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.