11 Best Forum Contest Ideas for Community Engagement

Have you ever imagined that you could organize a forum contest that not only promotes engagement within your community but also attracts new members to join? With the right approach and ideas, it is possible! I will explore 11 best forum contest ideas for community engagement in this blog.

forum contest ideas

What Is a Forum Contest?

A forum contest is a competition held within an online community or a forum. It is designed to increase member participation and engagement, often attracting new members. 

For example, a photography forum might hold a “Photo of the Month” contest where members are encouraged to submit their best photographic work. The members could then vote for their favorite image, and the winner might receive a small prize or recognition within the community. 

Similarly, a cooking forum could host a “Recipe Challenge” contest, where participants submit their unique recipes, and the best one, as voted by the community, is featured on the forum’s homepage. 

The key element in these contests is they increase engagement and foster a sense of community as members interact and learn from one another’s creativity and expertise.

11 Best Forum Contest Ideas for Community Engagement

It’s time to get creative! Here are 11 forum contest ideas that you can use to promote engagement within your community:

#1. Photo Caption Contest

A “Photo Caption Contest” is a fun and engaging way to encourage participation. As the name suggests, you post an intriguing or humorous photo on the forum and ask your community members to create the best caption. 

For example, you could post a picture of a cat sitting at a computer with the caption “Caption this!”. Members could submit a variety of creative captions, such as “When your cat is a better coder than you” or “The purr-fect programmer.” 

The caption that gets the most likes or upvotes wins. This encourages creativity and competition, sparking interaction among members. Plus, it’s easy to participate, attracting even the most passive members to get involved.

Forum Platforms Suggestion to run photo caption contest: 

  • Reddit: Reddit’s upvoting system makes it a suitable platform for a caption contest. You can create a dedicated thread for the contest, and the most upvoted comment can be the winner.
  • Discourse: Discourse is another great forum platform for a caption contest. It has a built-in ‘like’ system, and you can use polls for voting.
  • phpBB: Known for its flexibility, phpBB allows users to respond to threads with images and text, making it ideal for a caption contest.

#2. Knowledge-Based Quiz  

A “Knowledge-Based Quiz” can serve as an excellent tool for sparking engagement and promoting learning within your community. You can tailor the quiz to the main theme of your forum, ensuring it resonates with your audience. 

For example, if your forum revolves around photography, you could host a quiz on different photography techniques or famous photographers. 

You could set up the quiz in a multiple-choice format, with each question offering three or four possible answers. For instance, one of the questions might be, “Who is known as ‘The Father of Modern Photography’?” with the options being “Ansel Adams,” “Louis Daguerre,” “Henri Cartier-Bresson,” and “Robert Capa.” 

Members can participate by submitting their answers within a specified timeframe. The participant with the correct answers could win a prize, perhaps a book on photography techniques or even a new lens. 

This contest encourages members to brush up on their knowledge and actively participate in the forum activities. It also allows members to discuss the quiz questions, fostering further engagement.

Forum Platforms Suggestion to Knowledge-Based Quiz Contest: 

  • vBulletin: vBulletin’s robust feature set makes it a perfect platform for hosting a Knowledge-Based Quiz. You can set up a dedicated thread for the quiz, post the questions, and allow members to reply with their answers. The most correct answers win.
  • Flarum: Flarum’s modern, streamlined interface is great for a knowledge quiz. The software’s mention system allows for easy communication about the quiz, and the ‘like’ system can be used to gauge participation.
  • XenForo: XenForo’s rich text editor and easy-to-use interface make it ideal for a knowledge quiz. The platform’s alert system ensures participants are notified about the quiz and the results announcement.

#3. Theme-Based Story Writing Contest

A “Theme-Based Story Writing Contest” can be intellectually stimulating and entertaining, encouraging members to tap into their creative writing skills. This can be especially suitable if your forum revolves around literature, writing, or even role-playing games.

For instance, you might set a theme like “A Journey to Unknown Lands.” Members can then write short stories incorporating this theme, making it as imaginative or realistic as they prefer. The stories could range from adventurous tales of exploring alien planets to introspective narratives about self-discovery. 

