10 Reasons Forums Aren’t as Popular Nowadays

Posted on by admin | in longhorn

Not so long ago, online forums were the go-to place for online interaction. Whether the message boards served as a gathering place for niche groups to discuss their similar interests or the forum simply hosted general chit-chat, many of them got enormous amounts of web traffic in their heyday. More recently, devoted regular members have seen a decrease in posts on their favorite forums; here are ten of the reasons why.

  1. Facebook – More than almost any other culprit, Facebook finds itself on the receiving end of many pointed fingers in the “who killed the forums” debate. The ability to form private discussion groups within the site for topical conversations, paired with the advent of fan pages that allow for fandom and niche discussion, make the social networking giant a heavy-hitter for special interest talk. Meanwhile, general discussion can now be restricted to a group of pre-selected people, most of whom users know in real life.
  2. Twitter – The 140-character blasts of information make catching up with news and recent developments quick and painless, eliminating the need for hours of back-reading on traditional message boards. The presentation and almost limitless possibilities for reaching a wider audience have also bolstered the presence of fan communities and products on Twitter.
  3. Blogs – For message board regulars who enjoy writing and sharing knowledge in their particular area of expertise, creating a blog is often much more satisfying than crafting forum posts that run the risk of being ignored altogether or taken completely off-topic. The comments feature allows for discussion and community participation, but the blogger retains control and can delete inflammatory comments as needed.
  4. TLDR – This acronym, standing for “Too Long, Didn’t Read” has become the battle-cry for the younger generation of web users. Accustomed to brief snippets of pertinent information with a minimum of verbiage, these users will often dismiss a carefully-worded post with the insulting “TLDR”, causing many users to become frustrated with the platform.
  5. User Impatience – An extension of the “TLDR” argument, the instant gratification generation that is now beginning to exert control over the web often lacks the patience required to wait for a response to a question posted on a forum. Getting an answer can take hours or even days; in the end, many users are simply not willing to wait that long.
  6. Trolling – Another problem that forums face on a daily basis is the Troll. With posts designed solely to ignite anger or irritation in other users, Trolls are making many message boards almost unbearable. For some forums, the bulk of new posts are the result of trolling, which drives even some of the most dedicated regulars away.
  7. Lurking – While new membership may be climbing on many forums, daily post counts are plummeting across the board. With few exceptions, new information is rarely posted as new users sign up to access information, but do not contribute to the discussion. This silent reading of forums is called lurking, and is likely the reason why there are dozens of users online but no new topics.
  8. Smartphones – Almost all websites have made the switch to mobile-friendly offerings, with social networking sites leading the charge. Forums, however, have been slow to make the leap. In an era of mobile browsing, message boards are suffering.
  9. Control – Whether well-intentioned or the result of overzealous moderators, many forum users find themselves disenchanted with the iron fist that some message boards are ruled with. As debates over internet censorship rage, any form of moderation can be construed by some users as censorship and thus grounds for abandoning the community.
  10. Lack of Control – On the opposite side of the “Control” coin is “Lack of Control.” Volunteer moderation numbers are down, leaving some forums almost completely unmediated. In the absence of leadership, forums can face shutdown from a lack of maintenance or an established core of exclusionary members that harass and ridicule new users into leaving soon after they arrive.

Though they’re in the minority, there are a few forums that are still thriving. Mostly dedicated to extremely specialized areas of interest or file sharing, these secretive sites fly under the radar for the most part. The bulk of message boards are finding themselves struggling to avoid going the way of the dinosaur, with varying degrees of success.


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