By on November 24, 2012

Sajeev asks:

I started my professional (so to speak) automotive writing career as a moderator of an automotive message forum.  Perhaps you, dear reader, are like me: actually giving a crap about the Internet once you realized there were forums to learn more about your car. If so, I need your advice when it comes time to help the place that helps so many.

Piston Slap owes its existence to my 13-year tenure on a forum that’s fading off the map.  I’m not interested in astroturfing TTAC for fake interest in this forum, so I’m not naming names…between my corporate gig, my blathering rants here and my idiotic brilliant automotive projects, I am still the Super Moderator (thanks for that, vBulletin) of this forum.  I’m saddened by what I see, 13 years deep in the game.

How do you make a forum vibrant again? Here are the problems, in no particular order:

  • Declining number of active members, new posts
  • Declining activity of forum moderators, including yours truly.
  • Several seemingly superfluous, zombie grade sub-forums of modest utility (Audio, Appearance and Cruise-in Forums)
  • No future in sight for newer vehicles of this brand bringing in new fans (personal opinion)

FWIW, this is a “family owned” forum, there is very little advertising…far less than you see here.  It shall be that way in the foreseeable future.  So money aside, when you get vested in something, you hate to see it in trouble.  But here I am.

Help!

 

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44 Comments on “Super Piston Slap: Fixing an Automotive…Forum?...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Well if forums never have to evolve if the cars stayed the same. The manufacturers change the latest car enough that some forum members to loose interest. I’ve joined forums that I had an interest in the car and have been an active participant in the the cars I’ve owned. Cars I don’t own anymore I am not an active participant.

    Other forums that I have a car to share with I might just go there to do research. If their search engine is poor I’ll just google and search the forum without signing up or logging in.

    Car clubs that I’ve been involved in have the same dilemma. With manufacturers turning to leasing heavily in the last decade or so the club participants seem to leave in the same time frame they own the car. We’ve gotten a number of them that would only do cruise/dinning on the track and now they are track addicts.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I was once a forum moderator myself for a vehicle that was more popular then it is today (it’s still in production). The vehicle wasn’t often modified, and so there wasn’t much serious discussions about the vehicle itself. Posts were usually about new owners and repairs. Big deal, and I also lost interest…

    I do know that the original owner did sell the forum, which the new owner merged it with similar interests. He also sends out “eNews” emails on hot topics and changes. But I haven’t been back in a long time as I’m instead active in a forum for Jeeps. There you have guys modifying Jeeps to near obsession (ask me how!), and of course it’s a hot brand and will continue to be.

  • avatar
    toomanycrayons

    “…The mind relies on the world as a better record than memory, and usually that’s a good assumption.

    As a result, philosophers have suggested that the mind is designed to spread itself out over the environment. So much so that, they suggest, the thinking is really happening in the environment as much as it is happening in our brains.”

    http://mindhacks.com/2012/11/23/where-is-your-mind/

    Perhaps you’ve answered your own question: Astroturfing. Turf the internet/environment with whatever (technical term) links are required to make your interests part of the larger “mind.” On the other hand, that may be where everyone else has…went?

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    1) Ban the trolls… kill them with fire.

    2) Broaden the reach by either combining with another struggling site that specializes in a similar type of vehicle that’s experiencing the same struggles. For every Mark VIII, there is a Lexus SC or a Cadillac Eldorado. Make it a luxury coupe theme if you like.

    3) Write about articles that keep the current enthusiasts engaged. This is what’s helped Brickboard get through some of the more difficult times.

    4) Finally… realize that all enthusiast groups go through times of extreme contraction. Evetnually you are left with the dozens instead of the thousands. It’s just the natural order of things.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      Agreed- you need to find similar forums that cater to the same broader family of cars, and try to consolidate.

      Also- if you don’t already have such a thing, a big, comprehensive FAQ or database of useful information and BKM’s and fixes, will draw in visitors.

