Internet forums are disappearing because now it's all Reddit and Discord. And that's worrying.

i_have_no_enemies@lemmy.world to Technology@lemmy.world – 1452 points –
Los foros de internet están desapareciendo porque ahora todo es Reddit y Discord. Y eso es preocupante
xataka.com
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I wish there were alternatives to Reddit. If anyone has a recommendation, let me know.

I almost feel like there's an answer there for you, but I can't put my finger on it.

However, last night I had a vision about th singer of Motorhead. I think it means something...

I'm struggling to see the connection with Lemmy "Kbin" Kilmister.

How do you feel about Linux and leftist infighting?

Love Linux, but why be redundant about leftists?

Damn Leftists. They ruined Leftism!

The wrong kind of Leftist ruined Leftism, not the right kind.

/s (because this one really needs it)

leftist infighting

There's a place that doesn't happen?

Truth social

Pfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft

It’s funny because Lemmygrad, .ml and hexbear are almost indistinguishable from truth social of outside of plain text

Give me leftist infighting over Nazi content any day of the week!

I feel like the tankie brand of leftism shouldn't be called that. Their embracing of technocrat totalitarians kind of puts them out of the left field.

You know, for all the complaints I see of tankies, I have encountered 10x more people who incessantly complain about them.

The problem is that a lot of people, specially Americans, have interiorized "red scare" propaganda notions, even when they see themselves as Lefties.

If you don't just mentally go "uuh, commies" at the mere wiff of communal solutions it's a lot easier to actually look at certain ideas and judge them on their actual pros and cons, as is spotting authoritarianism for what it is (whether it claims to want to implement leftwing notions or rightwing ones) and tribalism (of the kind that supports Fascism whilst claiming to be leftwing, and I include both Putin supporting "communists" and Zionism supporting "liberals")

I don't incessantly complain, but my Lemmy experience had improved massively by banning the most notorious instances.

IIRC there is an open source project for forums communities.

It's called SMF I think.

Simple machine forums (smf)

phpbb

Mybb

paid - ipboards, vBulletin

But that’s all software to run on your own server

Individual websites for niches instead of amalgamation websites

Besides Lemmy, HackerNews is decent altho way less subject/community driven

Hackernews is just chock full of techbros who think that since they know how to code, that automatically makes them rational and more authoritative on a subject than most people. Every time I go there I'm surprised by how crappy it is lol

Edit: somehow misspelled "techbros" lol

Hacker News might be the most insufferable and childishly naive place on the internet.

Love hackernews but if it gained huge traction outside of the programmer community, it'd be corpinated and enshittified in the blink of an eye by a team of MBAs.

Lobste.rs is pretty active too for tech focused topics

But getting membership is next to impossible. I tried maling them and contacting them on their IRC channel, but to no avail.

I know right? Also iirc there was some discord alternative, but I can't quite remember the name... it's just as well, the company owning it probably shut it down. It's not like it's some free protocol that can be used by anyone, sigh 😞

I have been hearing really good things about this new service called X. Very small and friendly community. You just need to register an account and do 12 easy installments of 420.69 yearly

I've heard good things about Lemmy

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Reddit does shitty stuff, but at least I'm able to find stuff on there. Why Discord took off as a medium to replace forums is beyond me. It's not easily searchable, and search engines can't index it. If people aren't fastidious about replying to messages they're responding to, it's just a nonsense stream of consciousness from dozens of people.

That being said, I hate the formatting of most forums. Reddit and Lemmy's comment nesting is excellent. It's very easy to follow conversations.

I use Opencore Legacy Patcher to run unsupported macOS on my older Macs. They used to have an excellent Reddit group that was easily searchable and rammed full of really good advice on how to fix common issues.

A couple of years ago they shuttered the group and moved everything over to Discord, and it’s been hell ever since trying to figure out how to fix something if it goes wrong.

You search for your issue, find someone talking about it, then have to pick through the dozens of replies either side to try and figure out if there’s anything useful. There are dedicated support threads now, but hardly anyone uses them, so they’re not helpful.

I really, really hate Discord as a support medium, and can’t for the life of me work out why the OCLP mods chose it over Reddit.

I've used OCLP, and I didn't even realize they largely switched to Discord. That explains why finding some info was such a PITA when I was playing around with it.

I will never understand why people choose to use Discord as a forum replacement. It's just such an awful platform for that.

Discord is awful for everything that's not live audio chatting. And even in that case, I think Telegram groups work better.

Oh, and to add something that’s just occurred to me…

If you had a problem and couldn’t find a solution while the support was on Reddit, you could easily start a new thread that might bring you the help you needed. Now, with Discord, you have to hope that someone who knows how to help just happens to be browsing the feed at that moment, otherwise your post is getting lost in the ether, because who the fuck is searching for problems in order to offer assistance?

That being said, I hate the formatting of most forums. Reddit and Lemmy's comment nesting is excellent. It's very easy to follow conversations.

You could set that up on a lot of forums, you just had to select threaded view in the settings 👍

discourse does this well. While not exactly reply chain based, it's still fairly easy to follow imo.

discourse > discord

I hate the formatting of most forums. Reddit and Lemmy’s comment nesting is excellent.

The funny thing about this is that it's just plain old threading, which has been around since the 1980s or earlier, with the slight variation of showing message contents directly in the thread tree instead of beside it (thanks to today's high-res displays).

Usenet readers did threading. Email apps could do it if the developers wanted to; the required information is there. I'll bet there's forum software that can do it if an admin enables it.

For some reason, most corporations seem to have decided that classic message threading has no place in their interfaces. They resort to piling things into stacks or serializing them into seemingly endless scrolls. It fails to represent the structure of group discussions, and sadly, has been going on for so long that many people might not have ever seen the better alternative outside of reddit.

