How do you compete with Reddit?

DigNap15

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Hello
My forum (General and Politcs for one small country) is going quite well
However I have just noticed that there are a few dedicated sub reddits similar to mine and they have a lot of members

My question is what are the advantages for a member being on Reddit versus being on a XF forum such as mine?
And vice versa
 

Oh!

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Hello
My forum (General and Politcs for one small country) is going quite well
However I have just noticed that there are a few dedicated sub reddits similar to mine and they have a lot of members

My question is what are the advantages for a member being on Reddit versus being on a XF forum such as mine?
And vice versa
In short, the 'network effect'. A network's value (in a number of metrics) increases at a rate of something like the square of the nodes (members, groups, threads, etc.). Reddit is more of a one-stop-shop compared to a traditional forum, and easier to find and make useful, interesting connections.

From a user perspective, I think there are some potential advantages to an independent forum (greater intimacy and familiarity with other members, a more unique experience, etc.). But in the aggregate - for the much larger majority of users - I think these advantages are swamped the greater networking effects at Reddit. Do not underestimate the advantages of low friction; except for its somewhat hokey layout, I think Reddit has these advantages in spades. The same can be said (to some degree and in some ways) for Facebook.
 
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zappaDPJ

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In short, the 'network effect'. A network's value (in a number of metrics) increases at a rate of something like the square of the nodes (members, groups, threads, etc.). Reddit is more of a one-stop-shop compared to a traditional forum, and easier to find and make useful, interesting connections.

Spot on, I agree, every forum sits in isolation which in my opinion is to their detriment in modern times.
 

Nev_Dull

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I think another contributing factor is something we've created ourselves; the lack of staying power. So many forums get started and closed in a short period of time, because the owner loses interest, the forum doesn't generate thousands of members in the first month, etc. For those people who do find a forum that meets their needs, only to have it go away after a short time, it becomes far less enticing to join another one, especially when places like reddit exist.
 

Oh!

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I think another contributing factor is something we've created ourselves; the lack of staying power. So many forums get started and closed in a short period of time, because the owner loses interest, the forum doesn't generate thousands of members in the first month, etc. For those people who do find a forum that meets their needs, only to have it go away after a short time, it becomes far less enticing to join another one, especially when places like reddit exist.
Hi Nev_Dull,

Unfortunately, it would not work like that. Section 230 was created precisely because case law introduced massive liabilities for any online company hosting user-generated content. New Terms & Conditions would not cut it - the liabilities would persist. I referenced relevant case law earlier in this thread:


Either, Facebook (and all of us ) would never attempt to perform any moderation of any content; or perform even a single act of moderation and be potentially liable for all user-generated content on the platform/forum we operate. It is crazy, but that was the state of play (case law) before Section 230.
 

Pete

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It is crazy, but that was the state of play (case law) before Section 230.

...in America. Other countries have other laws, even before S230.

I also refer you to the fact that forums existed for *decades* prior to S230's existence, they were largely called bulletin boards.

every forum sits in isolation which in my opinion is to their detriment in modern times.

Sort of disagree.

Depends on the type of forum. Linking forums together potentially has a similar effect to what used to (and sometimes still does) on Discord - where people poach people from other places. The easier it is to roll your own, the harder it is to retain.

In addition, over in my niche, the notion of collaboration is a bit... special. Almost every forum in my niche actively advertises other forums, both in terms of old-school affiliates and with a guest-posting board for drive-by users to come and advertise. This is *normal*. Single sign on integration would actually hurt not help those communities, in fact.
 
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LeadCrow

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IMO you should appeal to the far better implementations of archival and organization of forums, as well as benefits such as privacy and more positive community guidelines that more closely adapt to the standards you expect rather than a megasite's one size fits all stick approach.

