I think that the challenge with promoting the forum is that you have to give a reason for people to use it, and right now I think the vast majority of users would prefer Discord. I know that a forum and Discord don't function the same way, but when the whole culture of a community revolves around one communication platform, it becomes hard to change the platform without splintering the community or upsetting people by making them use something they don't want to. It's like asking friends and family to move to a new messaging app: they probably don't want to and will resist the move or use it half-heartedly.
Has the community even asked for a forum? While I've been watching how the server works for a while, I only recently started to actually play. It seems to me like the community is perfectly happy on Discord, so taking steps to move aspects of the organization to a new platform is even more likely to be met with resistance.
I'm biased because I think forums are a really cool and effective way to have long-form, asynchronous discussions. I can appreciate Discord, but it is very much an overpowered chat platform. That is good for some things, but I don't think it can compare to a regular old forum. From my perspective, I would love for this place to succeed.
Here is what I think could be done to try to get more activity off the Discord and onto the forum:
- Gauge the community's interest in the forum. While some may say that it doesn't seem active now, the important thing is whether they would like a forum. If they want this kind of platform, then it's just a matter of tailoring it to their needs.
- Clearly explain the pain points and limitations of Discord. I know it can do so much. To be honest, I think the Stoneworks Discord takes it to the max with the number of channels and categories it tries to accommodate. However, much of that would normally live in a separate website or wiki.
- Clearly explain the benefits of the forum and how it resolves some of those issues. Here's a better place to manage long and serious discussions about the server's administration. Here's a great place to have national announcements where it won't get lost in the sea of text that Discord servers can become. There's an argument to made here, though I'm sure the admins also see this, which is why this forum already exists.
- Prioritize responses that come through the forum. This is like a pull strategy where you're giving a positive reason to come here. If people have feedback, engage more with what is posted here than in the Discord. Let people know that this is where you will be looking at things first. Start posting announcements primarily on here and post a link from here on the announcements channel. Show players that this is where admins are active and can be engaged with. That will bring people that want your attention sure, but it will also serve as marketing for the forum and may inspire some of those people to actually use the thing. Then engage with those new posts and try to increase activity that way.
- Start migrating certain things to the forum. This is more of a push strategy where there's a negative reason that's making you leave the Discord. It's controversial and you'd have to be careful about how it's done because of how the community may respond. If they have indicated to be in favor of the change, then you're in a good position. If they're not in favor, then change management will be a whole lot harder and it will come with some risks. The Feedback category could be moved here. Maybe Support as well. I'm sure you can see why this is not my favorite option, but sometimes you have to make executive decisions if you think it's the right thing for running a project better.
Anyway, there's a few ideas. Not perfect, but it's a start. It would be so much easier for me to parse through all the lively discussion going on in Stoneworks if it was more organized rather than having to dive into a platform that was not made for that kind of communication.
I'm Team Forum, good luck!