Forums were awesome until the ads took over. Then apps like Tapatalk made reading them easier. Then Tapatalk went to shit and power users migrated to reddit (mainly for the easy to use wepage and awesome independent apps.).

Then reddit shit the bed so now Lemmy is filling the gaps.

The transience and non-indexability is a feature, it's easier to manage a community if any problem can be solved by just ignoring it for a few days. Just have to hope the issue stays within Discord, sure you could search within discord, but no one is going to and on any large discord the results are likely to be so numerous that it's worthless. Worst case you lock down a chat channel, mark it as private due to 'spam' and create a new one to serve the same purpose as the old to cover it up the rest of the way.

It's like if a bunch of people were gathered in person talking about something, with many of the same pros and cons.

Why Discord took off as a medium to replace forums is beyond me

My theory is that it was used as the primary form of informal communication by groups doing something, then it felt like a community.
And since everyone was there...Why not put the documentation there? Sure, it's not indexable, but the group is open-sign-up, right? Right?

Then a few years down the line, someone suggests switching to another primary storage location...Then faces huge amounts of push-back from people comfy sitting on discord.

Also how obsessive forum moderators are over petty things like closing old threads and necro posting.

The worst is when you’re trying to look for something but one of the discord bots has said a word similar ten billion times so that’s all that comes up. You’ll try to ban the bot to see other comments but then you just get like blank space or some shit where the bots comments would be

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I don't understand why discord is so popular for communities. There is 0 permanence, and google does not index it so not even organic growth.

Discord is a black hole of knowledge except for the ai training companies.

It attracts a different audience, so in aggregate it seems like your community is suddenly bigger because 1+1=2 right? What you don't realize is that you've divided your community into two separate groups with possibly different wants, needs and cultures.

Or that 50% of the users on the discord only went there to find one thing, and probably won't ever interact again.
So it looks like a bigger community, while losing accessibility.

Stopped using Discord a few months ago. Not for any specific reason, just felt like I wasn't using my time effectively. Anyone important added me on Signal, and then I deleted the apps from my phone and computer.

I can't put words to how much better my mental health has gotten.

This doesn't really relate to your comment, I guess, but just thought I would mention it in case anyone else is considering taking a break from the platform.

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Because its very easy to use and does stuff no other platform does (make it extremely easy to voice/video chat with multiple people streaming screen and essentially make a forum in 2 clicks)

That's all good but those features are not what makes a good discussion forum. This, what we're typing on, is an example of a good forum.

Some communities don't need a good discussion forum, they need voice chat with a little text chat. Originally, discord was for gaming groups and it worked amazingly for that. Now, more communities are on it than should be, but its still a good feature set for gaming groups.

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Because it shouldn't be used as a discussion forum. It's more similar to an irc and teamspeak

You can actually make forums inside of channels now if you are a community discord. But search is still shit lol

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Google doesn't index Discord, which means the billion dollar ad industry makes little effort to push their ads on Discord.

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I’m gonna keep posting on Lemmy and hope that helps. Our collective communities should not be in the hands of mega corporations.

Yes, we just have to collectively make Lemmy grow until it's a true and complete replacement for classical monolith websites such as Reddit and Facebook groups.

I tried running a forum.... With 24 hours I had 10k posts for Russian porn... And I followed best practices to set it up.

I am running a forum (about web technologies), and have been doing so for about 24 years (damn. I'm old). I had some spam problems, but was able to get rid of it.

It probably helps that I wrote the software myself (24 years ago there weren't many forum software projects).

But the traffic is declining. The peak was around 2003-2005, with >500 posts per day, and is slowly declining since then with a massive drop last year (about 19 posts per day). Young people only rarely use the forum anymore, despite massive modernization efforts, and the older people slowly disappear.

    1998 |   6686
    1999 |  40528
    2000 |  70379
    2001 |  41129
    2002 | 171294
    2003 | 203642
    2004 | 204685
    2005 | 173659
    2006 | 150000
    2007 | 135936
    2008 | 126283
    2009 |  94894
    2010 |  70333
    2011 |  48691
    2012 |  31197
    2013 |  30606
    2014 |  30227
    2015 |  29334
    2016 |  25472
    2017 |  27505
    2018 |  28551
    2019 |  22366
    2020 |  17250
    2021 |  12794
    2022 |  10135
    2023 |   7151

If the trend continues we will shut it down in a year or two.

I spent a lot of time in a few forums in the 00s. Many of them still exist but they are shells of what they used to be. One that I check into once a year or so has about one post per year - and it's normally a post asking if anyone is still there. The owner keeps it running as a memorial to one of the mods who has passed.

I used to love Something Awful, which I think is still doing pretty well at a glance. So many good book recommendations.

yeah, I feel this. Currently it is mainly nostalgia and memorial why we keep it running.

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From your stats, it's clear that the first fall was caused by Facebook and smartphones.

Yes, the uprise of social media was a big hit in traffic.

But I disagree with the smartphone part, quite the opposite. Suddenly the forum was flooded with questions about HTML/CSS/JS issues with smartphones. I suspect that smartphones delayed the drop in postings.

Why don’t you share it here, I for one would be interesting in checking it out.

It's a german language forum. I guessed that it is not very interesting to most people reading here because of the language barrier. But I'm happy to share the link: https://forum.selfhtml.org/

Selfhtml is how I made my first webpages! Didn't think its still alive. Godspeed!

I believe most of DACH learned writing web pages with SELFHTML. Those were the times :-)

Thanks for sharing and for doing a big part in keeping the free internet we all love alive.

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I haven't run a BB forum for probably well over 15 years but in my experience the best thing was to just limit the ability to post for 24 hours after the account is being created (that makes getting caught and banned a bit more of a pain point because they have to wait 24 hours before they can do anything again) combined with just blocking Russian and Chinese IP addresses.

