Internet forums, or message boards, have been around as long as the internet has, and they have contributed no small part to the internet’s growth. Through their simple format, these boards have slowly been garnering followers to turn themselves into the modern face of social media.
But before that, let us investigate what forums are and what makes them so popular.
Forums are discussion pages on the internet where people can converse in the form of posted messages. The contents of the discussion can vary wildly and thus, each forum discusses a different topic and within each of them, there are “threads” or ongoing conversations related to the topic.
For example, if you are searching for information about marketing yourself on the internet, you can easily find an internet marketing forum. On there you might find information about how to expand your reach while also creating connections with others in your field.
Or perhaps, you are looking for some help fixing your computer or figuring out the best upgrades for your PC. There’s one for you too!
But just how different are forums from traditional social networks like LinkedIn or Facebook?
Unlike social networks where the idea of popularity being the core of the design, message boards are topic-oriented, and thus the focus of all these different boards is evidently, the topics themselves. That means that anonymity plays a huge role as users’ privacy can be protected even if they present an idea that may not be favorable to the other users.
Of course, this does not mean anyone can say anything anywhere without repercussions (there are specific discussion boards for that). Many forums have rules that you have to follow and moderators who will moderate conversations to ensure that everyone converse in a civilized way.
In an age where like-minded people often look for others who share their ideas, forums play a huge role in connecting them. They allow their users to freely converse about a topic they desire with minimal moderation. Such forms of self-governance are one of the reasons why some people prefer forums to big corporate social networks.
In addition to the hierarchy of forums, we must also discuss their design. Each of these message boards includes very simplistic designs with pages leading into categories into threads. This is an archaic design, dating back to the early days of the internet, and it is not going anywhere anytime soon.
This is because the popularity of forums is increasing. As of right now, there are at least 300,000 forums out there, each with hundreds to thousands of ongoing conversations, thus setting the scene for a newer, more vibrant form of social media. If it is that popular, why change?
In fact, they are so popular now that you probably couldn’t even tell that they are forums. Reddit and Quora are the two largest forums on the internet now and a lot of us don’t even consider them to be forums. Such an observation goes to show how many of these message boards have slowly integrated themselves into our daily lives.
Internet forums are here to stay, despite them mostly having outdated user interfaces. They provide a great resource and outlet to many Internet users by focusing on specialized topics over “clicks” and popularity. While people are more likely to share their Instagram handles over their Reddit ones, forums remain an important facet of Internet culture by prioritizing the love of information over monetary gain.