I’m not a real regular here, but I’d like to offer a few suggestions.
Make registration mandatory for posting. If somebody isn’t willing to put his tag on a post, he isn’t too proud of it in the first place. Somebody looking over new posts sees “Unregistered”, he’s like as not to pass. It’s a sort of “name recognition” thing. If the same subject had “Clint Boyer” as the thread starter/contributor, it would generate more hits and possibly better participation. (I’m not singling you out for any particular reason Clint, just that I’m writing this at home for pasting in tomorrow, and I remember your name).
Trolls come in two types: Obnoxious and stupid. The obnoxious ones should be whacked real quick (mandatory registration would be essential here), as they can really mess up a board. The stupid ones, you might want to keep them around for a little comic relief.
Trim the board down a little. Any forum that has no action for 3 months probably won’t ever take off. New visitors who see a lot of forums with the latest post dates months ago will get the impression they have hit a dead or dying board and surf right on out.
You seem to have a fairly capable core of regulars here, although not too many of them. They’re the key to the life or death of the board. Get some of them to agree to moderate. Moderators serve several purposes. They can stop a troll, pick out dangerous or illegal posts, hopefully answer questions, and keep a forum active. If a person agrees to be a moderator, he is agreeing to take on those tasks. Sort of gives him a little added incentive to stick around and stay active.
Answering questions. You (Rich Z) mentioned that earlier in this thread. That is absolutely essential. Ignore a person for over maybe 48 hours and he won’t be back. It is also essential that any answer be correct, or if it’s opinion, be tagged as such. Also, especially anything having to do with reloading, even opinions MUST be within safe limits. You don’t want somebody cramming 68 grains of Bullseye into a .45-70 case, topping it with a 500 grain bullet and touching it off, all on the say-so of some poster on the armslocker board.
Encourage new posters. Three or four people saying “Howdy and welcome to the board” in response to his first post creates some good feeling.
For a forum to stay alive and grow, it needs new threads, at least two or three a week, preferably that many per day. That’s another moderator job, keep it going until it becomes self-sustaining. Some posts will generate a lot of response, if they are started right, especially some that invite differences of opinion. (“CorBon is Junk” or “CorBon is the Best”, or something along that line, with the viewpoint rationally presented would pick up a lot of posters).
Encourage (solicit?) short, informative “articles”, apropos of nothing. It’s amazing the response these get, especially if they answer a question that nobody asked but still sort of hung in the back of a lot of minds.
Remember, controversy and differences of opinion are good, as long as it stays at least semi-civilized. Questioning a person’s ancestory is probably stepping a touch out of limits, but, short of that, let people go at it.
I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again. You (again, Rich Z and possibly others) should leave armslocker.com in a signature line when visiting other boards. DON’T make it a clickable link. On the boards I moderate, I’d edit it out as soon as I saw it and issue a warning. Do it again, and you’d be off the board permanently. If it’s just a reference, I’d probably leave it alone.
Every once in a while I get an email asking me to join a new board. I don’t know where they get the address, maybe it’s an easy thing for a computer-literate type. You might want to look into that as a recruiting tool. After your board becomes a little more active, of course. You don’t want new folks to see a stagnant board at their first look.
This is too long to call it my $.02 worth, but that’s probably all it’s worth.
Good luck. I think you have the start of a pretty fair board here. It needs work, and that requires commitment from more than just the Administrator, but it can develop nicely if that commitment, along with a healthy dose of common sense, is supplied.