On reddit, anything you post is ephemereal quick chatter that disappears as soon as new topics get posted, and participants can feel 'fear of missing out' from not participating or doing so sooner. On forums, discussions can be participated in at anytime, and noone's comments are sunk, downvoted or otherwise hidden. Noone feels they must get their reply in ASAP when their many notifications compel them to immediately get their oneliner or reaction smiley in, they can take their time and even just passively read educated discourses if theyre more confortable contributing to the community in different ways (an ad view, sponsorship, submitting content somewhere else than the forum, or anything that helps make the community a better place for everyone that is not easy or possible to quantify like defusing drama or building bridges with other/realworld groups of interest). To put it simply, people already feel really stressed and find renewed enjoyment in "the slow web".
 

Pete

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IMO you should appeal to the far better implementations of archival and organization of forums, as well as benefits such as privacy and more positive community guidelines that more closely adapt to the standards you expect rather than a megasite's one size fits all stick approach.

This has always been the argument in favour of forums over social media, and it mostly holds true for Reddit too. On a broader note, the question to ask is not 'how do I compete with x', not really. It's 'what can I bring to the party that x can't?' What's the unique selling point of your community vs a corner of Reddit? Because I'm certain there's more to be had than archival/organisation though that's a huge draw for some.
 

zappaDPJ

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Sort of disagree.

Depends on the type of forum. Linking forums together potentially has a similar effect to what used to (and sometimes still does) on Discord - where people poach people from other places. The easier it is to roll your own, the harder it is to retain.

In addition, over in my niche, the notion of collaboration is a bit... special. Almost every forum in my niche actively advertises other forums, both in terms of old-school affiliates and with a guest-posting board for drive-by users to come and advertise. This is *normal*. Single sign on integration would actually hurt not help those communities, in fact.

Valid observations for sure and certainly relevant to some niches but I think I may be motivated by a bigger picture and a different and potentially larger demographic which sounds exceptionally rude but I really don't mean it to be.

I listen to forum owners but take my lead from people that are either forum users or more recently, social media users. I'm generalizing (according to my English spell checker :eek:) but it's become obvious to me that while forum owners and many users fall into one camp, other forms of social media are inhabited by an emerging species who have a completely different mind set.

The demographics between the two groups can be measured to some extent by age and also by ownership i.e. how many 20 somethings own or even have access to a personal computer.

I may have it completely wrong but I feel very strongly forums need to capitalize on their strengths... their history of rich content, inclusiveness due to local moderation and a focus on a specific niche, but at the same time I think they need to expose all of that to a wider audience with a nod towards a wider demographic i.e. other forum users and smart phone users etc.

I'm sure it could lead to poaching and plagiarism but I'm also convinced it would increase traffic for every forum willing to participate with a one click for all registration being a start.
 
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Oh!

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...in America. Other countries have other laws, even before S230.

I also refer you to the fact that forums existed for *decades* prior to S230's existence, they were largely called bulletin boards.
Yes, I probably should have caveated my comments with 'in America'.* However, although - as you correctly pointed out - forums existed for some years (not decades) before Section 230 (1996), it was (then) recent case law which caused problems and required the legislative fix. The two cases, in particular, are detailed here:


* Having said that, the legal landscape and potential for law suits in other countries will vary wildly. There was a very particular problem in the US - because of case law - which left platform operators (of all types) with a terrible decision: either they attempt no moderation of any content, no matter how egregious to general public morals. Or, moderate even a single post from a single user and be potentially on the hook for all user-generated content on their platform. The only sensible commercial decision would be to moderate nothing. US-based forums and platforms in that situation (no Section 230) would make Twitter appear like like the local sowing circle. As far as I know, all the large platforms (with an international user-base) are registered corporations in the US - I expect that would change if there was no Section 230, as the inability to moderate any content would be unsustainable.

Further, since - as I mentioned - these platforms are used by people from all around the world, Section 230 affects all of us who interact with any of these platforms to any degree (even if we just read the occasional tweet quoted at news website).

Sort of disagree.

Depends on the type of forum. Linking forums together potentially has a similar effect to what used to (and sometimes still does) on Discord - where people poach people from other places. The easier it is to roll your own, the harder it is to retain.

