Why it's so hard to start a forum nowadays

Crims

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Thank you, so I wanted to share some ideas on this topic.
Forums were phased, and users on facebook targeted need, which would be on a forum assumed by the community or discerned normally within the community itself. Now most forums tend to not mix professional with casual stuff.
no shit to some though the presence of a place to find friendly talk and quality is sorely underIooked. Forums vs facebook - i avoid the shady individuals online and in general facebook generally shows it anyway. Here we can actually hold worthwhile topics.

Cant write with phone. Ironically.
 
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Arantor

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I find phone keyboards just too small to be comfortable to do any real typing on; iPad keyboard isn't so bad, I do a fair amount of that, but it's not the same.

I do think the mobile phone is at least partly responsible for the decline of forums because while it is absolutely possible to type meaningfully long replies on a phone, it's too much effort so people don't bother.
 

Retro

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Thank you, so I wanted to share some ideas on this topic.
Forums were phased, and users on facebook targeted need, which would be on a forum assumed by the community or discerned normally within the community itself. Now most forums tend to not mix professional with casual stuff.
no shit to some though the presence of a place to find friendly talk and quality is sorely underIooked. Forums vs facebook - i avoid the shady individuals online and in general facebook generally shows it anyway. Here we can actually hold worthwhile topics.

Cant write with phone. Ironically.
Ya, it's a bit all over the place, innit?! :p I reckon autocarrot nailed some of your words there. NVM, I still value your contribution and thankyou for your kind words. :)

It makes the point nicely that smartphones really don't help with longform forum posts. Somehow, I manage to fight this on my iPhone through dogged determination and stubborness. đŸ˜‚ Especially as it's usually on here, so I want to invest in it much more than anywhere else. For this post however, I had the luxury of my desktop PC. Bliss.
 

Arantor

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I've tried several of those kinds of keyboards over the years, but honestly... I keep coming back to proper sized keyboards on devices with some actual weight to them - I keep finding wireless keyboards to be so light that they feel fragile under my hands, I'm a bit of a heavy typist.
 

Tiffany

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Keyboards are definitely a personal thing. I like the click in the keys, so I know I've made contact. I have a new Alien keyboard and it's awful, no sound and you feel like you are typing on water. I bought a new one to switch it out....:D
 

Arantor

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My first PC was very much a hand-me-down that came with a hand-me-down IBM Model M keyboard - those oldschool clacker beasts. Me, I was fine with it but my folks... didn't appreciate me typing my schoolwork on it at a fair old clip when it was in the living room, so I got a quieter one haha.

I don't care too much whether it makes noise or not, I'm certainly not beholden to mechanical keyboards vs membrane or rubber cone, though the Apple butterfly era can go fly away. I care that the keys have travel and that pressing gives me some real sense of tactile feedback, nothing too spongey, but also nothing that requires me to hammer at the keys - this is why I'm a heavy typist because I had too many spongey keyboards in my teens that required more physical effort because they were cheap and nasty.
 

Tiffany

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Yes, "tactile feedback and not spongey" to paraphrase you. Me too....except for gaming, I do like the click....lol:D

If my peeps are watching TV, I switch to my Mac lap top with relatively no click, but there is a sense that you've hit the keys.
 

Arantor

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I use a MacBook for work but honestly I'd rather have my home laptop - an MSI gaming beastie, much much better keyboard. (Fortunately the work Mac is the one after the awful butterfly keyboard. I'd have sent it back or acquired a different keyboard if I had to use that!)
 

Retro

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I have no idea what a butterfly keyboard feels like or how it works. I'm intrigued, especially to know what I'd think of the feel.
 

Arantor

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I have no idea what a butterfly keyboard feels like or how it works. I'm intrigued, especially to know what I'd think of the feel.
You're not missing much. In the ever eternal quest to appease the designers, to shave another fraction of a millimetre off the body, to shave another milligram off the weight, Apple switched to a different style of keyboard around 2015.

