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Are forum communities obsolete?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Sar, Aug 18, 2011.

  1. Sar

    Sar Active Member

    Forum communities just don't seem to be anymore what they were. Development of forum platforms is slow, not innovative and social networks/news portals have basically everything and more what forum software can offer.

    What is your opinion.
  2. Floris

    Floris Guest

    In a way, yes.
    But realistically, no.

    The same could have been asked when a blog was introduced. Forums are still very popular. And that's because of their unique values. That social networks, micro blogs etc can't offer.
    kyrgyz likes this.
  3. Jake Bunce

    Jake Bunce XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Can you imagine a facebook page replacing the forum here on xenforo.com?

    Forums are good for their structure. Forums can also serve a community of users whereas blogs and social networks are more individual. Social networks are good for networking and exposure, but they don't facilitate meaningful discussion like a forum does.

    Forums and social networks compliment each other. The forum is your content. The social network is a means to promote your content.

    Not everyone needs a forum. If you just want to post your own ramblings online then create a blog or facebook profile. But if you want to create a community based around a specific topic then open your own website with a forum.
    Shelley, Andrew, Anthony and 8 others like this.
  4. Panupat

    Panupat Well-Known Member

    Forum is to post stuff to talk to other people. It doesn't really need to go anywhere. Or be anything more than that.
    Kim likes this.
  5. Danny.VBT

    Danny.VBT Active Member

    There's actually a ton of academic scholarship of the different social contexts of online communities, blogs, and social networks. They are completely different, and users have different expectations depending on the service.

    Even within the same media there are huge differences between how members communicate and interact. (For instance, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Myspace are all social networking sites but each offers a unique social experience.)

    So, no, I don't think online communities are obsolete. Far from it. I do think if forum owners want to be successful, they need to put more effort in their forums. I'm starting to feel like content is not necessarily king these days, but how you collate and present content in exciting, interacting ways.
    Anthony, Peggy, ShadyX and 2 others like this.
  6. Sadik B

    Sadik B Well-Known Member

    As long as Google keeps sending people to "Forum Threads", Forums will not become obsolete. Most internet users are everyday non technical people. They don;t care whether it's a "forum" or a "blog" or a "Facebook Page". They read something interesting and may want to reply. They will do so as long as the "something interesting" part is there, irrespective of the format.
    ShadyX and Kim like this.
  7. =MGN=RedEagle

    =MGN=RedEagle Well-Known Member

    I would say partly yes. I moved from running forums to social networks as forums are to some, an outdated means of communication.
  8. Ingenious

    Ingenious Well-Known Member

    I can see how the less successful forums could have withered and died, especially those devoid of much content where members suddenly found Facebook was more interesting. But social networking can never replace specialist forums. A forum community is also a place where you can be free, having an identity not linked to you in the real world has become liberating these days.

    I probably wouldn't want to start a new forum though - it seems such an incredible struggle - unless it was quite a niche subject.
  9. Jake Bunce

    Jake Bunce XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    You make it sound like forums and social networks occupy the same space. This is not the case.

    What kind of content are you serving? It may be that your content is better suited for a social network, but that is by no means a referendum on forums.

    Do you know why your users think forums are outdated? I have witnessed a blind push to newer types of web applications for no good reason. The "outdated" argument reminds me of this. I knew a guy once who wanted me to install a blog for him but then modify it to function like a forum. I asked him why he didn't just use a forum. He said it's because forums are web 1.0 and blogs are web 2.0, and he needs web 2.0 to be current. There is a disconnect between form and function in the world of online fashion.

    And let's not forget that XenForo has incorporated social features into the forum application. It works quite nicely. This is another example of the complimentary relationship that exists between forums and social networks.
    RastaLulz, WyldFyre, Forsaken and 2 others like this.
  10. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Is the thread title supposed to be Are forum communities absolute? or Are forum communities obsolete? ;)
    Peggy, Forsaken, Alien and 2 others like this.
  11. Peggy

    Peggy Well-Known Member

    Good catch. I didn't see it either.
  12. tmb

    tmb Active Member

    So we going to just keep having this same topic pop up here every couple weeks? Strikes me as an odd place to be doom and gloom about the future of forums.
    Dean likes this.
  13. Sar

    Sar Active Member

    You made some good points. And I do agree that social network serve functions which you mentioned and forums another.

