Is the internet getting boring?

truthingtotruth

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My goodness, I just got so turned off by reading something up a bit . . . I am very surprised that my brain just can't handle deception in the manner it has been identified above. And done. This is no longer 'chit-chat' in my corner of reality. But my corner is probably not a safe place for a sane mind.
 

DigNap15

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In the meantime it seems that Reddit (a forum) gets bigger and bigger.
I have just come accross it in my country.
 

Pete

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That's not really that surprising because it isn't really 'a forum', it is a unified place of many forums all under one roof. That makes it quite easy to find connected spaces that you care about.

Is it competition? Sure - for some niches. Not all niches.

The question becomes: what do you bring to the party that's unique and different?
 

DigNap15

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That's not really that surprising because it isn't really 'a forum', it is a unified place of many forums all under one roof. That makes it quite easy to find connected spaces that you care about.

Is it competition? Sure - for some niches. Not all niches.

The question becomes: what do you bring to the party that's unique and different?
Chips, salsa and beer?

But yes you are right, we have to try to make our forums better, more unique and different.
 

Zero Numbers

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The reason forums are slow or boring these days, is that there so much competiton for peoples time.
Youtube
Reddit
News sites
Blogs
Facebook
Twitter
Talkback radio
Housework
Gardening
Those things were around even before the decline of forums. Like, Youtube, in its early years coincided with online forums when they were in their glorious period.
Respectfully, that narrow vision is precisely why many forums fail to succeed in the age of social media. People such as myself, and I'll include myself among them, are more than willing to have lengthy and mature conversations well beyond the scope of simple one-liners. I am sure you may presume myself to be among the minority, a simple edge case, where I am the exception and not the rule. But my own experience, looking beyond myself, proves that is not the case. What many forum administrators fail to appreciate or understand in our changing times is people want to be heard, and they want to be heard far and wide. Folks today are not lacking the will or desire to add content through conversations. The depths of society go well beyond the occasional meme or short puns. So I would argue, the content is there and for the taking. But where many forums fall short is they fail to live in the moment. People want to post, but they want to do it now. Not waiting for your approval or process, but now. The lack of now, the failure to live in the moment, is often a significant contributor to forums' death.

There are changing times. But social media doesn't directly effect forums. Mobile devices are the threat to forums, if anything. They've been the thing that has caused forums to decline all this time.
 

Pete

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I assume you’re trying to suggest that the issue is that there aren’t mobile apps for forums and this will magically solve problems.

Spoiler: it won’t.

Yes, people can and do create content on their phones. But they’re not the majority of people who might have contributed to forums. They’re just not.

An app will take some friction away, but it’s not really the same thing: the phone is an enabler for all the other things competing for our time. Why do you think every application wants to send you notifications? It’s so it can claw a tiny bit of your attention.

Now you could argue that a forum could get notifications and claw a bit of your attention, but if you are staring at your phone and you have multiple apps with notifications, are you likely to look at the thing that will consume more time and energy to deal with on the phone vs any of the other things that are lower friction simply because of what they are?

Forums are not a medium designed for the “here and now” “rapid fire, rapid response” mindset that social media has spent years cultivating and encouraging (because it gets them more engagement/views/revenue) and this is not the rise of one or the other individually that has been sidelining forums: it’s the cynical and often sinister exploitation of one by the other in a spiral for the last decade or more.
 

DigNap15

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I assume you’re trying to suggest that the issue is that there aren’t mobile apps for forums and this will magically solve problems.

Spoiler: it won’t.

Yes, people can and do create content on their phones. But they’re not the majority of people who might have contributed to forums. They’re just not.

An app will take some friction away, but it’s not really the same thing: the phone is an enabler for all the other things competing for our time. Why do you think every application wants to send you notifications? It’s so it can claw a tiny bit of your attention.

Now you could argue that a forum could get notifications and claw a bit of your attention, but if you are staring at your phone and you have multiple apps with notifications, are you likely to look at the thing that will consume more time and energy to deal with on the phone vs any of the other things that are lower friction simply because of what they are?

