Will Facebook Kill Forums?

Rudy

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Rudy submitted a new Article:

Will Facebook Kill Forums?

Will Facebook Kill Forums?

Online group discussions have been around since the early days of the Internet. At first, we had mailing lists and the Usenet newsgroups. When the online services like Compuserve, GEnie, Prodigy and the early America Online offered discussions in the form of forums or discussion boards, it gave many average consumers an easy way to carry on group discussions without needing to know how to access the Internet—they just dialed in to a local access number, typed in an appropriate command, and they were talking within minutes. As the World Wide Web started being utilized by the general public, we had forums appear on the Web also. Online discussions grew and thrived.

Blogging was seen as a threat to forums, especially when public commenting was allowed in response to blog posts, but forums have continued through that. Instant messaging programs and Twitter were also seen as threats, but forums operate under a different structure and weren’t really affected. Numerous others have been seen as nibbling away at the share of discussions taking place in forums, but forums weren’t directly affected by much of it. In other words, there have been threats to forums in the past, and forums did not suffer any noticeable direct hits.

Enter Facebook, or any other “social networking” site. Facebook offers anyone with an Internet connection the chance to reconnect with long-lost friends, schoolmates, co-workers past and present, and family members scattered around the globe. By posting a status, a member can tell others what goes on in their life, and offer any other approved person the ability to leave a comment. Facebook has been valuable in helping a lot of people get in touch with others. It has also provided “pages” that offer members a chance to “like” some specific person or topic, or join the group and participate in discussions. Some even offer their own discussion boards. In all of these instances, there is a form of “group discussion” going on, even if it is just within a series of serial comments.

Will Facebook affect the existing forums on the Internet? In my experience, I highly doubt it. First of all, forums have been around a lot longer, and have long-established communities that members may discuss common interests. Facebook topics are too broad, too general, and most of what you read through your friends’ status updates isn’t exactly something you would follow in any standalone forum. Another...
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Alex Apple

Lord Snowblood Apple
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May 26, 2004
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1,420
Oh Facebook, how we love you. Sorry, like you. (Thumbs up). Why, a few short years ago, when Our Internet was just in its blessed infancy, and one of the few opportunities we had for social networking was the pub, little could we have known that in the Future Where Everything Is Sparkly we could reignite our acquaintance with the spotty oik in our History class, last seen slowly sobbing into his pencil case c. 1985, or "become a fan of", ahem, like Not Being Impaled. (And yes, that group does exist. Look it up, if it floats your boat). All's peachy in the Internet Garden, right?

Right?

Privacy concerns notwithstanding, at the time of writing Facebook's pretty much dominating the entire Web. Statistically 7% of the entire world are active users, as of July 2010. MySpace, the previous social networking platform of choice and itself massively successful, is withering at the vine. Facebook's massive reach is having huge implications in terms of marketing products – be these from giant multinationals, or sourced by the smallest sole trader – as well as posing significant challenges for more traditional social media platform owners. And, with that horrible Internet jargon-y phrase, I'm looking at you, Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms forum admin-owner.

See that giant blue whale in the town duck pond? That's Facebook. See that giant block of flats built on the green opposite your bijou thatched cottage? That's Facebook. See the shiny gold coin in a pocket full of pennies? That's Facebook. Love, no, like it or absolutely hate-it-with-a-passion, Zuckerberg &co aren't going anywhere soon. Even if Facebook were to reach critical mass and not add a single new member from RIGHT NOW, the site would still be a force to be reckoned with for years, maybe decades to come. And, Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms forum admin-owner, that means YOU don't dare ignore IT.

Sit down, please. (If you're not already seated, first of all, why not? Reading essays on the internet is pretty hard on a mobile phone while waiting for a bus. Still, makes a change from a townie blasting dubstep as loud as their tinny little cell will let them whilst beating up a granny). What I'm about to say may shock you. Ready now?

The Internet as you knew it is dead. Facebook has conquered it all. Email, gone, replaced by live chat and "conversations". RSS feeds, rendered useless by News Feeds from your Likes. Separate, distinct, hobbyist websites, hanging on by their fingernails, staffed by dedicated by un(der)paid devotees doing it for the love – all on the endangered / critical list. Facebook will overpower all. You will be assimilated. Do not pass Go, do not collect £200, go direct to jail where you will slowly whimper as your fingers flit lightly over a keyboard, pass Facebook your personal details and tenderly declare your love (damn...) liking for If This Group Gets Over 10,000 Members I Will Turn Into A Goat.

