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I've been running a community forum for a while now. I'm having trouble attracting members who actually contribute. How can I get people to take that plunge and sign up?

I'm using phpBB and I'm thinking maybe the signup sign in process is too difficult or time consuming. Any ideas how I can shorten it and make it easier?

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    Welcome to Community Building. Instead of asking a broad question about common mistakes, you might do better to focus this question on the sign-up part, asking (a) how you can tell if that's your problem (or one of them) and (b) if so how to make it easier. If there are other factors that you think are causing you trouble, you could then ask about them separately. – Monica Cellio Mar 15 '15 at 4:38
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    There are many factors that need to be right for new forums. You state you are having trouble attracting members who contribute. Does this mean you are happy with your membership signup? Or, are you unhappy with the number of people who actually register and sign up? Maybe refine your question to explore this initial part first. – Greg Chase Mar 15 '15 at 23:37
  • One technique that will definitely lower the barrier is SQRL. Basically, it allows per site anonymous login using a QR code. However, it is new, and though technically sound, market adaptation depends on other factors... The phpBB folks would have to incorporate SQRL into their system. – Jan Doggen Mar 17 '15 at 15:35
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One way to reduce the cost of entry is to not make people create yet another username/password pair that they're going to have to remember (and that you're going to have to manage and keep secure). Instead, try using OpenID or OAuth, which let users use a credential they already have to sign into your site. Common credentials that can be used this way include Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and assorted blogging sites. Combined with minimum requirements at your end, you can have new users up and running in seconds. Really, do you need them to provide anything more than an OpenID and some sort of user name? If you want them to fill out more information in a profile, you could defer that until later, once they know they're going to stick around.

It appears that phpBB doesn't support OpenID natively, but this package supports OpenID for phpBB3. PhpBB 3.1 supports OAuth as an authentication provider.

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Building on Monica's answer - leveraging logins of other communities that have an API makes you relevant to such users.

For example, I'm in the process of building an online community for developers. It makes a lot of sense for my community to leverage Github login as an ID service. This way, not only do I get an automatic setup, my users can show their reputation with Github within my own community.

You can then use gamification to encourage people to fill out their profile. Perhaps improving their profiles earns them improved privileges within your community.

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