  • avatar
    retrogrouch

    “Several seemingly superfluous, zombie grade sub-forums of modest utility (Audio, Appearance and Cruise-in Forums)”

    This is your primary problem. A lack of real tech means you don’t draw real users. Arguments about which xenon conversion is best or what style of watch band you should wear when canyon carving do not attract intelligent people seeking legitimate information. These are the people who may have real world technical experience to share. A bad signal to noise ratio means users won’t sift through 6 pages of search results to find the one true gem.

    “Declining activity of forum moderators, including yours truly.”
    This is an offshoot of the above issue. Discourage crap posts and encourage the good stuff. The typical user’s inability to search and post in an existing thread also reduces a forum’s useability. The 1.21 million threads abut which brake pad is best only clutters search results and drives the users to post another million threads about the same topic. The mods should encourage the users to search and revive old posts before creating a new thread.

    The best automotive forum I have ever used, in terms of quality of information, started out years ago as forum specific to a certain flavor of American iron. Their ranks grew and now I can count on it for info about everything from Porsches to chainsaws to the occasional sea bass recipe.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    Either the front to the forum delivers unique discussion-worthy content, or the forum maintains an active base who deliver unique content. Everything else is just blogging.

    Examples. Brickboard is an extreme example of the latter. Sailinganarchy started off with strong front end content and that created a huge forum momentum for forum unique content, which now feeds the front end. Here at ttac the front content is somewhat unique, and the “forum” part is just an afterthought.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The internet was once a great resource for car owners. Maybe it is too democratic now. Everyone has access, so the people that have the most to offer don’t waste their time interacting with people that just want their preconceived notions reinforced. When technical questions are asked, I often see that most replies come from people that just want to reply. They are giving incorrect advice, or they are just writing something to write something. Correct answers drown in a sea of stupidity, or they don’t get posted at all.

    If I’m looking for information on a problem with a 2004 car, I can find a five year old post on the internet explaining step by step how to resolve it. If I’m looking for something about a 2010 car, I find unanswered questions, or an argument between people that put zero effort into spelling and don’t seem to know what they’re talking about.

    I was once a fan of a particular brand of cars. The brand specific forums were a useful resource and a place to find like minded enthusiasts. The brand changed enough that I lost interest. Until recently, I still had one car leftover from when that brand made drivers’ cars. When I would look at the forums for information on its latest problems, I found that the forum populations had changed. Gone were the gearheads sharing knowledge about their passion. They’d been replaced with the cast of the Jersey Shore bragging about how much money they had. I’m not sure there is much point saving such forums when they die.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The same good advice is still out there, you just have to sift through more BS to get to it.

      I spend too much time assisting people with DIY auto repairs that really end up being way over their head. But none the less, I put it out there when I can in the most logical, plain, no BS mannner I can. Usually described least to most intrusive, accompanied by a wiring diagram when available.

      We’re still out there, you just have to find us.

    • 0 avatar
      Micah

      Are you referring to the usual forums for BMW?

      Having been a member of excellent forums for my former ‘Vette and Mustang, current Jeep and Miata, I figured that there would be lots of great support when my wife got her older Bimmer. Not so. They’re all HORRIBLE, braindead sites full of gangsta braggers lookin’ for bling rims, yo. Very hard to find any useful information without filtering through dozens of useless posts. The signal to noise ratio is sad.

  • avatar
    mulled whine

    Your problem is v bulletin.

    For a Case study, look at what happened to audi world.com , and its immediate spin off, quattroworld, the minute it swapped from the kawf format, to v bulletin.

    ( either that or no ones interested in your car brand anymore)

    • 0 avatar
      WRohrl

      If you are talking about the way the posts are displayed (I don’t know the names of the formats) then yes you are absolutely correct. I used to be a heavy AudiWorld user for many years. Then I went away for a little bit, then came back to find the new format completely useless and just too different. Haven not been back since.

