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Setup a Forum on your WordPress Website Using Simple:Press Part 15 – Question and Answer

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How to Avoid Forum Spammers?

So that’s it for the presentation, now I’m going to take questions. Jim asked, do I ever have a problem with legitimate members spamming the forum anyway? No, I do not. Well, let me take that back. Once upon a time when I first started this site, I allowed free members to also ask questions on the forum and then I did have a couple of instances where somebody would sign up as a free member and when they sign up as a free member they automatically had access to the forum but I deleted those guys, banned them and killed their stuff right away.

Really, I didn’t have that very often because most spammers if they’re trying to spam a forum, try to register on the forum. However, obviously I have a section on the site called Services where I encourage members to tell us about the services that they offer which links to their site and that kind of stuff and so I don’t consider that kind of thing to be spam, I consider that to be part of the public service but as soon as they become paid that issue went away entirely.

The Importance of User Generated Content

You know, something I was going to say – you may think that the reason I have a forum here is to provide support to my members but actually the real reason I originally decided to add a forum I mean my motivation was not because I want to provide support to my members. My motivation was I wanted my members to create content for me and this is my rationale for allowing free members to post because every time somebody ask me a question I answer that question. and I had content on my website that would be indexed by Google and many of you may have come to the site because you did a search for something and then found the answer to that in a forum post.

My forum just gets huge amount of search traffic and it’s all there because people ask questions and I answer them and now it’s even better – sometimes other people answer them. Now, obviously these days answering the forum post is a critical aspect of the support on the site but when I originally imagined it and the main purpose for doing it originally was to create searchable content that was essentially created by the users and that can be very compelling reason to have a forum.

In fact, I think user generated content is a big untapped opportunity for people who are trying to market their businesses using content and you will see for me in the coming months plugins for both Thesis and Genesis that essentially create a question and answer section where people can ask you questions you can provide answers that’ll have all the correct Q&A schema markup stuff so that it gets indexed properly by Google and you can essentially create a ton of user generated content that way position yourself as the expert in your field by doing that. The nice thing about a Q&A application rather than the forum is that you’re in quite a bit more control over the output than you are on a forum. Anyway, there’s a lot more management and maintenance associated with the forum than it would be with a Q&A section on your site.

Who Can Post to My Forums?

Jim asked, “So outsiders can read but not post to my forums?” Absolutely, yes. I guess that its purpose was to draw search traffic and to tell you the truth it’s really easy to answer questions as opposed to thinking up something and writing an answer out so it’s way easier to answer a question. When you create something from scratch you have to think about it in advance and then you have to decide what you’re going to say and then you have to structure the answer and then you’ve got to write it and double check it and post and everything else and that can be a great way to post lots of content and high quality content but if somebody asked you a question it’s just a whole lot easier for you simply to answer that question than it is to just come up with the content on your own and in case anybody wonders, I mean that is the cornerstone of BYOBWebsite.

Really, I almost do nothing that hasn’t been asked for by a member and the Live Q&A sessions, although I haven’t been very good about editing them lately but the Live Q&A sessions were again designed that way to have very efficient low cost content developed because if I’m creating a course it takes a lot of time and effort to create and record and edit and produce a course but if I’m just answering a question, it’s about a third of the overhead associated with creating a course and so a Live Q&A session is essentially user generated content. User ask a question, I answer the question, it’s very easy to edit, turns into a video and bingo you’ve got user generated content. Anyway, it’s all part of the user generated content scheme.

Really, every once in a while I have a brilliant bit of insight and I do something from scratch without somebody asking me but you know, I think probably the person who asked me to teach this class is here today and I taught a class on Tuesday night because somebody asked me about it and so that’s user in a content is magic. I mean it’s just so much simpler to do than coming up with stuff on your own.

Can You Link Up a Forum Question to a Post?

Ken asked, “Can you link up a forum question to a post?” Yes, you can link a forum question to a post or vise versa. I think that’s under Options, Global Settings? RSS feeds, Post Editing, Error Logging, New Posts, Content Settings, Shortcodes Filtering. Where did that go? I don’t think it’s Integration, Page and Permalink. Not sure why I’m looking for on BYOBWebsite but yes, you can and you can have this thing automatically. Manage Groups And Forums, Create New Forum, it’s in here some place although now I don’t remember. Actually, although if you post this question on my forum I will find it and point it out to you. It’s in here some place, some place that I walked through but post the question on the forum and I will answer you.

