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What is keeping you on forums in the social media age?

Matt N

CF Legend
Hi guys. As we’re all on one, I’d guess that many on here are fans of the forum as a medium of discussion. However, few would deny that forums are going out of fashion somewhat in the wider world. I’ve certainly noticed that many of the theme park forums I’m a member of have become a fair bit quieter since I first started reading forums in 2014 or so. I couldn’t possibly know for sure, but I’d guess that that’s in large part due to the rise of social media and things like Facebook groups and Discord. These social media discussion channels are very popular, and there’s absolutely loads of theme park-based social media discussion groups.

With that being said, forums clearly still exist and have a fair captive audience; me and all of you are still here after all! On that note, I’d be really interested to know; in the age of social media, what is it about forums that keeps you coming back? Why haven’t you made the migration to social media like so many have? And if you’re a more recent member in particular, why didn’t you do what many new starters of the hobby do nowadays and skip the forums in favour of social media groups? What made you come to forums instead?

Personally, I have a few reasons why I’ve stayed on forums instead of migrating to social media groups for my theme park-related news and discussion.

One reason is that on forums, the topics and opinions themselves take centre stage. I’m not saying that they aren’t important on social media, but from my (admittedly limited) experience of theme park social media, there can often be a fair amount of personal politics that can distract from the issues being discussed; it can become more centred around personalities and cliques than the issues themselves. Forums, on the other hand, are inherently less personality-based, and I feel that that allows the topics and opinions themselves to become the principle focus. Don’t get me wrong, you can have some fierce debates and disagreements on a forum, but they are almost always completely impersonal. A fierce debate on a forum will almost always be purely topical or based on one’s opinions, and it will very rarely have a personal undercurrent to it. Whereas I feel that social media can become more about personalities, and the debates can carry a more personal undercurrent compared to those on forums. As I’m someone who is interested in topical and opinion-based discussion first and foremost, I much prefer the more impersonal nature of forums.

Another reason is that forums allow you to discuss topics and issues in more depth. On social media, I feel that the discussions and posts often only scratch the surface of an issue. That can be either down to imposed character limits on posts (such as on Twitter) or a desire for shorter, more attention-grabbing posts from those who typically use social media. Regardless, the discussion doesn’t seem quite as in-depth on social media, whereas a forum allows you to go into more depth on an issue. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that (not everyone wants to read a long essay on a topic), but as someone who prefers to dissect issues in a little more depth, the forum suits me more in that regard.

Yet another reason is that I like the organisation and structure of forums. On social media, the discussion is a little more free-flowing. While that suits some people, I do like the structure that allows me to easily find discussion on any particular thing and read it or add to it, and I love the order of a well organised forum. With that in mind, forums suit me more in that regard.

Those are just some of the reasons why I’m still actively using forums in the social media age, but I’d be really keen to know your thoughts on this. Do you agree with anything I say, or are your reasons different?
 

DelPiero

Strata Poster
I'll be honest, I hate the "mememe" side of social media, people generally only post the good stuff. Your life is not like that all the time. I have a few friends who are really open about everything on SM and they have so much more respect from me than John Doe who posts once a month about the fun stuff he's doing.
I also hate that everything is promotion, or geared to sell stuff. Half the posts on facebook groups I'm on are self promotion, it's never a random saying "check out this great food truck in Oxford, the chicken burger was incredible", it's the owner posting.

The only things I like about social media are the informative things, or seeing what my friends have been up to every now and then, pics of kids, holidays, interesting things they've found (@chainedbanana for example finds the coolest looking things in London), but half of my family either aren't on fb/twitter/insta or don't post regularly, I feel it's gone from a connectivity tool, which is good, to being all about the money. I barely post now, but I still engage with people on there, rarely though.

The worst thing is the negative mental side it brings, harassment that people can't get away from, lack of ownership of the brands themselves to tackle online abuse, unrealistic goal and expectations from life and just the volume of total, utter cockwombles who think they have the right to not be kind to others. **** them and the brands that give them the platform to be abusive.

Whereas a forum may have the odd knob on 🙋‍♂️, they are generally well regulated, you can have differing opinions but usually people are more respectful as they have common interests for the board they are on and don't want to be banned from somewhere they feel at home.
The structure is good, if you've had enough of discussing your favourite sports team then head into the chat section and look at some funny pictures or read what's going on in politics or whatever.
Like right now, I've just been in construction checking out the 2 european Intamins and their very frustrating trims so I've come to let of steam in here about social media instead of moaning about trims in the topic. Options 😂
 

redheadedRobin

Mega Poster
You two have already explained my reasons much better than I ever could, so I'll just add a few more things:

The main reason is that I work 9-6 but there is not enough workload, so I am extremely bored 95% of my day. Still, the company I work in has a proxy that blocks all social media most of the time, but said proxy does not block forums like this one.

Also, if there is something I'm not interested in, be it an argument between two users or just info I don't care for, it's much easier to just go back to the forum homepage and find another discussion thread, since those topics will not be back in the home page. ie: if two people you follow are arguing on twitter, their tweets will appear on your timeline unless you mute/unfollow them. In a forum, if two people are fighting, you just unwatch the thread and leave the page.
 

