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Thread: Are forums dying?

  1. #1

    Are forums dying?

    On another site I belonged to, Rotten Tomatoes, all the forums were shut down earlier this month. There was no advance warning by any of the administrators and even the mods didn't know about it. They all just disappeared into thin air. Hundreds of thousands of threads and replies gone in an instant as well as 1000s of member accounts.

    Back in the early and mid 2000s, Rotten Tomatoes forums were among the best out there. From it's humble origins in 1999, they exploded on the scene in September, 2001, when switching to the vBullletin format. The owners at the time put a lot of time and effort into this new format, with bold new graphics, easier picture uploading, even creating journal pages, journal groups for a while. From it's origins as a clunky old "Tree" format, it quickly ballooned into one of the biggest forum sites on the internet, gaining hundreds of new members a month as well as dozens of "splinter forums"
    Members ranged in age from 11 all the way up to 60 or so and were from all over the world.

    It got so crazy that you could write a new thread in the morning and it could be buried on Page 2 by the evening. The admins actually increased the number of threads from 30 to 50 per page, just so they wouldn't get buried as fast into Page 2 oblivion. Furthermore, within just a few months of switching to vBulletin, all sorts of splinter forums were created. Most popular was the Off Topic Forum, a true "watering hole" site, much like Friday Afternoon Club only on a much larger and diverse scale.

    But as Rotten Tomatoes itself kept getting bought up by bigger and bigger companies and became a major player in the movie review site gere, it began to ignore the forum pages. The search page was elimanted, making it much harder to find old threads. Member directories were also pulled down. By 2010, if you went to Rotten Tomatoes home page, the forums were not even linked at all, so there was a dearth of new membership. By 2014, they "downgraded" the forums, getting rid of the vBulletin format entirely and replacing it with a clunky, hard to read new design. Participation dropped precipitously and many accounts were deleted. I guess that should have been warning enough.

    Still,a few diehards hung on. But then the forums were nuked on November 21, 2017. At first, I thought it was just a maintenance issue. The site had been down periodically before. But as the days went by, I was soon realized that the forums were gone forever.

    I had made thousands of posts on those forums, and made a lot of "friends" there over that 16 year period. Now, other than a few cached threads in google, they have all been nuked And even the cached pages are disappearing by the day. I always meant to save some of my favorite threads but never took the time to do it and now it's too late.

    Some of the threads I started in RT I also simultaneously posted here (and vice versa) but this is probably less than 5% of all the threads I wrote, not to mention the 1000s of responses I wrote to other thread starters. This whole thing has saddened me deeply as I discover more and more each day how much has been lost. Some of the members at RT did start their own new groups, and I have joined a couple of them, but it's just not the same. In fact, just seeing those handful of familiar names, compared to the hundreds that I knew from the RT forums only exacerbates the magnitude of the loss.

    Other forums that I had joined, such as Evyl,org and My Board Is Down have long since disappeared. (One crashed when someone replied to an old thread with an e-mail that no longer existed, wiping out hundreds of threads). Though I was never deeply involved in those as I was RT or Cyburbia, there were some cool responses to some threads that I wrote (such as my repeat dream thread also posted here) that are lost forever.

    As far as Cyburbia goes, it doesn't have nearly the traffic it used to. As you may have seen me note earlier, Page 1 activity rarely went back more than 48 hours during the heyday of the mid-2000s. Now, threads posted way back on November 21, are still on page 1, over ten days ago. There are a lot of members that I haven't seen in years. And the gallery can't seem to accept new uploads.

    So what do you think? Are vBulletin type forums rapidly becoming a thing of the past as people move to more interactive venues like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Do you belong to any other vBulletin type forums? If so, how have those fared over the past five years or so. What does the future hold for Cyburbia as we all age and, other than The Terminator, get few newer and younger members? Will this forum even be around in five years?

    I guess maybe I should start archiving pages, because you just never know.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    wait, what
    Kim Wexler: Either you fit the jacket... or the jacket fits you.

  3. #3
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Yes, Vbulletin forums are in decline across the board. "Dying" is perhaps too dramatic a term, as it seems to suggest that the End is only months away, but yes, even Cyburbia will have a finish line. Until that happens I say we enjoy this place as best we can. But we aren't going away any time soon. Cheers.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  4. #4
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I just don't see how forums can hang on. There's no profit in it. The Facebook is a more modern version, but I don''t like it. All us dinosaurs are getting hit by the social media meteor . Now get off my lawn.

    The one advantage we do have here is anonymity. Very important for some of us.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian MD Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post

    The one advantage we do have here is anonymity. Very important for some of us.
    Says the guy uses his name.

    I actually don't think it is that anonymous. You can figure out who almost anyone is on here fairly easily just by following clues in their posts. Not that I'd do that or anything, but that's what people tell me you can do. I'm not a creeper like that. No really, I'm not.
    He's a planner, he's a dreamer, he's a sordid little schemer,
    Seems to think that money grows on trees . . .

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    There is a core of us who post on FAC and that core has dwindled over the last couple years. Several regular posters no longer show up except an occasional hit now and then. That's sad, but also might show the economy is better and we are busier I reckon.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  7. #7
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MD Planner View post
    Says the guy uses his name.

    I actually don't think it is that anonymous. You can figure out who almost anyone is on here fairly easily just by following clues in their posts. Not that I'd do that or anything, but that's what people tell me you can do. I'm not a creeper like that. No really, I'm not.
    Fortunately in my area the locals are to busy privately looking at "other" interweb pages and publicly declaring those pages sinful to go looking at what I'm doing.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Yes... it is dieing and being replaced by 'social media'. Although, I think one should ask themselves "how connected to I really want to be?"






    But we are in an era of drastic change. I foresee a day when USPS is no longer in operation. Between direct deposit, e-mail, UPS, FedEX, and other means, there is enough other ways to do what the Post Office once held a monopoly on.
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Over at theforce.net, their Star Wars forums are still going!

    This is a fun thread:

    http://boards.theforce.net/threads/s...03509/page-291

    I guess as long as there are Star Wars movies, books, and TV shows, the forums have a raison d'ętre!

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    Are vBulletin forums (and the like) slowing down? Sure, there's evidence of that. Are they dying? Eh, probably not. Granted, for me, that's based on a sample size of three...I'm active on Cyburbia and a couple of other vBulletin-based forums (one of which is a UGA sports-centric forum I co-own); all three ebb and flow, but I don't see an end in sight for any of them.
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

  11. #11
    I hope not. This is the only one I visit, but I enjoy the heck out of it.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  12. #12
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MD Planner View post
    Says the guy uses his name.

    I actually don't think it is that anonymous. You can figure out who almost anyone is on here fairly easily just by following clues in their posts. Not that I'd do that or anything, but that's what people tell me you can do. I'm not a creeper like that. No really, I'm not.
    Kim Wexler: Either you fit the jacket... or the jacket fits you.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I stopped being a regular on Cyburbia for two reasons:

    Not as anonymous as I would like.
    I became annoyed by way too many posters.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  14. #14
    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    I
    Not as anonymous as I would like.
    .
    First off, welcome back. Second, that is one of the reasons I'm careful about what I post. Also one of the reason I avoid certain threads.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    I stopped being a regular on Cyburbia for two reasons:

    Not as anonymous as I would like.
    I became annoyed by way too many posters.
    Good cover story. But we all know the truth: I am the life of the party and I disappeared. I am back and now so are you.

    Coincidence? I don't think so!



    Perhaps Cyburbia shall rise from the ashes.

    I mean, now that I am here.

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