Choosing and Using a Good Forum

Hey guys, I wanted to write about today about the benefits of using a free forum site I found during my days as a commissioner – Nabble.  Back when I was searching for a forum host for my league, I was looking for several things and trying to determine which one would best suit my needs.  I searched Google for Free Forum Hosting and found sites like:

ProBoards

Free Forums

Forum Motion

Zeta Boards

I know a lot of guys use ProBoards but I chose Free Forums initially and then eventually migrated to Forum Motion for a bit.  Both of those moves were in my first season as a commissioner.  If you were wondering, no – it is not a good idea to ask your owners to register for your forum and then go register for another.  Most guys barely read what you send out as it is so getting them registered is tough enough and having them migrate from one to the other is nearly impossible.  So – do your research and stick with it.

The biggest thing I was searching for was the ability to have control over the look and feel of the forum and that’s where Nabble won hands down.  It’s free and extremely easy to use, plus it has tons of great features and presets that allow it to be used in unique ways other forums cannot.  For example – by nature, you can embed a Nabble forum into any website with a few simple clicks.  When I say forum, I mean any forum or sub-forum you have.  So, a typical forum setup might look like:

Main Forum

Sub Forum 1 – Teams

Sub Sub-Forum 1 – Bengals

Sub Sub-Forum 2 – Ravens

Sub Forum 2 – News

Sub Forum 3 – Trade Submission

 

And so on.  In this example, the Main Forum and each Sub-Forum can be embedded into any page.  So, if you’re using a site that allows you the ability to place blocks of HTML content on your site, you can set up your forums and simply use the embed codes for any page you want and it will show you just the content on that sub-forum.  How cool is that?  If your league is big on game write-ups and team news, this is a great way to get them featured on your main site without you, the commissioner or web guy having to copy/paste the content into an article and upload/update it somewhere.

On my site, I had a web page for each team in the league that showed their team specific news (except I used RSS feeds generated from Nabble) but if you wanted to simply embed the content instead, this is a great option and pretty easy to do.

One of the best parts about embedding the forums and sub-forums using Nabble is that Nabble gives you some pre-sets in how to display the content.  Remember – EVERY forum and sub-forum can be set with a DIFFERENT pre-set view that you can select depending on the content you have and how you want to see it.  If you have a lot of team news and pictures, you can choose the newspaper style or if you just want a gallery, there’s a setting for that as well.

Gallery Style:

If you wanted a page for the Bengals where your Bengals owner can write articles, you’d simply (as I pictured above) create a Main Forum – a Sub-Forum for Teams and then another sub-forum inside that for the Bengals and perhaps in this case, the other AFC North teams as well.  Then set them all to whatever style you want – say, Newspaper – then grab the embed codes for each and embed them into your site using the code it gave you.  Doing this will allow your site to automatically show fresh content as soon as it’s generated by your users without you ever having to do a thing.

At a higher level, you can use that “Teams” Sub-Forum you created inside the main forum as well!  Since this forum contains all the team level sub-forums inside it – Bengals, Ravens, etc – anything posted in the team specific sub-forums will show in the higher level one if you choose Newspaper as well.

Side Note – each header in a Nabble forum is based in HTML so you can customize any header as well!  For each team’s page, I added their logo to make it cooler looking..

For my Forum’s main page I added code to embed the logo, names of the co commissioners, trade committee, link to the league’s chat page and embedded the league’s owner names from Google Docs right into the header!

The next time I write, I’ll cover one of the coolest things Nabble has to offer that we used for scheduling games and how it can help you keep your sanity as a commissioner!