Guess what? Blogs and forums are not mutually exclusive, and they don't have to be mortal enemies. In fact, they can be used to enhance the same community.
But how do you decide which tool suits your own needs? Here's a quick summary of things to consider:
- Topics are initiated by the blogger(s)
- More tendency for visitors to "strafe" by
- More pressure on the blogger(s) to produce new content
- A bit more difficult to recognize key members/commenters
- Works well for a site with a point of view
- Members decide the topics (within the forum structure)
- Members feel more ownership
- Good for a site that fosters a lot of back-and-forth interaction
- More room for members to post their own rich content (photos, etc.)
Of course, you can have both commented blogs and forums together. If your community is going to be the core of your online presence, offering a blog and forums can allow free expression to all of your visitors, as different people have different comfort levels. Some might feel that it's quicker and easier to comment on a blog post than to commit to joining a forum conversation. And on the flip side, some might want to start a topic that's unrelated to any specific blog post. Offering both venues opens up your community to more diversity of thought.
Our own Hoop.la application allows you to enable/disable any of its major areas (blogs, forums, chat) so that you can design your ideal community.