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Can forums come back?

Old 03-21-2021, 08:20 AM
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subarubrat
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Default Can forums come back?

I posted something similar on a car forum I am on and it started an interesting discussion. Forums like this one are at a small percentage of the traffic of ten years ago. But they might be poised to return to health if the current opportunities are capitalized on.

Some things don't come back, I ran a BBS and it was a hugely successful one, then trumpet winsoc came out and ISPs started up and withing 90 days BBS traffic died and it was over. Forums saw a slower decline as people left for social media like facebook. I never much liked facebook and it was clearly inferior in terms of retention and retrieval (from a user point of view) but that is where the activity was. People stopped listing for sale stuff and exchanging information in forums and it was all on facebook.

I think forums are in a position to recover. Not totally to their glory days, but recover to a healthy level of traffic and a higher standard of discourse. The last year has seen a mass departure from facebook/instagram/twitter etc and that departure accelerated with the purges and censorship through the election. I signed out of facebook last spring and never went back. It is like shopping at walmart, once you realize there is nothing there you need or can't find elsewhere you are free from the experience of returning. I don't think this is a pause, I think many people are tired of being censored, spied on, mainstream topics being forbidden, and the low quality of it all. And pretty much everyone has cyberstalked their ex's and hooked up or not. After a while I started digging out the forum logins and some are total ghost towns and some are doing OK with a core group still active. There is a huge opportunity now days with all of the people leaving or being forced off of social media, they just need to know the forums are still here and make them welcoming.

So what do we do about it?
1. Clear out the dead wood by pruning and simplifying categories.
2. Delete irrelevant and dated content but retain quality info, get some more mods in there to help.
3. Unlock everything, no special access or pay to play stuff.
4. Scrap low quality advertising, especially the stuff inserted into posts.
5. Email inactive membership with a re-launch
6. Create some incentive for referrals
7. What do you have, I am just one person thinking out loud!
Old 03-21-2021, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by subarubrat View Post
.......4. Scrap low quality advertising, especially the stuff inserted into posts.......
Nowadays all forums big enough to matter are owned by big companies and the only reason they bother with forums at all is for the advertising reach. This forum, for instance is owned by "Internet Brands" , a big company that's not gonna keep RCU going just because RC modelers are such nice people, there's a huge audience (per numbers of registered members) here to sell stuff to, so the only way your #4 will be realized is with "Ad Block Plus" .....

As to Zuckerberg's evil empire, I signed up for facebook about 10 years ago, found it to be not my cup O tea , and never went back
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Old 03-21-2021, 11:17 AM
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I have a VM running PiHole on my LAN, right there with you! But not everyone does. I would rather see 10k members with Autozone advertising than 2k with "Doctors hate this Virginia mom's one weird trick"
Old 03-22-2021, 11:51 AM
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I started in this hobby in the early 1970s, joined RC Online and was eventually a mod there in the '90s. Was president of two clubs in my area (simultaneously) and flew about 48 weekends/year. Often had 30+ pilots at the field on a Saturday, more for events. Monthly contests, fun-flys, pot lucks, swap meets. Both clubs welcomed newbies, lots of members built kits, some built from plans, and everybody liked to see original designs fly. I wrote a grant proposal, and got hired to do a school-to-work summer school program where at-risk students worked in small teams to design and build R/C airplanes - and dozens of vendors and local enthusiasts donated generously to support that program. R/C model aviation was in what I consider it's heyday - reliable radios, lots of glow engines, kits, and ARFs available, and enough clubs and flying sites locally to suit most anyone. It still required commitment and dedication to enter and stay in the hobby, both time and money.

That has changed, as has society. There are far fewer folks who will spend the time and effort to become craftsmen. Club membership is down severely in my area. Kits, engines, hardware - drying up. Long established manufacturers and vendors shuttered, and no one rushing in to fill the demand - because there isn't enough demand to justify it.

R/C forums are reflecting that. Gun forums are not. Passionate enthusiasm is the difference.

Old 03-22-2021, 02:15 PM
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Steve Collins
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One of the things I particularly dislike about RCU are threads that are allowed to go on and on and on in some cases more than a decade with hundreds and hundreds of pages of old posts. Threads like that usually have nearly zero to do with what they started out as. In my opinion, this is one of the worst offenders that is nothing more than chit chat back and forth between a very few members: old timers look here must be 50+ years only


Another pet peeve is when someone is allowed to open a thread that hasn't had any posts in years and in some cases a decade or more! With stuff like this going on it seems like the same old same old every time and doesn't help with the enthusiasm to even look at the threads, much less contribute anything.
Old 03-23-2021, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve Collins View Post
One of the things I particularly dislike about RCU are threads that are allowed to go on and on and on in some cases more than a decade with hundreds and hundreds of pages of old posts. Threads like that usually have nearly zero to do with what they started out as. In my opinion, this is one of the worst offenders that is nothing more than chit chat back and forth between a very few members: old timers look here must be 50+ years only


Another pet peeve is when someone is allowed to open a thread that hasn't had any posts in years and in some cases a decade or more! With stuff like this going on it seems like the same old same old every time and doesn't help with the enthusiasm to even look at the threads, much less contribute anything.
Then there's the other edge of that sword - how many times do you see someone berated because their question has been asked and answered a hundred times in the past?

