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Reply 20 of 31, by CelGen

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gerry wrote on 2021-03-03, 09:30:
Namrok wrote on 2021-03-02, 17:12:

Every forum I've been on that died, died because the all consuming leviathan of politics finally visited it.

Sounds like you've been on some forums with fairly dramatic downfalls!

it's true that in forums where the dominant form of discussion is 'political', should 1 side 'win' by taking control, the victory itself dooms the forum as it becomes an ever quieter echo chamber

Facepunch Forums. What an apocalyptic end that came to that place.
Gaming and Half-Life 2 mod oriented community forum with a rich branching of other groups and communities and a massive wealth of Hammer/Lua guides and coding support. Unofficially it replaced the Steam forums when they closed. Think SomethingAwful, but nicer. When politics heated up in 2016 the forum began to break up into groups as people either left because either you were with one group or against the will of the whole forum nonsense, the HL2 modding community and Garry's Mod was nearing ten years old and development had pretty much stopped and the forum owner himself had moved on to other projects and was now running a business. When the plug was pulled (and then plugged back in again briefly) there was a scramble to save what they could but large portions of the site failed to migrate to the Internet Archive and a lot of actually useful posts and discussions were deleted due to GDPR compliance.

In the later years several members who had political disagreements with other forum users (or got permabanned in the 2016 election TOXX thread) spun off a clone of the forum which served to replace it once Facepunch closed for good. Knockout briefly had promise however when you have a subgroup of a community go off and make their own community you both lose a major portion of the original userbase either because they aren't interested in moving or they were not aware it existed and whatever mindset this subgroup has in common becomes transparent. Unfortunately in this instance as people came over many left soon after because their political orientation, beliefs or how they were educated was now judged and enforced under new rules. The bickering continued into the developer, administration and moderator pools, forcing the forum development to go open-sourced because nobody wanted to fix a site (which two years later is still listed as "beta") where not agreeing some megacorp was bad got you branded a sell-out. Both administration and moderation cycled out and forum ownership changed hands and once again a subgroup of a subgroup causes the cycle of people leaving, people getting the boot because they don't agree on the same things and group discussions become entirely one-sided and toxic to the point nobody besides a small group wants to post anything.
While they are still active and statistically their userbase remains at around 2000 people, the stats show the damage is done. Nobody is leaving but likewise nobody is joining. The gross percentage of active users when polled only lurk.

Another one was Nekochan.net. Funky name but for years it was the unofficial discussion forum for all Silicon Graphics hardware and software support, plus third party software porting and development. SGI themselves linked to and recommended them on their website so they were a pretty big deal once you got around the administrator liking anime a little too much.
As time progressed many users who provided help and support gradually thinned out as they themselves were just administrators and as SGI's hardware was decommissioned the purpose behind doing anything with SGI evaporated. Eventually the site owner lost interest SGI himself and again, out of GDPR compliance one day the entire site, any documentation and any other useful bits of information that had not been scraped to elsewhere were deleted. From its ashes the remainder of the community attempted to piece things back together under a new forum under new management and like above, new management has new rules. The entire original third party software tree (dubbed "Nekoware") was declared obsolete and a new draft on how to compile, pack and upload updates, software and ports was enforced creating a mess of two repositories and marginally compatible packages.

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Reply 21 of 31, by gerry

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shamino wrote on 2021-03-08, 13:44:
I have no interest in using social media and generally hate it. I will stick with independent forums rather than help to feed t […]
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I have no interest in using social media and generally hate it. I will stick with independent forums rather than help to feed the conglomeration of the internet under so few, increasingly powerful entities.

One danger for any forum is if it has an environment that discourages anyone outside the core "insiders" from posting. Such forums are effectively fighting their own growth and will not be able to generate web traffic outside of their 10 people.

A long time ago I got on a forum that was pretty niche and only had occasional posts. Reading any thread it was apparent that they had more site admins and moderators and whatevers than they had regular users. They all had odd titles that made no sense. They actually had a diagram posted attempting to show the political structure of the forum. It was nutso.

