I am on several different forums. I am an admin for two, and just sold off the third. The one recurring theme: Almost all of the forums are either dead or dying.
Automotive forums I visit: One of them is a Ford-Mustang-based forum. Why is it dying? No updates. The server died, the owner took over a year to get it up and running again. The forum now might get a post or two every couple of days, where before, it was probably 100-500 posts a week. The owner is lazy, doesn't want to do anything with the site (I even offered to buy the domain name), but he doesn't want to do anything with it, even with me insisting that he does, or at least let me use the keys. The others? One is kicking butt, a fun place to go to, with very little drama, and not a lot of rules, other than we have an actual 'battlefield' to allow people to go in and call each other every name in the book, or do pretty much anything else they want to in there, such as get political, insult someone else's mother, start an internet fight, you name it...but it stays in there. Everyone gets it out of their system, and are incredibly mellow because of that, unlike some of the other forums I am on, where Nazi admins are running around trying to overlegislate the forum, and tension is running rather high. It seems like where there is some relaxtion of rules (not to the point where there is pell-mell madness, and anything goes), but at least the image of not having Nazi's overregulate seems to work out really well.....
One other note? The larger sites seem to be working out pretty well....but hardly any of the older regulars are still there. Recycling is key to their survival, and allowing everyone to spam a bit helps.
Video gaming forums: All that I have any contact with are dying. One such board (Wolfgaming.net) was started as a multi-game-platform forum....kicked butt, a LOT of traffic. A mere shadow now. Nazi admins clamped down hardcore on any political mentions, or anything not towing the admin party line. I am not suggesting we get into political discussions, but even mentioning what is going on in the outside world could be considered 'political', and subject to account suspension/banishment. The forum I sold? 1000+ posts a week....now? If it gets one post a week, I would be surprised. That site was an example of what happens when you relax rules to the point, where anyone can post. I got it for almost nothing, after being banned from there....the previous owner finally realized that the guy running everything was allowing child molestor wannabe's onto the forum after I locked them out (two of these guys posted some BAD pictures on that forum, I got two people arrested afterward, friends of these two guys were still allowed to post, even though they tried to cover up what happened). Nothing from the gaming world I have seen is still going gangbusters....too many games to play, market saturation.
This site? Ray isn't producing anything. This is not a slap at Ray, there simply isn't anything to keep me excited about coming in here. I was looking forward to spending a stupid amount of money on the october release of 'Wrath'...but the release date bump has kind of put me off. I would like to see some work done on a new REF-based video game....but nothing is coming, nor is there any discussion allowed about maybe working with some of the existing games, to create a 'mod'....I am not trying to get anything for free, but maybe allowing some side mod work to be done on RTK, just to keep the existing fans coming back? One of the games I play is BF1942....we have mod tools which allow almost anyone to modify the existing game. There have been almost 100 different mods for BF1942....I have 13 on my computer....all of which didn't cost me anything, I simply downloaded them for free. Yes, EA games doesn't make any money for the games initially, but I have purchased several copies of that game because I have simply worn out the games, playing all the different mods available....which means, indirectly, someone is still making money.
Some other observations:
There is definitely a difference bewteen how Americans and Europeans handle and police message boards. I am not smacking anyone around here, these are just things that I have seen.
1. Europeans are definitely more inclined to be hardcore admins on message boards. I don't know if it has something to do with the political nature of the countries they are from, but there is a marked difference between the two groups. Anything out of the normal scope what they consider to be 'forum material' (or poltics they are okay with) gets shot down immediately. I once posted a topic about a school shooting...4 forum members actually went to the same school....topic was locked for violating the 'no politics' rule. I didn't think it was political, considering I wasn't talking about anything political, I was simply asking if everyone was alright. However, a "Bush is a greedy bum" thread was allowed to go on forever, with the same people that shut me down participating. I don't like him either, but maybe a little consistency?
2. American admins pretty much let anything go in the forum, which sometimes allows for alot of different discussion topics, allowing for more activity for forum members, but occasionally, it can come back to bite them.
3. While the Euro guys may get pretty hardcore about what gets posted, it is kind of nice seeing the primary focus on the site and site material only.....just stick with the gaming, the books, or the cars....along with the occasional political jab (well, it's not political to them). It's hard to see the perfect Euro site, however. It almost always gets out of hand, from an enforcement view.
4. American sites? Alot of the USA sites lack the class and tact that a lot of the European sites possess. One of the Mustang sites I used to go to seemed to focus more on boobies and butts, and getting laid, plus with trashiest conversation this side of a slum lord tenement vs. what appears to be at least somewhat enlightened conversation here and on other Euro-sites. Beavis and Butthead has never died, it simply moved to some of the USA message boards. It's the rare USA site that doesn't have a 'R' or 'X' rating, and that I can let my kids see.
5. There is almost a definite language barrier between us. I can remember someone here shutting down a RTK game thread I started.....I honestly had no clue as to what the problem was. It was suggested that I was doing something illegal/stealing from Ray/whatever, when that clearly wasn't the case, I was simply coming up with some ideas to resurrect an older game, since new game development is stalled. It took several attempts to explain what it was that I was doing, before the other party concerned finally understood what it was I was trying to do. People want new product....but when discussion was stifled , because I was misunderstood? I am not angry, considering this happened probably 2-3 years ago....but this can't be positive for long-term growth and longivity.
This occurs quite a bit, especially when you have Europeans and Americans on the same message board....while they are clearly speaking the same langauge, it's almost like there is some sort of barrier still erected, limiting the understanding ability of both sides. That, or we come from two completely different political systems, that what seems normal to Americans may appear almost alien to Europeans, and vice-versa.