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What do forums still have to offer?

Gelion

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I was thinking about games' participation and how we are basically a generation stuck with the technology of our prime time. Yes, we have debates and we can share information/links and create insider community relationships, but what is the comparative advantage of a forum as opposed to other types of media. Facebook? Discord? Reddit? Live messenger and zoom? I cannot think of very many things that will bring a new generation of people onto forums in general and those who do rarely leave their designated nests (subforums). What is so unique about forums?

Is there anything that will bring the new (and, well, current) generations to foruming as a media? Games or otherwise?
 
Longform text, in my opinion. Every other platform struggles with this, for a varying number of reasons. It also lends itself well to games modding, particularly when the file sizes are small enough that limited hosted can preserve files in perpetuity (especially when the competition is ModDB, which is a site in sore need of a bunch of overhauls).

That said, the need for that kind of interaction isn't really enough to drive a community anymore. Which is part of the problem. Chat software handles realtime, like you said, which is often key to cutting through misconceptions that can occur when people start going at each other in a forum thread (but can also cause problems in of themselves in a particular chat goes too far in a short space of time - but that's basically IRL behaviour too, so we're probably better socially-suited to that kind of blowup vs. the the kind of slow, dragging forum reputation thing).

Forum software is also traditionally rarely kept up to date outside of official forums (run by people with the dedicated time and budget to keep on top of things), which adds frustration from both the point of view of the users and management.

It's a tricky one. We're certainly seeing a shift in what is both effective and popular - where developers used to (and still do) visit forums, the interactive focus is now in places like Discord or Slack.
 
I was thinking about games' participation and how we are basically a generation stuck with the technology of our prime time. Yes, we have debates and we can share information/links and create insider community relationships, but what is the comparative advantage of a forum as opposed to other types of media. Facebook? Discord? Reddit? Live messenger and zoom? I cannot think of very many things that will bring a new generation of people onto forums in general and those who do rarely leave their designated nests (subforums). What is so unique about forums?

Versus big media the answer is simple: diversity. With big media engaged in censoring whatever they dislike, the problem there is obvious. Privacy too, as big media and and does spy more on users.

Versus decentralized options? Diversity in a different way: it's easy to join a forum and go there occasionally. Doesn't require much of a person. It's asynchronous communication. Live messenger or zoom require simultaneous availability, require that the people know each other to start with. So a forum gets much more diverse people.

Which, in both cases, makes it an interesting medium. Forums still have a future.
 
I mean, chat apps have had shared history for years now. The only requirement for simultaneous availability is for something specifically like a video call, which isn't really analogous to anything that happens on a forum, or the text-based services of any competing platform. Discord can do voice and presumably video calls (I've only ever used voice myself), but the text-based servers are what have been supplementing or even replacing forums with regards to engagement.

I'd say forums definitely have a future, but I worry that people who are used to them overstate their remaining value.
 
Facebook simply sucks...

Reddit IS a Forum

Discord is nice, but leads to my main point on the value of forums. You post and read at your own pace. Active Discords are really fast. It's hard to have real discourse there except in smaller private servers.

In a forum like here you can have a regular conversation, leave, and pick it back up pretty easily later.
 
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Forums are the first place I ever went online. It's what I am used to. It's nice to be able to think over what someone said before replying.

Chat? I can't keep up with it. I don't understand Reddit, and will not use anything that requires my voice or face to be known.

It's nice that someone once suggested I have my own Handmaid's Tale YT channel since my take on the show is different from most others (the Canadian perspective), but I don't think anyone would want to read however many minutes of typing, even I did figure out how to do it.
 
Organization of information.

A lot of the competition to forums operates from a more ephemeral standpoint. Facebook excels at sharing what just got posted. If you want something from a year ago, you have to scroll a lot. Discord has search, but (usually?) users can't create their own topic/channels, unless they are administrators. As lymond mentioned, this means busy ones have lots of text, and topics can get intermingled. Discord is also very poor at web discoverability, since everything lives inside an instance that isn't web-searchable. If someone's looking for Civ IV information on the web, they might discover CFC and the answer to their question. They won't find the answer if it's posted on a Discord server. Discord puts information into siloes that outsiders are likely to never learn about.

