To Forum or Not To Forum
By Damien and Rei
A lot of things changed in the community since the dawn of the internet. Different platforms have been used, including but not limited to Ning, MySpace, LiveJournal, EZ Board which later on became Yuku. This past 5 years years however saw the full fledged move to social media,with Facebook as the most ubiquitous. The ease of instant mobile access saw the proliferation of vampire groups.
With this, it became easy to network and connect with others, and to get help at a moment’s notice
However, this came with issues. Social Media are designed for instant consumption. Folks have been conditioned to read and reply only to latest posts, with old posts usually not being touched, which lead to multiplicity of topics. Moderation tools are also limited, which makes handling trolls a problem. The fact that the platform and ultimately content are owned by the social media platform, with the group creators and admin having little control to much else also leads to privacy problems because share-ability is king.
Because of these, there have been cries to move back to forums for years now but for some reason, it never happens. Some suggested using other networks or companies that require payment, but most of those sites are still not fully safe unless you build your own from scratch. We hear the call to move back but no one really does, why is that?
It may be because of the drawbacks, mainly, it’s harder to access. A lot of forums do not have mobile apps, and members are limited to connecting to members of the same forum only. The GVC is also not short of diversity in factions and interests and sub communities. With forums, it would be difficult to get in touch with those whom are not from the same circles as folks tend to flock with like-minded folk.
On the other hand, forums offer features that social media does not:
- Increased security. The anonymity of members are protected. This is specially important for those who couldn’t afford to get outed as vampires. Reporting accounts as a form of censorship and retaliation are unheard of. Gatekeepers are also employed which keeps potential troublemakers out. Add the fact that there are certain topics that lot of members would be far more comfortable discussing away from non-vampire’s eyes.
- Better Organization. Threads can be merged or split as necessary. Topics related to each other can be grouped together under their respective sections. This makes it easier to find information and past posts, which are usually goldmines of knowledge and insight.
- Less Trollish Behavior. Due to the different levels of moderation, problematic folk are easier to control and without having to exclude them from everything outright.
- In Depth Discussions. Since forums aren’t designed for instant consumption, folks usually have more time and more encouraged to give more thought out responses that lead to in depth discussions. This also discourages trollish behavior as view points would be exchanged more than empty yet inflammatory replies.
- Diverse modifications. Users can customize their signatures and titles, and different moderation levels can be assigned, as opposed to the format in Social Media where only the name appears on posts and replies. This is particularly helpful when you need to know whom to contact for moderation needs and/or particular issues.
From that short discussion, it’s noticeable how Forums answer the needs of the Greater Vampire Community better than Social Media does. Yet despite the repeated expressions of desire to return, GVC members still mostly remain on Social Media Platforms. Could it because we have become too comfortable with insta-everything?
How about you? What do you think would make people go back to the forums and what keeps them from going back to the forums? Or should the community wait for next biggest platform?