Forums are the smokers' staff room of the virtual world where everyone "is an arsehole" and everthing "is frankly shit". Launch a new site and within seconds you will have every man and his dog telling you exactly what is wrong with it and why you should simply give up and go work in your local supermarket. Of course, I recognise that in time forums become a fantastic arena in which to generate advice, but in the first 2 months after experiencing change forums seem to suffer from post-natale depression.
What it leaves you with is a bitter paradox. As truly forward thinking professionals, we need to be entering into the communications as soon as possible and reacting to the feedback. However, your first few weeks are, from what I can gather, bound by some law out of our control, to be a hellish torrent or demoralising negativity...much of which may be based in truth but which does nothing to move the audience nor the business forward.
The trick therefore seems to be to develop a 6th sense of when to start listening, when to pay lip-service and when to simply delete the posts and inform someone they need help...well, I have been tempted! However, the danger is never getting back into the habit of listening and conversing to your consumers. Maybe we simply have to accept that, like in any relationship, there's going to be a big old row but to keep the faith that once they've "let it all out", the storm will blow over.