It's surprising how much rubbish that stops.

And I followed best practices to set it up.

Including email confirmation for registering accounts, post limits for new accounts, initially being allowed only to the entry area where one has to post and introduce themselves to be allowed elsewhere?

In my childhood these were the basics.

Oh no, that's really sad and disgusting. Please share the link so that we know to avoid it.

Yeah, was gonna say: it's not just the competition, spams, scams, and trolls are a real issue.

Well that's still better than the weird Indian witch doctor spam I see on a couple of forums I visit.

It's always fake passport scams that I get, where they will offer people fake passports but of course they don't actually have any capacity to make them, so they just take your money. Is there really a massive demand for fake passports all of a sudden?

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I used to think it was great that I could find forums for so many different things in one place. Now I regret it.

Unless that "one place" is an open, federated standard that allows anyone to participate with their own self-hosted server - i.e. "one place" = the fediverse, then it's fine!

it seemed truly cozy and community-based for the first decade or so. you could buy gold to directly pay for servers and that was it, no greedy monetization or shittification. then awards came out with the same transparency, and it was fun to reward people for good posts (i gave gold partially to bookmark excellent comments for myself, as well). then spez got into coke (probably, i dunno, or hit his head very hard on something) and we have modern day reddit, a trash heap. i like how they deleted all the old awards and gold records, pure spit in the face to anyone that still believed in anything they were doing.

There was a story recently about a depressing number of web domains disappearing. Everybody just gravitates to the big corporate sites now, and it makes the internet ecosystem boring and less diverse.

It's the equivalent of Walmarts running every mom & pop store out of town.

That, and hosting & domains got expensive. It used to be a trivial cost to have a website, now the prices are all "introductory offers" with asterisks.

I'd say yes but it also really depends where you go. I used to host Feddit.dk at DigitalOcean, it was expensive af for like no hardware at all. Now I use Hetzner instead and it feels reasonable, especially their server auction.

I'm just renewing a domain I don't want used for something else at this point. I'm not even paying for hosting.

Really? I'm paying $2 a month for hosting. Maybe you have bigger needs then

I use a free subdomain because I don't have professional needs

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You nailed it, it's just like the Walmart effect making small businesses fizzle out. We'll call it the EnWalmartication of the Internet

I’m kinda split on it tbh.

On one hand, we have a literal ip spacing crisis - mainly because there’s bajillions of arguably repetitive content among other non scrupulous stuff.

On the other hand, having a niche community has its pros.

Totally agree with your analogy of Walmart though - but then there’s also things like FediNet which basically let people use a standard framework to hve their niches.

It’ll be interesting to see what the future brings

The IP space consideration is nonsense. You can put many small sites behind a single IP. Bigger sites end up needing tons of their own+cdns, etc.

That and IPv6 is a thing.

On one hand, we have a literal ip spacing crisis

I've been hearing about the IPv4 shortage for ages... hasn't happened yet.

And IPv6 exists. If even a portion of large orgs switch to IPv6 for their internet exposed interfaces, the "problem" goes away.

(I've been hearing about the shortage since 1995...and it hasn't happened. Large orgs will always find a way to resolve issues like this that affect them).

No, it's happened. You basically can't buy IPv4 addresses any more. Want to start up a hosting company or ISP? Better hope you know someone willing to sell, or you're going to be paying through the nose to a broker.

AWS lightsail just increased prices for ipv4 instances, while ipv6 only is the old price

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Welcome to the new era of enshittification where you'll eventually have to subscribe to access or make posts, and none of it will be searchable on any search engines.

At least Reddit is searchable, while Discord is not. Not trying to defend Reddit though.

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And the shoe will probably drop at some point. Something like "communities must have nitro to access posts from more than 6 months ago".

Commenting/making posts has always required an account of some sort, at least as far back as I can remember. Maybe the IRC days you just needed a name

With guestbooks - not always. They were full of spam, of course

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I'm particularly concerned about companies who have effectively outsourced their tech support to Social Media.

I am a Google Fi subscriber, and their customer support is so abysmal that a Google employee started up a "Reddit Request" system for Redditors to use to escalate support requests.

When I quit Reddit in a huff over the APIcalypse, the main thing that led me to not delete my account was the notion that if I ever had issues with Fi, and didn't have an active Reddit account with sufficient karma to be believed, my issue may never get enough attention to be fixed.

Like many others who no longer use Twitter or Facebook, one of the biggest impacts to me is suddenly not having a reasonably proactive way to contact companies for support. It’s amazing how many companies have offloaded their support staff to half a dozen overworked social media operators. Try phoning and you’ll get “busier than usual” phone lines, and if you can even find an email address it’ll auto-reply to say that it’s no longer monitored.

It’s a shit show.

Seriously, I had an issue with Uber awhile ago and their support was completely unhelpful until I contacted them on Twitter and an employee finally looked at my issue and confirmed I was right instead of giving me bullshit answers.

This is literally the only reason I haven't deleted my account there is for situations like that.

At a certain point that "unusual call volume" is just the standard call volume. They just don't want to hire more support folks.

I got banned for something really stupid and they denied my appeal so now I'm kinda just fucked for a lot of stuff, that is too much power for one site to have.

FWIW All I said was "I should be allowed to punch nazis" and I've seen way worse things than that said and not actioned on by reddit. (Even when reported)

There are entire communities that "glorify violence" that they do nothing about.

My favorite forum is still chugging along!

https://forums.mst3k.com/

If you're a fan, you're most welcome.

If you're not a fan, you're still welcome, but you probably won't get a lot of our references.

If you're a dickweed- well, you probably won't last any longer than Tom Servo did as an Observer.

I wonder if there's beer on the Sun...

