Having recently launched the new Forrester Discussions site for Interactive Marketing Professionals I’ve been looking at other forums for ideas for features and community building. I recently looked at the Dell Community Forums, which provide extensive support for Dell customers.
Looking at the Small Business Forum this morning, I noticed that posts were ordered in a linear fashion, and users had the option of views with replies or without replies.
The forum features a number of stickies, posts elevated to the top of the page by the editors, the small business forum had so many stickies that I initially did not see the general threads. Making sure the there is a distinction between general threads and a sticky is something to think about when selecting messages in your top threads.
Regarding communication and navigation: Each user can tag a post, and a list of top tags with top taggers was available at the bottom of the page. You can also use a search feature, searching either messages or user content.