I've heard of forums that pay their staff with real money and other forums offer cool prizes on their forum for the staff while other forums is simply a volunteer staff job. What do you do for your staff?
Forums are becoming popular, these days launching a forum is better idea compared to launch a website. However, there is a tough competition in this business. I don't think many forums can hire paid staffs. Most of the forums are relying the volunteers. These volunteers may not may not be compensated.
Why pay my staff when there are some people out there who will be willing to do the job for free out of their love of the community. The most successful forums I know are messageboards with volunteer moderators who dedicates their time for free.
I am a volunteer writer for some forums, but I get paid now for posts I make on some forums. For example I got a bonus for $25 just for writing as a volunteer, so I guess it's awesome benefits to get paid for writing at forums, as it encourages people to come back.
Our office forum is quite stagnant lately and I have suggested to our boss for a promotional launch. We would hire content writers to be paid with real money and with an ID card that they are members of our organization. It is a cool idea, the boss said, but we are still awaiting for the budget and we still have to come up with the figures. The content writer would have to show himself to us, meaning he should apply personally although the work is online and no need to report in the office.
Both options are fine, but I prefer to pay my staffteam. There are people that do it for free but they aren't motivated and use other websites too. If we pay our team, they are motivated and check our website more often, is ready to help the visitors and avoid resignation. Sadly it is hard to find a staffteam that work for free or paid.