Even many fans don't get this reference now, sadly. The DVD set it was on is long out-of-print and Tjardus Greidanus won't grant them the rights to re-release it. He also sends takedowns to anyone who uploads The Final Sacrifice to YouTube.

It really sucks when one of the best episodes of a TV show can't bee seen.

Yeah, I've read about his refusal to let people enjoy it. That's a shame as it's one of my favorite MST3K episodes.

Keep circulating the tapes!

You missed when the web KILLED BBSs!!!!

That was the end! We're already dead!!!

I think the thing to worry about is these corporations centrally controlling this data. With one fell swoop, they can do whatever they want with it. With forums, at least they weren't controlled by one company.

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I wouldn't mind Reddit if it weren't for the opaque and hidden moderation. Tree nested communication is much more superior than traditional thread based communication. We need that in truly federated fashion, and lemmy was just a step there whose questionable leadership hampers any real wide-scale adoption.

Lemmy does slightly better, but essentially proves that when you have shitty administrators and moderators, the only thing that's going to be transparent is the quickest and easiest excuse, and when it's a lie it remains it remains incontestable. You only need to look at threads titled "Lemmy.ml tankie censorship problem" and read the comments to get a sense of the scale of the problem. Discord, at least it's much more obvious that you are joining closed off communities and that discussions are essentially time limited.

Things like community wikis have also dropped off in use specially recently because it's becoming clear how much of their content is intent on milking their users. First it was ads, and it was excused because "hosting costs" (regardless of how comparable they were), now it's AI scavenging your content and those services actively preventing you from eliminating content you contributed but are no longer willing to let them host.

Even in Lemmy, where's the option for me to remove my comments when I no longer want them to be hosted? In Lemmy, due to its federated nature, it's even more difficult, but given that you can edit comments and have those updates propagated, not impossible. But nothing beats reddit in abuse, where they shamelessly tried to say they would allow respect and allow users to monetize their content but instead proceeded to do the complete opposite. The fact that there might/will be some other cache on the Internet that stores the content does not excuse it and give people the right to pressure and dismiss chain of ownership of those contributions.

Add to this that the economy is far worse and that the tech boom is shrinking and much more competition driven along with a general decline in society for respectful contributions and discourse, and you get a lot less of the sort of charity that was involved in older communities.

Lemmy does slightly better, but essentially proves that when you have shitty administrators and moderators, the only thing that’s going to be transparent is the quickest and easiest excuse, and when it’s a lie it remains it remains incontestable. You only need to look at threads titled “Lemmy.ml tankie censorship problem” and read the comments to get a sense of the scale of the problem.

Forums are only as good as their moderators. Always have been, always will be. I'd love something akin to Reveddit for Lemmy though.

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Tree nested communication is much more superior than traditional thread based communication

Heavily depends, IMO.

Nested threads are great temporary discussion of a specific story or idea. They're absolutely miserable for long-running discussions. New posts get lost in the tree and information ends up scattered across multiple threads as a result.

It's also been my personal experience that the nested threads format just doesn't seem to build communities in the same way forums did. I have real-life friendships that were made on forums decades ago and I never had that experience with reddit despite being a very early user.

I don't think that's entirely due to the ephemeral format, but I do think it plays a part in it. A deep thread between two people on Reddit might last a few hours and a dozen replies before it falls off the page. On forums threads running months or years were pretty common, and that kind of engagement with the same people certainly changes how your relationships develop with them.

Yeah a thread is more like a close conversation. If you comment in a thread you're going to be heard front and centre. It keeps non-sequiters down and it's good etiquette to at least acknowledge the points raised above.

Tree based is more like splintered conversations around a party, where people drift in and out of side convos. This lends itself to a more anonymous, transient communication style.

Ideal for a quick little session on your phone, really

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why not implement forums with reddit-like threads?

Discourse exists and is free to self-host and open source. Compared to classic forum software (like most *bb variants) it is a pleasure to use and feels not like a remnant of a lost age.

The (only?) downside is the similar name to Discord, but that's not them to blame, because they had their name first.

NodeBB is probably less painful to deal with as a system adminstrator, since it doesn't use Ruby.

Lots of forum software used to have threaded discussions, but most of them settled on a more linear commenting experience, maybe 20 years ago.

Because the vote system inherently supports popularity which creates content masking issues and usually results in communities with mods that want to keep that system.

Stack overflow has this exact same issue where stupid crap gets upvoted and useful stuff gets nuked so users don't see things that would otherwise be important or useful.

Lemmy somewhat avoids it due to the relatively low number of posts, but that could easily change.

Maybe for the generic cat/dog image sharing boards but niche topics like machining are still thriving.

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I advocate for two things, oddly things I never would have in earlier internet:

  • Paid forums. A one time payment for registration.

  • Strict rules and quick bans. But allow offenders to buy back in. Permaban for serious offenses. .

Why? Because if it costs you $10 or 15 to re-activate after screwing around, you're much more likely to read the room and not fuck around too much with others. It encourages users to point out bad behavior, and mods to act decisively. If the mods or management totally suck, then it can go sour, but that's true of any community.

In this case though it can at least partially help to offset costs from shitty users, and keep bots at bay by making them cost a registration fee.

I don't love it as a "solution", but when Facebook was small, people behaved better. But now people post the most unhinged shit ever under their full legal name, so no amount of daylight is going to put the proverbial trolls back in their cages. Just gotta lock them out of civil spaces.

You wanna talk about Honda engine tuning here with us? Don't be a fucking asshole, or get banned.

You wanna chat with fans of 50s cinema and the rise of modern camera film technique? Do it without brining up woke/trump/biden/Covid or get out.

I like that we have free stuff like lemmy and reddit for now, but bots are getting far, far worse.

We already tried this with something awful and it was still in fact kinda awful

One downside to this is that $10 is worth more to one person than it is to another, and I can't see how that can be fixed.