But. But. BUT. Facebook is a bit like your local giant supermarket. It bakes on the premises, but the doughnuts aren't as tasty as the ones from the baker's round the corner. You can get a shirt, but one which you might put your elbow through if you're not too careful putting it on. There's CDs, but only ones in the Top 40 that can be piled high and sold by the pallet-load; if you want the latest Sunn O))) album, you don't pop down to Wal-Mart, you go to a specialist. Because what Facebook does is try to please everyone. It does everything, to a point. And, here's the rub – it doesn't go beyond that point. It is, in the most classic sense, an archetypal mass-market vehicle.

What Facebook is absolutely not is a place to enter into discussion about more esoteric interests. It's fine for showing all your friends – real or otherwise – that you have a deep and long-standing appreciation for All Hail The Holy Teapot, but no good whatsoever for anything more profound than that. Because the site, while it pretends to have an area for every interest, or at least the ability create one, doesn't actually do niche very well at all. Many fan pages – for want of a better word – are either neglected by their "owners" (in that respect, greatly resembling EZboard c.1998) or full of upwards of 1,000 "members" that actually do bugger all after posting "I LUV TEEPOTS!" (sic) on the wall. It's deeply unsatisfying and superficial.

And that's where you come in, Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms forum admin-owner. If you haven't worked it out already, you can't even hope to compete with Facebook. There's just no point. Can you name another social networking site apart from MySpace, Facebook's immediate predecessor? No, thought not. But, on a smaller level, you can do what Facebook does, only better.

Find your niche. Maybe it's tea preparation equipment. It could be mutual approval of avoiding having a sharpened, six-foot-long stake from being passed through you. It might even be goat-based personal transformation. Really, it doesn't matter, so long as you believe in it and have a passion for it. With the right motivation, and the right advice, and the wind in the right direction, you can take on Facebook right under their noses and win. If you're smart, you can even beat the behemoth at its own game, and recruit people from the site itself.

You see, if you are able to gather a group of like-minded individuals together, engage their interest, be informative, funny, controversial, definitive, you'll get them to stay around. You will get to know these people way, way better than any random Facebook "friend". You will laugh with them, you will cry when they cry, you will share in their successes and you will mourn their failures. You will work together on shared projects, you'll meet up with some of them for real, some of them may even pair off with each other. And when, as these things eventually do, your community fades, what you'll be left with, if there's any justice in the world, is life-long, real-life friends, and dozens and dozens of fond, happy memories.

And you know what? I'd much rather have that than random links to beatified teapots.
 

grc

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Oct 17, 2010
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Will Facebook kill forums? I say “kill, no – wound, yes.” Facebook already has some kills. MySpace is likely on life support. Chatrooms, Usenet, and IRC are pretty much gone, all their energy sucked up by Facebook. It’s the home of one-liners, light conversations, and updates on where we ate last night. People collect “friends” in an effort to have more friends than their other friends. When it comes to all that, Facebook beats a forum hands down.

So, some of the traffic has moved away from forums over to Facebook. Somehow, “I’m going to the Y again today” works on Facebook, but makes a pitiful forum thread starter. On Facebook my friend responds, “Have fun, see you at McDonalds later.” On the forum no one bothers to answer.

Still, forums own some real estate that Facebook can’t occupy. Try asking a serious question about religion or politics or dog grooming on Facebook and you end up with at most a dozen or so one liners in response. Ask the question on an appropriate forum and you may end up with a 200 post thread with several long, thoughtful replies. You’ll also likely have differences of opinion in which people quote one another and deal with the finer points of the issue. If such conversations aren’t monitored, things can get out of hand. In that case, it isn’t Facebook killing the forum, rather its forum administration letting the forum kill itself. However, that’s a topic for another essay!

Another bit of real estate Facebook can’t occupy is archived information. For one thing, by its very nature Facebook doesn’t have much worth archiving in the first place. Two years from now, no one will care whether or not I went to the Y today. However, on the forum, my thread discussing why my Windows 7 won’t properly shut down might be found by someone who’s having the very same problem. As they follow the thread they’ll find the answer, or at least a clue as to what to try next.

Ultimately, Facebook is “me oriented” while forums are “community oriented.” Facebook wins the “I took the dog to the vet” level of exchanges. Forums, though, come through for people looking for real discussions. After all, if this bit of writing appeared on Facebook it would have stopped with “kill, no – wound, yes.” Only in a forum format can I post a 400 word essay!
 
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Donkey

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Jul 27, 2009
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27
Will Facebook Kill Forums?

Every day, 175 million people across the world log into a massive social networking community website to stay in touch with their friends, family or anyone they want to socialise with. Forums serve as communities for people with mutual interests to discuss views and opinions on different subject matters relating to the general forum topic. I think the two serve completely different purposes and therefore Facebook will not kill forums however it may take away from the time people spend browsing online forum communities.

