Are forums still relevant nowadays?

Discussion in 'Managing an Online Community' started by VICE, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. darnoldy

    darnoldy Curmudgeon

    Let's see... I haven't spent a lot of time working this out... but TOTH:

    1. Pooled marketing program.
    2. Pooled revenue generation with split for forum operators
    3. Operational standards that forum operators agree to meet as condition of participation.
    4. Shared technical support resources (perhaps)
    5. Common UI element(s)—header and/or sidebar which include:
    a. Link to all forums to which the user has joined
    b. Notifications from those forums
    c. New post list from those forums (collapsible)
    d. Topic (not necessarily content) search to find forums
    e. Cross-forum private messaging (perhaps)
    f. Shared login (not necessarily auto-join)
    6. A Landing page, help pages

    This probably also needs a critical mass of operating forum (not sure how man) to be viable.

    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
  2. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Moderator

    The logistieks are easy for a forum collective theissue is that companies do not want to work together. Take XF for example we can make a system that allows login on any XF forum but it all comesdown to trust.
  3. Yappi

    Yappi Participant

    That is the problem with forums versus social media. We are having a very difficult time getting the message across that a forum is a community. Social media is just a wall where things may or not be seen but the user thinks the entire world will see it.

    I read alot of articles about politics and sometimes read the comments. They are vile and disgusting. I usually won't waste my time posting in those comment sections for two reasons. One, my post will likely never get read by anyone. Second, if it does get read, I will never have a meaningful discussion to follow up. The posts are unorganized and there is no community.

    Unfortunately, there are alot of people that prefer that. They think they are changing the world by posting their deepest thoughts without the realization that no one is reading it. Everyone in that section is just there to post their own thoughts.

    With forums, you get real interaction and communication going both ways. And yes, I've tested it several times. I will make a post in one of those articles and come back to see if anyone has replied. Almost never, but there are another 500 posts by other people thinking they are changing the world too. I'll make the same post in a forum and can guarantee a long discussion back and forth with a much smaller group but far more respectful.

    The one positive about this is that there are people starting to realize that their posts on social media are mostly unread. It's taking a long time to educate the masses but it is starting to change.
  4. Namorat

    Namorat Duder

    I joined exactly one forum in the last two years, I think, which is a forum for a new political party in my country. I am there, because I am there, because I am interested in the movement that started it and the political climate made me realised I want to find a more active role in politics eventually in the foreseeable future.

    Aside from that? None. I am not even active on forums anymore, which is a shame, really. I do miss a couple of places I used to be active and its members, but I am kind of removed from the world of forums at the moment. However, since this isn't the first time this happened to me, I assume I may feel a dire urge to be an active forum user again in the future.

    One reason for me is, by the way, that I lack a certain drive to discuss most things online nowadays. Maybe it is laziness or I cant concentrate anymore, but one huge part of the issue is my lack of interest to engage in in-depth conversations about most topics online.
    A real discussion demands effort and time and I assume that most people dont have the time or the inclination, which is a real shame admittedly.
  5. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

    I joined exactly 0 forums these last 2 years (creation doesnt count obviously).

    I presume that's because forums are communities you have to visit and stay active at, whereas social networks are entirely about your online activity and are only a click away. 1 single membership gives you access to a highly sticky experience tuned to your taste, free from offtopic distractions.
  6. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Tazmanian

  7. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

    I've joined probably half a dozen forums this year. Nearly all of them are support forums for some game or product and I have no intention of contributing, though I do read them. I registered on them only so that I could keep track of what posts were new. I did join two because the topic interested me, and I have been fairly active on them (That's why I join forums).

    As for the main question, I don't think forums are any less relevant today than they were 20 years ago. Now, however, there are more places for people to discuss things and there are more devices for them to use. Some devices are better suited to some media than others. Forums, as we know them, need to come to terms with that and change appropriately.

    When we talk about the lack of participation, we must remember that it affects all social media. There are plenty of FB groups and sub-reddits that fade into oblivion every day. When you have large conglomerates of different groups housed under one roof, you just don't take as much notice when one goes away.
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  8. VICE

    VICE tool

    A large enough forum collective will turn into social media itself but this method is not exactly alien to us, muut and the highly popular Disqus are two examples of successful centralized forum solution. You know how big Disqus is by the latest reported breach incident.
  9. c0ns

    c0ns Aspirant

    I've joined 2 for the last 6 months, but I am new to all of this stuff. I really enjoy reading and spending time here though. Here you can find something that is missing from social media. I feel like you are being able to be yourself, to ask your questions, to find and connect with others, share opinions, without being judged. I don't know, but I prefer forums than social media right now. I hope you get my point.
  10. darnoldy

    darnoldy Curmudgeon

    Nope... none of what I have suggested is particularly new. One of the big failings that I have seen in most operations like this is that they see the forum operators as their target market--they are selling hosting and/or the platform SAAS. They are not in the business of promoting forums to the end users.
  11. eva2000

    eva2000 Habitué

    Joined at least 6 forums in last 12 months and active on around 4 of them. Versus how many social accounts I've joined in same period = 1 and rarely active for Medium >


    Could be a generational thing too. I recall reading about a study where surveyed youngsters these days don't even recall where their news stories viewed on mobile devices come from (their source/publication) - it's almost always fed into a format they digest without caring or bothering to know the source/publication. So they don't care where the info comes from as long as it's convenient to consume. So even if forum owners tried to cross into that short text consumable format, it isn't going to be much about building a brand loyalty/publicity as those folks consuming your info/site probably don't recall or care to remember where it's from. The value of that visitor/consumer to your site isn't as valuable as a visitor to a forum for brand recognition/loyalty in the long term ?