      • 0 avatar
        ExPatBrit

        Audiworld went from one of the best German car forums to nothing overnight. I probably saved $$$ over the years because of that site. I still post occasionally, usually because noobs provide an often incorrect answer.

        Like CJ said, some people post regardless of their knowledge and experience.

        The archives are still there though although a lot of the people who moved to QW removed their posts in spite.

        c

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      While some people prefer the quattroworld-style forums, vBulletin is unlikely to be the problem. Witness vwvortex.com for one. And while the audiworld.com triggered a split, in the fragmented world of Audi forums, vBulletin-based forums are #1 (audizine.com), #2 (audiworld.com) and #4 (fourtitude.com), with quattroworld.com at #3. (Rankings based on reach at alexa.com.)

      The key problem is having a critical mass — no one wants to visit a forum that only has a handful of regular contributors. Combining subforums and merging with other sites can both help with this.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    If the declining activity is due to the questions having been answered, I don’t know what you do. Also, if company x isn’t making interesting cars anymore your site will reflect that.

    Sounds like the superfluous threads are a sign that there is still interest? A forum is a community and so your community may need a new purpose above and beyond fix it tips. Real world meet ups, competition tips (for however one might compete with brand x cars), etc. new fix up or conversions that owners may soon need?

    New mods may need to be recruited who have interest in the new direction.

  • avatar
    Angus McClure

    A lot of good suggestions. Some of them may even fit. I don’t know and I am certainly no expert.

    One thing I do know. You learned when you were there and TTAC and readers get the benefit of that now. I wrote for someone and we split the blanket. I will always be grateful for what I learned and am using that knowledge elsewhere.

    I think the big question is whether you want the site to continue. Small changes there to go in another direction may be required (as suggested). The big thing is what does Sajeev want to do. Whatever it turns out to be, I am certain he will do it well.

  • avatar
    greaseyknight

    From what I’ve seen, the most popular forums have everything in one main board, with almost no sub-forums etc. For example, the H.A.M.B has every make and model, 64 or older in the main board. Pirate 4×4 has 79-95 Toyota trucks all lumped together, and all the hardcore Jeep guys in one spot also. Doing this helps to get new content to people who would otherwise not look at it. Are you, or others regularly posting on build threads for your vehicles? That a good way to keep things active, and promote posting. Get the experts in the field on the forum and posting content, drives business to them and you get more activity on the forum.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Two problems, one superficial and one structural.

    1) might be just me but I hate the typical BB format. It looks like it was literally ported from an old BB. These kids today want buttons like an iphone or windows 8.

    2) Generation Why. To paraphrase the Air Force, the last generation of car enthusiasts has already been born. In the thirteen years you have been involved with that BB a new generation of enthusiasts should have come online (pun intended). They have not.

    Now git off ma lawn and turn that durn music down!

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    Since My ’99 Protege got its ass smashed in on the freeway, I don’t go to mazdas 24/7 anymore. If there are no new cars of interest in this genre coming up, just cut and run, sounds like your plate is full anyway.
    Personally, I think trolls are good for a forum.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      I agree on the trolls.
      Bad info and drama is better than no activity at all. You have to take the good with the bad.

      Kill/merge forums with no activity.

      I remember when the internet was new and I would go on the Z31 forum. This was a simple, scrolling, true bulletin board. If you didn’t log on for a day or two, you would get anxiety for missing threads before they fell off. Now there are 17 sub-forums, 2 of which I regularly bother to look at.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    People move on. I am still an active member of a forum dedicated to 1990-1993 Honda Accords. It was my first foray into model-specific enthusiasm and followed a trajectory that was a microcosm of many things. I joined in 03 I think after getting an Accord and the forum was vibrant. It was new, the platform was untouched, while being old enough to be affordable and new enough to be desirable. There were a lot of pioneers in engine swaps and various kinds of builds that created a pretty diverse platform, and of course as the economy roared on the builds continued. The board was small enough to retain intimacy.

