickly spread fear of posting in your forum.
The lurker usually joined the forum because it is useful and provides good information. They are called lurkers because they never post and always show up as daily visitors in your forum statistics.
Never contributing but always visiting and viewing new forum posts. Not to worry though when the time is right they typically introduce themselves and turn out to be solid contributors.
Pros: do not cause conflict, return visitor, eventually become solid contributors.
Cons: take a long time to make the first post, can be difficult to challenge or motivate them to become contributors.
The above personality types are but a small example and forum members can have qualities from each of these which makes them unique. The key here is to recognize the personality types of your members to help you keep balance in your forum.
Knowing who is likely to contribute and help versus who is likely to cause a fight or explode in anger will help the long-term health of a forum. The key is to quickly identify and take the correct course of action in order to bring out the best in each forum member.