Reddit's kind of halfway in-between, and probably the biggest direct competitor, since it is basically a forum, just a centralized one. Steam forums are similar; they're centralized, but are fundamentally forums.

But getting back to forums, they let you organize the information, with it being both searchable and discoverable. Look at all the sub-forums we have in the Civ forums. The advanced search. If you have a reason to create a new sub-forum, you can get one. Information is organized by topic, and anyone can create new topics, unlike on Discord. Forum software is also somewhat powerful these days; the Downloads Database is one example, but I was looking at XenForo's new features list the other day, and they have all sorts of things we don't have at CFC yet. Want a StackOverflow style voting-on-the-answers-to-questions forum? You can have one nowadays. These features let you give more customization to your community based on its needs than, say, the Steam forums.

-----------

A side question might be, what are forums doing wrong to make people go elsewhere? Obviously part of the reason for their relative decline has been the marketing and convenience of newer alternatives. But I'd argue at least one forum trend - huge megathreads - is also masking their strengths. Twenty years ago, you wouldn't have huge megathreads because they'd bog down the server and thus be locked. Now, I count six 3000+ post threads on the first page. "General politics thread" - if that were a Civ forum, it might be "General combat thread". You're never going to be able to find information in the middle of that thread, and the topic could swing wildly from one page to the next. It might as well be a Discord server topic, or a Facebook page that scrolls back infinitely. "Global warming strikes again..." - if there's a specific case we want to discuss, does that mean we're supposed to lump it in with that 5+ year-old thread?

It's far from exclusively a CFC issue, and for threads that are essentially a replacement for a chat room ("What did you just buy/What movie did you just watch/what are you listening to right now?"), it may be fine. But IMO it discourages participation by those who haven't been involved the whole time. And if you get 3000 posts on a creative topic, such as a mod? Maybe it's time to give that mod its own sub-forum, and not stuff all the conversation into one thread. There's clearly a fair amount to discuss at that point.
 
Organization of information.

A lot of the competition to forums operates from a more ephemeral standpoint. Facebook excels at sharing what just got posted. If you want something from a year ago, you have to scroll a lot. Discord has search, but (usually?) users can't create their own topic/channels, unless they are administrators. As lymond mentioned, this means busy ones have lots of text, and topics can get intermingled. Discord is also very poor at web discoverability, since everything lives inside an instance that isn't web-searchable. If someone's looking for Civ IV information on the web, they might discover CFC and the answer to their question. They won't find the answer if it's posted on a Discord server. Discord puts information into siloes that outsiders are likely to never learn about.

Reddit's kind of halfway in-between, and probably the biggest direct competitor, since it is basically a forum, just a centralized one. Steam forums are similar; they're centralized, but are fundamentally forums.

But getting back to forums, they let you organize the information, with it being both searchable and discoverable. Look at all the sub-forums we have in the Civ forums. The advanced search. If you have a reason to create a new sub-forum, you can get one. Information is organized by topic, and anyone can create new topics, unlike on Discord. Forum software is also somewhat powerful these days; the Downloads Database is one example, but I was looking at XenForo's new features list the other day, and they have all sorts of things we don't have at CFC yet. Want a StackOverflow style voting-on-the-answers-to-questions forum? You can have one nowadays. These features let you give more customization to your community based on its needs than, say, the Steam forums.

-----------

A side question might be, what are forums doing wrong to make people go elsewhere? Obviously part of the reason for their relative decline has been the marketing and convenience of newer alternatives. But I'd argue at least one forum trend - huge megathreads - is also masking their strengths. Twenty years ago, you wouldn't have huge megathreads because they'd bog down the server and thus be locked. Now, I count six 3000+ post threads on the first page. "General politics thread" - if that were a Civ forum, it might be "General combat thread". You're never going to be able to find information in the middle of that thread, and the topic could swing wildly from one page to the next. It might as well be a Discord server topic, or a Facebook page that scrolls back infinitely. "Global warming strikes again..." - if there's a specific case we want to discuss, does that mean we're supposed to lump it in with that 5+ year-old thread?