Forums are not a medium designed for the “here and now” “rapid fire, rapid response” mindset that social media has spent years cultivating and encouraging (because it gets them more engagement/views/revenue) and this is not the rise of one or the other individually that has been sidelining forums: it’s the cynical and often sinister exploitation of one by the other in a spiral for the last decade or more.
Pete
Your last paragraph is on the dot.
All we can do is hope the our members will prefer or a more orderly, longer form of debate, than the quick fire meme and short posts encouraged by Facebook and Twitter etc.
 

Pete

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All we can do is hope the our members will prefer or a more orderly, longer form of debate, than the quick fire meme and short posts encouraged by Facebook and Twitter etc
Therein kind of lies the problem though.

We can't 'hope for our members' to do this, because they're not spontaneously going to. We need to adapt in our own right: to find something we can give them that is more compelling and interesting than the latest memes on Facebook or Twitter.

We have to give them a reason to be invested and to write longer posts.

Yes, forums *could* go down the road of implementing more and more 'social' features like the networks have, but none of the forum vendors has the sheer number of technical people to go toe to toe with them. Not even if you combine the entire teams of IPB, vB, XF, WBB plus the free vendors would you capture the amount of technical skill available to Facebook or Twitter has (which are 58,000 and 4,600 respectively - I don't think you even get to much above 100 if you fold in all the teams of all the forum platforms)

I realise it's not a like for like comparison but people keep insisting that we should compete as if it was... but this feeds back into things like 'posting video to your $10/month shared hosting is still not going to compete with Facebook's video hosting no matter how good the developers are' because you're not going to be able to take on Facebook with a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of their resources.

So let's focus on: why did we all originally join forums? Me, I joined forums like 20 years ago to learn and share knowledge about Amiga emulation as the first thing I did when I got online. And that's where it begins: hobbyists talking about their hobbies, people sharing their thoughts, their experiences without expecting a reply immediately - and that instead of being a gigantic free-for-all, it was a smaller community where after a while everyone knew everyone else.

That's what Facebook *can't* replicate, not with its FB groups, not with its algorithms. It can't replicate the feeling of a community brought together by something common.

Everyone I've ever met will happily talk at great length about their hobbies to anyone who is similarly interested.
 

truthingtotruth

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I honestly don't think some of you folks are properly looking upon human folks and their ways of communicating what's important to certain groups of them at any given time of the day and how those communications have evolved over the years - - - over the thousands of years of them human folks being on this planet.

One thousand years ago they were communicating what was important to them in a potato field or a rice field or whatever they might have been growing. They are today's Star Trek phone quick message people.

Those that owned those agricultural working places those many years ago were communicating what was important to them in a tent or possibly a stronger sort of abode and those are today's forum members, but there are more of them than there were those agricultural field owners so many years ago.

Now I use the example of the folks working in the fields and those field owners so that we are before the advent of those bigger gatherings of human dwellings called villages and towns and then cities, where the communications evolved into larger groups - - - before this Internet thing came along.

Forums, like this one, are just the evolution of the gathering for communications purposes in those tents a thousand years ago. Of course, those tents also served as living quarters for the owner of the tent.

We don't live in/on our forums, yet. I stayed in one for over 24 hours many years ago during a particularly horrid disaster and we became an emergency communications center - - - that big tsunami out of Indonesia some 20 or so years ago - - - I forget the actual date of that, except it was about Christmas - - - day after in our part of the planet, I think. I stayed on admin duty for well over 24 straight hours then - - - and that was close to living on/in the forum.

Anyway, many of the Star Trek phone crowd are much like those in those fields so many years ago. And please note my use of the vocabulary "many" so that you don't get angry at me --- please.
 

zappaDPJ

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I honestly don't think some of you folks are properly looking upon human folks and their ways of communicating what's important to certain groups of them at any given time of the day and how those communications have evolved over the years - - - over the thousands of years of them human folks being on this planet.

One thousand years ago they were communicating what was important to them in a potato field or a rice field or whatever they might have been growing. They are today's Star Trek phone quick message people.

Those that owned those agricultural working places those many years ago were communicating what was important to them in a tent or possibly a stronger sort of abode and those are today's forum members, but there are more of them than there were those agricultural field owners so many years ago.

