Are forum communities obsolete?

John

Well-known member
I think forum communities will always exist in some form or fashion, however I do know that for me, personally, they are dwindling rapidly in their appeal. I think we are 'too' connected in this day and age. I love the convenience of the information I need at my fingertips but I really prefer human contact with a close group of friends as opposed to lot's of virtual relationships.
 

CTXMedia

Formerly CyclingTribe
I think a key component to a successful forum is the owner's skill-set (and mind-set).

You need to maintian an enthusiasm for your subject, be patient with members when they are having difficulties, keep a cool head when things blow up, be strong enough to take tough action when it is required, be a good communicator (I think this one is really important)

Oh, and check your ego at the door. The single worst thing that can happen to any community is when the owner thinks it's all about them - BIG mistake!! (well, unless you're Pamela Anderson and your forum is for Pamela Anderson fans ... :ROFLMAO:)

The key thing about social media though is that it is unmoderated. People can, quite literally, say what the hell they like - there's no check and balance, nothing to refute poor advice or incorrect "facts". Forums don't usually offer such freedom and when the same people are faced with moderation or rebuttals they can take great offence - they should be allowed to do and say what they like. (Some members also seem to think that everything they say is interesting and anyone disagreeing with them is a [insert phallic euphemism] - especially true of some of the younger members, although not exclusive to them!!)

It's definitely more challenging running forums now, but I hope to God they don't die off because I'm looking to quit my day-job in a few years and run forums for a living ... :eek:

Cheers,
Shaun :D
 

Sar

Active member
One thing to be concerned about forum communities is future business model of such web pages.

Most communities are run by people with day job who have it for hobby, which means in case forum communities become obsolete, they wont experience much damage. But business driven (meaning profit) communities, means financial investment (above license and shared hosting) 14 hours per day work with more than 1 person for more than 1 year. And to go that far to get something up with no future value it is just not worth it.

It has come to my attention that in the future it is highly unlikely that forum community can bring money as some other web pages can. Hence, after gave it a lot of thoughts I will maybe start another niche forum, but for hobby only. But for serious business will go with another online idea.

It is nice to read some good pros/cons arguments on this topic, which I believe affects most of us.
 

DPF

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.
I think sites that just offer a forum are almost impossible to get started these days and are a dying breed.

People want more information, they want it tailored just to their needs, and they want it now. Forums just don't offer that personalized, newsfeed that people are wanting and needing. You have to dig through pages upon pages, looking for that one bit of information, and its just not effective any longer.
 

CTXMedia

Formerly CyclingTribe
Facebook, Twitter, et al = gossip. Short, simple, (me to everyone) snippets to pass around that are easily disgested (and often forgotten).
Forums = conversations. Longer, more in-depth (one-to-many) group discussions that are more broad and informative and that can lead to greater discovery and enlightenment.

Granted, you have to work harder at it now, but it is still doable :)
 

Digital Doctor

Well-known member
Here is the vanilla forums guy dissing old school forums.
He almost mentions vBulletin as the quintessential old school forum, but says he doesn't want to name names. (maybe he's talking about phpBB?)
He says forums are: outdated, lack integration, want to be your "whole site" not just a part of it, forum posts get lost in the ether ... etc.
Vanilla forums seem very interested in Wordpress Integration.
He mentions quora as a wiki-like Q&A forum.
 

Diana

Active member
I think sites that just offer a forum are almost impossible to get started these days and are a dying breed.

People want more information, they want it tailored just to their needs, and they want it now. Forums just don't offer that personalized, newsfeed that people are wanting and needing. You have to dig through pages upon pages, looking for that one bit of information, and its just not effective any longer.
Take a look at URBAN75 forums which just moved to xenforo.

40,000 members. I saw one of their posts has 8,000 replies. Nothing to sneeze at.
 

