Advertisement forums aren’t thought of as very important. And, in truth, they really aren’t. Yet they appear almost universally in online roleplaying games — advertising forums have become a staple of play-by-post roleplaying games. Many forum roleplaying games have wildly different ad forum structures, rules, and so forth — some more effective than others.
There are some best practices that can make the advertisement forum experience enjoyable for everyone (yourself, your members, and drive-by guests).
Organization of RPG Advertising Forums
The best method of organizing your advertisement forum? Have a single forum. Require link backs to have [LB] in the title of their post. This is the easiest for you to maintain. If someone fails to post [LB] in the title of their post, it’s their fault for breaking your forum’s rules and you’re in the clear even if you end up with two ads on their forum.
If you are absolutely opposed to a single advertisement forum, try not to split it into any more than two forums. First time links and link backs, or new advertisements and accepted advertisements. This really isn’t necessary, though — you can just lock topics when you’ve posted your advertisement at the other forum in reciprocation. This has the added benefit of preventing bumping via technology rather than rule (a great way to save yourself time).
Do not over-organize your advertisement subforums. Having separate forums for different forum softwares, different game genres, etc. is overkill. It’s bad because it will be difficult for you to maintain, and you’ll probably confuse the hell out of potential advertisers. They’ll post wrongly or not bother posting at all — and your game’s advertisement on their forum may be deleted.
Rules for RPG Advertising Forums
Put the Rules in the Header
Do put your advertising forum rules in the header of the ad forum. Do not bury your advertisement rules into a sticky topic — this is an extra click for advertisers (who are in a hurry anyway) and increases the likelihood the advertiser will not read your rules.
What Not to Include In Your Rules
Do not require a form, special formatting, etc. for advertising. Again, advertisers are in a hurry — make it easy for them to post to your advertising forum.
Do not require a reciprocal button in the forum header/footer for advertisement. This is incredibly presumptuous, and unless your forum is huge and well-trafficked, a waste of time. Nobody’s going to bother with it unless they have a guarantee of a lot of people seeing their ad button.
Do not ban certain forum softwares from posting in your ad forum. This is just silly. So what if Horse RPG #20139 uses ProBoards? It’s not important in the long run, and you’re shooting yourself in the foot by basically ignoring an entire subset of roleplaying. It’s understandable to have a personal preference of forum software, but that really shouldn’t extend to your ad forum.
Operating an RPG Advertising Forum
To put it succinctly: running an RPG ad forum shouldn’t be time consuming. The advertisement forum is basically the least of your maintenance worries, so make it super easy on yourself. Don’t create super-complicated rules or weird requirements of your advertisers. It’ll be harder for you to keep after, and annoying for them.
If you can help it, don’t go crazy when someone double posts. If the posts are right on top of each other or if someone posts a lot of advertisements, okay, yeah, there’s a problem — but that happens so rarely, it’s not worth caring too much about. The easiest way to police double posts: ask people not to post if their link already appears on the first page of your forum. It’s just not an efficient use of an advertiser’s time to do a specific search on every single board to see if their RPG has already been posted before. Expecting people to do that is silly.
Delete old advertisements periodically (Forum Roleplay suggests removing anything over six months old). This is for two reasons. One: games die off a lot and you don’t want dead links in your RPG forum. Two: games that actually survive are likely to hit your ad forum multiple times, regardless of your double posting rules. Make it easy on yourself and use your forum’s mass topic actions to delete anything older than a given date. Deleting individual topics by hand is not an efficient mode of clearing the forum.
The silliest possible thing you can do is compile a “list” of previously advertised RPGs and delete the actual post. No one wants to look at a giant list of links when they’re trying to find a game, firstly. Secondly, your list will quickly fill with broken links, dead games, and other junk if you don’t take the time to clear it out. And you don’t want to waste your valuable administrative time clearing dead links from a list, do you? Nope — that’s just silly!