Now I use the example of the folks working in the fields and those field owners so that we are before the advent of those bigger gatherings of human dwellings called villages and towns and then cities, where the communications evolved into larger groups - - - before this Internet thing came along.

Forums, like this one, are just the evolution of the gathering for communications purposes in those tents a thousand years ago. Of course, those tents also served as living quarters for the owner of the tent.

We don't live in/on our forums, yet. I stayed in one for over 24 hours many years ago during a particularly horrid disaster and we became an emergency communications center - - - that big tsunami out of Indonesia some 20 or so years ago - - - I forget the actual date of that, except it was about Christmas - - - day after in our part of the planet, I think. I stayed on admin duty for well over 24 straight hours then - - - and that was close to living on/in the forum.

Anyway, many of the Star Trek phone crowd are much like those in those fields so many years ago. And please note my use of the vocabulary "many" so that you don't get angry at me --- please.

I agree, everything evolves. If you want chips you don't plant a potato. I think forums do need to cater for a mobile audience but I also think forum owners need to better understand what forums do best.

The majority of forums fail because they have no purpose. Successful forums are generally an authority within their niche. More recently when I search for knowledge and answers I get Reddit when I should be getting forums. That tells me there are still opportunities out there for successful forums that are yet to be filled.
 

Pete

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I get Reddit when I should be getting forums
Reddit is a forum. Or more precisely, it’s an interconnected hub of forums.

I think forums do need to cater for a mobile audience
No one, not even me, is saying otherwise. I’m saying that 1) we need to be realistic about this, what it means and what is feasible and 2) the majority view seems to be that we need to replicate all of the functionality to parity levels that FB has (vis a vis uploading video etc) which is neither realistic nor useful in the majority of cases, not least of which that forum servers are ill equipped to handle video.
 

zappaDPJ

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Reddit is a forum. Or more precisely, it’s an interconnected hub of forums.

My impression of it is that it sits somewhere between Facebook and a hub of forums in terms of content. Admittedly I don't use it other than if I'm directed there by a search but there's seems to be a lot of general chat and very little that's authoritative if you are looking for answers.

No one, not even me, is saying otherwise. I’m saying that 1) we need to be realistic about this, what it means and what is feasible and 2) the majority view seems to be that we need to replicate all of the functionality to parity levels that FB has (vis a vis uploading video etc) which is neither realistic nor useful in the majority of cases, not least of which that forum servers are ill equipped to handle video.

What the majority of my mobile users seem to want is a viewport focused on content coupled with a simplified UI plus push notification. However whether or not they are a typical group of users is very much open to debate.
 

Pete

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very little that's authoritative if you are looking for answers
I would not consider authoritativeness a quality inherent to 'forums' as a major defining characteristic. There are plenty of forums out there that are far less authoritative than other sources. And I've found some Reddit discussions _far_ more authoritative and informational than some 'traditional' forums on the same subject. I think that particular one skews different ways based on the demographics of the group in question - if I want discussion, thoughts and questions on implementing something in Godot, I'm going to go to Reddit and Discord to have that discussion, because those are by far more authoritative and productive than any forum I've so far found. (Though I think to a point this is suggestive that forums of all flavours are more likely to be authoritative than not.)

Similarly, I have had an interesting argument in years gone by with one of the co-founders of StackOverflow as to whether that is 'a forum' or not - his argument is that, yes, it is; mine is that it's borderline at best, and doesn't behave in many of the ways other forums behave. (The context: trying to apply lessons learned from StackOverflow in the fundamental design of Discourse and him being shocked that people don't behave the same way in a different context.)

I would posit that even a Facebook Group qualifies as a forum - barely.

That's one of the lessons I've observed over the last year is the blending of tech concepts - coming from an e-learning perspective with a traditional e-learning platform (with courses and modules and grades and the whole nine yards) while watching what other industries started to do having realised that 'damn, son, that there pandemic ain't goin' away' and started to focus on the sudden worldwide increase in distance learning, and I was seeing a flood of articles and thinkpieces along the lines of 'how MS Teams is an LMS'... well, no, it's not. Can you hack something together in it to get you where you need to be? Probably, but a daffodil is not a broadsword and yet you can win a battle with one.