TheLaw

Well-known member
Here's one more thing that Facebook and Google+ will not do -- purely anonymous posting. Sites like mine, medical and dating exist because privacy can be maintained - no links to friends, activities, other. I'm removing the Facebook integration so that people don't post with their real name. Long live the forum.
 

Jaxel

Well-known member
Here is the vanilla forums guy dissing old school forums.
He almost mentions vBulletin as the quintessential old school forum, but says he doesn't want to name names. (maybe he's talking about phpBB?)
He says forums are: outdated, lack integration, want to be your "whole site" not just a part of it, forum posts get lost in the ether ... etc.
Vanilla forums seem very interested in Wordpress Integration.
He mentions quora as a wiki-like Q&A forum.
I actually don't like Vanilla forums at all... Its just too... vanilla.

Yeah, a lot of forum software is bloated; and by his standards, so is XenForo, but a lot of those features make the forum experience better. I mean it seems that his major complaint is that forums "lack integration" and your posts get lost in the aether... But he also complains that forums are a platform... so which is it?

Vanilla Forums is not a platform, so if anything, its more likely that your posts get lost in the aether. When your forum is your platform, where your entire website runs on your forums, your posts are on the forefront of everything. Its one of the reasons behind my methodology of XenPorta; to make sure that articles don't trump forums.
 

Fred Sherman

Well-known member
Opinions are like bladders; everyone has one and everyone has the need to express theirs - often. This is what forums do better than any other alternative. The reports of their demise are greatly exaggerated.
 
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Diana

Active member
Here's one more thing that Facebook and Google+ will not do -- purely anonymous posting. Sites like mine, medical and dating exist because privacy can be maintained - no links to friends, activities, other. I'm removing the Facebook integration so that people don't post with their real name. Long live the forum.
Ah, good idea. I must do that as well.

I am totally opposed to people having to divulge their personal identity just to converse on the Net. If there is a right that supersedes all others, securing one's personal identity must surely be it.
 

Crazyfruitbat

Well-known member
I had a VB community based around gaming, it was a pretty popular site but as gaming & podcasting became more mainstream, everyone had forums about gaming - diluting everything. We did well at getting hits by keeping lots of new content up but when facebook and twitter arrived numbers went through the floor.

Gaming forums are usually people making short conversations about stuff they liked but all of that moved to twitter. In the end, people read and tweeted our stories but rarely resulted in extra conversations in the forums. Conversations like 'who is buying the next halo game?' would just move to twitter - forums were no longer needed and we made the hard choice of closing a once popular forum down. I know 4 other gaming sites on the net that had similar problems and some of the ones still without content are struggling to get hits.

I really think it depends on what your forum is about, if you have something that needs a proper conversation like The Law's site then it's fine - short conversation forums are hard though, and maybe extremely difficult to get popular these days.
 

Diana

Active member
I think people like to believe they can get the attention of the whole world. It's the "fifteen minutes of fame" syndrome. That's the appeal of Facebook and twitter.

Facebook friends and twitter feeds give the illusion of popularity and instant gratification. It's like a one-night-stand. Superficial and fleeting.

With threads embedded they only have the attention of the members reading that thread.

However, that's the beauty of forums. They're more intimate and connections can become more meaningful. But like anything that has more substance you have to work at it.
 

Diana

Active member
I had my vbulletin integrated with a blog ten years ago. I thought the blog would give the forum a "face." But none of the forum members ever paid attention or submitted to the blog. I also had a blog and a link to the forum, no one on the blog ever came to the forum.

There comes a point when there are just so many things one person can give their attention. If they get involved in threads and follow conversations with members they've come to know, they stick to that and don't want to be distracted by a front page blog. Likewise, if you have a blog and try to get them involved in the forum, they won't give it the time of day, simply because there is not enough time in the day.

So much for integration.

The old adage "less is more" still holds true. That's why I like xenforo. Vbulletin was getting overbloated, too much clutter. Xenforo is lean and clean.
 
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