Are forums still a thing?

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Lotomístico
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Are forums still a thing?

Post by Lotomístico »

I'm a bit of a technology dinosaur. I love forums, I'm from the "olden days" of the early internet, when forums were basically one of the main ways for communicating with others online... certainly for conversation and asking questions.
If you Google a search on this, something like "are forums dead?" or similar, you get results from even several years ago saying forums are a thing of the past...but then a more recent result saying that forums are still with us and serve a valuable purpose.
Of course, there are so many alternatives to forums now. Some might feel they have "replaced" forums, but then again, perhaps they have actually strengthened forums, by clarifying their purpose and helping them improve to stay viable.
In the case of Dharma Wheel or a similar forum, it is hard for me to think of a better alternative or another online space that would fill such a specific role for people seeking such a community. Does anyone else have thoughts on this?
One should become the master of one’s mind rather than let one’s mind master oneself.
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

They are slowly fading, Reddit and similar are sort of replacing them. I am old-ish and I prefer this format. I won't do modern social media generally. I stopped once I realized it was making me unhappy, and that in some ways it is designed to.
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Malcolm
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by Malcolm »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 7:54 pm They are slowly fading, Reddit and similar are sort of replacing them. I am old-ish and I prefer this format. I won't do modern social media generally. I stopped once I realized it was making me unhappy, and that in some ways it is designed to.
Reddit is awful—poorly designed, etc.
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causing one to fall into the ocean of samsāra."
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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Malcolm wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 8:26 pm
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 7:54 pm They are slowly fading, Reddit and similar are sort of replacing them. I am old-ish and I prefer this format. I won't do modern social media generally. I stopped once I realized it was making me unhappy, and that in some ways it is designed to.
Reddit is awful—poorly designed, etc.
I agree, but somehow it's quite popular...I think it's a mess personally.
May the eyes of living beings be gladdened by skies made splendid by clouds
that lightnings garland, while on earth below, the peacocks dance with joy as
showers of rain, falling gently, approach.

The Door of Happiness - Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo
narhwal90
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by narhwal90 »

reddit reminds me of usenet with a html facelift.
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by Malcolm »

narhwal90 wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 8:39 pm reddit reminds me of usenet with a html facelift.
You mean a botched facelift...
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—Māyājālamahātantra
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

narhwal90 wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 8:39 pm reddit reminds me of usenet with a html facelift.
IDK in some ways using Usenet through shell account 20-some years ago was a less annoying experience than Reddit, lol...but I can see the comparison.
May the eyes of living beings be gladdened by skies made splendid by clouds
that lightnings garland, while on earth below, the peacocks dance with joy as
showers of rain, falling gently, approach.

The Door of Happiness - Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by Hazel »

Specifically in terms of a means to have community interaction:

Forums are dead, but have their place - especially with sketchier/illegal topics.

Social media is quickly dying.

Chat (via Discord and Slack) is growing strong.

I've always preferred chat over everything else so I'm happy for its return (though I miss IRC).
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FiveSkandhas
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by FiveSkandhas »

The forum format is my absolute favorite way to interact on the internet. I know a few that are "spinoffs" of older, larger forums that were popular in the late 90s/early 2000s. They aren't listed on Google and are basically for a few remaining diehards to keep in touch. I can also think of a few large-ish forums that deal with various "tinfoil hat" conspiracy type stuff and are ultraconservative in tone so they aren't really my cup of tea, but they seem to have a life of their own and are still rather active.

Most of the remaining BBSs are very niche, full of older folks, and glacial in pace, from what I can tell. A lot deal in oddball topics, political extremism, stuff that has been de-listed from Google so is hard to stumble across.

The only other type of social-ish media I do is Quora, which has some Buddhist content but mostly of the Buddhism 101/soulful teenager variety, it seems, sadly. I mostly use thee Quroa.jp site rather than the English language version....quality of posting is much higher.

Somebody recently recommended a site called discord to me, but it's too newfangled and cliquish for my tastes.