(Also, Moodle's forums are a level of insanity. Y'all would hate it. But it serves its purpose, often for fostering discussions in a formative assessment capacity, but y'all would hate it for having regular conversations.)

Now, forums are by far better placed to _become_ authoritative sources of information because they encourage categorisation and organisation in ways that FB Groups and its friends don't (and they focus on presenting the newest; which makes it hard to go find anything more than a few days ago in most cases), and we as an industry have tools and experience based on having spent the last 20+ years doing this. Forums were around before Facebook and I continue to believe they will be around after Facebook is dead and gone.

To drag this back to the original point: if you are looking for answers, you need a venue to meaningfully ask a question where someone who knows the answer will be around, and willing to answer. This to me implies a space for someone sufficiently meaningfully knowledgeable who both is encouraged to share - and to be part of something. That you get back what you put in.

To me this implies *a sense of community*. Neighbourly spirit. A shared sense of paying it forward.

That's the part I think we sometimes forget when we talk about forums. It's not just posts and boards and categories; those are things a forum needs, but not what a forum is. A forum is a group of people coming together to share things and in so doing, becomes a community.

I see that investment in forum regulars, I see it in Redditors, I rarely see it in FB groups.

That's what we have to unlock: *people*.

What the majority of my mobile users seem to want is a viewport focused on content coupled with a simplified UI plus push notification. However whether or not they are a typical group of users is very much open to debate.

That's probably less than the average; if you listen to a number of the people here on TAZ, it's all about the video posting and the image posting. If you're a video forum, maybe; if you're a photography forum, sure, I can see that.

It's also vastly more realistic to consider a focused-for-purpose interface on a mobile device than some of the suggestions I've seen (which brings me back round to 'being realistic about what is doable')
 

zappaDPJ

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To drag this back to the original point: if you are looking for answers, you need a venue to meaningfully ask a question where someone who knows the answer will be around, and willing to answer. This to me implies a space for someone sufficiently meaningfully knowledgeable who both is encouraged to share - and to be part of something. That you get back what you put in.

That's exactly what I was attempting, and probably failing to put across in my post last night.

I see so many forums installed were the owner takes the view that they have created a space to be filled with content by others that probably should be posted to Facebook and the like. When that fails they advertise for moderators when they really mean content providers. Sometime after that the domain resolves back to the provider. That seems to be the norm in recent times.

I think most of us with any experience know that forums need content to stand any chance of gaining traction and if that content is unique and authoritative regardless of niche you might just start to build a community.

It is true to say that the majority of my forums are probably slightly unusual in that first and foremost they provide a service which makes building a community easy. Members join or in some cases are invited because we consider ourselves an authority in our niche and the seed has always been an owner (not always me) with a passion and knowledge that they wish to pass on.

Now I'm rambling!
 

Pete

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Now I'm rambling!
Nah, that's my job :D

But you're right: a lot of sites that want 'moderators' do really mean they want 'content providers' - this idea that 'build it and they will come' has no longer been true for many years and *still* forum owners try to work that way.
 

Zelda

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One of the worse things you can do is make your content provider a moderator or administrator. If you add your most busy and active member onto the staff, you will watch the participation from your most valued member decline. I have never seen an overall positive result in doing so, ever.
 

Nev_Dull

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I think there's a lot of grey area around the forum term. Forums are social media, in that they are a medium that encourages social interaction. But they aren't on the list of the platforms we usually refer to as "social media". Likewise, facebook, reddit, etc. are forums, in that they are places where people come together to share thoughts and ideas. However, they aren't "Forums" in the way that many recognize as being a particular type of software.

Perhaps we need to spend less time worrying about the means by which people come together to share and discuss, and more time in facilitating that discussion -- even across several software platforms.

As for mobile users on our "traditional forum" platforms, I've said many times, it isn't something we can do much about. It doesn't matter if the software is mobile friendly or if we have an app just for mobile users. The bottleneck remains the interface of the mobile devices, not our forum software. Those interfaces just aren't good enough to make it easy for the sort of long-form discussion we want on our sites. For every user who takes the time to type out a long post on a forum, there are hundreds who aren't willing to put that much effort in to get their thoughts out. Until that changes, the vast majority of the mobile crowd remain over the rainbow from us.
 

