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What's the use of private forums? And, why are forums blocking content from fans?



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What's the use of private forums? And, why are forums blocking content from fans?

I love fan forums, those amazing sites built by loving fans in honor of their favorite TV show, character or celebrity, populated with tens of thousands of posts - loving debates and content devoted to one central figure/show.

For example, Doctor Who is one of my favorite characters/shows of all times and I'm more likely to join a fan made forum about Doctor Who than an 'official' forum or even an 'official' Doctor Who FB page as it's way more fun talking with real fans who love the show as much as I do.

So anyway, today I was checking around for new fan forums of interest and found one devoted to a particular singer that was completely private. This thing had ranked for some obscure phrase, which I'm sure no one was searching out. And, I happen to stumble upon it by accident. And, no possibility to see the content without signing in.

Not sure if they rank for anything many 'fans' would be searching for or if the forum has much of a real content bank at all - considering you have to sign up and sign in to even see the basic content on site.

I'm still puzzled how such sites that block their content out from fans (whom they are supposedly trying to reach) as well as Google can hope to attract new members.

Unless they are somehow using social media (my best guess) such as Facebook to attract new members/posts.

Seems counter productive to me, to block your potential members/fans from seeing your content if those are the people you are trying to attract to your site.

I can see how some sub-forums with sensitive or private info might be reserved to 'members' only, that's just natural. But not the entire forum!

Another issue here, how they had a big Adsense banner on the main/home page. No real content going on there, so what's the justification for that?

What

Just assumed Google required actual meaningful content for pages where Adsense is being shown.

Maybe it's a public service ad, who knows. :/

Anyway, so yeah, that's my gripe with forums that block content meant for fans. How is it useful to do that? At least give the fans some real reason to sign up, rather than locking it behind doors and expecting some kind of mind reading trick to guess at all the good content on that site. Seems counter productive to me.

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Lynne

Oh I don't like it when I am forced to sign up to get access to see what is in a forum. Yes I agree with you, I can also understand why this is done at times when there is sensitive information.

And the Adsense thing you showed now just pissed me off. I struggled for months to get my Adsense account approved. I only recently got it approved and I was trying since January this year. For my oldest website they said that I had no useful information... you know my mommy blog, you've been on it. I was so upset so I tried to get it approved on my online marketing website which was at the time less than a year old, but I had been working so hard on it and it had so much really excellent information. Same thing, no useful content!

Then you say a website like this where nothing is accessible has Adsense... uggghhhhh. Well I guess once you have an Adsense account you can put it on any of your websites... so that must be how it happened.




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MusicMoguls

They force you to sign up as a marketing Strategy. If they have the "HOT" content that everyone wants they they will be forced to sign up or go look elsewhere. This marketing technique has been used for many years on the internet and is very effective, its like bait its up to you to take it or not lol. The main goal for any forum or blog is to get as many members or users talking about and sharing the content on the website. In my opinion i think its genus and bravo to the first person whoever thought of it.




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Everett

Basically the use of private forums is to gain member signups. They want you to signup for an account to make money off of you basically. If sign into the forum it's probably dead as they are blocking the content from being shown and sometimes people just don't want to signup so they'll leave the site. Sometimes this strategy is good, however most of the time it's bad. You should at least allow your visitors, or fans to read the content without signing up for a membership, that's the good thing to do.

Since they are using Adsense they make earn more if their content was public as some of the posts will rank. They also like to make celebrities appear as if they are "hard to reach". So a lot of the times, they prevent people from seeing content just so the celebrity seems more busy, or for more status in the celebrity world.. weird i know.




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Cristian

The strange thing Bev is pointing out is that even though the forum was private, it still ranked for certain phrases. That's a hard one to answer.
I've seen such pages before. Maybe they do actually show some content but inside the code, just for search engines, even though that would be a highly NO-NO I guess people still rank for hidden content.
The other possibility may be snippets of content, when you see the content partially and you have to login to see the complete article.




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Beverly

Your comment got me to thinking about just how Google might be seeing this forum content when I'm not

Some forums which require registration or subscription are configured to allow googlebot entry to create listings in google which will cause people searching for answers to come and sign up / subscribe.

source

Do you think that's true?

And, if so, how's that done?




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Cristian

Well maybe the content is hidden with HTML or CSS and the forum is still has: <meta name="robots" content="index, follow">

Hiding content without giving the user the option to expand it is not a good practice as far as I know. For example, is ok to have a page where content is being hidden by a "Read more" button and clicking it will just expand the content in without changing the URL.

But having hidden content inside the source page and giving the user the option to register to see it, is beyond me. I've seen a very popular newspaper that showed a snippet of the news, Google indexed the snippet but you had to actually pay a subscription fee to read the whole content.




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Beverly

I believe that I know the news site you are referring to. There is a news site that I was able to access easily without payment but my friends outside the United States reported not being able to access without subscription. And, I don't have a subscription and hadn't paid for it. So all i can think is that one specific news site was blocking international IP from obtaining the content, except for the snippet. In much the same way the BBC blocks American visitors from viewing their videos on the official website.




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idealmike

The reason that some forums block their content from showing all depends on the type of forum that it is really. Most forums that do it, do so because they literally don't want their information to be read by search engines. And also be anyone that isn't a member of it. So they'll force registration on you before you can participate in that forum. This can be a double edged sword though. Because on one hand, it does increase the amount of members you can get, but on the other, if they don't like that content and the forum community on a whole, they'll probably be a bit miffed as to what they were forced to sign up and create an account just to read the forum threads etc.

But for some forums that are very busy and have a lot of activity, new threads, thread replies etc. They just know that people will only sign up and become a member if they have a genuine vested interest in that forum. And the forum owners know that once they are a member, they will be much much more likely to actively participate in that forum. So in a way, forcing people to sign up to the forum first before they can read the forum threads etc is one way of increasing the amount of users on that forum and more users means more traffic and that means more earnings for them. Whether they earn by having ads on the forum or through selling some type of service or something.

And yes that is true about the Googlebot. Some forums have accounts on them actually named "Googlebot" or some other bot name. Digital point for example. If you look at their online members now, you'll often always see "Googlebot" in the online list. But they are restricted and can only read threads they can't start threads! Well not as far as I'm aware anyway. I mean, I've never seen a thread started on any forum ever by Googlebot. Have you? What




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Corzhens

If you mean by blocking is that the content of the forum cannot be viewed by guests, the owner of the forum may want to increase the number of members. If the forum description looks interesting, the guest needed to register in order to get inside and see what’s in store for members. That one member who registered is already an addition to the roster of members. And if there were 10 guests every day that will register then the membership will grow bigger. It’s not really depriving the fans of the content, registration is just a simple requirement that is not considered a deprivation.




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