It's far from exclusively a CFC issue, and for threads that are essentially a replacement for a chat room ("What did you just buy/What movie did you just watch/what are you listening to right now?"), it may be fine. But IMO it discourages participation by those who haven't been involved the whole time. And if you get 3000 posts on a creative topic, such as a mod? Maybe it's time to give that mod its own sub-forum, and not stuff all the conversation into one thread. There's clearly a fair amount to discuss at that point.
CFC is not as organized as it could be. One of the reasons A&E was created was so the threads about what people are reading and watching (and related discussion) could go there. This is how the first forum I ever joined does it, the staff enforce it, and you don't have to search half a dozen places for a specific conversation about something because it's in one subforum.

You want to talk about a 3000-post thread?

Seriously?

:lmao:

There are TWO threads at TrekBBS dedicated to ONE TOPIC and its related offshoot arguments, and that's about the Axanar fan film. Okay, three; I just noticed a third that's probably for information purposes.

axanar-tbbs.png


Note how many years the first went on before it was locked and a second one started. Note that the second one has been going on for close to 4 years. It's been years since I bothered to read any of it, because it's a bunch of bickering amongst fanfilm companies, ranting about CBS' policies that meant that Star Trek Continues (which was not breaking any rules) had to finish its planned project 3 episodes early, and I don't know how badly Phase II/New Voyages got screwed up. Axanar won't ever be made beyond the teaser since the guy running it broke every rule in the crowdfunding book AND tried to run off with the Axanar trademark for his own purposes. He got caught, and apparently the lawsuit has been going on for a lot of years.

Whatever the specifics of the Axanar fan film threads, the fact is that they became very, VERY long. I can't imagine any of our threads running that long, and I can't imagine what more there is to even say on the topic they're arguing about over there.

So don't feel bad about our threads getting long. We're strictly amateurs compared to some other sites.


As for Facebook's organization, it's a joke. I post something, get pinged half an hour later because someone has replied... and can I find that reply? Nope. Yet my notifications insist it's there somewhere.
 
As I se it, Discord is for short term chatting and a forum is for long term involvement in topics and people.
 
Rant that ties into this: 90% of the English-language internet SUCKS. Try to scroll through content? Page reloads, or videos that play automatically, or some other kind of popup nonsense.

Then you have to look through the terrible sponsored “content” from Bamboozle that says ONE OSAKA WOMAN DISCOVERS SECRET TO REMOVING HER FOOT FUNGUS or some doughy-faced Germans telling me how their startup, which is Cliff’s Notes on tape, is the best thing since sliced bread (where do they get the money for those ads?)

This forum ain’t got none of that!
 
Reddit may be a forum (rather a massive number of small forums, with a few gigantic ones), but according to some videos it is run (the main channels) by very few people, who become mods in tens of the main channels and use that to run deals for monetary gain. In that it is far less like a regular average-sized forum (such as Cfc).

At least in Cfc I doubt you'd be banned for sharing a different view, as long as you phrase it in a way which includes some intended (regardless if picked up or not) comedy (?) ^_^
 
Longform text, in my opinion. Every other platform struggles with this, for a varying number of reasons. It also lends itself well to games modding, particularly when the file sizes are small enough that limited hosted can preserve files in perpetuity (especially when the competition is ModDB, which is a site in sore need of a bunch of overhauls).
That was a new word for me and I think you hit the nail on the head, people do come here to read (and write) longer texts on a topic. I recently made a metaphor (or at least tried to) in a NESing forum about what our games and threads are and in many ways they are there as tiny colonies in space, able to be visited many hundreds of years apart (often when the inhabitants are already dead).

Versus big media the answer is simple: diversity. With big media engaged in censoring whatever they dislike, the problem there is obvious. Privacy too, as big media and and does spy more on users.
Versus decentralized options? Diversity in a different way: it's easy to join a forum and go there occasionally. Doesn't require much of a person. It's asynchronous communication. Live messenger or zoom require simultaneous availability, require that the people know each other to start with. So a forum gets much more diverse people.
Which, in both cases, makes it an interesting medium. Forums still have a future.
I like the idea that is behind this, but in many ways it is a question of scale and dedicated focus. General platforms like Facebook and Reddit are easier and more interesting to "control" specifically because they are general platforms.

Facebook simply sucks...
:yup:
Reddit IS a Forum
The only reason I put it up with the others is because of its huge size where everything is connected to everything. Which seems to point to a reason why people go here for Civ-related stuff rather than to Reddit, our site and forum simply has more stuff even if in scale we are much smaller.

