Really need a rep system to help the forum grow. The competition is Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr ("social media"). Vanilla does a good job of competing... actually it does a great job, because it's approaching community status. But those sites have a built in value to the user.. u get recognized for what you share and/or contribute (social incentives). Vanilla needs something like that... beyond just a voting system (digg is struggling). Voting is fine, but it doesn't provide incentive for individual users to either a) start discussions or b) comment on discussions. I think each contribution needs a tiny little plus sign (like, if you will).
Vanilla forums need to grow in membership before the whole thing will reach the next level. Thats the key now... forum growth. How do regular people who start a forum go from 0 to 100 members, and from 100-1000 members. If Vanilla forums (and forums in general) don't grow, then it won't work.
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