DigNap15

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I think there's a lot of grey area around the forum term. Forums are social media, in that they are a medium that encourages social interaction. But they aren't on the list of the platforms we usually refer to as "social media". Likewise, facebook, reddit, etc. are forums, in that they are places where people come together to share thoughts and ideas. However, they aren't "Forums" in the way that many recognize as being a particular type of software.

Perhaps we need to spend less time worrying about the means by which people come together to share and discuss, and more time in facilitating that discussion -- even across several software platforms.

As for mobile users on our "traditional forum" platforms, I've said many times, it isn't something we can do much about. It doesn't matter if the software is mobile friendly or if we have an app just for mobile users. The bottleneck remains the interface of the mobile devices, not our forum software. Those interfaces just aren't good enough to make it easy for the sort of long-form discussion we want on our sites. For every user who takes the time to type out a long post on a forum, there are hundreds who aren't willing to put that much effort in to get their thoughts out. Until that changes, the vast majority of the mobile crowd remain over the rainbow from us.
@Nev Dull
You hit the nail on the head twice

Forum is an outdated word and also means a meeting similar to a conference.
Forums use terms such a "threads" and "posts"
Modern social media uses "comments"

And as you say typing a full paragraph into a mobile phone is and will probably always be very tedious

So full good content will come from desktop and laptop users.
One off sentences and videos and memes will come from mobile users (in general)

That said, there will always be desktops and laptops (and tablets)
 

truthingtotruth

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I suppose over the years I watched this "forum" thingy evolve into what I now view as an actual community. I agree that the vocabulary 'forum' is a tad on the weird side if one wants to view an online community in terms that takes one's thinking close to the on-the-ground 'village' or 'town' and so on - - - but that word 'forum' seems to be all I have in my brain's dictionary at present. I do not view my idea of an online community as anything even closely related to 'social media' and I am not even sure I can fully comprehend how the vocabulary 'social' can even be used to modify 'media' - - - a media is run by professionals, in my mind. Or maybe when we tried our hand at it in high school it was run by a semi-professional in the guise of that teacher who was assigned the job by the school boss to make sure no garbage, or worse, was published by those idiot students.

No --- "social media" ain't no community - - - or anything like this TAZ Community.

For that matter, is a school bulletin board a social media platform?

How about we just come up with some new vocabulary, like they did when they came up with that word "telephone" - - - how about FoCom? Or just do the full modification of the noun and always write 'forum community'? Or online community? In fact, isn't there some sort of style on the Net where some folks are actually calling their site a kind of town or city or some such thing?
 

DigNap15

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I suppose over the years I watched this "forum" thingy evolve into what I now view as an actual community. I agree that the vocabulary 'forum' is a tad on the weird side if one wants to view an online community in terms that takes one's thinking close to the on-the-ground 'village' or 'town' and so on - - - but that word 'forum' seems to be all I have in my brain's dictionary at present. I do not view my idea of an online community as anything even closely related to 'social media' and I am not even sure I can fully comprehend how the vocabulary 'social' can even be used to modify 'media' - - - a media is run by professionals, in my mind. Or maybe when we tried our hand at it in high school it was run by a semi-professional in the guise of that teacher who was assigned the job by the school boss to make sure no garbage, or worse, was published by those idiot students.

No --- "social media" ain't no community - - - or anything like this TAZ Community.

For that matter, is a school bulletin board a social media platform?

How about we just come up with some new vocabulary, like they did when they came up with that word "telephone" - - - how about FoCom? Or just do the full modification of the noun and always write 'forum community'? Or online community? In fact, isn't there some sort of style on the Net where some folks are actually calling their site a kind of town or city or some such thing?
Yes, the terminology forum is well out of date.
Ask anyone under 40 and they have no idea what a forum is.

My "forum" is called NZIssues
So that is the word I try to market.

But then you.we need a byline.
Eg join NZIssues and join the community (that also sounds old fashioned and quaint
Join the Group and
Join the Disccussion and
 
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