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Forum Dilemma

In my quest of learning to set up a internet forum, I learned a lot of stuff including registering a domain, setting up email servers and of course, being able to install and set up a forum. There are some cost involved: to register a domain, loopgit.com cost a yearly fee, to run the forum software requires an cloud server in Digital Ocean, which cost me RM$40/month (about USD$10). The forum software itself is open sourced and therefore, free, but the hosting server is not. Fortunately, the email service that I subscribed to, mailgun.com, gives me free 10,000 emails every month.

So, my actual cost is the Digital Ocean server hosting of USD$10/month.

Now that I have set up a forum, I'd like most of the comments from this blog to be channeled over there, as a way to discuss about something I posted. The problem is, after running it for about a month, I have maybe 3 or 4 registered users, which is really pathetic.

The root of this issue is the identity of a forum. If I am selling something, the forum can be used to provide customer support. Or to build a community of customers who are using the product to talk about it. If I were someone famous like a celebrity or even famous blogger like John Gruber, then the forum could be a place for the fans to get together and to discuss about the new albums or the new blog post. If this were a community of a residential area, for instance, Bandar Utama, then the forum can be used to talk about living in Bandar Utama.

But for a private person who are not even famous, my forum is totally dead. No one wants to join a forum of an unknown individual. It's not even a corporation selling things nor a non-profit entity providing a service. In an age where there are so many ways to communicate - a Whatsapp group among friends, a Facebook page of a residential association, an Instagram for sharing photos - it's hard pressed to run a forum, especially one without a true identity and purpose.

I will probably give it another month or two before I bring it down. USD$10/month, while not a lot, is still money.

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