Forums are often the most visited part of a website, because they are the most dynamic there is always something new to be found. A high-traffic forum can be a great source of revenue, as they are prime candidates for programs such as Google AdSense.
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Web Forums - Building an Online Community

An online forum is about information sharing and community, and successful forums don't happen by accident. Common sense, good publicity, and good management skills are what is needed to keep your forum growing. Before you even begin, there are a couple points to consider:

“ A high-traffic forum can be a great source of revenue ”

Is there a need for my forum? If you have a website that already has a decent following, adding a forum for fans of your site will likely be successful. Other good reasons to start a forum are having a unique or 'niche' topic, or having a new approach to something.

Check first to see if there are already forums out there that address your topic, and in the same way you would. If there are, consider joining an established forum instead of starting your own, to avoid fragmenting your community into dividing its time between too many similar forums.

Where will I host my forum? While there are free hosts available, it is advisable to choose a professional web host for your forum. Most web hosts offer hosting packages for your entire website, including the forum. Having a real hosting account allows you to have your forum under your own domain name and control.

If you choose to begin your forum using a free service, it is unlikely that you will be able to later 'move' it to private hosting without losing all the previous posts. This could be upsetting to your long-time members if they have to start over again on a new forum. It is better to host the forum on your own from the outset.

The organization of your forum boards (topics) is key to managing your forum effectively. Below are some basic guidelines to follow.

FAQ Every forum should have a general FAQ, that lists what your forum's purpose is, what the general rules of conduct are, and what actions, if any, will be taken for violation of the rules. You may also want to include a brief description of how the board works, or a link to a tutorial that shows how to use the features of the forum.

Main Topics (or boards) At the minimum, you will need two main topic areas, or 'boards', as they are called. You will want one board for your main subject; the purpose of your site and forum. For instance, if the forum is for your favorite band, the band's name would be your main board. You will also want a second board for ... everything else!

It is a well-known phenomenon that visitors to a particular forum establish a kinship with each other, and spend time chatting about something other than your main forum topic. This is desirable, and helps build community, but it can be tedious to plow through twenty off-topic posts in the middle of a topical thread. By providing a separate section for people to post on other topics, you help develop your community and encourage your visitors to stay and chat.

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