Is the Age of Forums Ending?

FaithCommunityNetworks (FCN) partners with Salem, the parent company of Singing News, to provide online forums for their site and numerous other sites in the Salem family. FCN recently announced that they are closing their forums network and transitioning to a forum on Facebook. Forums administrator Fritz Alberti opened his detailed explanation with these thoughts:

It is with sadness that I come to grips with the reality of the online landscape and the place and prominence of Forums. Yes, the age of Forums is waning replaced by something bigger just as itself once did way back when… when… when… when? What did Forums replace? Can anyone remember?

Regardless, people face the decision of where to spend their online time. They are assaulted with the conundrum of choosing between Forum and Facebook. They have family and friends at Facebook and can even friend their Forums friends. This makes it a a win win for them.

What is left? A forums community in decline.

He concluded that FCN/Salem decided to stop fighting Facebook’s rise, and join it instead. (Parenthetically, it remains unclear if Salem/FCN will set up a Southern Gospel folder in the new forum. Personally, it’s a bittersweet moment either way, since my commentary posts there ultimately led to this site’s launch.)

Is FCN right? Most of the posters, who discussed the decision in this thread, say “no”—but, of course, those who have already moved on to Facebook aren’t there to say “yes.”

Is the age of forums ending? Will the notion of an online forum someday occupy the same regions in our memories as the notions of 8-tracks, PDAs, and pagers?

For that matter, is the term “blog” on the same trajectory, albeit a few years behind?

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17 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Wow.

    Stuff like this was a consideration in my decision not to invest (think time, emotion) too heavily in any given online world. I really did wonder what would happen down the road to the friendships I was carefully cultivating at the time.

    As to blogs, I think they are currently filling a genuine “need,” at least when you run a well-edited, fact-checked news site like this. Will we eventually get past this point and all sit zoned out staring at … I don’t know … pretty pictures projected on a big screen while an electrode chip automatically feeds our brains pre-selected input which does not require interaction … That’s kind of far-fetched; maybe I should write a book and call it 2084.

    • Rather than just leaving the last question open-ended, I should probably share my thoughts. Briefly: I’m not sure if the term or concept of “blog,” one person posting opinions, is a passing fad. But I do think that, just as newspapers have been around for centuries, news websites will be around for quite a while.

      Yes, I know, I have “blog” in my domain name. 🙂 Even so, over the last two or three years, I have been intentionally moving away from it being a “one person’s opinion” site and more toward it being a news website run according to journalistic standards, aiming to phrase any commentary more like a syndicated columnist than a prototypical blogger.

      There are my two cents! 🙂

      • My two cents is this: Yes, Facebook is alive and well, but not EVERYONE is a member of Facebook, and why is it that people over 50 who do not want to participate on Facebook for a variety of reasons, will have no other recourse. It’s like contemporary music in churches. Most churches have moved to that venue for young people. I’m all for young people, but I’m also for the other half of the century (50 and above). Why can’t we have music from our generation, internet activities that we can still enjoy, clothes that aren’t 2 inches below our thighs. The age of young people (and God bless them) has pushed out anyone over 50. Who is paying all the bills — the young people still trying to get on their feet or…?

      • or like my father-in-law before his passing would get upset when the TV news announcer would say “go our website to get more about this breaking story.”

      • Just FYI, I’m 27 and not on Facebook.

  2. Facebook is great and growing more every day. I love the updates from various groups and individuals I am ‘friends’ with on a daily basis. It would never replace a blog like this one b/c of the conversations we have. To me, Facebook is for brief blips, not real conversations. I do love it though to keep me updated with friends and family in a simple, quick way.

    • Good point – Facebook is better suited for shorter thoughts. (Twitter goes even farther: It’s for people who can’t form a complete thought.)

  3. 1. Afraid to being attacked by readers that have stronger personalities. Stronger personalities tend to dominates various outlets of the same interest.
    2. Too much of the same content or subject matter in any given community or entity.
    3. 90% of a readership are lurkers who uses blogs or forums as a information sources.
    4. Bloggers are becoming more like a commentary blogs without the hassle of the decision-making of moderation.
    4. People are returning to the original intent of the internet. Save time and work by doing everything online instead of driving the vehicle down the road..
    5. Facebook offers the user the option to decide what it wants to be… a search engine, marketing tool, a haven for the local flower club or free interactive location for the local church.
    6. Difficult and unstable times in society tends make people be more withdrawn and protective of themselves. It is call the “Me, myself and I” mentality.

  4. It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in [internet] society today.

  5. I do not blog that much, but I do use blogging as a source of information. In most blogs, there is no control factor. I get tired of daily self-promotion, and people’s daily eating and bathroom habits, among other incidental things. Daniel’s Blog is an enormous source of people thought. I enjoy disagreement without being disagreeable. Daniel controls this with deletions and wisdom comments. I enjoy facebook but minimize my comments. Also, I can carry on a dialogue and personal information with someone without the world knowing it.

    • Thanks! I do seek to maintain standards here. (Speaking of which, I was away from being able to check in on the comments on yesterday’s post all day, which means that I have a lot of cleanup to do!)

      • Maybe not too much cleanup. You are training us up in the way we should go.

      • 🙂

        Actually, you don’t see the comments I delete! If I let everything go up, it would look like certain other sites here in the comments section!

  6. I enjoy this blog for information and the opinions of the many who post here. The discussions would be limited on fb b/c fb limits how many characters can be used in a reply or comment. Also, I only accept personal friends and family on fb for security reasons.

    • I also limit Facebook friendship to people I know in person, though I’ve made a few exceptions.

  7. Forums only go away when those who compose them decide to call it quits. It’s no surprise that the corporate entities who went all in with the integrated forum stuff are stuffing it. I don’t think they ever clued in to the fact that they’re essentially community-driven…like newsgroups before them, they were their own discrete social media (of course, most people who use the internet now haven’t been online long enough to remember newsgroups).

    Forums have been marginalized to varying degrees over the past few years by the likes of blog comment systems and Facebook, but neither gives the same experience. In a forum, you have far more control and presentation options than comment systems, and you have only those who want to be there and not every know-nothing Tom, Dick, and Harry posting tripe like on FB.

    • EXACTLY!!!!!