Burts AIS, osCommerce & More Blog
New URL: www.osworld.biz

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Are Forums slowly dying?

It seems to me that over the past couple of years, most Forums seem to be dying a slow and painful death. I can only guess that Blogs are the reason for it... Taking into account the fact that on your own Blog, there are no rules to abide by (except your own), then this means it is far easier to post freely and without the "fear" of breaking a rule or two. I think that most Forums have a small amount of hardcore posters, with others who post now and then. The vast majority of members either lurk, or don't post at all. A few years back I (along with an online acquaintance) set up a Forum (not a business forum). It's been quite successful over the years, and has brought people together in real life as well as online. I've often wondered what wuld happen to that Forum if the hardcore of about 30 regular posters just stopped posting. I think it would die a quick and ugly death... For business sites, there is nothing worse than seeing a forum provided which is unused. I run a business based Forum (it covers three of my sites which have a customer base of over 100 customers), and yet it's hardly used. It looks dead, which i think harms my businesses that it's linked to. So what to do: I think for businesses, a good idea is some sort of a "support desk", where people wanting help can raise a ticket... For "fun" forums, I see forum posters making blogs and operating threads within the blog rather than using the Forums... My previous (the one before my defunct osCommerce blog) blog actually came about because a Moderator at the Forum where I was trying to help people took it upon himself to try to control what I was posting...maybe Forums should be more open to their members? Perhaps that is the way for a Forum not to die?

New URL: www.osworld.biz - thanks!


At 10/12/2005 09:04:00 PM, Blogger Oli said...

As you say, it depends on people already posting - most new forums launched today will fail.

However, look at the bigger forums (such as SomethingAwful, where you even have to pay for registration, avatars etc) and they manage to attract many new members (I believe SA has ~50 new forum members per day, each paying at least $10 for it) because of the quality of the posts already avaliable.

Smaller forums may die off, the bigger ones will stay.

At 10/13/2005 12:06:00 PM, Blogger baldy said...

I think this is a "natural lifecycle" if you like of a forum. When people first join up, nobody knows each other, everthing is new and everything is dicussed on the forums. As people get to know each other, cliques form, a group of core posters emerges and more gets discussed in private by PM or on IM as people get to know each other better.

I'm a member of a large snowboarding forum and a similar thing started to happen there. It was so successful that we now have regular monthly "real life" (shock horror!) meets. Posts from some of the old regulars started to die off but fortunately, there has been a recent influx of new members who are also posting.

The key to survival is, as Oli says, attracting new members and making these members feel welcome and included. That and sensible moderators!

At 10/13/2005 04:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baldy that wouldnt be goneboarding.com would it out of chance?
Apologies to invade Burt`s blog ;)Cheerz

At 10/14/2005 12:21:00 AM, Blogger richandzhaoyan said...

As a relatively new internet regular - Couple of years - I curently only use three forums.

The first... osC - I am definately in the lurker category - I use it as a reference. I have posted about 80 times and out of the 80, most have been on one thread in which I have gained a fair bit of knowledge of the subject matter. Started asking questions then started answering them as best I could. I do occasionaly post to general topics but from my pov its just to "busy" - I cant possibly keepup with whats going on.

Second... My webhosts forum. Its a great forum with a handful of core posters who are very knowledgable and very willing to assist. Aside from the techie bit though there is also a bit of humour, a bit of marketing, etc, etc... The thing is its well attended but also personal - you get to know and recognise all the posters - You can keep track of things.

Thirdly - New to a forum I found through this blog. Was a little wary of signing up as it seems a little clique but there is a lot of discussion on the AIS which interests me. Will see how it goes.

So, my view is... A forum does benefit from a reason. Belong to a webhost/use some software/have a common interest and things should still happen. To keep it alive, regular posters are essential but if it gets too popular (ie osC) its going to be a victim of its own success and consequent policing (a VERY bad thing).

The blogging/posting theory is proven to be working here (I believe). Its quite a little community you got going Gary, from several different forums/backgrounds. The only thing lacking is the ability for posters to start their own threads. Maybe once a week you could ask for topic suggestions...

Is the forum dead? Not yet.

At 10/14/2005 09:16:00 AM, Blogger baldy said...

Jamez - yes, it's GONEboarding! Are you a member over there?


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