Years ago I used to be a member of a site called well.com that had super-high quality posting on hundreds of topics. But it is for-pay and so I quit. I wonder of it still exists? Founded in 1985, it is a real relic.
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by reiun »

I appreciate Dharmawheel and the work of its contributors, moderators and administrators. In particular, during the pandemic's shut-in heighth, this forum was a worthwhile read during a period of curtailed activities.

I have only known two Tibetan practitioners, both through school friends of my daughter. One founded Tibetan Conservancy and executive-produced Milarepa (2006). The other was a native of Tibet, a scientist doing tiger research there. (Unarmed and alone, a surprise encounter with one at 30 feet.) So everything I have learned from Tibetan Buddhism students here has really filled in the blanks. Thank you.

My history of forum participation started with Tricycle forum, then, subsequently forums hosted by the two Adams, ZFI, and zen1.space. (Also wound up in Shimanoarchive .'Spike'). I can't say I contributed much. Encouraging students to find a teacher never met with any real success, afaict. In the battle between Shinge and Genjo over ZSS, which played out on ZFI between their respective supporters, I really dropped the bomb on her, but Genjo still lost.

As KeithA noted in a thread about ZFI a few years ago, discussion of zen doesn't lend itself to the forum format so well. Especially if your background has been koan work as a student, there really isn't much one might or would venture to say. As noted, moderation of teachers can be an issue, plus they are busy with other major responsibilities. So the best source of learning, or clarifying issues, is often absent.

I cancelled facebook years ago, and don't use reddit, etc., so can't comment there. This forum, like others, seems to have far more lurkers than participants. I suspect that many are in the same boat as me in terms of learning, so have less to say. The camaraderie and erudition here are admirable. I suspect another great value this forum provides is the learning experience offered with compassion to a wider audience, and gratefully accepted.
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by Kim O'Hara »

I agree with much of what others have already said but I would like to go back to the OP.
Lotomístico wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 7:50 pm I'm a bit of a technology dinosaur. I love forums, I'm from the "olden days" of the early internet, when forums were basically one of the main ways for communicating with others online... certainly for conversation and asking questions.
If you Google a search on this, something like "are forums dead?" or similar, you get results from even several years ago saying forums are a thing of the past...but then a more recent result saying that forums are still with us and serve a valuable purpose.
Of course, there are so many alternatives to forums now. Some might feel they have "replaced" forums, but then again, perhaps they have actually strengthened forums, by clarifying their purpose and helping them improve to stay viable.
In the case of Dharma Wheel or a similar forum, it is hard for me to think of a better alternative or another online space that would fill such a specific role for people seeking such a community. Does anyone else have thoughts on this?
The special advantage of the forum format over other alternatives is that all of the conversation is preserved, in sequence and (with good moderation - thanks team!) minimal interruptions, so that anyone can read it any time and make sense of it - and join in if they wish. Facebook, in contrast, has an attention span of about a minute: new stuff hides old stuff (part of the business model - if you're not on it all the time you miss out, so you're on it all the time, selling your eyeballs to advertisers), and searching for old stuff is a waste of time.
This serves niche interests, like ours, very well. We don't need hundreds of active participants for it to be useful. It makes DW valuable to lurkers and students, and it is a functional community for those (like me) without many like-minded people around me IRL.

:namaste:
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by Archie2009 »

