May 25, 2011

[Web] The Continued Relevance of Forums

In the very early days, a lot of online interaction in the early days of the internet was limited to the BBS sphere - those very early bulletin boards that allowed people around the world to discuss particular topics, make new connections and basically tap the power of the proto social web to come to new insights and conclusions. Over the years our online interactions have shifted to email, instant messaging and now social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. But at its core, it's still the same principle of communication and coordination - someone leaves a message to be read by others and then this leaves the option open for comments.


And despite all these innovations in terms of new ways of communicating with others, the web forum or bulletin board continues to remains a very vibrant and active means of conversation for many people (this geek included). Even in the local sphere, sites like PinoyExchange continue to thrive as a web community where people can celebrate things that they love with fellow fans, talk about current issues or just try to find answers to their questions.

Along similar lines, forums remain highly relevant in technical support circles where people continually resort to such sites to document errors they're encountering in the hopes of someone having the answer to their questions. I've relied on a tech forum for such answers more than once mainly because it works - who needs tech support hotlines when the wealth of intelligence of the social web is always at your disposal, right? If you're diligent enough, you're bound to find the answers.


Recently I joined PinoyG4M given a friend of mine helps admin the board and I actually attended a party organized by the group. It's interesting to note that the story behind this particular forum is related to the shift of the original Guys4Men site to PlanetRomeo and thus the people who used to be active on those forums found a new refuge in this site. While the new PlanetRomeo site continues to serve the purpose of the original site, the need for these kinds of interactions on the forums still needed to be fulfilled. The site is certainly fun in its own way and I'm sure I'll get around to discussing the site at length, perhaps in a Technicolor Musings post some time in the future.

The forum continues to thrive and I doubt it will die out anytime soon. As long as people want to talk, share ideas and find answers to questions together, then forums will continue to exist. Even with sites like Facebook trying to adopt the forum-style concept within their own Groups function, the need for the standalone forum will remain.

So what are your favorite forums? Why do you continue to participate? When do you think a forum holds the answers that you need versus the popular social media sites? Leave your insights in the comments!
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