Discord is nice, but leads to my main point on the value of forums. You post and read at your own pace. Active Discords are really fast. It's hard to have real discourse there except in smaller private servers.
I have very limited experience with it, but it also pointed to the same thing, its meant to be read constantly and once people loose track it either makes them want to leave or, if they stay, diminishes from the "story flow" of whatever subject people are trying to read on. In other words it is geared to "whatever is here and right now" generation.

Organization of information.
A lot of the competition to forums operates from a more ephemeral standpoint. Facebook excels at sharing what just got posted. If you want something from a year ago, you have to scroll a lot. Discord has search, but (usually?) users can't create their own topic/channels, unless they are administrators. As lymond mentioned, this means busy ones have lots of text, and topics can get intermingled. Discord is also very poor at web discoverability, since everything lives inside an instance that isn't web-searchable. If someone's looking for Civ IV information on the web, they might discover CFC and the answer to their question. They won't find the answer if it's posted on a Discord server. Discord puts information into siloes that outsiders are likely to never learn about.
Thats a perfect reason! :thumbsup: It requires another feature of forums to be well-developed, i.e. having a member base who are knowledgeable about their "treasures" and where to find them, but it works. It a way forums are books in the world of (quite literally) scrolls of FB, discord and other "of the moment" stuff.

A side question might be, what are forums doing wrong to make people go elsewhere? Obviously part of the reason for their relative decline has been the marketing and convenience of newer alternatives.
Which fulfil only several of people's needs, leaving others hanging in empty space.

You're never going to be able to find information in the middle of that thread, and the topic could swing wildly from one page to the next.
Thats very true, but thats where the members with their insider knowledge come in. As well as inter-forum search engines.

But IMO it discourages participation by those who haven't been involved the whole time.

Exactly! Just as in our forum games and so on, people have to be welcomed once they join, because when people hit that register button they are already ready to move on to the "interactive" stage of a forum. They must have been forum readers before that.
Rant that ties into this: 90% of the English-language internet SUCKS. Try to scroll through content? Page reloads, or videos that play automatically, or some other kind of popup nonsense.
90% of the internet sucks now. It didn't use to and I think the good stuff is simply being buried under all the new "content" through "forces of nature and history." So, another point for the forums would be "quality information".
At least in Cfc I doubt you'd be banned for sharing a different view, as long as you phrase it in a way which includes some intended (regardless if picked up or not) comedy (?) ^_^
And the final piece is community and moderation, which is a unique feature that is only possible either amongst a very polite community or amongst enthusiasts that want to keep their house/streets clean to get on with their job/hobby.

The pros of a forum, from what I can see now, is quality information, stored and managed by an enthusiastic fan community who has to be friendly to (nice) new members and to each other. This throve of knowledge is as timeless as a book can be timeless and is as good as the amount of work that people put into it.

Advantages of a forum compared to modern mass media as such that the mass media is fleeting and "of the moment" where one has to be hooked onto something all the time to be a part of something.

I got it guys and gals. We are a space port ;)

I was pondering what forums can offer to the new generation and I think there are many good reasons as long as we're able to invite them in and keep them around. As far as my gaming ideas go, I think the games should move onto more "always on standby" feature so that it is possible to weave the community around them again.
 
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Reddit is a forum but there format is so different that it’s different.

nothing quite hits the spot like this dose
 
I think the new gen are going to wait for us on Discord. It’s just a superior tool from a gaming perspective and the new gen is concentrated on gaming left, front and center. First of all, technically one can simulate a “forum” there. Instead of creating threads, channels are created, where one can stimulate long form by limiting the number of posts one can make and by attracting the right crew to moderate and set an example. Then there are overlays, live integrations, things an old fashioned forum cannot have almost by design. Discord platform is deeply intertwined with games, so it’s a no brainer for kids I reckon. Streaming, audio, spotify integrations and many other things a programmer can code on his own volition when presented with a large degree of creative freedom. I suggest you check it out one of these days, Gelion, not as a substitute, but to glance at a cool new community-creating tech.
 
