In the realm of websites and gaining popularity, webmasters desire two things. They desire to gain new visitors and perhaps more importantly, they desire to retain visitors and create loyal users to their site. There is one method that will achieve these goals and if done right, shoot a website into the realm of phenomenal success. This method is making a community-driven site.
The advantage that a community driven site has over a regular site is very clear to most people once they think about it. While a regular site just presents information and has no revisit value once that information is obtained, a community driven site allows for much more user interaction and can keep the user coming back over and over again to seek out more information and to ask other people for help. After a user has gotten help several times from a forum or community, he or she will likely feel attached to the community and will want to contribute to it. This will eventually spiral into a site with hundreds or even thousands of dedicated users that come back every day seeking answers and giving help to others. For website owners, these questions and answers (as well as quite a bit of casual discussion) is all free content which is used to then attract even more visitors. Community-based sites are also far more likely to get bookmarked than regular sites because of the re-visit value. This creates even more return visitors and can easily make the site a word-of-mouth thing around the household or among a group of social peers. Because of this reason, community-driven sites can spread like wildfire by word-of-mouth advertisement. This form of promotion is far more effective than buying advertising from advertisement networks, any SEO method, and spamming other sites with your links. This method of advertising also brings in users that are likely to be return users and therefore far more profitable users in the long-term.
Besides the advantages in advertising and promotion, community-based sites also have an advantage for their owners in the way of producing new content. Regular site owners must find their own new content to put on the site. With a community-driven site, users are very likely to submit valuable content of high quality so you, as the owner, do not have to go around every day and look for new content. Having a loyal community of users will provide you with more steady content than you could ever come up with yourself. In a way, they are like free workers.
In terms of revenue, a community-driven site beats out a regular site also. Visitors who return often to a site are far more likely to buy something from that site than first-time visitors. People tend to trust often-visited sites more and are more willing to support them than some random site they have just visited for the first time. Therefore a community with loyal users will average a much higher CPM (Cost per thousand views) rate than a non community-driven site.
With all these above advantages, it would be smart to convert any site into a community driven site if at all possible.