What is a Spoiler on a Post?

“What’s a spoiler on the post?”, Jim Asked. I suppose the only thing I can do is just show you. Add topic, Example of a spoiler, okay so Here is an example of a spoiler. Essentially what you do is you hide it and let’s see where is the spoiler button, spoiler there you go. Here is an example of a spoiler, we submit the topic and you have to click on this to see it, that’s a spoiler.

What Plugin to Use to Set Up a Dashboard Page?

“Any special plugins to set up your dashboard page?”, Ken asks. Yes you know, I’m experimenting with one. The one that I’m experimenting with at the moment and I’ve never used it before. I usually just program this stuff on my own but I am experimenting with this plugin right now, Get User Custom Field Values and that is what is producing the little “Welcome Joe!”, that’s being produced by that plugin. The display of the current course is part of the course where it knows who Joe is and knows that Joe signed up for the course so it shows Joe the course stuff.

What VPS Specifications Are Required to Run a WordPress Installation?

“What VPS specs are required to run a decent sized WP installed?” I have no idea. You know, back when I was running on a VPS I paid a little less than $300 a month for it. I have something like 8 megs of RAM and 4 CPU course or 6 CPU course something like that. I don’t really remember but most of that power was for pushing a Simple:Press and once I upgraded from Simple:Press I didn’t need nearly that, my processor power, my memory power are way down.

However, before you go buy a VPS you should consider WP Engine instead, you should at least consider it. I went from $300 a month to $100 a month and my site runs just as fast as it did when I was paying $300 a month and WP Engine is just way more hassle free and you don’t have to spend $100 a month, I pay $100 a month because of the volume of traffic I get and because I wanted a bunch of extra sites on it but I think you’ll get a regular WP Engine set up for $29 or $39 or $49 something like that.

It’s I think better and cheaper than a VPS unless you’ve got a compelling reason to have your own VPS but that’s just my take on a question you asked. So the long and short of this I don’t know what VPS specs you need but it used to be that I had 8 megs of RAM and I think either 2 or 4 CPU course.

How to Switch User Roles?

Andrea says, “Apologies if you’ve answered this already but how is someone automatically subscribed to the forum when they purchase the premium class?” When they purchase the premium class, I mean it’s a system. When they purchase the premium class well, it’s not happening actually. I’m sending out a registration link that when I have this part of it set up by the end of the weekend I will email the registration link out to the students and they will click on that link, they will register on the site and that link will automatically add that user role to them.

As soon as that user role is added to them they automatically have access to the forum. On my site, on BYOBWebsite the user role that has access to the forum is the community user role and so when somebody pays for access to the site, their user role is switched from subscriber to community and as soon as they’re switched to community, they are automatically granted the ability to post on the BYOBWebsite forum. As as their membership expires they are switched back to subscriber and they’re automatically no longer capable of posting on the forum. It’s just a matter of assigning them the correct WordPress user role.

How to Switch User Roles After Payment?

“What plugin or software switches their role after payment?” Well, why don’t I just unmute your microphone? Where are you Andrea, there we go. Okay, I unmuted you. Go ahead.

Andrea: Well, I’m just curious you know, I’m sure since I’m not setting this up right now I won’t have any questions but the questions I did have involve is through the process and I pick one for automation that’s why I asked but just wondering, what happens so that when someone makes a payment, I mean how much intervention do you have to do to change their user role?

Rick: At this very moment?

Andrea: Anytime you want to talk about it.

Rick: Yes. When I have my software running correctly what I’m switching from Wishlist Member to essentially my own programming using Infusionsoft and so as soon as all my payment stuff is handled through Infusionsoft, Infusionsoft will be essentially managing tags based on payment and subscription length and so then what will happen is everytime somebody logs in WordPress asks Infusionsoft whether or not the information it has is accurate and if it isn’t, it updates all of its information based on the accurate information in Infusionsoft and at that point I use very simple WordPress functions for controlling access.

Essentially user can and so I don’t need any membership plugin in the middle but right now we’re sort of in a hybrid where I’m currently using WP eStore to take payments and my Infusionsoft stuff is not fully operational and Wishlist Member only does part of it right. Especially for renewals we have to go and manually manage that stuff.