Setting a word limit, say 500 or 1000 words, might be beneficial to ensure a fair playing ground and maintain participants’ interest. After the submission period ends, members can read each other’s stories and vote for their favorites. This type of writing contest promotes interaction and exposes members to different writing styles and perspectives.

Forum Platforms Suggestion to Run Theme-Based Story Writing Contest: 

  • WordPress Forums: WordPress Forums are great for a story-writing contest as they support long-form text entries. Users can easily submit their stories as responses to the contest thread.
  • Joomla Forum Extensions: Joomla’s forum extensions, like Kunena, allow for easy submission and reading of stories. The extensions’ robust features support voting and ranking systems, making it easy to determine the winner.
  • Simple Machines Forum (SMF): SMF is known for its powerful customizability and can be modified to host a successful story-writing contest. Its built-in ‘like’ and ‘quote’ systems can encourage discussion about the stories.

#4. Trivia Contest

A “Trivia Contest” is another engaging activity to cultivate community and stimulate intellectual curiosity. It can be a series of questions about a topic that is relevant to your forum. For instance, if your forum is dedicated to movies, you could create trivia questions about famous films, actors, directors, and movie history.

For example, one of the questions could be, “Who won the Oscar for Best Actor in 2020?”. Participants would then have the opportunity to answer with their guesses. This contest tests the knowledge of your community members and gives them a chance to learn something new.

To add an element of competition, you could award points for correct answers and track these points over a series of trivia contests, ultimately rewarding the user with the highest score. This could encourage regular participation and foster a friendly, competitive spirit within your community.

Forum Platforms Suggestion to Run Trivia Contest: 

  • Vanilla Forums: Vanilla forums offer a ranking feature that could be used to keep track of points in a trivia contest. It also supports various types of content, including polls, which could be useful for trivia questions.
  • NodeBB: NodeBB’s real-time capabilities make it an excellent choice for trivia contests. It’s easy for members to see and respond to new questions as they come up.
  • FluxBB: Known for its simplicity and speed, FluxBB is another good option for a trivia contest. It allows for quick posting and editing of questions, and its lightweight nature ensures the contest runs smoothly.

#5. Art Contest

An “Art Contest” could be an exciting and visually stimulating activity for your forum members, especially if your forum focuses on visual arts, design, or even photography. Participants could be asked to create an original piece of art based on a specific theme or prompt. 

For example, the theme could be something broad like “Nature” or more specific like “The Energy of the Ocean.”

Members would then submit their artwork—a painting, a digital design, a sculpture photo, or even a sketch—within a stipulated timeframe. This offers members a platform to showcase their creativity and encourages them to experiment and explore different aspects of their artistic abilities.

After the submission period ends, the artworks could be displayed in a dedicated thread, and members can admire and vote for their favorites based on creativity, technique, interpretation of the theme, and overall impact. The artist with the most votes could be rewarded with a feature on the forum’s homepage or even an art supplies gift card, driving motivation and fostering a sense of achievement.

Read also: Drawing contest ideas

Forum Platforms Suggestion to Run Art Contest:

  • phpBB: phpBB’s extensive customization options make it ideal for running an art contest. The platform supports image uploading and viewing, and its polling feature can be used for voting.
  • Discourse: Known for its clean design and user-friendly features, Discourse allows easy uploading and showcasing of images, making it a great choice for an art contest.
  • MyBB: MyBB’s rich feature set includes support for image uploads and a customizable reputation system, which can be used for voting in an art contest. Its intuitive interface ensures a smooth experience for participants and the voters.

#6. Code Challenge

A “Code Challenge” can be an engaging activity for programming or tech-related forums. It involves presenting a particular coding problem or task and inviting members to solve it using their programming skills. For instance, the challenge could be “Write a program that sorts a list of numbers in ascending order without using any in-built sorting functions.” 

Participants would then write their code solutions in their preferred programming language or a language specified by the contest rules and submit their entries within a given timeframe. This helps members hone their coding skills and encourages them to think creatively and analytically.

Once all submissions are in, members could be asked to explain their approach, logic, and any unique elements of their code to foster interaction and learning. This fosters an environment of collaborative learning and problem-solving. 

