building an online community which will have a very active forum with large user baseOK, but what is the purpose of the forum? If it's tech support for a product then one set of things are important; if it's a knitting community and the shared hobby is the point, then it's different...
In general I'd say:
In the case of this forum, we started by announcing on blogs where we know intelligent people were already hanging out, thus the culture was set by people who you'd want to be setting your culture.
The moderator has a difficult but important job. If you stifle too much, it's not a thriving community; if you allow anything and everything, it gets overrun by crap or worse -- ads.
Using software like StackExchange (which powers this site) helps because of the self-fulfilling voting system.
Recruit someone to be the community manager. The most active and dynamic forums will have a community manager or two who interact with the community on a regular basis (weekly or even daily) Like any group of end users, they will appreciate the fact that someone in the company is there to engage them. It eliminates that distance that many large corporations have between themselves and their customers.
Anyone in the company can do this role as long as they are people oriented and well spoken. The key is they must interact regularly. If the role is changed, or the community interaction is few and far between, the community will not feel connected to your organization. Engage your users and engage them often! Show them that you care!
Good advice from the others. I would just reinforce that Content (as always) is key. Don't invite the masses until you've got a decent amount of interesting discussion going on. As people start showing up one at a time and see the party is empty, they'll move on.
Plenty of great forums have built slowly and I expect you'll do the same, but start with something to keep their attention. It's hard enough to get people to your site, make sure you can keep them.
One other piece of advice, Forums are great for search engine traffic. Make sure everything is optimized to take advantage of it.
Oh, and keep out the jerks!