What is the future of forum culture? /or/ Does anyone else miss the days of forum-dominated internet discussion?

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Theonardo
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What is the future of forum culture? /or/ Does anyone else miss the days of forum-dominated internet discussion?

Post by Theonardo »

I couldn't find a discussion thread like this one, so I decided to start one. I'd like to discuss forum culture, which means this might devolve into 'I miss the forum days when...', but that's OK. Hope the mods think so too.

OK so...I'm pretty active in a number of chat/discussion IM groups on Whatsapp, Discord, and WeChat, but I find myself often missing the days of long-form internet discussion via forums on platforms such as phpbb. Most of the forum communities I was once active in ten years ago have disappeared, replaced by faster moving, mobile chat options or souless Facebook/Reddit communities where strangers engage in snappy random one-liners, never to be seen again. I miss deep, long-form conversation and the depth of community/user development that seems (to me) only possible on a forum. I miss user development and having some extended understanding of their views and opinions and who they are as a person.

I'm just sort of curious what others think the future of forum discussion is. Has it secured a solid footing as a medium for discussion, or do you feel it continues to diminish in popularity with each passing year? Do you find younger users are filling spots in your forum communities? Or is it mainly older users that remember forum culture from its heyday?

I like to think forum culture has secured the 'long-form conversation' niche, but I'm honestly not so sure that's true. Certainly isn't true among any of the communities I manage or participate in.
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Re: What is the future of forum culture? /or/ Does anyone else miss the days of forum-dominated internet discussion?

Post by Random American »

With social media to contend with, unfortunately forums like phpBB will probably not have a resurgence any time soon.
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Re: What is the future of forum culture? /or/ Does anyone else miss the days of forum-dominated internet discussion?

Post by Lumpy Burgertushie »

I think they aready are . there seems to be a lot of people getting tired of the so called "social media" crap.
also with twitter and facebook being called before congress and sued all over the place, there may be big changes ahead for them and other socail media companies.

hope, hope, hope.


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Re: What is the future of forum culture? /or/ Does anyone else miss the days of forum-dominated internet discussion?

Post by warmweer »

Theonardo wrote:
Tue Dec 22, 2020 2:02 am
...
I like to think forum culture has secured the 'long-form conversation' niche, but I'm honestly not so sure that's true. Certainly isn't true among any of the communities I manage or participate in.
It's difficult to assess, but "groups" I know that engage in "meaningful" discussions are moving away from FB and the likes (the one exception I know of is Discord)
it's probably got something to do with how "meaningful" is interpreted :lol:
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Re: What is the future of forum culture? /or/ Does anyone else miss the days of forum-dominated internet discussion?

Post by Theonardo »

Random American wrote:
Tue Dec 22, 2020 6:54 pm
With social media to contend with, unfortunately forums like phpBB will probably not have a resurgence any time soon.
I'm not expecting a resurgence. More just wondering whether people feel there is indeed a stable niche demand for forums as a form of online discussion.
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Re: What is the future of forum culture? /or/ Does anyone else miss the days of forum-dominated internet discussion?

Post by Theonardo »

warmweer wrote:
Tue Dec 22, 2020 7:55 pm
Theonardo wrote:
Tue Dec 22, 2020 2:02 am
...
I like to think forum culture has secured the 'long-form conversation' niche, but I'm honestly not so sure that's true. Certainly isn't true among any of the communities I manage or participate in.
It's difficult to assess, but "groups" I know that engage in "meaningful" discussions are moving away from FB and the likes (the one exception I know of is Discord)
it's probably got something to do with how "meaningful" is interpreted :lol:
Social media is sort of like a sieve, where people have to ask the same questions over and over because old conversations get washed away in the torrent of updates. I think this is where forums are competitive. To my mind, I would think the long-form format, its very organised structure, and its Google-friendliness would be difficult to match anywhere, including on Facebook. That's why I'm kind of baffled to see even very established forums dwindle in activity and then dissolve as the years go by.
Last edited by Theonardo on Wed Dec 23, 2020 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is the future of forum culture? /or/ Does anyone else miss the days of forum-dominated internet discussion?

Post by bikeridr »

I run one forum as owner/adm. It is a 15-year-old motorcycle forum (all Norwegian) which I've taken over and run. Although probably 80% of the registered users are inactive, we are still a decent "click" of users who are active and keeps the forum very much alive.

I'm also member of a couple of international "niche" forums where users prefer to be instead of all those fast-pacing over-cluttered "social media". Those are also quite active and alive, though even being international, the traffic is not much bigger than on the pure-Norwegian board I run.

So yes, I miss the "good ole days" with nice traffic and active alive dedicated forums.

That said, the "active click" of forum users in Norway often plans and goes on motorcycle trips together and many of us have met in person, thanks to the forum.
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Theonardo
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Re: What is the future of forum culture? /or/ Does anyone else miss the days of forum-dominated internet discussion?

Post by Theonardo »

bikeridr wrote:
Wed Dec 23, 2020 1:02 pm
I run one forum as owner/adm. It is a 15-year-old motorcycle forum (all Norwegian) which I've taken over and run. Although probably 80% of the registered users are inactive, we are still a decent "click" of users who are active and keeps the forum very much alive.