Ideally the world would be moneyless

Honestly to avoid the immense botspam coming for small orgs, you need either a literal army of volunteers, or some kind of "realID" type check to verify they're human, and I hate that concept immensely as well.

Giant if, but if you could do a one way cryptographic check against an ID to verify its legitimate, without sending anything off the server elsewhere, then a forum could bind your current username to a state issued ID, at least until it's reissued. And then you could at least reasonably think these users are human.

But who wants to give that info to a stranger online. Even if the hash is unique to the site based on their own seed, the average person doesn't understand that, and it feels like handing over your actual privacy.

Setting aside that PCs don't have NFC readers as a standard feature as well.

Everything I think would be effectivd boils down though to needing to know that something exists in meatspace on the other end, and being able to use that to manage your bans. At least 10bux is just money, and not your ID.

This is the thing, the balance of anonymity and preventing people using that anonymity to be a tit.
In my opinion, one of the answers is keeping the signal-to-noise high: Make sure that there are enough sensible people in a community that if someone starts acting up, they're alone. And then they can either correct their course, or get banned, ideally before the next moron shows up.

And part of the way of achieving that is raising the barrier to sign-up, if only a little, and rate limiting.

Ideally I'd have a 10 inch cock but unfortunately I gotta settle

Yeah, same here. 13 inches is honestly too much for most women. I wish it were only 10.

Well you have just described Metafilter. I'm a liberal a lefty as can be, and eventually even I got tired of the drama and obvious virtue signaling. And at the end of the day, drama and less-than-appropriate virtue signaling were what the mods wanted.

Communities can eventually become insular and crappy, that isn't anything new. I haven't ever used/heard of metafilter , but I believe you.

Not a problem unique to lefties or hardcore MAGA folks. It's just community management for free by volunteers eventually means you have some echo chambering. The site/community manager can steer the mod policies, but without leadership you get fiefdoms. Look at some subreddits that speed run this process.

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If there is payment, better support crypto too, because this way you wouldn't force people to KYC themselves, as well as wouldn't exclude people from sanctioned regions.

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I like the idea of Reddit and it works much better than Lemmy. But the moderation and AI scraping make it a no-go site for me anymore which is a shame.

I love internet forums and have been a mod at some and very high poster at other. But the snowball effect gets them. If there's no traffic, there's no posts, so there's no traffic. You need to have a good community to make it work. One area reddit really shines, small communities exist on a huge platform. Great idea before the enshittification.

I hate discord and the fact that anyone replaces customer support or fan support pages with it, is just fundamentally broken. The idea of a forum is that the question is asked and archived. 20 years later someone else googles the question and sees the answer and all the replies that lead up to it. That's what forums are for. In discord you ask a question and 30 seconds later it's gone forever eaten by useless drivel. Never to be searched or found again. Idiotic.

Yep. A traditional forum ages and grows old. And as they get older and older, it becomes harder to draw new members because of the clique of the core membership. I've seen a few traditional forums die that death over the years.

And some forums, and I belong to several, the members are literally dying from old age. We are all mostly old and retired. And we lose members every year due to death. Several times a year there is an obituary post for some long time member.

Forums are alive and well for BBQ. See Amazing Ribs forums and BBQ Brethren.

Cars too. Lots of marque or model specific forums still kicking it.

And motorcycles!

Shameless plug for the triumph bobber forum and triumphrat if you are into those bikes.

I'm actually looking at something else for my first bike, but it does have a forum because it seems to have a huge fan base - I'm looking at older Ducati Monsters, particularly the 620.

Ducati.ms will be your best friend.

Yeah, I'm a little bit too much into motorcycle forums...

if you have a thread you like, make sure to archive.is or archive.org it

You can also request all of your posts on Reddit in a neat little csv. Takes about a month to get though.

And then you can go through and delete all your comments, lessening the value of Reddit as a platform.

You can also edit all your high scoring comments with bizarre misinformation so the next AI scrape gets dumber.

Even better, use an AI to generate the misinformation to save you time (and get even dumber misinformation).

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  1. Make it too big to fail
  2. Wait for the fall while enshittifying
  3. Cash in on the bail out
  4. Go to 2

Hey guys not to be a downer but like…what DO we do when a federated instance goes down and takes all its content with it?

If you search back far enough on some lemmy instances that have defederated others, you'll find ghosts of old content from those defederated servers, but it's all local to whatever instance you're viewing it on. A large amount of the content from the server that went down should also exist on the servers that server was federated with.

These lemmy instances have got to start running out of storage though, I haven't heard of any kind of automated purging. I'd bet someone somewhere is already working on an archive lemmy.

Speaking explicitly of text, they can likely be compressed to an insane degree instead of purged, if someone wanted to. For comparison, the entirety of Wikipedia (text only) is ~22GB.

Just for context, the full database of feddit.uk compresses down to about 4GB. I am not sure what's going to happen to the ghosts long term, but I don't think storage will be a huge issue.

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Same as when one of the big name hosting companies takes a site down. You hope it's archived, and if it was important enough to you, hopefully you saved it to your personal server.

What you're describing is a major benefit of federation. Any site can be taken down. But when a federated server goes down it's because the site owner exercised their control over their own data. If Google or Amazon takes a site down, you lose your data, but they keep copies to use however they want.

So this pretty much happened with feddit.de

The admin took off for a business trip and his backup forgot the password and locked himself out. Now the admin seems to have vanished and the server shit itself, making all previously posted pictures unavailable.

The solution is that a bunch of lemmings are forming a "Verein" (Kind of Like a club I suppose?) and will build an entirely new German instance.

So, it's not pretty.

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I would had concern over internet forums disappearing back in 2015-2012, but now a days, I don't worry as much. if it wasn't being replaced by the fediverse. Well maybe not replaced, but it is an alternative that has some good activity surprisingly and still growing, thanks to Mastodons marketing. It's like an upgraded forums. And everyone can communicate no matter where they go on the Fediverse.

