Seems like a contradiction, doesn't it?
It's all about understanding your target audience and not getting caught up in the numbers game. I've had an internet marketing forum going for the past year focused on the Black online entrepreneur. It's free for all to join with the purpose of providing a space for networking and collaboration.
It's been successful and I've met some great new friends as a result of the effort; however, I've also had some folks join who have no intention to contribute anything meaningful and who have simply posted advertisements or obviously self-serving questions followed by their own self-serving product-related, linkable answers. Not cool.
So I was presented with this dilemma. Should I restrict membership to the forum through some kind of screening process and risk halting the growth of the forum? After all, larger numbers are excellent for traffic and search engine optimization and as more people join the forum, more people who really have an interest in its purpose are likely to find it. Volume has its rewards.
But, if I continue on this course, pointless contributions and meaningless posts will grow and those who are currently committed may lose interest–we have too many demands on our online time to waste any productive opportunity on distractions that don't sell product, promote our businesses or services, or enhance our online marketing education and networks.
I've decided that fewer numbers of quality contributors is far better than scores of folks joining who don't really get the point. Membership to the Black Internet Marketing Forum remains open and free, but we've added a single question about why a person wants to join the forum to screen out mindless marketers who don't understand the importance of community as an enabler for commerce. I review every response and yes, some have unfortunately been turned away.
We're doing it real big in 2009 and an invitations systems for our great members to use with their great friends is on the way; come see and come be.