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What depopulated the forums?

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I've been a member of this forum for a long, long time. I used to have member number 200 or so, after Jeff switched over from an older version of the forums, and I started the famous Nephilim vs. Slith topic (for those who remember; albeit under a different user name). I've never been much of active member, but I have dropped in from time to time through the last 15+ years. Any way, point is, I've seen this place be founded, grow and then, it seems, die a bit. 

My question to the members is—what happened here; why has the frequency of posts gone down so much? General used to be a hub of activity. And now, it seems, a handful of posts a month is a hard maximum. 

When did people stop using the forums to hang-out and chat, and why hasn't a new generation taken up where the last one left off?

(Looking forward to Queen's Wish) 🥳



 

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The longer time between game releases is one reason since there hasn't been players asking questions. Also since Queen's Wish is a new engine there isn't the information out there for questions that can be answered until Wednesday. Then the screaming will start *heh, heh, heh* as players find out this isn't what they expected. Because we all know players don't want to read the instructions and they don't have the excuse that beta testers had that there were no instructions for 4 months.

 

There also has been fewer interest in both Blades games with few new scenarios compared to when you were more active. Also not a lot of posting games from years ago in General.

 

Welcome back and congratulations on making post 3500.

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I don't know about that...

 

The most pronounced drop in activity took place from late 2006 through 2008 or so.  Blades was already a pretty small part of forum traffic in 2006, and most posters in General were not brought here by Blades.  (Already quite different from the state of the forum in 2001 or 2002, but not any less active.)

 

IMO the biggest factor (leading to a chain reaction of other factors here) was the rise of social networking, which changed the dynamic for many people -- especially the very young crowd who previously made up a huge proportion of forum users -- in how they interact with others online.  Web-based message boards, while still alive today, are orders of magnitude less prominent in any analysis of group communication on the internet than they were in the early oughts.

 

During the same period there was a corresponding shift in tone and feel here.  This is well represented by TM's permabanning, which kicked off the aforementioned 2006-2008 period.

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Actually, all things considered, it 's a miracle these forums are still up. It's a miracle that Spiderweb Software still exist either in a world where AAA companies are so "noisy" and getting all the fuss on the internet.

 

Yeah, a miracle.... and I should be here more often. ;)

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I've only been a member for six years, but I do agree with Slartibus that the biggest drop off that I have seen has been in the younger crowd as they have stayed with more modern social media methods, but some of that group, which was very vital to these forums when I first joined, also moved away to non-company owned/non-PG forums.  I can also think of a couple of people who were very active and probably not in the youngest category, who have dropped out probably due to real life getting in the way, and they of course have not been replaced.  While the purpose of the moderators is not necessarily to generate post counts, just looking at the list of moderators reminds me of several people who I have not seen post with any frequency in a year or more.

 

While there seems to be enough activity to maintain the usefulness of the site as a customer service tool, the social aspects (polls, games, surveys, etc) seem to be below a critical mass right now.

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I think the rise of non-forum social media is the major contributor to the lack of new faces, while the older members have other things going on in our lives, so there's an overall slow trend towards less activity. We'll see if there's a substantial reversal after Queen's Wish is released, even temporarily. I've felt like recent releases haven't created as much General activity as was once the case. People come to ask game questions, if they don't just stick to Facebook, but not to talk about their political leanings or form meme cults.

 

—Alorael, who also thinks it's self-perpetuating. Many people, him included, are more inclined to respond than to initiate discussions. If the first posters (not first reply "FRIST POST!!!" but real beginners of threads) aren't around, nothing gets started and no number of potential participants actually make a discussion in which any can participate.

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Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are probably the biggest cause of the decline, I agree. I don't even use those anymore, though. I talk to three friends whom are hard to reach through other means, I follow a handful of musicians, and that's about it.

 

I'm in a long-term psychiatric hospital. I spent 6 months in an acute one before transferring here, and when I came here and got Internet access, I quickly decided I didn't need to have any more of my life sucked away.

 

I'm given to understand, from what I've read, that the postmillennial generation places little emphasis on social media in their lives, using it more as a tool than a way of life, as millennials have. They look at my generation with a lot of bemusement and frustration, with regard to what we've valued, and what danger we've underestimated.

 

I haven't done in depth research on this, but it's what I've gathered from news articles. Veracity unknown.