No surprise then that the forum was excessively moderated. Everyone there was "sensitive", which was the main reason I got tired of posting there. It was impossible not to offend someone, somehow, in anything you wrote. I'd try to post and invariably get an angry response because of some detail. It was unrewarding and tiresome.
I wonder if excessive moderation is what causes people to learn to be that touchy - which then encourages more moderation, and so the forum just goes into a feedback loop of hostility and forum politics. Dunno, that's just a theory.

Anyway, I was aware that one of the things some people can be touchy about on the internet is bumping of old threads. But I wasn't in the habit of reading that forum every day. I had it in my forum bookmarks, and would check in every few months when the thought occurred to me.
I decided for myself that it was reasonable to bump any thread that was still on the first page. If the forum was so slow that it took 6 months for the first page to flush out, then that made it okay to post in a thread that "old" IMO. Surely I wasn't the only person who only read the forum occasionally, but would still like to be able to contribute when I did visit, so that was my standard.

I had already had about 5 out of 5 frustrating experiences on that forum when I did one of my rare visits. I saw a thread from about 3 months prior that had played out over 1 month, so the last post was 2 months old. The OP had a common problem that nobody had a good solution for, just clunky workarounds that didn't address the real issue. I had first-hand experience solving the issue so I wrote a long explanation of how to fix it properly. I put a lot of time into carefully composing a step-by-step post, thinking for sure that somebody would appreciate it. It was both pertinent and entirely different from anything anyone else had posted in that thread.

What I got back was a terse response from a moderator and a door slammed in my face (locked thread). That was the last straw for me. Felt like PMing moderator #231 to tell him what a moron he was, but I didn't want the drama. So I didn't get banned, and the forum is still there, and the first page of threads is now 5 years long. Hmmm.. now that could really piss somebody off over there...

That's a good example right there. Especially the example of 'old threads' when the forum moves so slowly a 6 month old thread is still page 1 news! What a strange set up, like some post apocalyptic puritan society doomed to failure by their own obstinate views. You feel like going back to the lead moderator now and saying "out of interest, why do YOU think the forum failed?", just to check if the delusions are still in place

Reply 22 of 31, by gerry

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CelGen wrote on 2021-03-11, 04:32:
gerry wrote on 2021-03-03, 09:30:
Namrok wrote on 2021-03-02, 17:12:

Every forum I've been on that died, died because the all consuming leviathan of politics finally visited it.

Sounds like you've been on some forums with fairly dramatic downfalls!

it's true that in forums where the dominant form of discussion is 'political', should 1 side 'win' by taking control, the victory itself dooms the forum as it becomes an ever quieter echo chamber

Facepunch Forums. What an apocalyptic end that came to that place.
Gaming and Half-Life 2 mod oriented community forum with a rich branching of other groups and communities and a massive wealth of Hammer/Lua guides and coding support. Unofficially it replaced the Steam forums when they closed.

good examples of another type of (soon to be) dying forum - the hopeful phoenix.

When a big and popular forum, run by a corporate, is closed like steam or, outside of computers, imdb there are legions of members who want to carry on

so they splinter into many "here's the new forum guys", "let's do this ourselves", "we're gonna make it bigger and better" and other optimistically messaged new forums

However most of them die for various reasons covered, and those that do last never match the traffic of when the forum centred on the corporate site before

I sometimes think about where the disappeared actually went. Then i realise that most of them simple didn't go anywhere, they probably just don't post anything anywhere anymore

Reply 24 of 31, by BetaC

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Errius wrote on 2021-03-11, 10:53:

20 years ago we were hearing similar complaints that forums were killing off Usenet...

And yet, at least in the sense of scene releases/piracy, usenet is still available.

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Reply 25 of 31, by Dominus

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BetaC wrote on 2021-03-11, 21:10:
Errius wrote on 2021-03-11, 10:53:

20 years ago we were hearing similar complaints that forums were killing off Usenet...

And yet, at least in the sense of scene releases/piracy, usenet is still available.

