Forums a thing of the past

Been a while since I’ve been here so hello again.

My forum of late has started to really die off despite my website and social media platforms being as active as ever so the question I am asking everyone is - Are forums/communities a thing of the past?

Or am I missing out on something?

Hi there avillafan,

You really need to be a little more specific. :winky:

Are you referring to forums in general or
to forums of some particular type?

coothead

Some are thriving, so it depends on a lot of factors.

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I think they are the future, a very young technology that has empowered us with invaluable goodness so far, and that still needs to be developed and evolved. I learnt web development in great part thanks to forums and web development communities like this one. I could not imagine the boredom of having had to read a lot of books and study by myself or spend lots of money in a tutor or course. Here you can find likeminded people that work on the same field who will guide you for free. Awesome! I was so excited by this kind of thing that I wrote my thesis at uni on it, it was titled ‘Cyber Communities of Learning’, a very exciting topic.

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Forums aren’t dying altogether, but with all the forms of social media around, they have a lot of competition. Plus, a really good message board community can take a lot of effort into making thoughtful posts and engaging in meaningful discussions. Other forms of social media are simple and involve lots of easy, superficial engagement, and for a lot of people (not me, lol) they apparently fulfill people’s online socialization needs.

Myself, I absolutely love a good message board - it’s one of my favorite communication platforms of all. So honestly, it does sadden me to see it’s harder for them to get off the ground and survive. There has to be some way forums can evolve and mature in the modern era to compete with people’s attention better, I hope. The basic idea behind them is so compelling, enabling you to connect with others who have the same interest and have meaningful discussions and a feeling of community. It’s especially important since you might simply not have or be able to make real life friends who share some of the interests you do.

They also have a distinction from more “chat” based services because you can make more long-form posts and discussions can be read, enjoyed, and gleaned from by others (including “lurkers”) for years to come.

Maybe part of the problem is that having serious discussions online no longer seems desirable. And that’s definitely understandable in terms of communities or social media that aren’t carefully moderated not only for blatantly bad and inappropriate content, but to keep the discussions on track and productive. But a really good message board has this moderation, and that’s part of what makes it great. Of course, there’s always a risk that a forum can have a nasty, toxic atmosphere due to the drama humans naturally create - when you have something that feels more genuinely like a “community” it’s a lot higher maintenance.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Forums CAN survive and thrive. I’m a moderator of a video game message board on which there are hundreds of interactions every day. One feature we have that I think is very helpful is a “status updates” feature (available with the InvisionPower software we use) where you can just say random thoughts and unimportant things and goof around, while also having more in-depth discussions in the actual forums. It can be a double-edged sword when people care more about this superficial interaction than the discussions, but for the most part, it works. Both the status updates and the main forums get a lot of engagement, and the status updates keep the fun but goofy stuff away from the deeper discussion.

I also think a Likes system is important to the modernity. On the forum I moderate, a tally is constantly kept of the likes a user receives and it’s displayed nearby their avatar, plus there are even “like ranks” you can move up with various milestones. Yes, this can be a double-edged sword too, but I feel like it probably encourages people to engage. I know it’s motivated me in the past!

I think it’s important that a forum has a clear niche and function to provide, and if it does, it has a chance. There are many obstacles to a forum’s success, but myself, I still “believe” in them :wink:

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Brilliant response. Thank you.

I also use invision as you mentioned, one problem I found was the big update around a month ago. People struggle with the new mobile version. It looks better and relates more to the actual website but everyone said they preferred the simplicity of the old mobile version.

I think they are in most cases. I’ve given up on mine as they have had less activity in a year than the Facebook group i created did in a week.

Site point forums are dead compared to what they used to be.

I don’t think they are. There are vast forms of forums. Take SitePoint forums for example. Some people may not know, but this is a form of forum. Looks uniquely different. Has a different feel to it. It’s very different from the traditional forums maybe we’ve all seen. Instead of having topics in sub-forums like we normally see, every single topic is pushed onto the main page of the forums. Every single topic is placed in their own category based on what the user sets for that topic. Wrong categories can be moved. Example, if someone is asking a Ruby on Rails question, but placed it in the HTML & CSS category. Moderators and certain members such as myself can move these topics to appropriate categories. So that Ruby on Rails question would be moved to the Ruby category instead of HTML & CSS. It wouldn’t affect the amount of response at all. The topic still shows up on the main page as would any topic. This is just one of the types of form you’ll see for forums. Flarum seems to also be doing the same thing. Not all forums run on the traditional layout. A lot of them are thriving such as SitePoint. We get tons of new members every day asking different questions. Sometimes we may get the same questions, but a lot of times, some may be different scenarios and cases.

I guess some forum issues can have something to do with what app they are. But I think a more important consideration is community.

(shameless plug)

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Are forums/communities a thing of the past?

Kind of, I think. I think they will always be around and always have a purpose, but for the most part they are dying off in a big way.

For specialized tech communities, Slack is pretty great and takes the place of forums in a big way for a lot of reasons.

Then for more general topics that people don’t care a ton about, I feel like Reddit has eaten a lot of specialty forums (think of sports, video games, etc). Because it’s essentially combining many different forums and topics under a single umbrella.

Then you have things like Facebook Groups taking a big chunk of people coming into online communities for the first time.

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I agree about the “forms of forums” thing. Reddit is in many ways just a community of message boards with upvote functionality. I guess you can look at Reddit as a major competitor to message boards, and it’s true I prefer the traditional style, but from another perspective,it does actually fulfill the niche of message boards better than most social media, so it’s not all bad.

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Yeah you can say that forums are a thing of past but still now they vary a great value and still now they are effective.
Forums are like, “Old is gold” :innocent:

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I think they may be a thing of the past where some services that relied on it have found more efficient service models. Still they are the main tool that enables online communities, and although it might be tough to engage people and make a community thrive, I think it is hard to argue against the value that they provide

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Forums as a mode of “social banter”, maybe as social media is more suited for that end. But forums as a mean of in-depth discussion (this forum as a an example) will continue to thrive ( if in an evolved manner). IMHO.

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