Welcome to the guide of using only what you need! In this witty (or so I am deluded into think) and dirty edition of yet another guide by yours truly, we will cover the basics of what you need for your very own role-playing site. Keeping in mind, of course, that what follows is merely a disguised Rantumentation (Rant disguised as Documentation!) on some pet peeves of mine. Chief among these are forums that only contain one topic for something along the lines of "rules" or "plot". So, let us get started. Setting Up: The Rules and Information Forum We all know that we want our information to be easy to find, easy to read, and generally easily applicable. Often, I have seen sites that use a multitude of redirect forums to get you to places that they feel are important. If you want an efficient, easy to browse site then this is an absolute no-no. So, let us go over what you should and should-not do: What you Should do: -Make One (1) forum, call it something along the lines of "Rules and Information" or whatever derivative thereof you want to use. This forum will hold all of your informational topics, including the rules. What you Should not do: -Make 5 forums, call one "plot" one "rules" and so on and only have one topic within each of them that contains only what the forum is called. This generates an extreme amount of clutter to wade through for prospective new members. Similarly, do not follow the "SHOULD" do part of this, and then proceed to FUBAR it by adding subforums all over the place (they don't help!). What this does is it allows you to keep all of your rules and informational topics in one centralized, easy to see and read area. Anyone browsing your site will immediately know where they can find all of the rules and information regarding your site without having to go through fifty different forums. Likewise, if you prefer to use a wiki, keep to the same general idea. Don't create 50 categories with the intention of placing one topic in each category, create 1 category with 50 topics (If you MUST use that many, try to slim it down if you can). Setting Up: Announcements This forum is an interesting one. By default, it's only really used for site-wide announcements. I do know of some sites that use this for OOC announcements only, and have a separate forum for IC announcements, which is perfectly fine if it fits within your setting. This forum by default will be empty upon opening your site, but even so it is still important and thus even in a minimalist point of view, required. So how do you go about making it seem like you have announcements? Well, first off: The site opened, didn't it? A welcoming announcement would be nice, stating that the site is open, or something along the lines there. Forums: No topics, No Posts There are no reason to have forums that serve no purpose. Any forum with 0 topics and (consequentially) 0 posts are clutter. They serve no purpose except for the fact that they waste space. Do not ever leave a forum with 0 topics up just in the hopes of having someone (eventually) come along and post in it. Follow the view of "If we need it, we can add it later". Meaning that if a forum isn't generating any posts, remove it. If you find out latter that you actually really needed that Cantina forum, you can always add it back upon request. There's no reason to let it sit there over time just gathering the dustbunnies from your site. Not only do these types of forums look unappealing, they typically scare away new members faster then spam. A new member (such as myself) browsing a site for the first time who sees several blank and empty forums tends to go "Huh, dead site, oh well" *close*, and moves on. That is why these types of forums are a major no-no when you want to try to pull off that efficient feeling. Forums: That One Damned No-where-else-to-go Topic Don't. Just don't. I know, I've been there too. Don't make a forum for that one topic that just really doesn't fit anywhere else (Heck, even if there are two that really don't fit anywhere else). If its a topic that is from the OOC boards, try to find a place for it to call home. There are very rarely (and I mean -very- rarely) topics that don't fit into a general OOC area (did I mention -very- rarely?), but for the love of god don't go creating a new forum just because this one (very rare) topic came up, leave it be and just take a breather. Forums: OOC For small forums (meaning forums with probably around 50 or fewer members), one OOC forum is large enough to contain any variety of topics that you might come across, be they Media, Social, Games or otherwise. You don't need hundreds of subforums branching out to different subjects for these smaller boards (which will probably be 99% of the people reading this). On my current forum, with around 30 or so active members, we see the need for only 2 OOC forum-discussion areas. One for general discussion, and one for forum-games or spammy topics (*This forum has post count disabled). If you really need more than these two types of forums, you can add them as needed on a subject-by subject basis. All in all, large OOC areas with little posts across their many forums = bad. Forums: That Pesky Admin Forum Do not, under any circumstances, EVER allow your members to view the admin forum (but not the topics within it). This is a surefire way to piss off every member on your board in a matter of hours, and to turn away any guest that may have been lurking your site. Admin forums should remain hidden from public view at all times, and often placed into their own category at the top (or bottom) of your board's index. Remember: This area is important, keep it somewhere easy to find and easy to get to. Come up with a witty name, members really don't care so long as they don't see the forum as a locked forum that they can't read or enter. In fact, we call ours the "War Room", and have used the names "Situation Room" and "Ready Room" in the past. Like I said, it doesn't matter -what- you call it, just so long as members don't see it. Rules: That Oh-So-Heated-Debate-Oncoming Topic Ruleslawyers, and yes, you will have them, love to tear open a new can every time they come across rules that seem out of place or just impractical. Your rules should be kept simple, with a simple explanation of need be. You shouldn't have punishments listed right in your rules, such as "If you post spam, we'll auto-ban you". These types of rules seem degrading to members, and instills fear in guests that may want to join. Let's face the fact, spam happens. Peoples email passwords or board passwords get cracked, it's fine (this is, after all, the internet). Besides that, a rigid set of rules to cover every eventual scenario isn't needed. There are, of course, the basics that you should have (No porn, no warez, be respectful) etc, but these should be kept short and neat. Furthermore, you should not use a condescending manner when writing your rules (Everything from "As if it wasn't obvious...but there shall be no XXX here..." to "Just so you know"). Just as well, keep your rules professional and stern. While yes, everyone likes a friendly administrator (and by all means I consider myself friendly), Rules just refer to a collective group of commands that the site sets its standards by. However, by no means should your rules contain emoticons. These are the downfall to any Rules documentation you may have. There is nothing more off-putting and reputation-destroying as having an emoticon in the middle of a rule, such as "Be respectful :D, this means don't degrade others ", it just makes that rule laughable. It's much more without the emoticons, "Be respectful, this means don't degrade others." Reading the Unreadable By all means, a guest should always be able to read almost everything. Your rules, your information, and yes, your actual roleplay threads. If a guest cannot get a sense of how your community roleplays, most won't even take the time to register. So, visibility is important! Remain Readable This means that all posts on the site should be LEGIBLE. Funky text colors, text that blends in, anything which makes your content unreadable should be removed or edited to a normal color. This keeps people reading, and helps them see better without straining their eyesight. Sore eyes lead to people leaving for greener pastures. ------------------------ This is all I have for now, I seem to have hit my muse block whilst musing on the point of musing. Seems interesting and confusing, I realize, but it is what it is. That's all for now! Hope this helps! -Nowe Â© Nowe, of the RPG Frontier and the RPG-Directory. Please do not repost without permission, which may be obtained via a Private Message.