    Then the board began to grow to the point that management became difficult. Scammers, trolls, general idiots began to sour the experience. And of course, many of the pioneers & “OGs” simply moved on from the platform. So the few who remained pined for the old days, while the folks, content + conditions of the old days faded away. Once the recession hit I think that was really the nail in the coffin

    Communities based on something as temporal + ephemeral as one model/generation of a car can’t last. Especially in our ADD society. Its best to just enjoy the board for what it was at its best and let it bow out gracefully. I haven’t seen any model specific boards that died undergo successful revivals.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      Sounds like how Honda-Tech was about 9-10 years ago. Even though I’ve continued to buy Hondas (for family hauling purposes), I haven’t logged on in 6 years. Lost interest and my favorite forum (kills, for beer Friday) went away.

      Funny seeing some of the same names on sites such as TTAC though. Car forums have evolved into blogs and then full sites like here.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Connectivity has changed as well. The Facebook/Twitter/texting age is upon us and the old BBS type boards are struggling for it. The more impediments put up for posting the worse it gets until it is no more.

  • avatar
    dave504

    I’ll bet $20 that the forum is LincolnsOnline.com. The reason that I am outing it is because my proposed solution requires it, so here goes:

    I am the owner of an ’88 Turbo T-Bird, and the forum situation is awful to the point where I am ready to sell it. At some point, all of the 2.3 folks decided that these cars were so different that they needed to break apart from one another, so now you have NATO, Turbo Ford and Fox T-bird Cougar Forums, the first two with the world’s most ancient forum software that takes eons to search for anything meaningful. If you are looking for non-appearance specific tech, you might have to visit all 3 of these (sometimes even getting 3 separate answers), and then there is still SVOCA, The Merkur Club, and the Ranger Station, each with their own rules and regs. If you are looking for classifieds, you might have to visit all 6 of these, and then there is still a 2.3 section over at the Corral. Most of the same people post under different usernames which really doesn’t add anything as much as it duplicates the same info, as many folks post the same question across 2 or 3 sites. Or imagine messaging a guy about a part in the classifieds, and he says that it was sold 2 days ago over at another site. I can go on for days about this, so I’ll shut up and get to the point.

    The reason that most people are posting in the Audio and Appearance forums is because that is the only thing unique to the cars. If I had a 5.0 or 4.6 Lincoln and I was looking for tech, I would go to the Mustang sites first. I would go to the make-specific sites only for Appearance forums and classifieds which is what’s happening to you and what happened to the 2.3 forums – everyone goes to TF for tech and the crap posts (What did you do to your car today?) remain at the model-specific sites. This leads to the fact that vendors can’t sponsor 6 different sites and can’t waste their time posting everywhere, so there is usually a lack of group buys or common interest in getting a new vendor to re-make hard to find parts. So, with all of that said, I propose the following:

    Re-merge the following sites:
    NATO
    TurboFord
    SVOCA
    MerkurClub
    Fox Tbird Cougar Forums
    Lincolns Online
    Anyone other off-brand with 2.3/5.0

    Create forums for the 2.3/3.8/5.0, a forum for the Folvo guys, the Megasquirt guys, etc. you’d have a ton of great tech, a single source for existing and prospective vendors, and a classifieds section that would rival eBay. I would look to VwVortex for inspiration – they manage to have one forum that spans about a billion cars, platforms, makes, models, and engines, so there is no reason why the Ford guys can’t do it.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      This sounds like good advice – well thought-out.

    • 0 avatar
      lilpoindexter

      LOL I was on the Merkur board in the 90s…I had a Merkur XR4Ti until 2000 or 2001. It was quite a pain in the ass to keep it running so long with its goofy prone to shorting out tail lights and steering racks that liked to lock up…I got a message about a new response to a question I posted on the Merkur board…and I realized that my girlfriend of the time was right about how silly I was to spend so much time on the car…I immedieately called a friend who wanted the engine for his Ranger, and 2 hours and $400 later the car was gone.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Sajeev, I’ve always enjoyed reading your articles, just like I enjoyed Paul Niedermeyer’s articles. Sometimes there isn’t anything you can do about the problems you listed.