For judging, factors like the efficiency of the code, its readability, and how well it solves the problem can be considered. An expert panel or community voting could then decide the winner.

Forum Platforms Suggestion to run Code Challenge:

  • Stack Overflow for Teams: Stack Overflow’s private Q&A environment can be a good platform for hosting a code challenge. It supports code snippets, making it easy for participants to submit their solutions.
  • GitHub Discussions: GitHub’s discussion feature can also host code challenges efficiently. The platform inherently supports code and has a community of developers who can participate and provide feedback.
  • Coderwall: Coderwall is a platform specifically designed for developers. It supports code blocks and has a built-in feature for challenges, making it an ideal choice for such contests.

#7. Photo Contest

A “Photo Contest” can be a fantastic way to engage photography or travel-themed forum members. In this contest, you can invite participants to submit their best photographs based on a specific theme or subject. 

For instance, the theme could be “Urban Landscapes,” members could submit their best shots of city skylines, street art, architectural wonders, or bustling bazaars. 

Members would submit their photographs within the set timeframe, providing a unique opportunity to express their vision and creativity. This contest highlights the photography skills of your members and lets them explore diverse perspectives through the lens of their fellow community members.

Once the submission period ends, all entries could be showcased in a dedicated forum thread. Community members can then vote based on the photos’ aesthetic appeal, creativity, and relevance to the theme. 

The photograph with the most votes could be featured on the forum’s banner or awarded a photography equipment gift card, stimulating engagement and offering a sense of accomplishment.

Forum Platforms Suggestion to Run Photo Contest:

  • SmugMug: As a platform designed for photographers, SmugMug supports high-quality image uploads and has a built-in voting feature, making it an ideal choice for hosting a photo contest.
  • Flickr: Flickr’s forums are a great place for a photo contest. They allow for easy uploading and organization of images, and the platform’s extensive user base can provide a wide range of entries and feedback.
  • Photobucket: Photobucket’s user-friendly interface and support for image uploads make it a good choice for a photo contest. It also offers customizable privacy settings, ensuring entries are visible only to the forum community.

#8. Debate Contest

A “Debate Contest” can serve as an engaging competition for a forum with members who appreciate intellectual discussions and debates. In this contest, forum moderators can introduce a topic, and the members would be divided into two groups, each supporting or opposing the topic.

For instance, a topic could be “Are cryptocurrencies a viable replacement for traditional money?”. One group could argue for the potential of cryptocurrencies as a new form of global currency. In contrast, the other group could discuss the issues and challenges hindering this transition.

The Debate could occur in a dedicated thread, where each group would present their arguments and counterarguments within a specified period. This contest promotes intellectual stimulation and critical thinking among the members, encouraging them to research, refine their argumentation skills, and learn to articulate their viewpoints effectively.

Factors such as the strength of arguments, clarity of thought, respect for opposing views, and overall contribution to the Debate could be considered when evaluating the contest. A panel of judges or community voting could determine the winning team.

Forum Platforms Suggestion to run Debate contest:

  • vBulletin: vBulletin’s robust forum capabilities make it an excellent choice for hosting a debate contest. It allows for organized and threaded discussions, making it easy to follow the flow of arguments.
  • Invision Community: Invision supports rich text editing and replying to quotes, which are useful features for a debate contest. It also has a reputation system which can be used for voting.
  • Vanilla Forums: Vanilla’s simplicity, flexibility, and Q&A format make it a strong contender for hosting debates. Its badge system could be used as a means to reward participants.

#9. Fitness Challenge

A “Fitness Challenge” can be a stimulating and entertaining contest for a fitness or health-themed forum. In this challenge, forum members could be invited to participate in a set fitness goal over a specified period, such as “10000 steps a day for a month” or “30 days of Yoga.” 

Participants would track their progress and post updates, encouraging competition and camaraderie among the forum members. This promotes a healthier lifestyle and fosters a sense of community as members cheer each other on and share health tips and advice.

Once the challenge period ends, participants could submit proof of participation, like screenshots from fitness tracker apps or photos of their fitness journey. These submissions can then be judged based on consistency, improvement, and enthusiasm demonstrated throughout the challenge. 

