I’ve frequented message boards since my early teens. In some ways it allowed me to escape my reality while also connecting with those trying to escape their own. It allowed me to form friendships, something I struggled with in real life, and it gave me the ability to express myself.
Now with the evolution of social media and websites like Facebook where you have the ability to create and maintain groups, message boards are no longer as prevalent. And even if you so happen to find a message board, you’ll notice very little activity as more and more people migrate their lives and posts to the Facebook medium.
Now, Facebook will never truly replace message boards because while it affords the ability to join groups based on a certain interests, unlike a message board where you can easily to go ONE location that covers numerous interests/topics, you’re forced instead to have to join multiple groups, making it harder to keep up with or invest in. Not only that but in my experience, with larger FB groups, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd, though that’s not to say the same isn’t true on message boards.
I suppose the biggest difference between Facebook and a message board is customization and post styles. A message board affords the owners the ability to create themes specific to their members interest, whereas Facebook has a consistent look throughout. Members don’t have the ability to create signatures and the topics they discuss are limited to replies by the friends they have that have similar interests. Generally, this is true of message boards as well, but I’ve found that those who posts on message boards tend to have the same interests, broad or specific, allowing members to more easily connect. In addition, a simple image on Facebook suffices for a post and can generate tons of replies, where as on a message board, an image may not clearly deliver the message intended by the topic creator, more so there’s little value in posting just an image because its likely to generate little or no response.
So does this mean message boards no longer serve a purpose? To an extent, yes. It’s harder to generate interests when their are some many other avenues that people can go to to connect with others, BUT message boards still serve a purpose. If you’re looking for a single site where you can discuss multiple topics or hell, discuss topics that are a subset to an interest, then message boards are the way to go. If you value customization, organization, and the ability to make yourself stand out with signatures and snazzy avatars, then it’s likely you’ll enjoy message boards. Keep in mind, however, that while message boards can ensure diversity, it does come with a simple caveat that many tend to forget, a community is only as good as the members that are active. Unlike, Facebook where the need for activity is not truly necessary, message boards do require a certain commitment by its members.
So are message boards dead?
Overall, I wouldn’t say message boards are dead, I’d just say those who own them or are interested in being a part of them are failing to recognize that interaction is a necessary component. Unlike Facebook, where its members can post statuses that garner no replies, this is not true of a board. Without replies, members lose interest, and the board dies.
So the next time you think of joining a message board, remind yourself that your activity plays a crucial role in its success, because without it, the board is as good as dead.