Yeah, but as a discussion platform it died, mostly because of forums but the avalanche of unstoppable spam sure didn't help

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Reply 26 of 31, by BetaC

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Dominus wrote on 2021-03-11, 22:24:

Yeah, but as a discussion platform it died, mostly because of forums but the avalanche of unstoppable spam sure didn't help

I was more trying to imply that forums will stay around, but be really specific. And be spammed to hell as well.

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Reply 27 of 31, by gerry

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BetaC wrote on 2021-03-12, 04:10:
Dominus wrote on 2021-03-11, 22:24:

Yeah, but as a discussion platform it died, mostly because of forums but the avalanche of unstoppable spam sure didn't help

I was more trying to imply that forums will stay around, but be really specific. And be spammed to hell as well.

usenet will stay around because its part of a fundamental internet architecture, it's one of the rare places where you can peruse conversations from 30+ years ago!

Forums are just 'web pages' and can easily disappear forever, as a 'thing' forums will stay around i agree - there is a quality to forum dynamics that is different from 'social media' (and better imo), and that keeps it alive as an alternative

Reply 28 of 31, by imi

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funnily enough for me the path was the other way around, I never used usenet, but I very heavily used IRC before forums were as commonplace, IRC is more comparable to discord than anything I guess, with the stark difference that I always kept IRC chatlogs to be able to look up things that were discussed or other info... though you can still search in discord, nothing beats local logs.

I think that might be why I like discord as a communication platform today, but forums are always going to be the primary source of information for me.

Reply 29 of 31, by Fujoshi-hime

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CelGen wrote on 2021-03-11, 04:32:

In the later years several members who had political disagreements with other forum users (or got permabanned in the 2016 election TOXX thread) spun off a clone of the forum which served to replace it once Facepunch closed for good. Knockout briefly had promise however when you have a subgroup of a community go off and make their own community you both lose a major portion of the original userbase either because they aren't interested in moving or they were not aware it existed and whatever mindset this subgroup has in common becomes transparent. Unfortunately in this instance as people came over many left soon after because their political orientation, beliefs or how they were educated was now judged and enforced under new rules. The bickering continued into the developer, administration and moderator pools, forcing the forum development to go open-sourced because nobody wanted to fix a site (which two years later is still listed as "beta") where not agreeing some megacorp was bad got you branded a sell-out. Both administration and moderation cycled out and forum ownership changed hands and once again a subgroup of a subgroup causes the cycle of people leaving, people getting the boot because they don't agree on the same things and group discussions become entirely one-sided and toxic to the point nobody besides a small group wants to post anything.
While they are still active and statistically their userbase remains at around 2000 people, the stats show the damage is done. Nobody is leaving but likewise nobody is joining. The gross percentage of active users when polled only lurk.

This is generally why I've come to appreciate VOGONs moderation. I've summed it up to others as 'Shut the hell up, you can have that argument in a million other places on the internet, go do it there, here we are talking about old games and old computers'. The moderation doesn't lean one way or the other, it simply shuts down the same arguments we've seen everywhere, over and over, no matter who wants to start it, who wants to join in, and what their view is.

Reply 30 of 31, by VileR

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imi wrote on 2021-03-12, 10:20:

I think that might be why I like discord as a communication platform today, but forums are always going to be the primary source of information for me.

I'd like discord more if it wasn't such a managed, ban-happy privacy nightmare that monitors and moderates private servers.
This day and age, the resources for self-hosting a platform with very similar capabilities should be within anyone's reach, but people fall for the "big, centralized everything" paradigm every single time.

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Reply 31 of 31, by DracoNihil

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VileR wrote on 2021-03-13, 16:44:

I'd like discord more if it wasn't such a managed, ban-happy privacy nightmare that monitors and moderates private servers.

Yeah, I had to ultimately give up Discord because they started cracking down on people using "third-party clients" when that's a victimless crime and, to them, it should be completely indistinguishable that someone is not using the official client. It's also completely double-standards, they allow bot accounts, which obviously involves creating a custom client for said bot to use. (By the way, let's not forget their "We Love Open Source" on their page)

I just seriously hate what the internet has become, really.

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