    Or that youngsters are too busy doing mindless texting and mobile gaming for anything else

  12. joevelez

    joevelez Moderator

    I joined 1 this year -
    I joined 1 last year -

    Interface not an issue as I'm in research mode.

    Which brings me to why you won't find many of us signing up on forum sites ... or any sites.

    It has nothing to do with platform, tech, interface, etc.

    We are just too busy on our own site(s).

    For many of us, it's a time issue. What we do takes up a lot of our time.
  13. Sal Collaziano

    Sal Collaziano Womanizer

    I haven't read the whole topic but if you don't mind I'll add my two cents. I started a forum in January and it's become my fastest growing community ever. And I've had some pretty busy forums...
  14. Sal Collaziano

    Sal Collaziano Womanizer

  15. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

    It's good to hear something positive for a change. Now you've left me wondering what niche is proving so popular :D
  16. CrazyTech

    CrazyTech Enthusiast

    Forums are great for endlessly speculating and pontificating on how it should be - just like we're all doing here! (Myself included.) :)

    Read the literature of our era up against the literature of 80+ years ago and it becomes evident people aren't expressing themselves quite as eloquently. Blanket statements are easy to make, but there are a number of factors going on that fuel social media:

    1) It's cliche, but the amount of information we have bombarding us grows exponentially seemingly by the year. Social media places us in the know, but all of this constant interaction and bombardment robs of us energy and focus. Death by a thousand million cuts.
    2) Words (and talk) are cheap. A big reason that people sounded more eloquent even 50 years ago was the opportunity cost of sitting down and going through the creative act of writing. It took effort. Think about how fast someone can type versus how fast they can write out an essay or letter. It costs us virtually nothing to type thoughts, and that's multiplied on a platform life Facebook or Twitter. If you composed a letter, it costed you in stationary and time. These days it's more like verbal vomiting. Someone above mentioned about comment sections - that's a case in point. A lot of comment feeds drive me nuts both for my own "side" and then pretending that it's the real definition or feelings of the other side. Most of these people post in comments because what they're saying is not valuable enough on a forum where you have to virtually live/coexist with people with different views.
    3) Social media creates the illusions of control and access. After all, that's my Facebook feed and my Facebook wall. In reality, you have a lot of choice, but that choice of what you see is dictated as much by algorithms and metrics as what you choose.

    I've been off Facebook now for three years. I will probably return at some point, but when I see my wife's feed its an endless stream of ads, bad marketing, and annoying rants. Yet it remains popular because you can start up a chat or message about anything. It does feed the ego. Heck, some intern of one of my favorite bands liked a tweet and I'm on cloud nine, even though I know it wasn't like the lead singer or bassist is sitting there going "Whoa that CrazyTech guy made a profound tweet!!"

    Where forums come in is a step above social media. We all are passionate or enthused about the forums we create. Anyone who goes through the effort of signing up is likely in a similar boat. It's not quite the opportunity cost of calligraphy and expensive stationary, but you get the point. What social has done to forums is simply cut the level of traffic composed primarily of one-hit wonders looking to find out something. That is a lot of traffic unto itself, but was more of a case of being supplanted by the next person coming along and looking for the same thing. I recall in my younger gaming days, there were a ton of forums I'd sign up for to jump on a single topic, but would end up staying for the community. Now that I have a full time job and family, I have less time for that. Yet I still maintain membership at places like TAZ and others whom I visit from time to time.

    Heck, I don't even own a true forum right now, but I am itching to get back in that game. Forums might be smaller and somewhat purer in a sense, but I am a member of places that ebb and flow to this day. I don't see a huge crisis. Consolidation is often an indication of a healthy industry.
  17. xaoseric

    xaoseric Developer

    Forums are still relevant, however, I believe that it depends more on how they are being used, and how they are marketed. If they are marketed well, and have a good niche that is relevant like Web Hosting Talk and TAZ, then they will do well. Also, it depends on how they are used, if you look at two of the biggest Minecraft servers Hypixel and Mineplex for example, their forums are active, which makes the argument that kids these days don't use forums irrelevant. So really it is more of a combination of how forums are used and how well they are marketed.
  18. Sal Collaziano

    Sal Collaziano Womanizer

    The #1 factor is mobile usability. The #2 factor is ease of use. If you can access it via mobile and it's easy to sign up and participate, people will add their "two cents".
  19. Brad

    Brad Charter Member

    I lurk any forum for a long time before joining. I haven't joined any in the last year but I'm still active and posting on several where I feel like I'm still part of the community. I'll often go missing for a year or more then return. What turns me off is over moderation and the popularity contest, it isn't as bad as social media but we've all seen what happens when someone gets a piece of power and it goes to their head. I still spend a lot of time reading and posting but it isn't on social media/forums as often anymore. I prefer begin judged solely on the content I put up and like to go places where I'm not required to register or have a user name. There are still places around that feel like the old web and that's where I prefer to stay now.

    Forums aren't dead by any means but they've been displaced by other things. I'm happy we have social networks to keep most people away, it filters out a lot of crap.
  20. VICE

    VICE tool

    I'm pretty sure forum software companies are experiencing the complete opposite.
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