Facebook serves as a platform to communicate with friends, not a place to have group discussions. People will always go to Facebook or other social networking sites now – the revolution has begun and it will continue. People want to be able to talk to each other online, share musings and opinions on whatever’s happening in their day. The same people might turn to forums to discuss recent news, ask a question for something they need help with or discuss with people in an online community they have already met. I know most of the people I have added as friends on Facebook wouldn’t care that I’ve just released a new forum or wouldn’t offer me help if my Xbox 360 broke.

In order for Facebook to ever kill forums it must expand, change and become an incredibly massive website. It must cater for thousands of different subject matters and hold communities and experts in each of those subjects. Rather than a tool to communicate with people you already know, it must expand to become a tool for meeting new people and partaking in group conversations. The way Facebook is at the moment it serves a completely different purpose to forums and either will never replace the other.

I don’t think Facebook will ever kill forums – what I think it will kill is personal blogs. More and more people are using Facebook or other social networking websites like Twitter to write short snippets and little bits of information about their lives. Random little musings that rather than writing a 7-paragraph article about, they post a one or two sentence ‘status update’ to the people that they know. Blogs will still remain, but personal blogs wherein you discuss your life will slowly die and be replaced by Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube vlogs.

So, to conclude – Facebook just isn’t vast enough to kill forums just yet nor is the purpose of Facebook right to do so. I think it will gradually take over different areas though and we’re just going to have to keep our eyes peeled for the time being to see what else happens with Facebook. Activity on forums may die down as a result of people using Facebook more, but it will definitely not kill them the way it is.
 

Liam

Developer
Joined
Oct 8, 2010
Messages
498
Contest Submission: Win XenForo License

Will Facebook Kill Forums?

Facebook is certainly leading the innovation of social networking technology, with millions of people using it every day. People use it for different reasons, be it for socialization, communication or playing games with the different available applications you can use at a single click. It has tons of great features and uses. It’s even good for collaboration and communication from people around the world, and for businesses to promote their services to Facebook’s high-traffic advertising network. Users try out different competitors, but most of them always go back to Facebook for its simplicity, elegant design and feature-rich functions.

But how is this different from the user-built communities around the net? The difference is that Facebook is focused on social networking. Some users of Facebook most probably haven’t heard of a forum, considering the fact that they visit Facebook more often than other sites. This greatly made a huge impact on the population of users using forums, since there are more people on Facebook, people left their forums to socialize in a larger scale that reaches over millions of people, not just limited to a certain subject, or to a certain race, service and the like. The difference is that Facebook does not have a limited subject, users can freely discuss what they desire, without the fear of a moderator or an administrator banning him, unless of course if he violates the terms of Facebook.

There are no limits to what you can do with Facebook of course. Discussions, games, site integration, collaboration and other more activities can utilize the power of Facebook. Forums are very limited to a certain object of interest and therefore taking the fun out of socializing. One advantage of the forums however, is their capability to be customized. There are different themes for different forum software, each according to your taste. Facebook just presents you with a plain white and blue layout, with simple AJAX and Flash. Other than that, forums can be used on different types of sites focused on one subject, and for easy access to support if a service is given. However, forums need to be hosted, while Facebook is a self-hosted solution that users can integrate onto their sites or scripts with no hassle thanks to the Facebook API.

Also, there is the option of the forum owner to place advertisements on his forum or not, as Facebook has ads on its side. This is an advantage for forum owners that target users that have slow internet connections, as this saves them from loading other content which they do not care about. Forums are also a great way of earning revenue and cash, by impressions, advertising space and the different ways to have your Alexa Rank or Page Rank to the highest it can have. It’s also an interesting way of meeting new people, and a great challenge to yourself to see how many users are actually interested in you, or have the same interests as you. Facebook itself has its own advantages and disadvantages; however this has not discouraged me from bringing forums back to life. While Facebook is a great way of communication and collaboration, for me there is no better way to communicate with others than through a forum, where a user has no limits in customization, content and expression.
 

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Yoshie

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Oct 8, 2010
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My contest sumbmission.

Practically I do like using a forum instead of Facebook. A forum basically already has all my needs to communicate and socialize. Plus, being a mod, its kinda my job anyway. Its not a big deal on how small or big the community is. The important thing is that each user can use it to socialize.

Facebook is quite appealing. It has all the things a modern site needs, the power of jQuery, CSS and HTML. But the problem is that its real sluggish for users with an ultimately poor connection. It doesn’t have a light version either, but its good enough for me. Unfortunately Facebook limits content to something that is available to all.

