Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Death of a Internet Forum

When I was a lad growing up in my little country village, my parents would take me to visit other family members.

I still remember bits and pieces of these visits and the households themselves.

I lived in a town that had been founded in the 1860 during a local gold rush and had maternal ancestors move to the local area during that time. My maternal grandmother had 10 sisters and they had all wed and produced offspring. This fact meant that I was related to a large number of the 2000 locals as our family was one the few remaining pioneer families of the area.

My father had escaped the poverty of the Ozarks Mountain Country after serving in the US Navy during W.W.II. He settled in the local area during the US post war economy. He had siblings along with other extended members of his family relocate to the area around the same time thus adding to number of relatives to visit.

How does this correlate to the life or death of a forum? Let me enlighten you.

There were too many houses to visit with the work hours my parent's kept, so visits only were to close family members. Frequent ones were to members my parents liked (or felt the family obligation to visit)...

just like a internet forum.

I'm a member of far too many forums and don't get to visit most of them during the month. Just like my parents there are too many "houses" to visit with the work hours I keep. A couple of the forums I drop by every day to see what's up. A few I don't even visit at all as I just didn't find them interesting after joining. One I drop by and post at only as I feel a obligation to visit as I'm personal friends with the moderator.

It's the pattern my parents had with family visits.

I've been surfing the net for many years now and have seen forums rise and fall, just like the fortunes of some of my many family members.

Some on the internet say the Sword Forum International's Historical European Swordsmanship forum is dying It smells of death and decay. I disagree. To me it's a mature forum that requires a polite tone and it's used to discuss a myriad of issues. It's a place to go to ask questions of those who might have an answer or share the answers you might already know. Just like some the different households my family would visit, a place to be polite. Not one to play as a child, but a place to go to learn and share family history or life's lessons with a mature member of my clan.

I've heard that there are other more robust forums in the world wide internet to hang out and discuss the martial arts of Europe. After visiting them I don't see anymore activity in the research and interpretation forums that what I see at SFI. Most activity seem to be on "the silly side" of life. I had cousins that owned a large ranch 45 minutes from my home and as a child I loved going there to play. We could run and scream at the top of our lungs and not anger any adult. It too, was a place to learn, but in a much more relaxed atmosphere with life lessons that differed.

In the end, the elders of my childhood have passed on, leaving my parents the roll that they held in my small home town, and the ranch fell onto hard times and was sold... scattering the members of that part of the family to the 4 winds.

But what I learned from both is what I teach in life.

In time, all the forums I visit will fall. Owners with tire of the cost, lose interest, or die and those forums will die with them. When they go, it wont be the last posting of a "silly side of life" that will be remembered, but the growth our sport has seen thanks to the exchange of information at those forums.

A few years ago one of my favorite forums was hacked off the face of the internet by a hacker who made sure he killed it and all of the backup files... an internet slaying of a loved one. All data was lost, and years worth of good armour research data and helpful posts was gone with a malicious keystroke.

That was a real death of a Internet Forum.


La Bete said...

I've seen fora dies like that and it is never pretty.

The HES I would say is not dead, just closed. It's a classic example of groupthink, with only the accepted line allowed.

It still has value, both in the new postings and in the old, but it is not the forum it used to be. Of course this suits some better and for those it is a perfect net 'home'

Baskethilt Broadsword boy said...

Hello La Bete,

The forum I saw die at the hands of a hacker was somewhat like SFI.

The Arador Armour Library required one to register with your real name and follow a set of polite rules.

There was another forum online of a similar ilk called the Armour Archive.

Baskethilt Broadsword Boy posted at both, but liked the far more professional level of research and posting at Arador (Heck, BBB became a moderator at Arador until it's untimely death).

At Armour Archive one could post under a pseudonym and foul language and angry threats of bodily harm were quite common without repercussion when BBB first joined.

Some of the more strident members of AA constantly slammed Arador as being dead, boring, or just plain stupid as their behavior at AA wasn't allowed by the moderators of Arador.

It didn't help that the then owner and Admin of AA railed against Arador on a regular basis.

It has been my longtime suspicion that a pro-AA hacker did the dirty deed without truly considering the lost of real data such an attack would bring.

In the end, many armour geeks were sad at the lost of Arador and the long time admin of AA stepped down and left his forum.

BBB sees a similar attitude towards SFI at other WMA forums but wishes that those members would realize that forums do not have to be alike nor operate the same to be legit or have merit.

If one doesn't want to spend the day at a "boring" house that's ok, but it's a bit tasteless to go where you want and then call the other "house" a bunch of boring assholes.


Sebatinsky said...

Just my 2 cents: I quite enjoy SFI, and the HES forum is where I go to test ideas, get feedback, and ask questions of those more knowledgeable than myself.