In addition, over in my niche, the notion of collaboration is a bit... special. Almost every forum in my niche actively advertises other forums, both in terms of old-school affiliates and with a guest-posting board for drive-by users to come and advertise. This is *normal*. Single sign on integration would actually hurt not help those communities, in fact.
I take your point there, but I think the reality is different. Creating an alternative forum is not difficult. At somewhere like Discord (or Proboards, or Reddit, or Facebook), anyone dissatisfied with a group can easily create their own with a few clicks. But does this cause any real problems? These platforms (and their groups) all seem to operate quite well and their users - on the whole - like what the platforms offer. Even with traditional standalone forums, creating an alternative forum is not especially difficult. The reality is that just because someone creates a new forum space (even within a larger platform), people do not automatically flock there. The new space must be attractive and the new (potential) users generally dissatisfied with an existing group to make the move. Most new spaces created by malcontents will attract only other malcontents and will quickly whither away. Alternatively, if the new space does indeed take off, then maybe the old space was not run very well away. Or, it is better that there are two spaces with differing operating philosophies to cater to different types of users. Even the pre-existing space might appreciate the other space being there to hoover-up users who only cause problems at their own group (unwillingness to adhere to the rules, etc.). Competition is almost invariably a good thing for everyone, and low friction in creating alternative discussion spaces aids competition.*

* Full disclosure: I am involved with the creation of a new platform, catering to semi-autonomous groups. So, you might take the view that, 'well, he would say that, wouldn't he'. All I can say is that I have expressed my genuine views on these matters. It is a fact of (business) life that operators in new industries always consolidate. There is usually some space left for smaller operators, but the majority of custom will move to larger operations. So, for anyone who is determined to remain independent, they probably can continue to do so. But, it will never get easier for them; the old days have gone - things have changed and social media has consolidated. But, of course, we do need to protect against monopolies. Independents should be able to continue to provide their services to similarly independently-minded users; and there must be opportunities for new innovators and players to enter the market and potentially usurp the incumbent big players too. Competition is what is key, and is invariably good for the end user.
 

Oh!

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Valid observations for sure and certainly relevant to some niches but I think I may be motivated by a bigger picture and a different and potentially larger demographic which sounds exceptionally rude but I really don't mean it to be.

I listen to forum owners but take my lead from people that are either forum users or more recently, social media users. I'm generalizing (according to my English spell checker :eek:) but it's become obvious to me that while forum owners and many users fall into one camp, other forms of social media are inhabited by an emerging species who have a completely different mind set.

The demographics between the two groups can be measured to some extent by age and also by ownership i.e. how many 20 somethings own or even have access to a personal computer.

I may have it completely wrong but I feel very strongly forums need to capitalize on their strengths... their history of rich content, inclusiveness due to local moderation and a focus on a specific niche, but at the same time I think they need to expose all of that to a wider audience with a nod towards a wider demographic i.e. other forum users and smart phone users etc.

I'm sure it could lead to poaching and plagiarism but I'm also convinced it would increase traffic for every forum willing to participate with a one click for all registration being a start.
I completely understand why some (or many) people hark back to a couple of decades ago, where 'social media' was 'bulletin boards'. There was something more attractive/genteel about those spaces. There was little of the addictiveness (by design) which now pervades social media websites, and the betrayal of users in the wholesale sale of their data to anyone and everyone. But mobile changed everything. The very nature of these (small) devices are not friendly or natural to more in-depth discussion. They are better for real-time, banter, chit-chat, etc. And, unfortunately, hyper-competitiveness in commenting too. There was always some element of this, and competitiveness in discussion is not a necessarily a bad thing (in moderation), as it leads to lively and interesting discussion. Irrespective, the world has changed. The convenience of mobile devices is not going to go away, and its effects upon how we communicate will remain.

However, I wholeheartedly agree with your points about forum capitalizing upon their strengths and smart phone users. And one-click registration too. The ability to easily move around a larger, interesting and engaging eco-system is what has made Facebook so successful. That is to say, the 'network effects' I detailed in another thread over the past day or two. I do believe there is an effective middle ground.
 

