There have been highly divided opinions among forum users and owners regarding the future of community forums. While many continue to stick to their optimistic stand, the number of people with a pessimistic opinion seems to increase by the day. With the advent of social media and its takeover of the internet, forums have definitely seen a considerable dip in activity. While there have numerous stats that have been thrown around to prove a point by both sides, the neutral users seem to be well aware of the reality.
Quantity over QualityYes, they are dying. I can give you numerous examples of sites that were extremely busy a few years ago and the activity level has dropped on them. It's a fact of life, most younger people do NOT use forums to obtain information or interact. They use social media or blog type environments or sites like Reddit, etc.
Just because you see "more sites" doesn't mean anything.. you have to look at the activity level overall.
Tracy Perry - Nov 2, 2016
New forums are cropping up at a rapid pace. Many forum users have been inspired to start their own forums. But the success rates for new forums are at an all-time low. Many forum owners are abandoning their forums after a few months due to the inability to attract enough users and the inability to dominate any particular niche. Most of the big forums who have been able to maintain their quality have been able to still maintain the loyalty of their new and old members.
In 2017, unless you're the best in a niche; you are just living with your head in the clouds.
I don't believe it's forums that are dying, rather it is the interest that people used to show them that is dying. There are loads of forums out there on the Net and more going up each day - however, they are more like grave markers than active communities, effectively they are dead and will stay that way unless they cover some unique niche that has never been covered before and is immensely popular, or the owners find a way (nigh impossible) to generate people's interest and get them into an active and productive state.
I also believe that many forum owners flash up a new forum just for the fun of actually making it happen; there's rarely any prospect of harvesting 100's of members and if they do, most of them will just be a number to rack up the counter and never add anything constructive.
Unless Facebook and Twitter suddenly vanish from the face of the Earth, or something incredibly better comes along, then most forums will just sit there and gather dust whilst those two monsters thrive and harvest even more of the bland and inane into their ranks.
Maddox - Nov 2, 2016
The Optimists out there
While it is becoming tougher to run a successful forum, there are enough success stories out there to give hope. While many complain that they are losing their members to FB and Reddit, there are those forum owners who still are cashing big dollars every month from their huge forum membership. They have created and maintained a close knit community with such dedication that it will sustain itself for years to come. There exist numerous communities big and small that have a loyal following that have had no been affected by the social media storm. But the majority of forums are extremely vulnerable. If there is not enough good content or loyalty among users, then it can disintegrate into a graveyard forum quite fast.
The Real PictureI have a client who sold a 12,000,000+ post board for over a million dollars only a few months ago. Since then - he has proceeded to invest in 2 big boards with millions of posts with 1000s of members producing 1000s of posts per month. He has just purchased another board that has 1,220,000 posts. At any time this forum seems to have 1000+ visitors with 100s of registered users logging in daily, 100s of new users registering on a weekly basis. I'm working on transferring it to his own server and will likely be converting it to Xenforo in the coming days.
I think if you'd ask him if forums are dying, he'd definitely say no. I think if you ask anyone who makes a substantial living running forums if forums were dying, they'd likely tell you no as well.
I think what happens a lot is that new forum owners go into "the forum game" with the thought that theirs will become internet gold. When this doesn't happen -- whether because of lack of motivation in getting members active, or lack of regularly gaining new members, or something as mundane and common as simple lost interest in the project or for whatever assortment of reasons -- they close their forums down, calling it a loss, thinking that forums are actually dying when that may not be the case at all.
Fact is ... The internet is booming and will continue to thrive as far as I can tell. Therefore - forums with motivated ownership will continue to thrive as well.
PoetJC - Nov 3, 2016
Community forums were the libraries on the internet. You could find anything you wanted there. But, today the community forums don’t seem to valued by the general public. It feels like their time has come and gone. The truth is that, it’s highly impossible that forums will enjoy the usage levels it enjoyed back 10 years back. Many forum owners are struggling to hold on to their users and are on the verge of giving up. While the top forums in each niche area will be able to sustain comfortably in the future, the other forums in the niche will struggle to survive.
What is the future?
Forums have evolved over the years. Users have a greater number of expectations and needs today than ever before. If the forum owners cannot keep their users happy with a smooth experience, they are high chances of losing them. So apart from great content, forum owners need to provide users with a great user experience especially on mobile devices. Doing this will allow forum owners to retain their users in the highly uncertain future. At the end of the day, the forum owners need to do their best for their users. Till that is happening, forums will still stay alive and be a happening place for quality information exchange.
Will say that it is now harder to start a new forum, and yes, facebook groups are taking a lot away from my forums. I still get the traffic, but people aren't logging in, they are coming for free tech info and then going away without logging in. I considered making my tech boards login access only, but then I lose a lot of good ranked threads from search.
People are lazy and don't want to have to login from their phones. They are always logged into facebook so they post the same stupid tech questions over and over because the answers are buried in that one stupid facebook thread.
Forums are better than Facebook, but sheer laziness ensures that facebook groups will keep growing.
Maybe creating a forum app is the answer?
Bikenut - Nov 15, 2016
Lets all say it together ‘ Forums FOREVER”