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Why is a Forum Relevant Today? (Or, a reason why we think this site is a good idea)

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  • Why is a Forum Relevant Today? (Or, a reason why we think this site is a good idea)

    Click image for larger version  Name:	bbs.gif Views:	1 Size:	38.0 KB ID:	255Social Media has evolved a great deal over the past few decades. I remember a time when I could connect to a BBS on an old dial-up modem to play TradeWars and post messages for friends. Today we know Social Media as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: but they didn't invent it and they weren't the first.

    Then there were the heady days of Internet Forums, which probably reached their peak in the early 2000s. They never completely died, but almost every small website had a discussion forum at one time, and there were many, many vibrant communities dotting the World Wide Web.

    And then Facebook came. And lo - Facebook left a path of destruction in its wake, littered with the corpses of the once-loved forums, their communities absorbed or dispersed into the wind.

    Maintaining an online community is hard, but it is even harder when a large and popular networking giant arises that has absolutely mastered hooking users by creating the endorphin response of attention and self esteem, all while culling their addicted user-base for sweet, sweet data to sell.

    Oh, don't get me wrong, Facebook was great. You could even say it still is great - if you look past some of the negatives. What wasn't to like? You could keep in touch with friends easily, post pictures of what was going on in your life, even get instant feedback about that cute litte dress (or manly kilt) that you just bought. Everyone you know is on Facebook, for the most part - your friend, your wife, your mother, and even that random person you barely know who friended you just for networking purposes.

    See, that's part of the trouble of Facebook. Everyone you know is on there, but how many new people have you MET on Facebook? And since it is everyone you know, anything you post is going to be directed to all of them, whether or not they are interested in that part of your life. If you love comics and post about it a lot, what does your comic-hatin' boss think every time that pops up in their feed? When you post (even to Groups), you are posting to the world, and not to the select few you know may have an interest in what you want to talk about. Forget about post organization ... you may see a post and never see it again, and you have no idea if people on your friends list even saw what you posted...

    Then there is the exact opposite end of the spectrum - Reddit. Reddit is everything Facebook is not. While you everyone you know is on Facebook, you know no one on Reddit. Well, you probably know lots of people on there, but you aren't connected in a meaningful way. Facebook is public and clean - Reddit is anonymous and dirty. And while you broadcast your posts to everyone you know on Facebook, Reddit allows you to post in convenient, user-created "subs" that are relevant to your topics, filled with people who presumably are interested in what you have to say.

    Subs, or subreddits - for the uninitiated - are populated by huge blobs of people who are all interested in the same thing, but for some reason view discussion as a trolling contest where they "downvote" posts for capricious reasons, start flame wars, and otherwise demean or belittle people, all under the watchful eye of often dictatorial mods who - being lucky enough to be the first to think of creating a sub with a particular name - bask in the glory of their power.

    Now some subs are better than others, and there is value in Reddit - just like there is value in Facebook. But there are just too many people. The audience of a particular sub shifts frequently, and you never know who you are going to get from one day to the next. There is no opportunity to build any kind of online community. And since upvoting and karma control what posts are seen (and in what order) - the discussions posted are geared towards the lowest common denominator, and ultimately the entire exercise becomes a karma-whoring popularity contest.

    So Social Media today seems to exist as a spectrum with Facebook on one side, and Reddit on the other. There are other options of course, but Instagram, Snapchat, and the like don't really lend themselves to community discussion. Where is the happy middle ground, that niche where you can talk about a specific topic, not involve everyone you know, have the opportunity to interact with people you don't know (but who like the same things), and can do so in a noncompetitive, nontoxic environment?

    What about forums? They seem to be the perfect thing to fit into that niche.

    Maybe forum culture dying out about 8 years ago was a good thing. If you don't evolve, you die - and while a forum (to me) seems like exactly what we need today, if it was done exactly the way we did it back then, I think it would be doomed to fail. For those of you who knew some of us from back in the old Comixtreme days - nostalgia is a great thing, but this site is not a sequel or continuation of that. We want it to be something new - and we are going to try many different things in hopes of discovering a way to remain relevant in today's social media sphere. Maybe we are tilting at windmills, but something is missing in the way we socialize online, and we are looking to try and capture it.

    One thing I can announce, that will be out in a few weeks, is a Forgedby4 Android app. Stay tuned.

    I am glad you are here, and I am glad you have given us a chance. The best thing you can do to help make this project a success is to post - even if no one replies (at first), and engage with others on the site. We need users and we need discussions if the Forum part of this site is going to be a success, and the more chatter we have in the forums, the greater reason others will have to register and post. The Article side is already doing pretty well - but it's going to be a very flat experience if we can't engage people directly in conversation. Comment on posts, on articles, click those "like" buttons, and even share articles you like on your Social Media platform of choice.

    Is there something you'd like to see? Go ahead and suggest it! I am not promising that we will implement everything that is suggested (for a WIDE variety of reasons), but new ideas can come from anywhere, and we are always willing to hear them.

    We don't want you to give up Facebook, Reddit, or any other site you frequent. We just want you to spend a little of your time here too. And if I do say so myself, I think we are worth it (or will be soon)!

  • #2
    Well put. The getting takes and ideas on things from people you do not know, but at the same time have the opportunity to engage with in a smaller less crowded setting is what I miss most about my forum days and being able to read about a selected topic instead of just hoping someone else on my FB feed posts something about it.

    Comment


    • Craig Reade
      Craig Reade commented
      Editing a comment
      Honestly - most people I know aren't interested in the same things I am. My Facebook feed is mostly extreme politics and ads. I post very little about those interests, because the people in my contacts list mostly wouldn't care about it.

      Plus, there is very little direct communication on topics of interest, and when it is there it is almost always superficial and brief. I miss having a discussion thread that could last days or weeks.

    • Craig Reade
      Craig Reade commented
      Editing a comment
      Oooh! Nested comments! I didn't know the software did that. That opens up a couple of possibilities...

    • Blake M. Petit
      Blake M. Petit commented
      Editing a comment
      That's a great point. Even the best Facebook posts fizzle out in a day or two, and if somebody comes back and resurrects an old post you think they're a freak.

  • #3
    As an Android user who gets irritated at iPhone getting everything first, woo-hoo!

    Comment


    • #4
      Originally posted by Blake M. Petit View Post
      As an Android user who gets irritated at iPhone getting everything first, woo-hoo!
      Unless we start bringing in a little income, there isn't going to be an iPhone app. Android is a one-time $25 fee. Apple is $99 a year, plus fees for updates. This site already wasn't free to launch, not looking to chain myself to an unfunded ongoing liability.

      Most people are android users anyway, so that's going to cover most of the users anyway I think. The site is mobile-friendly, so iPhone users won't be totally left out.

      Comment


      • #5
        Yeah, for ten years or so social networking haa been the shiny new toy that took attention away fron Forum posting but it really doesn't scratch that same itch. I tgibk the purpose tgst forums served got split between FB (and in my case, lots of Twitter) and dedicated news sites/blogs where you are a commenter but not really a contributor. I never even tried to get into Reddit though - invoking the site's name always carried a negative connotation with me even though that's really more down to a few subcultures within.

        Comment


        • #6
          I actually hadn't thought about a lot of this. FB and Twitter by design need to monetize, so they have algorithms that don't help communicate in the ways that something like this forum can. Nice!

          Comment

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