The Breakroom > The Water Cooler

The Death of Fora

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I think fora are going to go the way of periodicals -- say goodbye. It's quite noticeable now. YouTube video is the biggest cause. These days forum participation for many seems to equate to posting only an embedded link to their latest YouTube video. In addition, original forum content is scraped by YouTube personalities for often less knowledgeable or even inept repetition without any back references. Or even a credit link to where the information was originally obtained. Fora now advertise and promote YouTube videos, while YouTube and participants pointedly avoid advertising the fora they place their YouTube links in. It's very one-sided.

Why host a forum then? Without the draw of much original content, with the reduction of conversational posting and encouragement it becomes less rewarding to post, and more attractive to move over entirely to video. Or just plain give up, and work independently and unconnected. Why bother photographing, and documenting projects and interests when few are doing likewise, and a video link is considered sufficient for participation? No one wants to be a one person show, well that wasn't the idea I was originally attracted to anyway -- I was looking for a community of like minded individuals enjoying discoveries and sharing information and enthusiasm.

YouTube is the mechanism for the one man show.......or I should say one person show. Community on YouTube consists only a star and fan relationship. Comments on YouTube are essentially either applause or critical review. They are not relationships among equals that are conversational or develop-able long term.

Gresham's Law, which I learned in high school economics class, states that bad money drives good money out of circulation. I think the same thing can also be said about presentations and community interest in our hobby field.

The bottom line? Video stardom as promoted now will drive the fora out of existence. There is a clear and direct economic competition, which fora cannot win because they essentially promote an entity which seeks to own exclusively the informational basis and relationships which they depend upon.

John Rudd:
You are probably right…..there are many forums that I used to frequent over the years but due to one thing and another, they have either disappeared or I stop contributing. One particular forum springs to mind because of the folk that reside there…..

YouTube seems to have taken over as you, probably because answers to questions are easily found….Facebook is another culprit too…..

Let’s hope that MM continues…..

I thinks as much as anything else it's because very little is actually 'made' by participants but is assembled. I'm as guilty as anyone - check my 'Water Thumper' project - all commercially available stuff that I assembled into what I wanted - none of it 'home made'

If I go back to the days of 'News Groups' (remember those?) - participants were actively helping each other with techniques for machining things, or sourcing odd materials. Mad Modder is almost unique in that there is still quite a bit of that type of content, but like others I've ceased to follow many other forums for this reason.

I do think that Youtube has a place, but I do agree just posting a link to a video isn't inspiring, and unless I know the individual I'm unlikely to follow the link!

Andrew, to me, this was never just a home made project group, it had lots of threads about adaptations of available gear, or restorations of old equipment, shop construction and modification, etc. In fact it was nice and open that way, which I liked and continue to like. It was a bunch of mad modders,

And likewise I think YouTube has a place. But it is rapidly re-placing fora. And that is by intention. If a link appears to a forum in a Youtube description (quite rare) and you clicked on it you used to get a warning message that you were leaving YouTube! Did you really want to do that! Gosh........Well why the heck not???

And YouTube goes to great lengths to prevent downloading videos, though it solicits them itself for free. And autoplay is by default checked on. The intention is to keep the viewer locked into the site at all times.

And likewise many YouTube content providers visit a discussion forum merely to post links to their videos or channels to boost their popularity and subscription numbers. They also aim to create multiple links within the forum, one per video, to raise search engine hit counts for their channel.

Frequently they post no actual project discussion on the forum, no photos or drawings or other information that would add separate or unique value to the forum or create discussion. And in some cases, they don't even participate in the discussion of  projects by other forum members. They also don't link to the fora on YouTube itself, though they use the fora to increase their own link numbers.

Okay, this may not be conscious exploitation on their part, for a few people, they are just doing what they see others doing. But the effect is the same. Interest leaves a forum, and centers in YouTube, and the forum dies.

To me, there's no problem with occasional links to YouTube videos -- I post them once in awhile myself. And a link to your own channel, if you have one, seems reasonable and understandable. But this isn't a video billboard, it's a forum. I think posting your own discussion content and participating with others in a community is the real reason for belonging to a forum. Fora will dry up and disappear without that. They will not survive if their threads consist of only one-line notes linking to videos elsewhere.

When a forum dies, video links die with it. Loss of a forum is a major loss to the world of personal knowledge. Countless thousands of hours of projects photos and discussions disappear overnight. I think it's important for people to assess their own participation in any forum they like, and do what they can to make it viable.

Not posted in a long while, it has been ridiculous these last few years and taken alot out of people.  Especially not being able to mix with friends and bounce ideas and jokes about face to face.   Lack of work added to depression and worries, that also dragged the interest down in things.   I really do/did enjoy MadModder for the practical hands on, get it done approach.   I hope to get back to contributing more off the wall hacks, gaffs and mods.   Not been totally comatosed these last few years.   Done a few interesting R&D jobs, but bread and butter work still thin.  Restarted my electronics lab to diversify work and rekindle my early interests.  It's also handy for repairing my cock ups, the gear available today is pretty amazing, compared to the Uni workshop I was in 30yrs ago.

Current situation with cost and availability is making our hobby more difficult for new entrants and yes the changing media consumption habits.   Never really been tempted by the YouTube path, still like our comic strip format 😁  but I do learn alot from the Tube, so it has its place.


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