    However, what many people miss is bigger picture, that is how much time users spend online in general. I will give an example: If user spent 100% time on forums before, nowadays, he spend 40% facebook, 40% twitter and 20% on forums. Forums with niche have advantage of specializing in specific field, which SNS don't fill at this time. But, even on niche forums users spent some time to hang around in the past, whereas nowadays they just ask specific question and then run to SNS or news portal. Of course this is highly generalized, but over last 5 years, I noticed this trend to be true. It is much harder to start successful forum nowadays, than it was years ago.

    My opinion is that eventually small communities and other web pages will vanished. Internet is globalizing, big players dominate market, and forum only will not survive for more than 2 years or so, without having high social component or other modern applications collaboration.

    Maj engrish vas to fasst.
  14. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    I agree.
    Forums will need to change to be successful going forward.
    Sites that don't create good content will not survive.
    vBulletin never provided the tools to allow a community to create structured content.
    I hope Xenforo very quickly shows it doesn't want to be just forum software (which it currently is).
    or I hope Xenforo gets out of the way and lets developers bring new tools to xenforo.
    Walter likes this.
  15. Jake Bunce

    Jake Bunce XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    I want to emphasize this because it is important. Forums are about content as opposed to networking. It's like the difference between development and marketing, forums and social networks. Forums don't market themselves, and social networks don't deal in content. Many sites have too much of one and not enough of the other.

    For example, my site has great content for games going back 20 years, but I do no marketing whatsoever. My site is dead. If I cared about revenue or popularity then I could add 'like' buttons, get involved with facebook, etc.

    Social networking tools? Like the 'share' buttons? What kind of tools did you have in mind?
    Saeed likes this.
  16. ChemicalKicks

    ChemicalKicks Well-Known Member

    DJ is that you?
  17. Kier

    Kier XenForo Developer Staff Member

    There are a few things that forums do that Facebook and Twitter can't. One of those is the ability to easily reference posts made in the past. Both Facebook and Twitter have a very short 'shelf life' for content. There is no point posting an in-depth guide to a particular feature, approach or technology on Facebook, because it's very unlikely to reach a wide audience, and within a week or so it won't appear on anyone's radar. One of the primary functions of forums in 2011 is to provide an easy way for content to be shared in a manner in which it can be found through search engines like Google, and internal site search. Have you ever tried to search either Facebook or Twitter for historical content? You simply can't. Here, forums are the killer application.
    MrC, Garamond, Anthony and 17 others like this.
  18. Carlos

    Carlos Well-Known Member

    *Two Thumbs Up* (y)

    Exactly this. I agree that forums isn't obsolete. It's just that it's not "respected" as similar to blogs. [Or CMS and vice versa.]
    This is a killer post. :) And from Kier no less! :D
  19. Danny.VBT

    Danny.VBT Active Member

    That's not entirely true, as it is ignoring that forums are intrinsically social. For instance, take the whole genre of forums dedicated to those diagnosed with specifics chronic or even terminal health issues. These types of forums thrive not so much on the content they offer, but the support system their networks foster.

    This brings up another major point: forums connect people in ways social networks have not yet learned to do, through common interest. The major social networking sites out there still rely heavily on geographical bias or predetermined evidence that users are connected in some way.
    Walter likes this.
  20. Mark.B

    Mark.B Well-Known Member

    The only trouble with that is that you don't need a forum for it....a blog or even a static html page will do it.

    What you get nowadays, if you do have content like that on a forum, is people signing up to read it, and then clearing off.

    It is getting extremely difficult for even established forums to actually promote any sort of meaningful discussion. People just aren't interested, Facebook and Twitter has dumbed down the whole experience and if you're very lucky you get a few soundbites and a couple of smileys because that's all people do on Facebook and it's all they want to do anywhere.

    Forums are not "dying" as such but the days of running large sites with thousands of posts a day in a general interest community are long gone.

    And ironically a lot of the "social" stuff is making it worse. I changed vB's rep system into a Like system that functions similarly to the one on here, and it's been the single biggest cause of my own drop in visible activity, simply because instead of actually bothering to post a reply of some sort, people just click "Like".

    And then as a result nobody bothers starting new threads because they believe they don't get any sort of meaningful response.

    I am now of the opinion that having this "like" stuff is even more detrimental to communities than Facebook is.
    Ra, WyldFyre, Veer and 1 other person like this.

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