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Not much. It's a cheap alternative to real friends. Lower cost, lower benefit, lower risk short term, higher risk long term.
 
It is a format that works for me. Usenet just has a bit too much spam to content, discord is impossible to follow a topic unless you are on constantly, fecesbook is too evil. Other things work with people I know, but to interact with strangers I think this place is the best.
Rant that ties into this: 90% of the English-language internet SUCKS. Try to scroll through content? Page reloads, or videos that play automatically, or some other kind of popup nonsense.

Then you have to look through the terrible sponsored “content” from Bamboozle that says ONE OSAKA WOMAN DISCOVERS SECRET TO REMOVING HER FOOT FUNGUS or some doughy-faced Germans telling me how their startup, which is Cliff’s Notes on tape, is the best thing since sliced bread (where do they get the money for those ads?)

This forum ain’t got none of that!
Needs better browser/ad blocker.
 
A side question might be, what are forums doing wrong to make people go elsewhere? Obviously part of the reason for their relative decline has been the marketing and convenience of newer alternatives.
What a shame we can't ask the people no longer here (if they left of their free choice rather than being permabanned for bad behavior). I know some of them leaving had nothing to do with newer alternatives (which didn't exist at the time they left). Sometimes all it takes is one rude remark or one inconsiderate action to make a brand-new person feel unwelcome, so they don't stay.

I have very limited experience with it, but it also pointed to the same thing, its meant to be read constantly and once people loose track it either makes them want to leave or, if they stay, diminishes from the "story flow" of whatever subject people are trying to read on. In other words it is geared to "whatever is here and right now" generation.
This describes the Shout Box on the Pond Friends forum I belong to. I gave up on it. You have to live on that to understand what anyone's talking about, so some people hang out there, and I decided to stick with the small group of older women who have a thread where we talk about everything from recipes to ranting about what's wrong with the latest game to talking about pets, and they encourage me in my writing. That's actually where I posted my Dune/Peanuts fanfic crossover (could dig it up and repost it here if anyone's interested; it isn't very long). That thread is over 700 pages long, but it's been going for years, well before I joined the forum.

Thats a perfect reason! :thumbsup: It requires another feature of forums to be well-developed, i.e. having a member base who are knowledgeable about their "treasures" and where to find them, but it works. It a way forums are books in the world of (quite literally) scrolls of FB, discord and other "of the moment" stuff.
If you want to find stuff on a forum, make sure the title of the thread or subforum makes it clear what it's about. There's an offshoot forum of Pond Friends (a long-term adversarial relationship resulted in a couple of offshoots of PF, one of which I joined and find congenial and the other which I don't). It's not enough to have nice, friendly people who know what they're talking about with games. Calling a subforum "Chatter" and another one "Gaming talk" and other some equally general thing means I have no intuitive way to tell where the hell anything is there. I was asked if I'd like a writing thread, and I said not unless it's a subforum on its own - there's plenty of scope for it, but unless there's a way to immediately and intuitively figure out that it is about writing, then no, thank you.

That's why I like the way the first forum I joined was organized. It had a place for stuff, and if a need was perceived to further subdivide it, that was usually done.

Exactly! Just as in our forum games and so on, people have to be welcomed once they join, because when people hit that register button they are already ready to move on to the "interactive" stage of a forum. They must have been forum readers before that.
I was very surprised way back when, to find that there was actually not a designated place on CFC, either as part of SF or in the individual subforums, to introduce oneself, say a sentence or two, be welcomed, and so on. It's unusual NOT to have this, and it's considered one of the standard things you do when you create a new forum (next thing you do after creating the rules forum)

And the final piece is community and moderation, which is a unique feature that is only possible either amongst a very polite community or amongst enthusiasts that want to keep their house/streets clean to get on with their job/hobby.

The pros of a forum, from what I can see now, is quality information, stored and managed by an enthusiastic fan community who has to be friendly to (nice) new members and to each other. This throve of knowledge is as timeless as a book can be timeless and is as good as the amount of work that people put into it.

Advantages of a forum compared to modern mass media as such that the mass media is fleeting and "of the moment" where one has to be hooked onto something all the time to be a part of something.

I got it guys and gals. We are a space port ;)
But which kind? Going by the above paragraphs, you've described DS9 without Constable Odo.
 
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