Sorry for the late reply to your post...
Well, in order to start a Disney-related web site, the things you really need are dedication and passion about the subject matter, as well as time. For me, it started with the book, as a means to promote it, but having visited and been a participant in a number of other forums, I wanted it to be much more.
To be honest, I wanted my board to also distinguish itself from the others, not only insofar as content was concerned, but the community itself. I am a member on maybe 5-6 other boards, and have often found (especially on some of the larger ones) that not only was the site quite "clique-ie", but not always welcoming to new members ("outsiders"). Additionally, I was quite unhappy with how people, including and sometimes especially moderators and even board owners, reacted to seemingly innocuous statements.
I knew that when I decided to undertake putting together my own community, that similar behavior, etc. was not going to be found there. What has happened since then is that we have developed an incredibly friendly, welcoming community here of people that just want to share their love of WDW, etc. No debates about politics, no nonsensical banter about sensitive issues, etc - just a place to come and have fun, learn some new things, and even make new friends. And so far, that's exactly what we have. Other members have even told me how they enjoy that aspect of the site, and are beginning to "migrate" from their usual haunts.
As far as cost is concered, here are some of the things you will need to be aware of:
Again, the big thing is time and content. Once you get a site design, you have to populate it with conent that interests people. (Not forgetting about making it easy to navigate, fast loading, search engine friendly, among other things, etc.).
- Site design (if you don't do it yourself)
- Site hosting (can range from a few dollars a month to a few hundred, depending on requirements. However, if you get busy, bandwidth ccosts can add up quite quickly
- Forum software - some is free, but the software I use (after reviewing about 4-5 others), is relatively inexpensive (about $90 or so)
- Photo Gallery software - again, there are some free, open source versions, but PhotoPost works well with the forums software and the support is excellent. Figure around $200
- Addtional features - varies in cost
Then, you also have to spend a great deal of time just setting everything up (e.g. forums, databases, photo galleries, content, links, downloads, etc.). Be aware, this is no small undertaking. You must have a lot of time... as well as patience.
Once you get a site running, it's not over either... in fact, it's just begun. You have to maintain a site, especially with forums. (Sites that involve large databases such as this require a commitment to keeping them running properly.
Selecting moderators is up to the forum Administrator. Some people volunteer, while others can be asked based on their frequency of visits, number of posts, etc.
I'll expand on this some more... but I have to run...
Hope that helps!!!