Anyone who starts a new forum thread wants others to join in. In fact, when we post in a thread, we like to see responses to our posts. There are some ways in which participation can be encouraged. Content Make sure that your opening post, and any other posts, entice others to join in. Sometimes, questions can be worded so that everyone's responses are similar, so you might want to add a question at the end of your post. If answering a question, incorporate your experiences with the subject matter whenever possible. Most people prefer personal experiences to textbook answers, and are more likely to respond. Use current (or past) events as a way to get people involved. Local or national news stories can be used to prompt a discussion, but that usually requires more than posting a link to the story. Add your own comments to it and others will be more likely to add theirs. Ask a thought-provoking question, and don't be afraid to take a controversial stand. Yeah, there are limitations to that, but they are not so very stringent here. Don't be controversial for the sake of being controversial, but don't feel as if you have to agree with others all the time. If you say the same thing as everyone else, you can expect the same results. That goes the other way as well, for when people agree with what you have said, they are more likely to click the "like" button than to reply to your post. We all like "likes," but it's nice to have responses too, so take the time to reply, adding your personal experiences, thoughts or whatever. If you add something different, something of value, you'll see increased responses. Format To increase the number of responses you get to your threads and posts, make a point of replying to others as well. When you value the contributions of other forum members, they will be more likely to value your own, and forum discussions will become more real. The best way to make a friend is to be one, so if you take an interest in someone else's topic, they are more likely to take an interest in yours. Marketing No, I'm not talking about advertising the forum, but about advertising your threads within the forum. Craft a catchy and descriptive title. Newspapers, magazines, periodicals, and tabloids do this in their headlines and article titles for a reason. There is no need to be deceptive about it, as some publications are, but an interesting and descriptive title will increase the number of people who will click into your thread. Don't get too carried away, but when you notice that the discussion in another thread has drifted to something that would be on-topic in your own thread, don't be afraid to add a link to your thread. Cross-linking will being more people to your thread, and it helps with SEO too, as long as it's not overdone. For example, this thread is similar although not identical to another thread, entitled "What Do Forums Need?". Etiquette These are not rules, but can be used as guidelines to follow when posting, ones that can be used in most any forum you participate in. Read the forum rules and guidelines before posting for the first time. Try to determine whether your topic has already been covered before beginning a new thread. Use a meaningful and descriptive title for your thread. Do not use the forum to promote your product, service, business or website unless clearly appropriate. Be civil. Personal differences should be handled by email or private conversation rather than in posts that everyone can view. Stay on topic as much as you can, but realize that natural and temporary digressions may be acceptable or even helpful. When you feel the need to digress from the topic, add a paragraph that returns to the topic before posting your reply. Report spammers, but otherwise ignore them publicly. Consider carefully before submitting posts that require readers to download large attachments. Either explain the attachment or provide a link to the information. Without being obsessive or anal about it, use correct spelling and grammar but, in the case of this forum at least, don't let your lack of mastery of these skills discourage you from participating. Some of our most valuable members probably wouldn't pass a stringent grammar and spelling test. Don't double post (posting the same message twice in one thread) or cross post (posting the same message across more than one forum). Poor connections can sometimes result in inadvertent double posting, but you will have a period of time in which you are allowed to delete your duplicate posts. Otherwise, let me know about it and I'll do so. Use a give and take manner, trying to help others as often as you ask for help. The most valuable forum members are those who both answer and ask questions, as this facilitates discussion. In other words, if you are an expert in some topics, don't restrict your posts to these topics, but make a point of participating in topics that allow someone else to be an expert too. Don't use all caps in your posts. That is considered SHOUTING, and it is as rude in a forum as it is in regular conversation. Along the same lines, one exclamation point is enough. When replying to a post, don't quote more of the previous post than you have to. If you highlight the portion of the post that you want to quote, the forum allows you to select a portion of the post for quoting. In most cases, avoid posting new problems on someone else's thread as this may interrupt a topic of discussion. An exception to this is when the thread doesn't have any recent posts, and your topic relates to the topic of the thread. Don't use someone else's thread for a private conversation. A sense of humor is appreciated, but be aware that posts may be read by people from a variety of backgrounds and areas of the world, so misunderstandings are possible. Don't use overly large or annoying signatures. Don't post information that you want private, or that might be embarrassing to other members. Don't post content that violates a copyright. Fair use does allow quoting sections of material published elsewhere, but generally not entire articles. Try to post responses that contribute something to the forum, and avoid empty responses, but there are certainly times when these contribute to a natural flow of conversation. Avoid using words like "urgent" or "important" in thread titles as a means of getting people to click into your thread, remembering that a week from now, your thread will still be here and the topic will no longer be urgent, and may not even be important. Do your best to play well with others in the forum. Along the same lines, do your best to draw new forum members into discussions.