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Just to pose a thought; how practical would it be for a small subject owner to run a FediVerse instance intended to stay localized to their domain?

For example: Indie game owner makes a reasonably popular game, they set up a website that Lemmy users can subscribe/join directly, and use that for forums/tips/discussions related to their game. People don't need to register as long as they have an account somewhere. Some number of users would be new to Lemmy and use that site's registration for later discovery. And, someday when X instance (the game, or the next popular one) gets infested by neonazis, everyone just moves to another and/or has other discussions backed up.

I don't know how practical or convenient that is though. I imagine a lot of groups don't want to risk lost users.

We need help communities on Lemmy. That's what is going to make it rank in SEO and fly. Communities like software help (office, adobe creative products, etc), financial help and advice. And ask docs communities.

Memes won't help SEO rank.

At this point I try to disregard anything that I can tell is SEO generated though, I wonder how many more feel like me.

Forums are alive and well when looking for car info. Whenever I get a different car I look for communities with the most activity and that is usually a forum.

The one exception I can think of (proving the post to be true) is the first generation Tundra (2000-2007). The FB group had more current news than the forums and I managed to get banned (first time ever).

HiFi folks and coffee folks have active forums outside of reddit and discord.

Yeah I'm on OdyClub probably every other day and there's always new posts coming in

if anyone here used to go on kongregate a lot, go check it out now. it is depressing. they dont even have chat rooms anymore

I wouldn't blame those 2. Forums have been dying since Myspace and Facebook. The specialized ones like the machinist and woodworking ones I belong to are going strong. So are the firearm related ones.

Honestly who uses discord nowadays? its completely unbearable

its completely unbearable

How so?

Discord is OK for real-time chat or VC, but is awful for forum-like discussions. Comment-specific context is lost in the single-threaded noise and search is borderline useless. The true forum-designed format of Lemmy, Reddit, and predecessors is far and away better. In my opinion Twitter - the legacy, ubiquity and tech - would be a better forum than Discord. That was hard to type and I need to quickly bleach my fingers.

You're right about the forums. While they're useful as smaller chat rooms separate from the "main ones" (for example, someone in a Discord server I know started a forum for fanart and discussion about a specific upcoming video game), they're completely useless as a replacement for traditional forums.

Also, like you said, the search feature simply isn't good enough to be able to efficiently search through all those forums. While Reddit's (and probably Lemmy's) search engine isn't great either, it at least has the benefit of being indexed by other search engines.

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People who use it (for forum type chatting) are probably trying to avoid non enshittified platforms. Ironically they don't realize discord is heading towards the same path. Free screen sharing, high quality voice calls, image and video sharing and file sharing for FREE is not sustainable. Eventually they are going to crackdown on its users, which is unfortunate but predictable.

Discord is great for casual chatting. Was it ever intended to be a forum though? For that use case, it's completely impractical.

I've never gotten really into it. It's such a mess, you don't find shit so you ask around in channels hoping someone says something relevant. After one or two replies the next person wants to talk about something else and your question disappears into the void

Ugh too many people. My book club and local dev group are on Discord, also a few old co-workers, and then various communities like rainwave, ocremix diaspora, gamedev stuff...

I wish it was still interoperable with IRC. It's come to really grate on me.

Matrix is the way to replace discord everyone! It is very rough around the edges, but it's (AFAIK) all self hosted. I even read about discord "bridges" that copy's your discord channel content into matrix!

https://matrix.org/

Unfortunately way too many companies and people.

It's pretty easy to get in there and throw a couple of bots around. People have created entire help desk ticketing systems inside of it. They integrate payment systems. You don't see any of this until you have a certain specific set of needs and then it's everywhere.

There's a lot of plug-in support for corporate apps and people that create themes for things for corporate.

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Internet Forums disappearing is a real shame.

For my hobby there's still lots and lots of old and relevant archived forum threads that regularly help me out.

But for new information, that has all moved to Facebook Groups. This forces me to keep a Facebook account, which I hate and would otherwise ditch in a heartbeat.

So much lost knowledge. Even on forums that remain, I feel as though 80% of all images no longer function. Especially frustrating when said image is constantly referred to.

Man for some reason local musicians are unable to connect aside from the facebook, at least from my subjective pov.

Nonetheless I moved on from the zuck, but I realise I'm shooting myself in the foot a little just to make a point.

I actually went out and looked up a bunch of forums after the Reddit controversy last year. They're slow, but I actually feel comfortable just browsing through and only posting if I feel like I can actually contribute. I would definitely recommend just going out and hunting for boards relevant to your interests.

Shootout to doomworld. I think that software is Discourse. Anyway they've always had a vibrant communities

Maybe I'm too young or just had bad luck, but ALL the interactions I've ever had with Internet forums have been unbelievably awful. Whenever I asked a question, I was asked why I wanted to know that and was lectured that my reasons were stupid, bad, or wrong (how is that even possible?). People hijacked my post and talked about anything else, and I received NO answer whatsoever! This kind of thing happened way too often, regardless of the type of forum. This occurred in Skyrim forums, Coh2 forums, PC forums, aquarium forums, ... I hate forums. It's good that they are dying, and I, for one, will not miss them at all.

Ugh... This was already mentioned before in another channel. Did you even read the rules? Modding you down and banned.

(These actions haven't been better, in fact they tend to be worse. I'll take PC forums over this ego tripping mod actions).

I'm kind of wondering what forums you visited.

What however is a recurrent issue with young people on forums is them asking questions that have already been answered a million times. On sites like reddit & discord, that's the norm, we need new content all the time, the 526th person asking just keeps the social media going.