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Yeah, "millenials use social media as a way of life but postmillenials don't" is the kind of thing that shows up in NYT style section headlines because it sounds meaningful to people who don't use social media and don't know anyone under 35, not because it actually means anything.

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Another part of the forums deflating could be said to be due to Steam and GoG.

 

Now, I'm not going to pretend to know what fraction of Spiderweb customers go through what platforms, but what are the chances they stick to the likes of the Steam communities and pages rather than coming down to Spiderweb's own forums? Again, I can't say, but I can say how often I personally have gone from other Steam purchased games to their publisher's sites - effectively never.

 

The forums will always fluctuate with activity given the release cycle, but so long as there are other, larger, competing places for similar "community" content, that's going to siphon away any new traffic or engagement these forums get. And what do you get for coming here that you can't get anywhere else? Other developers might shepherd players to their own local forums and such where they provide direct engagement in an environment where they control, but here? Not so much. So... why should anyone visit the forums - join the community, contribute to the discussion?

 

I don't have any compelling answers for that, and to me, that's why these forums don't amount to a whole lot these days. People have other places to go that are just as if not more convenient, and so long as those platforms continue to take up an increasing part of Spiderweb's presence and sales, it's only going to continue.

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The forums may wither and die, but behind the door one can forever find the sanity left behind.

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Newer forms of social media have their uses, but I feel like a lot of communities have a forum-shaped hole in them. I noticed a lot of communities had a fundamental shift when Discord came around and forums started to get depopulated. Discord's good for extemporaneous discussions, but bad for periodic, ongoing ones. And if you've created something you want to share with the community, you need a friendly mod to pin it for you, otherwise it gets lost immediately in the noise. On the other hand, if mods do this too often, Discord just becomes a worse forum.

 

(Twitch chat is this x100.)

 

It's hard to form a cohesive community over microblogging services like Twitter or Tumblr, though in their defense they were never designed for that sort of thing. In an odd sort of way, they remind me of the way the web was two decades ago, where if you didn't link share with the right people, or be part of the right webring, you languished in obscurity.

 

 

 

There's also my general sense of unease over communities moving from "let's create a website, host a message board, and congregate there" to "let's use this company's services to run our community", but that's just my FOSS paranoia talking.

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Personally i just think the lack of new content to discuss within the realms of this forum is the main driver for this, like... I think a lot of us have exhausted most conversations to be had on any of the previous games. The remakes didn't leave much of a room for discussions of more than mechanics and any other conversations can be had more easily and freely(not that the restrictions in place are not appropriate) anywhere else. I think Queen's Wish deff would create room for more activity. I'm to start it today and in his interview Jeff said they wrote and had a lot of content for this, and as its a whole new world, and not a sequel i feel the exploration could be much deeper on whats there to talk about. Regardless i don't think the forum actually dies most people just like. Watch waiting for actual content. This post itself seemed to have some... 180 something views despite only 12 replies or so. So i want to say the people are around. And these forums deff have the most content related to the game in any of its forms so new(may be an overstatement) coming back at new releases. 

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%_rule_(Internet_culture)

 

It's not just a Spiderweb thing (and has its parallels in meatspace too), but communities need a critical mass in order to keep turning the 90% into the 9% and the 9% into the 1%, and once they drop below that critical mass, there's no incentive to become part of the 90%, let alone the 9% or 1%.

 

EDIT: Back when I was planning on releasing an actual BoA scenario, I was going to have a dialog box pop up at the end and ask players to just send me a quick e-mail saying they played it, just to get a sense of what BoA's 90% actually was (because it really felt like the only people who still played BoA scenarios were BoA scenario creators).

Edited by Dintiradan

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Dinti, your first post in this thread struck a chord with me. I’ve found that not having a forum (for want of a better word) where longer-form and more thought-out conversation can happen has left me basically not communicating with people in a meaningful way over the internet. Sure, I’ll FB message friends I know and see in real life, but I think back to 5/10 years ago and I had friends in all reaches of the world that I communicated with solely through text. 

 

I’ve tried Discord, Twitch and the like, but nothing quite compares. I think a lot of that has been because I’m a completely different person (ha), but also because communication now seems throwaway. Chatting on Discord is something to do while you’re focused on something else, compared to posting on a forum where your attention needed to be entirely on the current conversation.  

 

We’ve definitely lost something in our rush towards instant messaging, and that makes me sad. 

 

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