Of course, there are a few web hosting forums that stand out among the rest, and those are WebHostingTalk (WHT), Hosting Discussion (HD) and ForumWeb. How so? The overwhelming difference between these three and many others is in their moderation, their membership and their value-add to the hosting industry.
WHT touts hundreds of thousands of members with over one and a half million threads started and over nine million posts.
Hosting Discussion – The number of users online on that forum was nearly 7000 last January 2020.
What the number don’t tell you
Numbers don’t tell the whole story though as the quality of their threads and posts are typically much higher than you find on other web hosting forums, and that’s due largely to voluntary staff that moderates those forums to rid them of shills, spam and scam artists.
The topics on these forums is separated into sections, or sub-forums, like Running a Web Hosting Business, VPS Services, Dedicated Services, Collocation, Security, Programming and even off-the-shelf stuff like gardening and cooking.
Discussion has dropped over the past few years
Over the years though, and this applies to all forums, less discussion is taking place and we’re seeing an increasing number of advertisements on their marketplace forums. Typically, if you click on New Posts, a list of 25 or so threads will be displayed, but on average on three or four of those are actual discussions, while the rest are … well, advertisements.
Talking about advertisements – usually forums allow vendors to post advertisements once every six or seven days, but some go as low as four days and others not until your ad scrolls below the fold. I’ve seen some ads sit at the top of their respective forum for weeks. While I see the logic between these variances, money comes into play – big time.
How much money does it cost to stand out among the crowd if your goal is to advertise your services on these forums? Some forums make you pay for what’s called “stickies.” Those ads stick to the top of the page, and may be bolded or highlighted in yellow.
That can vary from a few dollars a week to over $200 per week. Let’s hope your closing ratio is really, really good. Why do I say that? Prices have gone so low for example, dedicated servers, that profit margins are razor thin. Add in set up costs and a provider’s return on their investment may take a year or more. Then you have to hope that new clients stick around long enough to make that model work.
This is what separates the good from the bad in terms of the quality of web hosting forums. On WHT, reviews are verified and if unreasonable, other members are very quick to call out the OP (original poster). The same goes for Hosting Discussion.
What you won’t find on these forums are threads that start like, “I’m glad I just joined,” on new member’s intros, followed by threads opened by them that read, “I’m interested in xxxxx.com hosting and yyyyy.com hosting. Which is best?” And then followed by “I’m interested in zzzzz.com hosting or abcdef.com hosting. Which is best? And then a typical reply will be like, “I think you should try xyz.com hosting or lmnop.com hosting.” And then pages and pages of that garbage (just one affiliate post after another).
Forums that have gone the way of the dust storms of days long past
I can’t even begin to list all of the forums that have dropped off the face of the Internet, for whatever reason. More often than not, either they were unable to grow their membership or they were inundated with spam. A couple of noticeable forums that are missing in action are WebmasterTalk.net and WebmasterPeak. Back in the day, these were both very popular forums.
Who frequents these forums?
Lots of the members on these forums are either the owners of their respective hosting firms or their corporate representatives, followed of course by the general public – mainly those with queries about various providers or are looking for recommendations.
If you have a query about hosting, SEO, marketing and so on, web hosting forums are an excellent resource to get down-to-earth, competent answers from professionals who eat and breathe this stuff every day.
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