As far as the old timers look here must be 50+ years only thread, it is exactly what I expected from the title - a bunch of old farts reflecting on the Good Old Days. No need to wade through it hoping to find the latest and greatest info on setting up FPV and autopilot on a twin turbine. The traffic on that thread seems to indicate some appeal.

Anything that builds relationships among forum members is good for the forum.

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Old 03-23-2021, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Collins View Post
One of the things I particularly dislike about RCU are threads that are allowed to go on and on and on in some cases more than a decade with hundreds and hundreds of pages of old posts. Threads like that usually have nearly zero to do with what they started out as. In my opinion, this is one of the worst offenders that is nothing more than chit chat back and forth between a very few members: old timers look here must be 50+ years only


Another pet peeve is when someone is allowed to open a thread that hasn't had any posts in years and in some cases a decade or more! With stuff like this going on it seems like the same old same old every time and doesn't help with the enthusiasm to even look at the threads, much less contribute anything.
Ya think people having problems with threads they have no intention of participating in might be some of what killed forums? What does it matter to you what those people talk about in an off topic (the Clubhouse) subforum? You don't like the thread, fine, don't post to it! In my 12 years here at RCU I've never once seen someone forced to participate in a thread against their will ......

This very thread is all the evidence one needs to declare forums pretty much dead, , , hundreds of views, 5 or 6 replies, stick a fork in it, it's done.

"When the music's over, turn out the lights" ..........
Old 03-23-2021, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Collins View Post
One of the things I particularly dislike about RCU are threads that are allowed to go on and on and on in some cases more than a decade with hundreds and hundreds of pages of old posts. Threads like that usually have nearly zero to do with what they started out as. In my opinion, this is one of the worst offenders that is nothing more than chit chat back and forth between a very few members: old timers look here must be 50+ years only
So which forum rule does that thread violate?
flyboy2610 (Proud poster on the Old-Timers thread.)
Old 03-28-2021, 10:50 AM
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I remember when RC Universe was THE place to go for model airplane forums. Traffic was pretty heavy. It's slowed down considerably over the years. I hope it comes back.

carl
Old 03-28-2021, 11:42 AM
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I agree carlgrover.....hope the tornadoes missed you guys....
Old 03-28-2021, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Collins View Post
One of the things I particularly dislike about RCU are threads that are allowed to go on and on and on in some cases more than a decade with hundreds and hundreds of pages of old posts. Threads like that usually have nearly zero to do with what they started out as. In my opinion, this is one of the worst offenders that is nothing more than chit chat back and forth between a very few members: old timers look here must be 50+ years only


Another pet peeve is when someone is allowed to open a thread that hasn't had any posts in years and in some cases a decade or more! With stuff like this going on it seems like the same old same old every time and doesn't help with the enthusiasm to even look at the threads, much less contribute anything.
I wonder why it is what others are doing bothers you? or how long a thread last. maybe you can do better? have you done something unique, different ,smart or interesting? get you own entertainment going. I am sure you can find some other place to bi... er grump.
Old 03-29-2021, 05:43 AM
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Whether it's goods, services, entertainment, information, community, or whatever, the internet era has shown us that people want a one stop shop. That's why Amazon is so big and why so many Facebook groups about every imaginable thing are so popular. RCU and other forums are much like the old mom and pop shops that WalMart and Target put out of business. There is better quality and a passion in the boutique shop for sure, but people are generally willing to give that up for convenience.
The forums that survive will probably have to come up with a hybrid model where their social media presence fuels discussions that then get saved in the forums or redirects people to the forum in some way. I don't know how that would look exactly because I'm not the future billionaire who will get it right. But the standalone forum is fading away, much like the standalone company website already has.
Old 03-30-2021, 11:21 AM
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I'm not so sure if forums are "dying", rather there is so much information in a readily searchable format.

I may not ask many questions (only posted 28 times), but I often search - and find - the answer.

Perhaps the plethora of information is a conversation killer. Then there is the too-oft-seen response to a rookie question: "you're an idiot for asking, you could easily search". This is a real conversation-stopper!! We were all young; I asked my dad why is the sky blue, just like he asked his.

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