Forums are in general a great thing to have – especially on a site that offers help and advice. There are things that need to be considered though. Forums are probably one of the hardest things to get people contributing in because people like to read. Unless you try to invoke some kind of flame war (by saying tables are great for site structure for example) they wont be impassioned enough to post. The people who do want to post will be the ones stuck and asking questions, then you need people to answer those questions – and like I said above people don’t like to post.
They also can grow into a place of elitism where members are scared of asking questions because they think they will look foolish, mainly because of some of replies received from members of community forums all over the web.
Too many topics/threads/sections can be really off putting too. What I would do is start it really REALLY small, even just 2 discussion areas, one being Help and Advice the other being off topic discussion. Then you can let the regulars have somewhere to post about whatever they like, which builds community and also the Help and Advice area where people can ask questions. Make sure you make a sticky post with rules on behaviour – what is acceptable/unacceptable encouraging people to ask for help and welcoming them etc….
You have to be the guy answering all the questions to start with, I would say that if you invest the time in answering the questions in a detailed helpful and non-patronising way, people will come back and give others help because they will feel a gratitude towards your help and professional answer. Basically you set the standard, others will follow.
It takes a heck of a lot of work to build up a community, especially one as awesome as here – but as long as you are hard on the rules, welcoming and helpful in the help section and enjoy talking about the weather in the off topic it will grow. When it does start to grow you can then start to create sub forums or other forums directing users to more appropriate and specific areas – but its always good to let that be organic, otherwise it feels too forced – and a forced community doesn’t work.
Yes you can get away with monetization in your forums, as long as its not in your face at every turn, just make it tasteful. Some sites go a little over the top…
Google will also add your forum topics to its search results, which will bring more people to the forum and to your site.
All in all its a good idea, but it takes time. :)