Pete

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I think I may be motivated by a bigger picture and a different and potentially larger demographic which sounds exceptionally rude but I really don't mean it to be

Sure, but that's the strength of forums being their individual things - you can *choose* whether you want to consider keeping them islands or make them archipelagos. For a wider set of forums, absolutely this could be viable. However, see Tapatalk for the network effect in action and the kind of takeover effect I meant that we saw in Discord - in Tapatalk Groups.

The other thing is that if you go 'forum network', you're just reimplementing either affiliates, webrings, or Reddit depending on the scale in question. Not saying it can't work, but the larger the collaboration, the more individuality has to be given up to align to the whole.

Also remember that IP.Connect used to exist and they abandoned it because it wasn't worth the time/money to keep working, so clearly there's some question marks about interoperability between forums.

Where it gets complicated is that if you run your own forum, you can customise it without limitation, something you will have less options for if you are part of a larger collaborative effort because the richer your specific experience, the harder it is to interoperate.

forums existed for some years (not decades) before Section 230 (1996)

The earliest thing we can probably call a forum is an early BBS called Community Memory from 1973 if memory serves. That's more than two full decades befoer S230, and that was in America. Even predates Usenet (1979). But that's just splitting hairs, the key point is that for a very long time, far longer than people think, this stuff was running mostly fine without nearly as much trouble as people think.

Creating an alternative forum is not difficult. At somewhere like Discord (or Proboards, or Reddit, or Facebook), anyone dissatisfied with a group can easily create their own with a few clicks. But does this cause any real problems?

If only it were that simple. You see, there's the one huge difference between Discord/Reddit/Facebook and Proboards/Jcink/Forumotion. In the first group, the *users are already there*. As in, you're not just creating a new space with a few clicks, you're creating a new space and immediately able to bring in people because there's already people at the door, so to speak, especially if you're cannibalising an existing server/subreddit/group. You cannot do that on Proboards/Jcink/Forumotion unless you do it yourself and already have the people there at which point only a fraction of the people are going to come with you.

Does it cause a *problem*? That depends on your perspective. For these platforms, no, not really, because as long as users are using the platform, they don't really care where inside the platform the users are. For users, no, not really. But for community 'owners' in the space? Yes: because getting people into a space with low friction means that it has just as much friction to lose those users again to another space.

people do not automatically flock there.

No, but it is substantially easier to migrate people within a service to a different corner of the service when the people are already in the service. This is much, much harder to do even with the forum-as-a-service providers because they're still many-small-islands rather than one-big-archipelago.
 

DanielF

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Also remember that IP.Connect used to exist and they abandoned it because it wasn't worth the time/money to keep working, so clearly there's some question marks about interoperability between forums.
It was replaced with oAuth wich made much more sense because it is an open standard which is supported by thousands of other scripts/services.
I've seen people using it to connect their community with their Wordpress, Moodle and even own CMS
We have also still built in support to connect 2 or more IPS Communities via oAuth ( https://invisioncommunity.com/4guid...ign-in/connect-two-invision-communities-r297/ )
 

Pete

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Oh, neat, I didn't realise that was a thing now, good to know.
 

zappaDPJ

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However, see Tapatalk for the network effect in action and the kind of takeover effect I meant that we saw in Discord - in Tapatalk Groups.

Unfortunately Tapatalk for me and I suspect many others is one of the biggest disappointments I've faced in 20 years of running forums. Initially there were concerns about security but installing Tapatalk had a huge impact on the activity levels of all of my (not so responsive) forums and I never had a single issue with security.

Then it all went so very wrong in such a short space of time which left me with no choice but to remove it from every forum.
 

vbgamer45

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Yeah Tapatalk at times makes me want to invest time/money and build an app for all forums and not mess it up. I had a couple big issues with there system.
 

R0binHood

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And that's a massive reason why I still use reddit as much as I do every single day. The native app experience is great.
 
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