Nitefly

Giga Poster
It seems to be the most popular ‘forum-like’ platform, but I’ve never really got on with Reddit. Its format stifles conversation as the first handful of ‘liked’ replies dominate the narrative, with hundreds of other opinions never engaging beyond the opening post. It feels more like a comments section for a news article rather than a ‘community’.

Twitter is far too intense. I’m massively generalising but overall it feels like the society you’d get if you removed (i) everyone’s need to get along with one another and (ii) everyone’s temperance. As if everyone’s diaries came to life and proceeded to shout at clouds (sometimes also shouting at each other). Too emotive, too divisive, too personal, too hostile, too noisy, too much hard work…. just flat out ‘too’. For me, at least.

Facebook was okay for sharing holiday photos when that was all the rage, but I think many people find it a gallery of pleasing ‘life snapshots’ with no grit. Life isn’t a holiday; it’s ****ing hard. I deactivated my account when I found myself checking in on what people were up to when I hadn’t actually interacted with them for years. I had convinced myself that I had a wide network of acquaintances, but it was just more people sharing pleasing ‘life snapshots’. Who are these people? What was it all for?! It also really started to push products which was another turn off.

Forums seem the most representative of ‘real life’ dialogue and conversation, with decent communities. The forums for Overclockers UK, which are based around computing but deal with everything, have been my main stomping ground for almost 20 years and I’ve racked up an astonishing 34,500 posts - wow, what a dweeb! 🤓
 

toofpikk

Mega Poster
im not as active as i used to or would like to be, and unfortunately these days unless a post has information im really inerested in or is littered with pictures i disengage very quickly.

but ive always found forums are a more reliable and concentrated stream of good information and opinion compared to the black cataclysmic void of social media.

if im interested in a particular topic im more likely to find the info i want quicker on a forum because someone has already done the digging, and if they havent, ill contribute. this is a much better flow and process of exchanging information than most social media groups or feeds could provide.
 

Chris Brown

Mr CoasterForce 2016
I often find myself reading some breaking news on SM but heading straight to the forums to read a more concise overview of said news and then read through chronological comments. I like the organisation of topics where all thoughts are collected in one space, with SM a million different people will post breaking news and its a struggle trying to find the most worthwhile opinions / comments across multiple channels.
 

CanobieFan

Strata Poster
Quickly browsing through the Reddit roller coaster section and all it is is a ton of subpar photos of Cedar Point and no actual substance. Yeah, why would I wanna hang out there. 🤷‍♂️

Not to date myself but this, coming from a guy who used to live on RRC since the late 90s (the what now?) Essentially what Reddit is currently...just a previous version, think MySpace to Facebook, although most Reddit users probably don't want to admit it (or have no idea what the old Usenet / News Groups were )
I've also been on Coaster based Forums since 2001 😬 soooo i think I just prefer this style outlet. Also, the FB groups are the absolute worst 😐
 

Eyebrows

Hyper Poster
I use Discord predominantly to talk about roller coasters nowadays, I prefer the more fluid and fast paced nature of the chat system. I still frequent these forums though, because sometimes I need something different. I like writing long form posts sometimes, and Discord is not conducive to that. The structured discussion is a nice change of pace, and everything is relatively easy to find once it’s been posted, unlike in discord where everything is buried in whatever discussion happens next. Overall, I like these forums because of the contrast they have to my other methods of coaster discussion. It’s different, and that’s a good thing.
 

davidm

Strata Poster
^^ RRC is still there, still the same last few names talking to themselves tho' 🤣

(I used to lurk a lot there, only posted a few times and then not under any identifiable name)

For me, the problem with the "social media" stuff is that the platforms aren't designed for "discussion" (IMHO) just for headlines and immediate "hey look" gratification. The FB groups have such an awful user-interface where comments vanish from view after 2 responses so it just becomes people saying the same thing over and over again - twitter is better for seeing what's going on (but also toxic of course) and Instagram is nice for the nice pictures ; but nowhere has "discussion". I guess reddit is a bit better so I don't mind that, but its still rarely "discussion". But also mobile devices aren't designed for inputting "discussion" (IMHO) either so that's just where we are!
 

Howie

Donkey in a hat
To answer the original post - it's because I'm old and frightened of technology.
This is the only forum I use. Facebook is the only social meeja platform I use, and even that is only to post my holiday and doggy pictures and to look at other people's holiday and doggy pictures.
 

Snoo

The Legend
As we've pivoted with technology, my use of forums specifically has waned as we've seen other things come up. It helps that I have a podcast and a coaster club that have a community, which we've based around Discord as well as other social media as well.

In short, it's an old tech that I don't use but my Discord is very similar to how Forums work but is more of an active discussion and interaction, like how Twitter changed how we interacted with news (which is why Screamscape is old).
 

Jamesss

Hyper Poster
This is the only forum I still visit and that's simply because it's the best site online for theme park news and discussion - for me.

I like that all the most notable news from around the world is covered but that it's mainly UK-centric.

I like that there are just enough people posting for discussions to be interesting but not so much that the important information gets lost.

And for the most part discussion is just about theme parks and there's little personal posting.
 