Kim O'Hara wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 11:43 pm I agree with much of what others have already said but I would like to go back to the OP.
Lotomístico wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 7:50 pm I'm a bit of a technology dinosaur. I love forums, I'm from the "olden days" of the early internet, when forums were basically one of the main ways for communicating with others online... certainly for conversation and asking questions.
If you Google a search on this, something like "are forums dead?" or similar, you get results from even several years ago saying forums are a thing of the past...but then a more recent result saying that forums are still with us and serve a valuable purpose.
Of course, there are so many alternatives to forums now. Some might feel they have "replaced" forums, but then again, perhaps they have actually strengthened forums, by clarifying their purpose and helping them improve to stay viable.
In the case of Dharma Wheel or a similar forum, it is hard for me to think of a better alternative or another online space that would fill such a specific role for people seeking such a community. Does anyone else have thoughts on this?
The special advantage of the forum format over other alternatives is that all of the conversation is preserved, in sequence and (with good moderation - thanks team!) minimal interruptions, so that anyone can read it any time and make sense of it - and join in if they wish. Facebook, in contrast, has an attention span of about a minute: new stuff hides old stuff (part of the business model - if you're not on it all the time you miss out, so you're on it all the time, selling your eyeballs to advertisers), and searching for old stuff is a waste of time.
This serves niche interests, like ours, very well. We don't need hundreds of active participants for it to be useful. It makes DW valuable to lurkers and students, and it is a functional community for those (like me) without many like-minded people around me IRL.

:namaste:
Kim
Yes, DW's old threads are a valuable resource. Thankfully the forum software provides a good search function. Type any couple of terms you're interested in, and just by focusing mostly on Malcolm's replies you'll become a little less ignorant on any Dharma topic.
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by Kim O'Hara »

That's true, although I wasn't really meaning old threads but current threads which have ben running for days or weeks.

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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

I use Facebook daily, mostly to share original content related to my career. But I also get feeds from a few Buddhist ‘Facebook groups’, which is basically an unmoderated and uncategorized mishmash of whatever new-age-pseudo-Buddhist-Hindu memes people want to post. Or, folks ask very uninformed questions and get equally uninformed answers. Face book is a good place to find live streaming Dharma teachings in English by lamas and zen masters. HHDL often streams live teachings on FB.
DW serves a different function.
Much better quality of content, and there are people here who know how to direct one to actual sutra/Tantra references for things. You can actually learn about other traditions too.
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Lotomístico
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by Lotomístico »

Really appreciate the thoughtful responses!
One should become the master of one’s mind rather than let one’s mind master oneself.
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by Genjo Conan »

I help mod a Buddhist subreddit, so I guess I can't be quite so hard on the place. I think Reddit serves a very different function than a site like this. While there are some very knowledgeable and experienced practitioners on Reddit (including quite a few who also post here), for the most part the crowd skews younger and less experienced, and folks tend not to stick around as long. So I see the benefit of Reddit primarily in helping newer practitioners find their way, and I regard the more scholarly conversations as happy accidents. If I had a serious doctrinal question, I'd probably ask it here, not there.

There are definite downsides to Reddit. I can't defend the UI, and the fly-by-night nature of many of the participants can make some threads a shitshow. But I think there's a benefit.
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Lotomístico
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by Lotomístico »

Johnny Dangerous wrote: Tue Jul 20, 2021 7:54 pm They are slowly fading, Reddit and similar are sort of replacing them. I am old-ish and I prefer this format. I won't do modern social media generally. I stopped once I realized it was making me unhappy, and that in some ways it is designed to.
Yes, they've been slowly fading for some time now...yet seem to be holding on somehow.
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by DNS »

When video conferencing came online, including zoom, I thought it might be the end for forums. People could all log in and see each other, talk, and even hold online meditation sessions. But that didn't become the reality. I think people still prefer the semi-private nature of forums. You can post from your bed, you don't have to clean your place or be concerned about background imagery, you can use a semi-anonymous or even completely anonymous username. I think forums will be around for quite a while -- not forever, eventually something will replace it, but it's here to stay for at least the next 5 to 10 years, imo.
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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by KeithA »

I suspect there will always be people who communicate better in writing, than in a room with a bunch of people yakking away. I love learning about other traditions here, and as someone mentioned, there is a semi-permanent record of the conversations, so it’s easy to go back to the beginning.

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Re: Are forums still a thing?

Post by Kim O'Hara »

DNS wrote: Wed Jul 21, 2021 8:36 pm ... I think people still prefer the semi-private nature of forums. ...
Not just that, but the fact that we don't have to find matching times of day to communicate. Live chat or video meetings would have Australians or Americans or Germans bleary-eyed and resentful, no matter when they were scheduled.

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