This was just something I've been brainstorming recently.
Generally, in order to build a community, you need content. You generally can't just build a community out of a forum. Actually, I've done a pretty good job of it, having at one point 400 members of a purely forum-based community, but actually keeping those people and keeping the site growing is another matter alltogether.
Blogs provide great content. The main problem I see with them today is they are very individualistic. They are the blogger's site, and no one else's. You can freely go and comment on a blog, but that comment isn't really yours like a post on a forum is yours. That comment on someone's blog is just you leaving a note.
What I was thinking would be interesting was the concept of social blogging. Basically, everyone who uses your forum also gets a blog. For every single comment of theirs or every single post, they have the option of posting that to their blog. And thus when people comment on a topic in a forum, they are also commenting on someone's blog and vice versa.
I think it would be a really cool way of bridging the gap. You've got a community full of both writers and a community full of readers. They aren't just commenting on individual blogs, they are posting, replying, building community through the forum.
I'm trying to think of way to visualize it incase I haven't explained myself fully. Look at it this way. I have a Vanilla-based forum. It is the community. All the discussion, commenting, etc, goes on there. But each person also has their own blog based outside of the forum that are yet tied into the forum. The blogs have their own styles/themes/topics, etc, but their backends for posting, commenting, and replying are all tied into the forum.
So lets say on my forum I make a post about Halo 3. I also really would like this to be on my blog, so I click the checkbox "Add to my blog". So now I have the post on my blog AND I have an ongoing discussion already in the forums.
I personally think this is a great way for beginning bloggers to get readership and also for communities to form.
Is this already being done? Is this concept flawed or unrealistic? How would it be done? I was thinking you could either have the forum software do everything, or you could just get the forum software to tie into existing APIs for different blogging products.