    The problem is not your writing or the topics; the problem is the one-dimensionality of the public. Everything has a life-span. Yes, even automobiles.

    I have noticed throughout this and other automotive boards that the comments offered by the readership are often the product of one-dimensional thinking, as opposed to the four-dimensional thinking that the top-level auto industry execs are forced to live by in order to remain competitive in an ever-shifting automotive market.

    So, my advice, for what it’s worth, would be to continue writing as you have on the three planes that affect the auto industry, and ensure that they are timely articles that affect the widest possible readership. You can lead an horse to water…

    You will never lose the old codgers like me and the industry followers married to the global automotive world. In today’s reality, that readership is declining, however, unless there’s an app for that.

    Also keep in mind that there are far more readers than there are people who choose to comment or subscribe. Hence, it could be that the forum does not need fixing. It may be that all readership re: the auto industry is declining.

  • avatar
    TW4

    Without knowing the brand in question, solutions are a bit difficult to name. Expanding into the social media arena is a given. Updating status and wall posts keeps users in the loop and it keeps the message board relevant. Ebay is another important platform for car enthusiasts. The search for used parts brings owners together, and it exposes owners to new vendors who have mini-sites in the ebay domain. Make sure ebay vendors post in your classifieds when they have new listings. They need the exposure, and they increase traffic and cross-pollination.

    The problems you are facing are probably not unique to your forum. Any company that specializes in the brand is probably experiencing similar difficulties so you have a great potential to network for mutual benefit. When business is good, forming new relationships can be a hassle, but, when business is bad, new relationships can be a happy occasion.

    Understand what makes your site valuable. Content is obviously important–the inspirational car glam shots, the technical installs (w/ pics), the videos, etc. Make sure all of that content and information is easily accessible. Host galleries. Archive important technical information and cut out the fluff and trolling with your moderator privileges. Focus on SEO for your archive section. Explore youtube opportunities.

    Remember that the message board was not started to serve itself, rather to improve the community. Altering the forum to save the forum will only hasten its demise. The forum must produce for the community, sponsors, advertisers, and the manufacturer/s.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    It appears to me the forum issue is similar to radio programming of old.

    Once upon a time, a city had ONE rock’n’roll/top 40 radio station that played a bit of everything. Lighter stuff including traditional pop and crossover country in the mornings and afternoons for moms, most of which did not work.

    When kids got home from school, the R’n’R kicked in.

    45 years ago things began to change as radio began fragmenting to appeal to narrower groups.

    Nowadays, music radio is so one-dimensional that relatively few listen to any given station at any time.

    Perhaps the same is happening to auto websites. If you have a website that has too narrow of an appeal, and the cars under discussion are those once made by AMC, you can imagine it’s a dying game.

    As far as TTAC is concerned, I love this place because of the diversity of subjects, and except for a few trolls that deliberately try to enrage someone just for the sake of argument – well, a website’s policy must be reviewed and enforced when necessary.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Let it die a graceful death.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    I don’t know that there’s any easy answers. I belonged to an MG Rover forum for many years, I enjoyed it because I had always been a fan of the company’s products and actually found the quality of the discourse to be of a noticeably higher standard than most other single-make forums (in other words, it wasn’t populated solely by illiterate, obnoxious fanbois).

    However, the level of activity declined noticeably after MG Rover went bankrupt and stopped making cars, the forum owner seemed to run into financial difficulty, many previously loyal members started to drop off, and the ones that replaced them weren’t always as interesting. I hung on for a while, since it was still the best source for news and information on the new developments at the now Chinese-owned MG, but as the tone changed, I dropped out.