Rewards for the winners could be fitness-related, such as a new fitness tracker, a subscription to a health magazine, or a voucher for a health food store. This encourages the continued pursuit of fitness goals even after the challenge ends.

Forum Platforms Suggestion to run Fitness Challenge:

  • Fitocracy: Fitocracy is a fitness-centric platform that natively supports tracking and sharing workout stats, making it a perfect choice for hosting a fitness challenge.
  • Reddit: Reddit’s broad user base and easy-to-use interface make it a great place for a fitness challenge. Subreddits like r/Fitness or r/health could be suitable hosts.
  • SparkPeople: SparkPeople is a health and fitness platform with a strong community aspect. It supports tracking fitness stats and has a vibrant discussion forum, making it a good choice for a fitness challenge.

#10. Recipe Contest

A “Recipe Contest” can be an exciting and interactive competition for a food-focused forum, attracting home cooks, professional chefs, and food enthusiasts. Members are challenged to create innovative and delicious recipes based on specific themes, unique ingredients, or specified cuisines. 

For instance, participants may reinvent classic comfort dishes in their style under the theme “Comfort Foods with a Twist.” Entries could include recipes like “Spicy Mac n Cheese with Chorizo” or “Red Wine Chocolate Brownies,” showcasing culinary creativity.

Participants can share their recipes with images or short videos of the final dish, flavor profiles, and cooking processes. This contest encourages culinary skills, sparks creativity, and builds a collection of unique recipes for all forum members to enjoy.

Judging criteria may include recipe uniqueness, presentation, adherence to the theme, and community response (likes, comments, etc.). The winning recipe could be featured on the forum’s homepage or in a dedicated recipe section, with the winner receiving a cooking-related gift, like a gourmet ingredient hamper or a cookbook from a renowned chef.

Forum Platforms Suggestion to run Recipe Contest:

  • Tasty Kitchen: Tasty Kitchen is a recipe-sharing platform with a built-in forum. Its format allows easy sharing and commenting on recipes, making it ideal for a recipe contest.
  • Chowhound: Chowhound’s robust forums are a great platform for a recipe contest. They allow for discussion and critique of recipes, and the wide user base can provide a variety of entries.
  • Food.com: Food.com’s user-friendly interface and extensive recipe database make it a suitable platform for hosting a recipe contest. It allows easy upload of recipes with images and an option to rate and review, fostering interactive participation.

#11. DIY Contest

A “DIY Contest” is a fun and engaging way to stimulate creativity in a crafts or DIY-oriented community. Members can create DIY projects based on themes or specific materials. 

For example, the theme could be “Repurposed Items,” challenging participants to transform everyday objects into something new and useful. They would post photos and descriptions of their creations. The contest encourages innovative ideas, friendly competition, and the sharing of DIY projects with the community. 

Factors like creativity, functionality, theme adherence, and community response would be considered for judging. The winning project could be featured on the forum’s homepage, and the winner could receive a gift card for a home improvement or crafting supplies store.

Forum Platforms Suggestion to run DIY Contest:

  • Craftster: Craftster’s niche community and in-depth project-sharing capabilities make it a great platform to host a DIY contest.
  • DIY Chatroom: DIY Chatroom is a platform that allows for discussion and sharing of DIY projects, making it a suitable host for a DIY contest.
  • Instructables: With a wide user base and a format that supports step-by-step project instructions, Instructables is an excellent choice for a DIY contest.

All these contests can open the opportunity of advertising your new community. Check out the video for more detail.


I hope these forum contest ideas have sparked your creativity and excited you about organizing a fun and engaging contest on your forum or other platforms. Don’t forget to customize these suggestions to match the specific interests and themes of your forum and its members. 

Planning and executing a well-thought-out contest can create a sense of community, increase member engagement, and make your forum stand out from the crowd.

Julia Nancy
Julia Nancy

I have vast experience arranging online voting contests for hundreds of clients worldwide in the last 8 years. I also helped countless clients to win their online competitions. Here, on royalvotes.com, I am just sharing knowledge from my experiences. If you need any help regarding the online contest, email me at julia@royalvotes.com