On forums however the etiquette is that you do some effort yourself, and something that gets asked that often is either a sticky, or a long running thread with all the information you could possibly want (but you'll need to invest some of your own time to get the information from there). And if you then arrive on the forum, read nothing, and ask the same question... again... yeah... you won't be welcomed with open arms.

I wish I would just have gotten a Link to a Post where the Answer to my Question is, but I just got this BS.

Without actual examples it's really hard to tell if the forum was just a toxic environment, or you were the newbie not reading the room. I've seen both happen.

Oh a long running thread, my least favorite thing on the entire internet.

"Hey do you have an answer to my question"

Yeah bro, its in this 700 page forum thread. Here's a tent and some supplies, godspeed."

Fuck that.

Once it becomes too big the forum admin should realize it's time to make a subsection regarding that topic XD.

Forums for sure aren't perfect, but a 20 page forum thread that does a deep dive into a topic with a lot of good contributors beats anything i expect to find on discord or lemmy.

I'd call Reddit and the Threadiverse and Usenet and such forums. They're just broad, with many different categories, or "meta-forums", as compared to a site with a dedicated-to-a-single-topic forum.

Some other drawbacks of having many independent forums:

  • You have to create and maintain a ton of accounts.

  • Different, incompatible markup syntax.

  • Often missing features (e.g. Markdown has tables; few forums let one create tables)

  • Some forum systems ordered comments by time rather than parent comment, which was awful to browse.

  • Often insane requirements to get an account. I can think of a few forums that were very difficult to get access to, either because the "new user" system was incompatible with some email system or just had other problems.

I mean, there are a lot of websites with "comment" sections, which is kind of a lightweight forum attached to a webpage, and they're almost invariably awful.

Don't agree with this, there's a huge difference between a forum and something like lemmy: how what you see is determined. On a forum as long as discussion is happening, a thread stays on top. On a more social media site like this, things only remain relevant a couple of days at most, while forum threads can go on for years. That makes sites like this more focused on short and shallow discussions, where forums imo allow for more in depth discussions.

Cmon reddit is worse than almost any forum. You have to really carefully choose your words and add a lot of word sugar so that no one jumps at you saying you are a worthless pos for even having some opinion with their throwaway trolling account enjoying the anonymity. Or worse some genuine crazy person.

Whereas on mature forums users know each other more closely and it wards off the most freaky behaviour and attack.

They won’t usually say stuff like you are a racist pos for idk getting a white phone the dumbest of things. Because they will just be ostracised out of the platform.

You kind of worry about your reputation. You don’t want ppl to see your avatar/nick and immediately write you off.

Lemmy is only better than Reddit because it is smaller but if it was the size of aforementioned we would have it even worse than r.

Back in the newsgroup days when only people who worked for a government agency or university had access, it was all very nice. It's once the general public got in that every thing went to shit. Suddenly everyone could create their own fiefdom from which to project their internal insecurity.

Haha yes, but this applied to reddit as well I'd say, maybe just not as much.

I dunno, when you're talking about really specialized niches, there are still plenty of forums. Like, 600rr.net; it's dedicated to nothing but Honda CBR600RR motorcycles. If you have a problem with a 600RR, the answer is probably there, and the forum is still ticking along because it's just too hard to find those super-niche answers on Reddit. Want gun content with a healthy dose of homo/transphobia and christian nationalism? AR15.com has you covered. Want to talk about the minutiae of reloading and be autistically-focused on long-range accuracy? SnipersHide.com is your place. (They're a bit fuddy though.)

i miss the specialized topic forums, the only downside was I needed to create a separate account for each website

Use a password manager, you should.

I think they mean SSO. While not as privacy friendly, SSO means you use one set of creds for multiple places.

I've said this before, the thing I hate about reddit and discord is that you only get exposed to "current" threads or "top" threads. On old forums everything was just there and if someone commented on it, it came back to the top and re-ignited conversations.

I was a big user of the command and conquer forums and I definitely miss the community of it. But that may just be the scale of Internet then compared to now. Back then you saw the same users every day and we ended up chatting on msn and working on projects together. I couldn't tell you any users on my instance or elsewhere other than the admins of my instance.

As someone who very much "grew up" on vbulletins and irc for better or for worse, I miss this.

But also... I am not sure if them going away is a bad thing. Small message boards only really worked when people, generally, did not care about moderation. Specifically moderation of hate and the like. Because when you are "a small group of friends', it is a lot easier to ignore the guy with "weird vibes". Same with the people who went out of their way to "keep women out" by insisting on making their signature images so horny that even a diehard Fairy Tail fan would blush.

But, as many of us saw, as those boards get larger? Now you need real moderators. Just having the guy who hosts it in his parents' basement delete the worst stuff no longer works and now they are asking their friends to be mods. And you basically get the same problem people still complain about on discord where you get very cliquey communities and incredibly biased moderation.

And it inevitably leads to boards either becoming a cesspool of hatred, selling the board to an internet company, or just saying "Fuck all y'all" and shutting it down overnight.

And even stuff like legacy tech support or technical knowledge? Those are already a mess of the top result being some greybeard asshole talking about how OP is a jerk and this is a common problem and they should search for it. Or we have the stack overflow problem where the accepted answer is actually wrong.

But also? For living software, bugs change over time. And plenty of times I have found exactly my symptoms/behavior and... it is for something that was fixed three years ago. So I am now looking at a different bug with the exact same symptoms and basically every search engine is worthless.

And... going back to the moderation aspect: One of the biggest Looking Glass Games or Unreal fansites in existence was still MAYBE a hundred or so people who knew it existed and a couple dozen who cared enough to hang out at the forums. Now? The fansite for a mod for the latest Microprose game is one google search away and might get name dropped by an influencer and have thousands of people swarm overnight. Let alone anyone who gets targeted by the latest hate campaign. There are no "small" communities that aren't private and spun out of larger ones.