Andrea: Okay. So there’s nothing out of the box right now that we do what you wanted to do which is…

Rick: Well, no I mean there’s nothing out of the box right now that will allow me to use Infusionsoft as my primary database which is what I want.

Andrea: What is exactly is Infusionsoft?

Rick: An Infusionsoft is an email marketing system.

Andrea: Okay.

Rick: Which is an extremely sophisticated version of AWeber. Anyway, my problem has always been that I’ve had 3 databases. I have the AWeber database which was never accurate, I had the WP eStore database which was accurate and that it knew the email address of the person who made the purchase and then the Wishlist Member database which was theoretically supposed to be accurate but didn’t have any email automation associated with it.

So you know, if I wanted to find out who needed to get renewal emails there was no automation associated with that. Everytime we send out email notifications for renewal it was a physical process that Laura had to find out who was going to need to renew this week, make up a list of emails, send out the emails based on that list physically and she has to do that every single day.

Theoretically you do it with AWeber except that AWeber’s database is not accurate because it is dependent upon people opting in to the correct list and so I had people who had paid memberships but were on the free member list and vise versa and that just isn’t useful for renewal and so I’ve been in this process of converting everything so that ultimately the holy grail will be that I have one database that serves them all, one database that manages them all, controls them all.

Andrea: Alright, okay.

Rick: And that does not exist out of the box however, so your typical membership solutions are you know, the one that I teach which is WP eMember which has a very nice integration between WP eStore and WP eMember and that’s sort of the default that most of my members use but you could choose other membership platforms as well that as long as the membership platform creates a user with a WordPress user role then access to the forum is automatic because this forum can control access based on user roles.

Andrea: Okay.

Rick: But there are a lot of membership softwares out there that don’t use the WordPress user role system and in that case…

Andrea: So that’s the key?

Rick: The key is the membership plugin that you use relies on the WordPress user role system and that then makes the access to the forum automatic for Simple:Press.

Andrea: And the work you’re doing to set up in Infusionsoft, that’s PHP?

Rick: It is PHP, yes.

Andrea: Okay. So it sounds like that is really more than an email marketing system.

Rick: It originally started out as a contact management system for people who make one-on-one sales contacts and it’s true, I could automate telephone calls from it, I can automate faxes from it, I can automate SMS text from it. It’s not just email marketing, it’s true and it does have its own eCommerce platform that then can integrate with all the rest of that data and so I can have a database that knows your Paypal email address, your preferred email address for BYOBWebsite, can manage any subscriptions, can send out any kind of emails I need you know, and all the rest of that kind of stuff.

Andrea: That’s going to be that your store function is going to change as well?

Rick: Yes, it’s going to move over there as well. There’s no additional cost associated. It’s not like a platform that cost me money to do an eCommerce with. It cost me $300 a month to operate, it’s way more expensive than AWeber but it’s just so much more powerful.

Andrea: And it is like $300 a month that’s what you get?

Rick: Yes. I think the base price is $300 a month and that’s for like I don’t know, 50,000 people on the list so since my list is only a little under 5,000 I’ve got long ways to go before I have to spend more money.

Andrea: Okay, thanks for explaining that.

Rick: Yes.

Andrea: I think that the more things that you can have automated and have to be accurate the better.

Rick: Absolutely.

Andrea: I find that. If that’s the case I’ve got everything easier to do and more likely you’re going to get it done and you’re not going to burn out doing it.

Rick: Right.

Andrea: So okay, thanks so much Rick.

Rick: You’re welcome. Have a good day.

Andrea: You too.

Rick: Bye. Let’s see, ” Is there any other front end stuff plugins needed to manage sign up subscriptions to the forum?” Well, actually what you probably want to do Ken is take a look at my seminar on how to set up a free membership site. I do have a seminar that essentially takes you all the way to the point that we started today. I must have done that as a plugin seminar. No, WordPress Seminars, How to Create a Free Membership Website.

This seminar teaches a system of controlling access and automation without any money exchanging hands so you get this Creating an Automated Registration Page where they sign up for your email marketing system or whatever and then you send them a registration link that’s hidden then they go through the process of registering and so I showed that using Automatically Register a User Via Email or via AWeber and MailChimp opt-in. Anyway, this is what you would do for a free membership site like what you’re talking about doing. It’s not too bad.

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