To me, it doesn’t matter how nice the interface is. As long as we have something to use to communicate that is okay. I’ve tried all kinds of forum software. To be honest, the best one I used was IPB 3. It had all the features I’m looking for.

Facebook do has its advantages. For starters, you can use it to share photos. Its no different from forum attachments though. You can also use Facebook to communicate. So is the same with a forum.

I like sites with a clean and professional interface, hence Facebook is the site for me. However, if the forum industry fails, I still have FaceBook to go with. Its sleek and professional. It’s a great way to talk. Facebook would be my choice.
 

GarnetFeathers

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Aug 22, 2010
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The current popularity of Facebook would seem to be ringing the death toll for Forums. However, Facebook is now facing an entirely new threat to it's popularity.

The onslaught of predators, identity theft and porn has awakened parents that would normally trust their teenagers and preteens to socialize with their friends using Facebook, to monitor their usage and content. Whenever parents get involved in this type of monitoring, they will and often do, delete their childs account. Recent news stories have pointed out the number of predators and miscreants using facebook and users have tightened up their precautions and information revealed on Facebook.

Facebook has also become a playground for individuals attacking the site with viruses, malware and tracking cookies that not only interfer with the Facebook page itself, but their personal computers. Users become weary of this type of activity and soon move on to something less invasive.

Forums on the other hand, do not have the reputation for the same type of behavior. Well run forums will monitor the information posted and edit or delete anything remotely considered inappropriate. Numerous people using forums are in serious pursuit of information, and will continue to use the forum format.

Social networks do not provide pertinent information for individuals that use forums to educate themselves and to remain active in subjects that interest them and their peers. Forums also provide the opportunity for question and answer session which is a valuable tool when routinely seeking information and lively discussions with others with the same interest.

Truthfully, forums have a strong competitor in Facebook, but in the end, the forums will regain the disgruntled Facebook users and gain in popularity as a result.
 

The Sandman

Administrator
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Jan 1, 2004
Messages
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The seven essays above represent the entries in our essay contest entitled "Will Facebook Kill Forums?". A big thank you to those who entered. :) The juding proved to be quite difficult due to the quality of the entries, and I've decided to award XenForo licenses and 5 year Premium Memberships to both Rudy and Alex Apple for first place, 5 year Premium Memberships to both grc and Donkey for second place, a 3 year Premium Membership to The Soul for third place, and 2 year Premium Memberships to Yoshie and Garnet Feathers.

Well done!
 

grc

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Oct 17, 2010
Messages
12
There are some good essays and I'm pleased to be included in such good company. Thanks for allowing a person who's very first post was an essay to enter the contest. I appreciate the 5 year premium membership. I'll try to wear it with pride.
 

Liam

Developer
Joined
Oct 8, 2010
Messages
498
Thanks Sandman! And congratulations to the winners of the contest! :)
 

Rudy

Enthusiast
Joined
Oct 18, 2004
Messages
208
OK...I'm sitting here in shock, since I rarely win anything!

Many thanks to the TAZ staff for the contest, and choosing my essay as the winner. Amidst my piles of homework, a recent move (where we're still living out of boxes), and everything else going on...this made my day!

I have a good application for xenForo, a new forum we hope to grow a bit in the coming months. It will be nice to put it through its paces. I just need to import from SMF 2, and I'll be good to go.

Thanks again everyone! And congrats to my fellow essay winners as well--plenty of fine work represented here!
 

gogoblender

shiny happy pantless
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
15,278
Beautiful work you guys, and congratulations! Howard, the prizes are great, and the reads for us, the community, even better.

I had my eye opened by a few of the essays and aughed a bit at some of the others.

Some great writing into what may come to be.

TY guys!

:)

gogo
 

Sunlite

full moons just wonder
Joined
Aug 30, 2006
Messages
7,337
Congratulations everyone! The essays were all well written and all winners were deserving!
ashihtzuchattertwo.sunlitesplace.com_forums_style_emoticons_default_congrats.gif
 

Donkey

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Jul 27, 2009
Messages
27
Cheers Sandman :)

Got up at 1am this morning only to miss a flight so this perhaps has made my day a little brighter :)
 

Alex.

The Ancient Dragon
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Messages
11,579
Cheers guys. It was a delight reading and judging on all of your essays. :)
 

GarnetFeathers

Aspirant
Joined
Aug 22, 2010
Messages
25
Congrats

I really enjoyed reading everyones submission. Funny and very informative. Congrats to everyone.
 

TechGuy1

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Joined
Oct 23, 2010
Messages
12
No I don't think so....... Forums and Facebook both are different sources and both have equal importance in their own work. :blueyup:
 
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