I kept searching after my bloglet on Boxing forums- Yahoo!7 Sports under their MISC forums a few threads on boxing. They also have a footytipping competition that links into the messageboards. I scanned the messages since February last year. Nowhere near the numbers it should have, given the popularity of footy tipping pools at the office. ‘course the season has finished but even when it was on, 141 threads in 18 months is not a lot.
I suspect its because like most large portals, Yahoo! doesn’t subnetwork their communities well. People like to congregate in little busy hives while remaining part of the whole. Not sure what I would do, probably pass the moderation over to the members, let them have their own board page (at the moment its just a list of messages) and user generated content and discussions take priority. The ability to make polls. Avatars. Titles for leaders. Number of posts by member. Major campaign to have members update their profiles. So on and so forth.
Don’t get me started on the possibilities of integrating online and offline fans. Talking of which I had totally forgotten about http://thefanatics.com.au – I love that site and have been watching it for some time! (tho, I sorta hate sport).
Some notes: something that large sites have trouble with (I’m talkin Yahoo!7 and NineMSN and perhaps MySpace tho to a lesser extent) is how to give infrastructure to allow smaller swarms in the masses. Roles in an online community: Gods (people who post rarely but get attention – famous or developers or moderators), Leaders (the know it alls, cooler than cool), Teachers (so helpful to newbies), Competition (who has got the most posts, who has been banned the most), An Enemy (something to get passionate about, to take sides against), Bad Boys/Girls (use ’em if you can’t control ’em) To feel part of larger community (massive), To feel part of a medium size family (tribe, guild, swarm), To have a small list of intimates (buddy lists) and many more. Advice: make a check list and see which ones you are missing.