    I think the only real way to try to fix declining forums like this is to broaden the base, so to speak. Create a sub-forum that’s dedicated to just general industry news and discussion for all manufacturers and makes, and really focus moderator’s efforts on keeping that active. Pare down the number of other sub-forums to just the bare minimum, keep a handful of the most active ones and get rid of the dead ones.

    No guarantee that that will make any difference, but it will at least give you a fighting chance or slow down the rate of decline.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    “No future in sight for newer vehicles of this brand bringing in new fans (personal opinion)”

    I think you are wrong here. Based on the posts above, and your writing about your own Lincoln(s), this is probably a Lincoln forum.

    You might not like to hear this, but I think a sub-forum for livery/limo/hearse owners/drivers could get a lot of interest and passion for the forum. They are the new Lincoln owners that need a forum for maintenance, operating tips, sh*t talking about MKT’s being better than XTS’s, etc.

  • avatar
    niky

    I’ve been alternatingly, moderator and member of various automotive and non-automotive forums over the past sixteen or seventeen years.

    A simple format really works. Too much subdivision, too many scattered forums and too much complexity kills a forum. If there’s no simple and comprehensive search parser or easy way to find posts and threads on your desired interests, then there’s less chance that people will post.

    CAPTCHA sucks. All it does is prevent a tiny handful of bots that make it past your regular security and discourages casual drive-by posters.

    Unfortunately, these things really have a natural lifespan. A forum may live or die on the interest and participation of a small number of dedicated, quality posters. If those regulars aren’t there, anymore, it’s a hopeless cause unless you can attract and hold a number of good ones long enough for a community to build around them.

    I’ve only ever seen one zombie forum come back to life. A successful resuscitation is very, very rare.

    And it’s worse now. Facebook and Twitter are doing to the forums what internet media sites are doing to the print rags. They’re killing them. Horribly. You can do what you can do to try and revive it, but at some point, you’ll have to accept that it’s a lost cause.

  • avatar

    Sell it to Verticalscope ….

  • avatar

    With a few exceptions, people are most interested in a car model during its first year of production. Unless the manufacturer keeps fresh product coming every 2-3 years that appeals to the same group of people (no radical changes), interest will wane and the forum with it.

  • avatar
    sean9c

    Some things just run their course to a natural end. Thinking about the forums that I’ve been in.
    vwvortex can only take so much of 16 yr old kids with no money, car, experience telling everyone how it should be done.
    audiworld in the old days a great forum of techy sort of guys talking about not so mainstream cars, once Audi went mainstream with the a4 it became all about how low can I get my car and how big a wheel will fit
    saabnet forum died with brand
    scionlife a fun forum built on the buzz of the gen 1 xB, all jdm and existing tuner market then Scion/Toyota decided to domesticate (kill) itself

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Agree on AudiWorld — lots of it is about “that car isn’t low enough” and “check out my wheels” and “tell me how ‘sick’ my ‘murdered out’ car is”. There is still some good tech talk sometimes, but if you want that old lovin’ feeling, you probably have to go to Motorgeek now. The Euro forums are also a little better about not just being about lowering springs and wheels.

      ih8mud.com might be a good counterargument, however, to the belief that niche forums are dying and that tons of random sub-forums don’t work.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “How do you make a forum vibrant again?”

    You don’t. Forums are on the decline. The internet has moved on, and forums generally can’t keep pace.

    The best approach may be to morph it into something else. The high maintenance approach is to turn it into a blog. The lower maintenance approach is to turn it into a content aggregator. Start by viewing it as an SEO issue, and go from there.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    The main reason I’ve seen for forums dying away is that the original knowledgeable contributors get bored and wander away, to be replaced by a bunch of chinese-whispering noobs, repeating, or misrepeating, the same old stuff. There’s often also a step change downwards in membership when you change forum software, as the bedding down process invariably loses a few stalwarts.

