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Accelerated Evolution

The "Age of the Forum" is drawing to a close.

Samurai Drifter

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Allow me to quote a post on AN (one of the extremely few ones that demonstrates intelligence!):

Just recently I've been wondering if the boom in internet forums has largely ended. I visit quite a few forums, and I used to visit several more. Most of them seem to have much less activity than they used to, and even the threads which do exist seem to have declined in quality.

Allow me to review a little history, if I may. Most of you probably already know this stuff, or aren't interested, but I'm feeling in a loquacious mood, so here goes.

Way back in the dawn of time, man created the computer. This was a mind-bogglingly useful invention, and it didn't take awfully long before people were using it for all kinds of things. One of the things that a lot of people currently use computers for is the internet, this series of tubes which we delight in filling with information, warez, pornography and shopping sites, not to met long and pointless discussions on forums.

It's hard to pin down the actual date when the internet started, since it evolved the pre-existing ARPANET, but you could say that 1983 was the beginning of the internet as we know it, since that was when ARPANET switched over to TCP/IP networking.

The World Wide Web wasn't actually introduced until 1991, though. I am sure that in these days, most users think of the Web as being the main part of the internet, but there was indeed life before the Web. Many users, most of them students or faculty members at various universities were keen users of Usenet long before the Web made an impression on the hearts and minds of internet users.

For those who have either never heard of it, or at least never experienced it, Usenet is a system whereby text-only messages may be posted to any of a range of distributed newsgroups. To the modern internet user, it might be said to resemble a simplified forum. Naturally it would be more correct to say that a forum represents an evolved form of a newsgroup.

Newsgroups were organised in a hierarchical structure according to subject, and there was a newsgroup fo every subject you could imagine, as well as some that you would really rather not. Most newsgroups were unmoderated, and often the 'binaries' newsgroups were filled with illegal material of every kind.

For many years Usenet was popular, and was the main place on the internet where discussion of every kind happened. It was not only the AnimeNation of its time, but also the GameSpot, the 4Chan, and the MySpace. When Web-based forums were first introduced, the Usenet faithful decried them as being slow, overcomplicated, and unnecessary. The real discussion, they were sure, would remain the province of Usenet.

In spite of their faith, it seems to me that the newsgroups have taken substantial losses in this battle. If you take a look at any of the once-mighty newsgroups, the volume of messages will surely be decreased, when compared with that of 10 years ago. Usenet doesn't appeal to young, modern internet users, and it is in decline.

For a long time, forums seemed to be in the ascendancy, but just as they were once the young pretender to the crown of usenet, another challenger has arrived on the scene to claim that title. The new phenomenon is social networking sites such as MySpace, or LiveJournal. They don't offer the breadth of discussion that an internet forum can, but they seem to appeal a whole lot more to most internet users.

Are forums in the begining stages of decline? Are they to suffer the same fate as Usenet? I tend to think so. It seems already as though there is less traffic than once there was. Many of the more dedicated forum-users sneer at sites such as MySpace, employing a broad range of criticisms, but many of these same criticisms were levelled at web forums, by those who preferred newsgroups. It is partly this parallel which caused me to think along these lines.

As in the case of UseNet, there will undoubtedly be some exceptions to the overall decline. Forums dedicated to extremely specialized topics will probably survive, due to their small but dedicated fanbase. I can't imagine the likes of ShoRyuKen.net ever dissapearing.

On the other hand, I do imagine some of the vast number of anime and gaming forums falling by the wayside. All things change, progress and move on. History has shown us that Usenet was easily toppled. Are forums next?


I believe they may be right; forums have started to slowly decline. However, I don't think they'll really start to die until the next form of their evolution appears. They suggest that it's sites like MySpace or Facebook, and there's no question that the amounts of users on those sites greatly exceeds the number on any forum (possibly excluding Gaia Online). I'm not sure that they're similar enough to forums to constitute the next phase of discussion sites on the internet. I guess it remains to be seen if something new emerges, or if they'll really take the place of forums.

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Back on subject... I don't see forums going anywhere.

Most of the people who use social networking sites are either already memebers of forums, or are your typical MySpace wigger/preppy kid who would never have joined a forum in the first place.

Those who want conversation will stay at message boards.

Those who want to exchange pictures with 30-something-yearl-old-Korean-spammers will go to MySpace.

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Can we just ban SD anyway?

If we can ban you for liking Batman. Dark Knight my ass, more like Guy Running Around in A Leather Costume with Little Bat Ears and A Cape, who uses gadgets to do all his fighting. Seriously, the guy doesn't even have superpowers, except his super richness. I'll bet all of the villians he fought really kicked his ass, but Bruce Wayne used his mountains of money to buy the best PR people in the country to cover it up and make it look like he won. Not like his competition was fierce, what's he up against? A guy who lives in the sewer and eats raw fish? Another rich guy with guns whose only distinguishing feature is half his face is burned? A psychiatrist who can make himself look like a monster with hypnosis and drugs? A wacko who goes around posting riddles at all his crimes, but is actually just a weakling? Oooh, scary.

Just kidding, Batman is awesome.

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