DigitalPoint Forums, because of their popularity, are usually the first destination for entrepreneurs looking for business forums online. I have recently tested DP Forums in detail. Here’s the good and the bad of what I found…
- Big. Have you ever posted a question in a forum only to receive no replies? Well, that’s not going to happen on DP forums. With its 455,000 members and 15,000,000 posts, these must be one of the largest forums on the Internet. Its size alone guarantees a lively community. And, lively is exactly what you get on DP forums. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of new posts added every single day.
- Standard layout and features. Like most other forums, DP forums too has a standardized design. Navigation and use is familiar, easy and intuitive. No surprises around the corner.
- Fast replies. Because of its popularity, almost every single thread goes into double digits of posts in a very short period of time. Sometimes as fast as within 24 hours. The reply time on DP forums is one of the fastest I have ever seen on any public forums.
Unfortunately, this is where the good ends and the bad starts…
- Lack of moderation. While two out of six sections on DP forums appear to be dedicated to general business issues, every single forum is heavily biased towards Internet marketing. Even sub forums such as General Business contain threads titled “I need an online job to earn money” or “some places the buy premium websites??”. And, there are no moderators in sight to keep the forums clean and topically relevant. As a result, business owners who don’t have online presence and are not interested in Internet marketing have hard time finding relevant stuff on DP forums.
- Poor default user settings. The default settings on DP forums automatically subscribe you to every thread that you participate in. Unfortunately, these default settings also include instant e-mail notification every time a new post is made to those threads. As a result, you are flooded with e-mails as soon as you start participating. To avoid that, you have to manually change your general settings to ensure that your default thread subscription mode is “through my control panel only”.
- Lack of meaningful exchanges. Being extremely popular has also its disadvantages. It appears that with so many replies so fast, barely anybody reads anything more than the original post in the thread and they thoroughly ignore the rest. The result is that, while each thread has a lots of responses, there is virtually no discussion. And, as we all know from experience, it’s the discussion—exchange of opinions and arguments—that make forums such a valuable resource.
- Bad advice. My biggest complaint with the DP forums, and the main reason why I’m rating it so low, is that a lot of advice given in the forum threads is very poor. Furthermore, it is virtually impossible for a layperson to differentiate between bad advice and good advice. This problem is further compounded by the lack of discussion mentioned above.
- Don’t know who to trust. It is not unusual on DP forums to find members with several hundreds (even thousands) of posts to their name. Yet, the badges assigned to members based on number of their posts, have totally meaningless names, such as “Hand of A’dal” or “Champion of the Naaru”. Additionally, moderators and admins are practically invisible on DP forums. Yes, users can rate each others’posts, but the icon you need to click on to do that is so small and so nonintuitive that basically nobody uses it. The result is that you don’t know who to trust as there is no built-in way to judge members’ experience and knowledge.
- Hard to establish authority. Following on the previous points, not knowing who to trust also means that anybody who wishes to use DP forums to build their own authority and name in the marketplace, we’ll have a very tough job.
Using DP forums for marketing
To test the power of DP forums, I used a simple sentence in my signature line that read, “Visit my personal blog at chodak.com”. From the day I joined on April 19, 2011 until today I made 87 posts. From these posts, I received altogether 25 visitors to my site and one subscriber to my e-mail list.
Granted, my signature was a very simple one and didn’t carry any marketing punch whatsoever. But, considering the fact the DP forums has Alexa ranking of 185, I consider 25 visitors out of 87 posts a very poor results. Although, to be fair, I don’t expect other forums to perform any better.
My conclusion is that the DP forums are a waste of time for business owners who are not specifically focused on Internet marketing. And, even if you are online based, you will need to do additional research into your questions outside of DP forums if you are not sufficiently Internet savvy, just to make sure you’re not going to act on bad advice. My rating for DP forums is 2 stars out of 5 (the only reason I don’t give it a single star is because of its ease of use and standardized features).