Previous MacBook keyboards used a sort of scissor-action keyboard that provided some travel and resistance, as you'd hope, but this was 'refined' with the butterfly approach. Notionally much the same but instead of the scissoring action under the hood it was meant to be more... elegant I guess? The hinges, such as they were, resembled butterflies, but the shape tended to trap debris and dirt so it was surprisingly common for you to press a key and it register several times, or you press a key and it just not register. Or, worse, the key would get stuck in place. So you'd have this slightly spongey feeling key that might work, or might not, or might work multiple times. Good-o.

Ultimately Apple settled with a lawsuit for the things for $50M because they were ultimately defective.
 

Retro

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Now you mention it, I think I remember something about a settlement over this. Sounds truly awful to use.

It doesn't matter what it feels like when new if it fails like this over a little dirt.
 

DIMIDEAS

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Facebook groups killed off a lot of forums.

I prefer forums, better privacy, you're able to customize your profile more on forums than you are on Facebook. You also get the luxury of being able to reply at a later time instead of within a certain range of time.

Golden Age of online forums, I'd say were the late 00's/early 10s. Had you had launched this website in 2012, it would've been crawling with activity.

The internet isn't the sea of mysteriousness that we once knew and loved 15 years ago. Now it's a pretty boring place, a lot of people nowadays just use it for social media or for streaming TV, nothing else. It's kinda sad.
 

Retro

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Well, you covered a lot of it, actually.

And one thing I will say is that forums like this, are social media, just in a different format. Social media is really just people coming together online like we are now.

Putting aside my specific experience on here, because as the site founder and owner and having control of every single aspect of operation of this forum and the hosting that underpins it gives me a rush like no other I've ever felt before on forums. And it never stops, I just love it! Such pride, I tell ya. I could bore you more, but I'll speak more generically now.

In fact, it's gonna be specific to Facebook, because that's the only other social media I've used outside of traditional forums.

Posting features are so irritatingly basic and one is beholden to the jaundiced eye of their automated moderation which can nail you for literally nothing at all (I'm not joking). Then, the appeal process never, ever works and I'm just stuck with a warning or ban that I can't do anything about. It was a whole month at one point. That pissed me off so much that I then removed the app from my smartphone and just kept occasional tabs on the PC. Now, FB has disabled my account (after fair warning) in June because I haven't turned on 2FA. I haven't been in a hurry to enable it either, hence I've not been on Fakebook since that time and I quite like it. Thing is, there are people I want to keep in touch with there and there might be messages waiting for me, so I'll eventually enable it, just don't know quite when.

There's little sense of community like one builds up in a forum like this especially. It can happen in groups, but it's just not the same.

I don't like that infinite scroll either. Can't keep track of threads like one can with this style of forum. The alerts are pants too, since half the time they don't actually link to the post that generated them, just the thread. I've many times given up trying to find the post, in great frustration. How they can't properly implement a simple thing like this is beyond me.

Finally, the FB app is perennially buggy, no matter how many updates they make to it.

There's probably more, but this is what I can think of off the top of my head.
 

DIMIDEAS

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There's little sense of community like one builds up in a forum like this especially. It can happen in groups, but it's just not the same.

Something about seeing people's real names only being present in Facebook groups makes me cringe, especially if they're noobs. Custom usernames are another thing that forums provide that give people a better sense of community and a sense that they belong in that community.
 

Retro

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Yes, of course, that anonymity, how could I forget! Mind you, nothing stops someone from registering on Fakebook* with a fake name and Meta will be none the wiser lol.

*Coined by our very own @Tiffany right here the other day. :cool:
 

DIMIDEAS

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Yes, of course, that anonymity, how could I forget! Mind you, nothing stops someone from registering on Fakebook* with a fake name and Meta will be none the wiser lol.

Yeah, you can make fake accounts on Facebook groups that you've gotten banned on.