    Finally of course, the obliviot Gen Y crew who are replacing those of us who can remember Usenet as we die have zero interest in our obsessions.

  • avatar

    While I suspect Mr. Kreindler’s suggestion might be “Let them eat cake,” as a dyed-in-the-wool forum guy, I empathize with your situation, sir. I’ve been doing this since the late 90s. I’ve built a few boards, run a couple others, moderated or otherwise been promoted on still others. The problem comes from the strict adherence to the old way of doing things.

    Most boards seem to be make/model/platform/pursuit/place-specific. These generally have finite timelines. Some people leave to pursue the latest and greatest – their passion is figuring out new platforms. Others leave when the next generation becomes more affordable. Still others leave because they’re just tired of dealing with worn-out, consistently neglected vehicles.

    There’s a lot of good advice in the comments here; particularly the suggestions to simplify the board for improved exposure to what remaining activity its got. What I would point out is that you’ve probably got a contingent of regulars who, although they’ve since moved on to other models, continue to frequent the site.

    The machines bring us together.
    The PEOPLE who keep us coming back.

    What percentage of your community is empowered to maintain it? It seems you might stick with the now well-used format of a dozen sub-forums for engine, gearbox, suspension, interior, racing, off-topic, for sale, et al.. Do you still have a handful of moderators policing a larger number of regular members?

    I’ve been advocating mass promotions for years. Nobody seems to have the balls to give it a shot, but I believe that, if you show the few members you’ve got how much they mean to you by TRUSTING them to edit, move, and lock threads, you give them a sense of vested ownership in something bigger than themselves.

    But take it a step further! Give them seats at the table. Speak to the spirit of the community and empower them to make the changes necessary to keep the people there interested and caring about the community. It’s about more than just the nth generation Thunderclutch-Whirlydingy.

    Besides, what do you have to lose?

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I don’t know about the TTAC editors, but I would like to know the actual URL of the place you’re talking about so I can get some perspective of what it’s all about.

    If you’re talking about a Pinto or MR2 owner’s forum or something like that, I’m just not sure it’s a growing market. As the cars die off, so do your users.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Forums were originally about the social aspect of the internet, a community of people with similar interests that you could communicate with. The fact that we could reference the tech information in them was more of an afterthought. Then Facebook/Twitter/Circles/Etc comes along and eliminates the need for social forum. Craigslist replaced For Sale subforums, Ebay and internet commerce replaced Vendor subforums, Tire Rack already runs most of the Wheel and Tire subforums I have ever seen, etc.

    I used to use forums all the time, but lately they have all pretty much been sucking. The format is just not conducive to finding useful information. Once you figure out how to do a search with the stupid captcha, you end up with hundreds of results, most of which are other people searching for the same thing you searched for, and a hundred responses from the regulars telling them to use the search button. Then you have to weed through all the noobs and wrong answers to find someone who really knows what they are talking about.

    That’s why I said “Let it die”. What we need are sites with useful information stored and cataloged in a useful way: a knowledgebase for whatever car you are interested in. As questions are asked in the “forum”, then answered, the correct and useful information needs to be moved to the knowledgebase, then DELETED. Why do we need threads of useless crap from 2002? I would guess 95% of a forum’s content is completely irrelevant. Anything older than a year should be deleted. That’s the entire problem with the internet in general, we now have way too much information stored to sift through and it makes the entire process unmanageable.

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    A general, but not too general, forum should last a long while, ex Mazda247. More often than not, the best contributors are the ones buying the car new or relatively so. As soon as a particular model reaches less than $10k on the used market, the real idiots show up, and the long-timers with some sense and personal income, go somewhere else. Exceptions are found where the cars have a rather fanatical fan base, example: RX-7.

    It also helps if the model has active meets and gatherings. For the rotaries, Sevenstock (west) and Deal’s Gap (east) provide yearly places to associate faces with screen names and to show off one’s latest mods. Same with the Mazda-only areas at GrandAm events.


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