I'm also member of a couple of international "niche" forums where users prefer to be instead of all those fast-pacing over-cluttered "social media". Those are also quite active and alive, though even being international, the traffic is not much bigger than on the pure-Norwegian board I run.

So yes, I miss the "good ole days" with nice traffic and active alive dedicated forums.

That said, the "active click" of forum users in Norway often plans and goes on motorcycle trips together and many of us have met in person, thanks to the forum.
Thanks for sharing. So why hasn't the forum migrated to a FB group? Are younger generations signing up, or is the site mostly incubating an older, forum-familiar crowd?
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Re: What is the future of forum culture? /or/ Does anyone else miss the days of forum-dominated internet discussion?

Post by bikeridr »

Theonardo wrote:
Wed Dec 23, 2020 1:41 pm
bikeridr wrote:
Wed Dec 23, 2020 1:02 pm
I run one forum as owner/adm. It is a 15-year-old motorcycle forum (all Norwegian) which I've taken over and run. Although probably 80% of the registered users are inactive, we are still a decent "click" of users who are active and keeps the forum very much alive.

I'm also member of a couple of international "niche" forums where users prefer to be instead of all those fast-pacing over-cluttered "social media". Those are also quite active and alive, though even being international, the traffic is not much bigger than on the pure-Norwegian board I run.

So yes, I miss the "good ole days" with nice traffic and active alive dedicated forums.

That said, the "active click" of forum users in Norway often plans and goes on motorcycle trips together and many of us have met in person, thanks to the forum.
Thanks for sharing. So why hasn't the forum migrated to a FB group? Are younger generations signing up, or is the site mostly incubating an older, forum-familiar crowd?
We are just "old geezers" :lol:
Our forum is also represented on FB, but we of course encourages people to go to the actual forum to sign up. We get a few new users every month. Some of them stays and some just asks and get answer to one or two questions before they dissapear in the exhaust smoke.
Those signing up "to stay" seem to be 30+ of age, so yes, the younger generation doesn't find "the forum way" attractive..
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Re: What is the future of forum culture? /or/ Does anyone else miss the days of forum-dominated internet discussion?

Post by Lumpy Burgertushie »

probably because the younger adult generation still has the attention span of a five year old thanks to twatter and facesplat.



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Re: What is the future of forum culture? /or/ Does anyone else miss the days of forum-dominated internet discussion?

Post by smithy_dll »

Joel Spolsky asked the same question on the latest stack overflow podcast.

https://stackoverflow.blog/2021/01/01/p ... l-spolsky/

For a large part, casual conversation has moved from boomer book to platforms like Discord. Boomer book doesn't have "get something useful out of it" as a goal, rather it's goal is to keep you there for as long as possible doom scrolling. Platforms like Discord, Stack overflow, Forums all have a utility value. Casual conversation software has kind of moved on and forums are no-longer the solution to that use case without some kind of reinvention. Forums still have a use case, and Jeff Atwood has spent a lot of effort on Discourse to try and get that utility value.

When choosing a forum versus another type of platform you kind of have to think about the utility value. Other things that have to be thought about are moderation, laws and regulations (GDPR etc...), liability, and so forth.

Reddit is probably the one standout platform that allows general forum/newsgroup style discussion today. And a large part of that is probably a combination of Aaron Swartz and Y Combinator legacy combined with specific features designed to encourage people to behave (awards, gold, etc...), being mobile friendly. This also removes some of the getting started costs that can also be a barrier to starting a group.
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Re: What is the future of forum culture? /or/ Does anyone else miss the days of forum-dominated internet discussion?

Post by RMcGirr83 »

There is a law in the US, rule 230 from 1996, which is now being brought up for further enhancement by the politicians.

Basically in it's current form
When the most consequential law governing speech on the internet was created in 1996, Google.com didn’t exist and Mark Zuckerberg was 11 years old.

The federal law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, has helped Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and countless other internet companies flourish.

But Section 230’s liability protection also extends to fringe sites known for hosting hate speech, anti-Semitic content and racist tropes like 8chan, the internet message board where the suspect in the El Paso shooting massacre posted his manifesto.

The First Amendment protects free speech, including hate speech, but Section 230 shields websites from liability for content created by their users. It permits internet companies to moderate their sites without being on the hook legally for everything they host. It does not provide blanket protection from legal responsibility for some criminal acts, like posting child pornography or violations of intellectual property.

As scrutiny of big technology companies has intensified in Washington over a wide variety of issues, including how they handle the spread of disinformation or police hate speech, Section 230 has faced new focus.

Section 230 has allowed the modern internet to flourish. Sites can moderate content — set their own rules for what is and what is not allowed — without being liable for everything posted by visitors.

Whenever there is discussion of repealing or modifying the statute, its defenders, including many technology companies, argue that any alteration could cripple online discussion.
However, with all the conspiracy and hate speech filling sites such as Twitter and Facebook, the law is being looked at to hold sites such as those liable for not policing the content on the site.
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