The OF Blog: My declining interest in forums

Monday, June 07, 2010

My declining interest in forums

More and more, I find myself disinclined to participate actively in discussions on various fora that I have visited regularly for years.  Ten years ago, when I first really began being active online, I first joined the now-defunct wotmania.  Within a year, in October 2001, I became an Admin/mod for their nascent Other Fantasy section.  Feeling the need to branch out and discover new sites in order to have more information on books (in hopes of using this at the OF section), I first joined the active forums at Neil Gaiman's sites.  Then later, I would end up joining in 2003 at SFF World and 2005 at Westeros.

But after I started blogging regularly in June 2007 (after three years of making maybe 1-2 posts a month here), I noticed that my interests began to wane.  While I had to reduce my online presence in 2003-2005 due to moving back to my home state and working some ungodly hours (Christmas week 2004 I worked 67 hours in order to have enough money to pay for my tuition for spring 2005, after deciding I wanted to get another degree, this time in social work.  That failed due to being laid off in October 2005), I did at least manage to keep somewhat of a presence at wotmania (skipping the others for the most part, with the occasional exception of SFF World).  But the 2007-present shift has led to a decreased presence, especially in the past year, at the three fora I still visit:  Westeros, the replacement site for wotmania, Read and Find Out, and SFF World.  But there have been periods of weeks or even months where I wouldn't post anything and barely had any interest in reading the posts there.

I suspect part of it is just age.  I'm now in my mid-thirties and the vast majority of forum regulars seem to be in their late teens or early twenties, with world-views, attitudes toward others, and book preferences fitting that demographic.  After a while, reading tastes (and tastes for flame wars, I suppose) change.  Much easier to visit a blog frequently and get to know a single individual (and his/her tastes in books) than it is to visit a largish online community where there never fails to be a few obnoxious, overly visible members whose collective tastes may (and often has, in my case) run counter to one's individual preferences. 

I'm not knocking any particular forum or its membership.  Just noting that collective tastes tend to be a bit...ummm...."conservative" in nature (as witnessed by the overwhelming preference on these fora to discuss epic, secondary-world fantasies as opposed to discussing regularly other strands of speculative or mimetic fiction).  Sometimes, seeing what amounts to slight variations of the same opinions on similar books can get to be a bit old for some and that is certainly the case for me.  Probably should have admitted it years ago, but I can be a bit stubborn in hopes of persuading a few to read outside the category SF/F box.  Shall be interesting to see if this recent trend of disengagement continues, or if there'll be moments of upsurges of interest in what these large internet fora have to offer.

But in the meantime, I have a little over 20 journals and magazines to finish by Thursday.  Work beckons.


James said...

I've experienced a similar thing. I used to be a very active member at SFFworld and also had a minor presence at Westeros. Since starting to blog however, I have pretty much lost all interest in forums. Blogs these days give me all the genre news and debate I need, so forums for me have become somewhat redundant. It doesn't help when the same topics get discussed over and over again. I still dip in and out, to keep in the loop, but rarely engage in discussion.

JamesY said...

I can appreciate the sentiment. I’ve gone to the trouble to register with a couple but never had the inclination to post regularly. I find that the circular nature of discussion themes means forums can seem to stagnate. And while I love certain authors’ works, I’m not one to get right into the detail to participate in the deep analytical or speculative debates. The occasional re-read is definitely enjoyable, a la your recent forays, and I have my own guilty pleasures, but I prefer to move onto either a new book or author.

These days I lurk on blogs of both authors and reviewers and occasionally I contribute a comment or two ;). I enjoy the fact that following a number of blogs makes for sampling a more diverse range of literature and opinion.

Keep up the blogging!

Gabriele C. said...

Same here, though the reason is more that forums can become a worse time sink than reading a select list of blogs. Though I agree on the repetiveness (is that a word?) of several topics in forums.

I still peep into the Westeros and Malazan forums but I restrict myself to some subforums for the most. Haven't been on SFF for ages and let my account on several other forums slip.

I'm somewhat active on Absolute Write, a forum for writers where you can get the occasional useful feedback, and one about historical fiction, for the same reason. But I'm not one of the most avid posters on either. ;)

S.M.D. said...

Oddly enough, while you're disengaging with forums, you're becoming a rather excellent Twitter-ite. We've already had a very interesting conversation on there and you've since become on of my favorite new Twits. Ha!

That said, I imagine some of your disengaging is due to age, but probably a lot of it has to do with a shift in interests. That's usually what makes me leave a forum. I'm currently only active on one, and that's the one I co-own (so, kind of obvious why I'm active there).

Roland said...

Gonna miss you at westeros, Larry! But I'll have you know I'm reading 100 Years of Solitude right now because of your praise for it! And that happened there on that forum. :)

Anonymous said...

Let´s make this really simple: You are an idiot! You joined a board about science fiction and fantasy literature and then you write some whining phrases about those user avoiding other literature. That´s like joining a board about baseball and then whining about those users avoiding soccer!

Larry said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your astute evaluation of the situation. I is so stoopid for being capable of change over a period of years. May I learn to be as inflexible, rigid, and as brave as you are when you make such a strong stance under the Anonymous umbrella. You are an inspiration to us all.


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