With forums you can still get caught trying to get back in because the admin can track your IP address or if you're using a VPN.
 

Retro

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Yeah, you can make fake accounts on Facebook groups that you've gotten banned on.

With forums you can still get caught trying to get back in because the admin can track your IP address or if you're using a VPN.
Yup and the automated tools can do some of that work, too. It's not foolproof though. Ultimately though, what would give away the troublemaker is their posting style and the fact that they're like to cause trouble again which would get them banned all over again. I don't think people can take that kind of moderator and admin punishment for very long before giving up. The few members I've had to ban on here haven't tried to get back in.
 

DIMIDEAS

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Yup and the automated tools can do some of that work, too. It's not foolproof though. Ultimately though, what would give away the troublemaker is their posting style and the fact that they're like to cause trouble again which would get them banned all over again. I don't think people can take that kind of moderator and admin punishment for very long before giving up. The few members I've had to ban on here haven't tried to get back in.

Could it lead to a legal situation if someone who got banned tried to get back on?
 

Arantor

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Facebook is not beholden to the 1st Amendment or similar in terms of 'freedom'; it is a private venue, they are free to choose who they exclude as they see fit for literally any reason.

The automated moderation there exists for two reasons; one is the scale of the moderation - they'd need a truly vast team to human-moderate it all because there is simply so much content, but also two, algorithms are cheaper than humans and so what if they false-positive ban? It's not like there aren't many millions more accounts creating content every day for them to profiteer off.

The posting features being restrained is also very much intentional; most people don't use extended formatting on forums, so social media is just keeping that constrained. But the presentation being consistent is simply about making sure content follows a certain lowest-common-denominator because that's the best way to make it monetisable.

I still maintain that the death of forums isn't really about the rise of Facebook (or Twitter or Tiktok or whatever) but the encroaching and ever-pervasive drive for monetisation, well beyond whatever we were doing back 10-15 years ago. The push for everything to be a side hustle, for everything to be the ultimate product of capitalism is in my mind the real problem. The content moved to these other formats so that monetisation could become a thing.

Even the real names thing on FB is about monetisation; if you are implicitly pushed to use your real name, you're implicitly pushed to put real details in elsewhere so their profiling can be better - which means more lucrative ads. Even the way friends and interests are handled is all about pushing for monetisation.
 

Retro

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The automated moderation there exists for two reasons; one is the scale of the moderation - they'd need a truly vast team to human-moderate it all because there is simply so much content, but also two, algorithms are cheaper than humans and so what if they false-positive ban? It's not like there aren't many millions more accounts creating content every day for them to profiteer off.
Alas, I have to agree with everything. This constant push for monetization is what ultimately leads to them behaving in a way that makes them so despised by their users. I want to elaborate on your moderation point a bit.

I saw a documentary a while back about human FB moderators as well as the AI ones. FB have offices in various countries, including the UK & US of course and use plain buildings with no branding to avoid harassment / hate / stalking by users with an axe to grind.

Moderators have to come into the office to do the work, no working from home available. They're trained on the rules and how to do the job and once up to speed, are fed a constant stream of reported posts to make a decision on to block or allow - relentless and thankless.

Their work rate is measured, which of course has to be above a certain threshold and god forbid they should make an error of judgement, which will go against them and can get them warned or eventually fired* from the job.

They have supervisors who are supposed to be super knowledgeable to help with decisions where things aren't clear cut to them and the overall pressure is immense. It's a miserable job that leads to high stress and burnout, that pays poor wages, so I don't recommend anyone do it unless their back is against the wall and they literally can't find anything else. It's nothing at all like the satisfying moderation that can be had on a forum by volunteer mods on a free forum like this one.

*Perhaps that would be doing them a favour.
 

Arantor

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And worse, they routinely see things that are far more vile and traumatising than we'd normally *ever* see on a forum.
 
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