Sandman

Giga Poster
Social media is too full on for me.

I have it but don't post that often. It's too 'all consuming'; so omnipresent in everyone's lives that I find it hard to focus on the cool enthusiast discussions as real life gets in the way. Work colleagues group chats, getting tagged in random meme videos and having to reply to people I've avoided through social media fatigue.

The forums are almost nostalgic at this point.

It's a time capsule to the simpler, better internet days (in my opinion). Discussions actually feel like discussions, and there seems to be much more time and consideration applied when it comes to what people post.

Everyone on Facebook seems to share the same, old news stories and posts from their own 'coaster page' so it's an endless cycle of repeated news and not so subtle brand promotion.
 

chainedbanana

Hyper Poster
One thing I find nice about forums is the slower pace and the ability to catch up with threads and re-visit archives. Social media is too much too fast, I'm In a number of facebook interest groups and know that I'll spot an interesting post and then loose it! - And have a hard time finding it again! and you may be able to flick back on a weeks worth of content, which could in fact take hours, but have to let most things go.

Forums allow for more considered discussion or reading! Also I only look on the forums on my laptop and when I'm sat down purposely making a point to log in... so am more 'in the mindset' to engage and see whats happening.

I also like the ability to quickly look back at a 15 y/o thread - it's actually fascinating to see the progression of projects and views, or re-visit an old construction log.

Also with group's organising or offering trips - it's often easier to use a forum and have a centralised point of information than keep up with social media with its pace and number of distractions, and info that gets bogged down with so much discussion.

so a balance between SM and forums is the sweet spot!
 

spicy

Giga Poster
I don't think forums will ever die out as they are a way of discussing in a more formal setting, in more detail and to echo others they are much more regulated.

In fact as they have become less popular the quality of the posts overall may have actually improved as the people that want to post a load of crap or be troll can now do so on twitter or wherever to get their fix.

So yea I usually use twitter to view any breaking news then come onto here to read and discuss. I'm also old and been on these forums since they looked like this 🤣

 

CanobieFan

Strata Poster
^^ RRC is still there, still the same last few names talking to themselves tho'

I was stillllll trying to use RRC up until the last time google messed with it and it became unusable on my phone and barely worked on my desktop :| (super easy to find the user name for me there, tho'!)
 

lom.lom.lom

Roller Poster
I just got into forums this past year or so. I'm in the music industry and my social media is clogged with self-promotion. It's good to have a place where I can simply share opinions about a hobby with like minded folks.
 

Indy

Hyper Poster
Reddit is just a poorly organized forum. Discord is a glorified chat room. Facebook, Twitter, and IG have their purposes for the community, but aren't conducive for conversational dialogue. However, the forum is.

Forums provide an environment where everybody is able to voice their thoughts in a conversational manner and everybody's opinion is weighted the same. It's well organized, fairly efficient, resourceful, and relatively searchable. I also don't need to be here every second. It's not like a chat where old comments get buried in the weeds. I can easily catch back up where I left off.

I actually left forums but ultimately came back. I was heavily involved in a few different forums in the 2000s before stepping away. Initially it was because of drama and changing priorities, but I completely pulled the plug when I started trying to get into, and ultimately did get into, the amusement industry. I grew to miss aspects of it though, especially as my career became more and more stressful. I decided to dabble in it again and opted for CF for a variety of reasons. When I took a break from the industry, I became more active here and really enjoyed it. I'm sure part of it is nostalgia, but I also feel like there is a lot of great content that is posted here along with a good group of people and interesting opinions.
 

FistedColossus

Hyper Poster
I'm hopelessly addicted to Twitter. Its great for football and music stuff but 99% of my feed is unavoidable doom scrolling material. Used to be a laugh but now its constant negativity. Should really delete it.

I'm on Instagram as an enthusiast but never use it.

Haven't used Facebook in about 8 years.

I can't get on board with reddit at all. It just makes me cringe so much. Anything interesting on there is ruined by people talking in weird Internet speak in the comments. "Wow this blew up!!", "Thanks for the gold kind sir", "Shut up and take my upvote". 🤮

I've dipped in and out of forums for years and for this particular niche its by far the best way to consume information.
 

Hyde

Matt SR
Staff member
Moderator
Social Media Team
Reddit is just a poorly organized forum. Discord is a glorified chat room. Facebook, Twitter, and IG have their purposes for the community, but aren't conducive for conversational dialogue. However, the forum is.
All of this, right here.

I have never cared for Reddit's UI (I honestly haven't a clue still how the posting and comment function works); and while I love a lively chat on Discord (long live AIM and Yahoo Messenger's spirit!), the CF Forum is where I come for more composed, longer thought than visceral reaction in a split second on "BUSCH GARDENS ANNOUNCING A NEW RIDE ZOMG!!!!"

As one of the old folks around here, CF Forum was my social media when I started, and a fun place to connect with folks online. But I've found it now more of a refuge, a comfortable space to return back to vs. the doomscroll of social media and other messaging platforms, especially for coaster chat.

TL;DR I use a hybrid, but am grateful the Forum platform still proves resilient and useful for coaster convo and discussion.
 
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