Wasteland 03 by Atelier Olschinsky
I remember when forums were a thing. So much has changed in the past 5-10 years, with the proliferation of social media and the enormous popularity of
Big Brother Facebook, which started its unholy takeover of the Internet in 2008. Twitter is getting almost as bad.
Forums still exist, but most of them are dead or dying. The last one I posted on was about a year ago. It was a political/history related forum that had been in existence since 1997. I started posting there in 1999, and was on-again, off-again for the next 13 years. That forum (as far as I know) is still in existence, but when its only moderator left and was never replaced, the site was overtaken by trolls who proceeded to destroy the site by running off its regular members. Last time I was there, it was a shell of what it once was. There were about 3 intelligent people still posting there. I had to leave; it had become mind numbingly boring and too sad to stick around.
Another forum I used to be active on has about a tenth of the activity it once did. All you can hear is the crickets there now.
I see this sort of thing happening all over the web. The Internet is littered with dead and dying forums. They’re a thing of the past, really a relic of the last century, when the Internet was still new and social media was still just someone’s bright idea. They remained popular during the first decade of this century, but seemed to start their decline in about 2007-8, when Facebook made its debut. As content management systems became easier for the average person to use, blogging gained popularity too. Blogs are probably as numerous (if not more numerous) than forums were 8-10 years ago.
I always liked forums because of the way they were organized by topic, but they did have their problems. Blogging is more appealing and much more creative and rewarding for a writer than posting on forums is. You don’t have to worry about going against the status quo because you have an “unpopular opinion.” You don’t have to censor your language (although I try to use decorum). You don’t really have to worry about bullies ganging up on you or trolls invading or hacking into your site. Moderators weren’t always your friend either; sometimes they even sided with the bullies.
The Internet is a mess with the debris of dead forums, but there’s also a wealth of information on them if you look. It’s fascinating to read a decade-old thread about a topic that interests you, and you might find out some things you never would have known otherwise. Reading old forums is like reading the memoir of someone who has passed on. You can learn so much. It’s incredible how fast history moves on the web.
I have seen the same thing happening with a couple of old forums i used to visit. Its virtually all moved to Facebook. though strangely enough most of the hits to my blog come from a couple of Filipino forum sitess 🙂
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The history/politics forum I was talking about actually moved to Facebook and that’s where some of the original posters can be found. However, for a number of reasons (mainly privacy ones) I don’t do Facebook much and avoid joining any groups on FB. Besides I’m way too busy with this blog now to spend time chatting in FB groups, even with old friends. I do stop in from time to time just to say hi, but that’s about it.
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Very interesting, LO. I’ve been thinking about the “demise of forums”. We used to get about 2000 messages a week on WoN (webofnarcissism.com) which has changed drastically. People prefer having their own space and it’s much easier to set up a blog today than it was ten years ago.
Because I’m a community-oriented woman (probably reflective of my age), I think it’s kinda sad that forums are becoming, as you wrote, “a vast wasteland.” We had some truly awful forums in the beginning and it’s no shock to me that people wanted more control over their content. One forum manager deleted each of my messages, one-by-one, after I had a falling-out with the “gurus.” That was almost enough to make me abandon forums completely but I’m not very good about “giving up.” Maybe that’s why I stayed married for 32 years. ha!
I think another issue to be considered is the forum manager’s investment of time. It can take hours per day, just keeping social relationships operating smoothly, calming ruffled feathers, finding ways to mediate the inevitable disputes. Forum management requires a high degree of social intelligence, no doubt! Some of my friends wanted to keep their forums going but could not afford the time and energy required after their divorce.
It is (and I can say this because I have a forum and a blog) much much much much much much easier creating a blog. People don’t have time for “community” and we see this everywhere in our culture. Even face-to-face support groups struggle maintaining an active membership. It’ll be interesting to see how things evolve as people find new ways to use the Internet!
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I agree blogs are much easier than forums. I used to be the admin of a small forum (I didn’t want the job but inherited it after the first admin abandoned it) and maintaining it was very difficult. Eventually I abandoned it too. With a blog, you don’t have to handle “people issues” as much, which is hard for Aspies.
I do miss forums as they used to be. But not as much as I thought I would.
If I weren’t retired, there’d no way I could have managed a forum. People have no idea of the time-sink until they’ve tried it themselves. It makes total sense to me why forums are being replaced by blogs. Do you have a spy glass to see into the future? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see where we go next?
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The internet is changing so fast it’s dizzying. It moves at a much faster pace than everything else, even other technology. I have no idea where it will be in 5 or 10 years–holographic images, maybe?