So... I dunno. I very much miss the good old days. But I also increasingly understand those weren't all that "good". And communities are so ephemeral that they map well to a discord or even a reddit that people rage delete a few months later.

Small message boards only really worked when people, generally, did not care about moderation.

Or had ticker skins and just /ignored assholes.

Or had ticker skins and just /ignored assholes.

That was the answer right there. Stuff the assholes in your ignore list and forget that they exist. Too many people on the internet are wanna-be cops out to police everyone else's ideas, language, or tone. The other person in a dispute is always a Commie or a Fascist and needs to be silenced as quickly and brutally as possible.

The internet wasn't for normies and making it easy for them to participate was a serious mistake.

Honestly, the layout and formatting of forums just isn't as good as the way comments are sorted and how they can spawn side discussions like on Reddit or Lemmy.

Isn't the main difference just that forums are focused on longer discussions, and reddit/lemmy are focused on a constant stream of content?

I'd prefer forums for a lot of my interests, a well managed forum will contain long in depth discussion regarding important topics that the likes of lemmy/reddit/discord either don't, or if they do, good luck finding it. If however you just want to visit it in the morning and see something different than you saw yesterday, yeah for just raw speed of content, forums suck.

But is that really better?

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Fora used to be great support groups for medical conditions. I helped run one with an RN. It was tough work keeping the trolls out, but we were also a great resource. Eventually, social media moved on. Que será.

Discourse is awesome. Just needs federation.

As a mod, it is lovely to work with, extremely well indexed, has tags, categories, roles and everything you want.

Everything should be done there. Matrix or Discord make no sense, its just chatting into nirvana, nobody every finds it again

And people... dont... use... threads! They just spam everything in a single chat which makes it unusable

I was very happy to find when I was getting involved in a project that it was mostly organised/discussed on their forum, it makes it so much nicer and more accessible

Mods all over the Internet killed forums with their bullshit. The users too. You can't tame the mob and the users drag their shit on the carpet like a dog doing the scuttle.

Take a look at the shit show of the Neogaf/Resetera split as an example.

Only thing on Reddit is AI bots.

Have you been to Facebook lately? It's like 90% AI spam of "why don't pictures like this trend" with some body horror Jesus.

The Something Awful Forums still exist, and I go there a lot more than I go here or Reddit these days.

I've been going more often lately. I do hate having to catch up on 600 pages that's been discussed over the past 8 years though.

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There was a while where as a fighting game player the best way to learn obscure tech or situational high damage combos was to sift through discords looking for info and it was BALLS. Lately I feel like everyone more committed to the fan wikis and maybe twitter for that stuff but oh man.

Yeah everyone like "AI content flood oh noooo, AI AI AI" yet very few mention this much much bigger issue of centralized algorithmically controlled walled gardens where everyone is. That's kinda like WeChat in China. It is hard to have real democracy or freedom of information (or privacy of any sort) when only a few big corporations have the social networks all locked down. The bad thing is because of the social network effect it's extremely hard to get people to switch even if the alternatives are even better! So much momentum. We need to find out a way to be able to help distribute users because the software isn't the problem anymore and neither is infrastructure or any of the other stuff that is given the big guys advantage really. The biggest problem aside from the social network effect is monetization I suppose. Still, it's hard to even start any kind of method of monetization for alternative platforms or decentralized platforms when you can't get anybody to switch in the first place or can't get critical mass.

Discord is not a forum lol

I know of a couple Discord servers with "help" channels being used to completely replace forums which would have served the same purpose back in the day. Not sure if that's what it's talking about.

Discord has evolved from more or less being a series of chatrooms (like IRC) to having “threads” that work a lot like how a forum would typically be used.

In the repair community, a lot of conversation about component level repair has moved to Discord channels. Sites like badcaps.net or the Rossmann group forums have comparatively low usage. Nested away in Discord, this information doesn’t show up in search engine results and can’t be archived by web crawlers. When a Discord server is deleted or made private, that information is forever lost.

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It‘s really annoying how searching anything online becomes harder by the day because of it and AI is not helping with it either.

Ha -- one of my favorite hobbies has an active listserv. They also apparently have a FB group but it's not as active nor as helpful.

I feel like we need a better model. Reddits/Lemmys algorithm makes long conversations impossible and forums make long conversations dominate and this causes a lot of additional disruption. There has to be a design that meets a middle ground that can take over which better represents both the ephemeral nature of news and article discussion while also supporting a number of long standing more detailed discussions which expel low effort content.

I run an internet forum for a very specific topic. I have to manually register people, because before I did that, spammers would come in and crap all over everything. (Fortunately it's not a very popular topic, so I only have to register new accounts a few times each month.) I run the forum on my own dime, no advertising or anything, as a side hobby.

There's also a very active Facebook group. The Facebook group is great for general conversation, but often when a technical question comes up, please just link to the forum where the info is stored. Searching in Facebook is terrible, and what happens if Facebook decides to block access to history for some reason? (Not that they necessarily would, but I've seen it happen many times. Remember when Photobucket blocked access to old pictures unless you had a paid account? We lost a bunch of useful pictures on the forum when that happened.)

Discourse is a great server, i see a lot of places with their own forum now, which is good.

You have to go to some pretty toxic plaices if you really want to experience old internet.

I remember when I used to be able to find dedicated message boards for bands that I liked. Now I'm lucky if there's a subreddit where it's just a bunch of people submitting poorly drawn fan art of the band.

Every now and then I get a forum as a search result and they're just so clunky. Replies are spaced out too much, no chains, everyone has a long winded signature phrase. I'm glad it went to this kind of format.

Forums existed when everyone had a 1024x800 computer monitor on his desk, before mobile Webbrowsers where a thing. The layout did make sense at the time.