It goes without saying that social media is plagued with issues. The most significant issues that come to mind are the “fake news” on Facebook and the harassment on Twitter. Suffice it to say, these sites aren’t well run and people who try to participate in them socially are likely to suffer from abuse or misinformation. Fortunately, there is an alternative.
Internet forums have been around for eons and were most popular on fan sites in the ‘90s. However, they are still in use today, and they provide a much better option for social participation than social media sites. Here’s why:
On a forum, your identity is private. No one knows you or your reputation. They don’t know whether you’ve been banned from other forums or why and they don’t care.
Joining a traditional internet forum gives you a blank slate. You begin from ground zero as a newcomer with no reputation. Instead, you can build your reputation through your actions in that particular community. This gives people who may have made mistakes in other places a chance to redeem themselves. All that’s required of people is that they obey the rules of the community. After all, people are human. They make mistakes. So the forum method of dealing with people is better than the Reddit method of setting auto-block bots based on the communities you’re part of or the Twitter way of sharing block lists based on people who had different political opinions than yourself.
Unlike Twitter and Reddit, there are generally no double standards on it. This means that the popular kid doesn’t get away with doing something against the rules because he’s bringing the company money or fame. Everyone gets treated the same. So regardless of popularity, if you break the rules, you’re out.
In general, forums seem to be less abusive than social media sites. This is usually because they have rules that get moderated consistently. Therefore, unlike Facebook or Twitter, where you can send a threat with little consequences, a decent forum will usually ban the offender
When it comes to forums, you get more of a choice regarding the style of community you want to be a part of. Furthermore, unlike Reddit or Voat, each community has its own set of rules. This means that the communities can run themselves based on what makes sense for them and not based on a set of general guidelines for multiple communities. For example, not linking to other sites might make sense in a community about loving cats, but it doesn’t make sense in a community that’s based on recommending products to solve pest problems.
Forums stand out. They are unique. No two are exactly the same. Communities have different styles, plugins, pages, and features that are unique to their needs. In particular, when using phpBB hosting for your forum, you have a variety of functionality extensions to choose from. Unlike social media platforms, you can customize forums so that every community has the features they need and none of the ones they don’t need.
Social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are lousy with corporate influence. This is because these networks offer opportunities for corporations to sell products or services. Forums, by contrast, don’t provide many selling opportunities, so there’s less of a corporate influence. Furthermore, forum owners tend to be less willing to censor their sites when a corporate or political entity asks them to.
Most forums archive their topics, so it’s easy to find specific conversations. Can you imagine trying to find a Twitter thread from five years ago? It would be a nearly impossible task. However, with forums, their organization makes conversation retrieval easy.
We began this article by asking, “are forums better than social media to discuss your interests?” We immediately concluded that, yes, they are. We then listed the reasons why. In sum, forums are better than social media for discussing interests because they’re independent, have better moderation, and less abuse. They also offer more community-style options, are unique, have less corporate influence, and can easily retrieve archived conversations.
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