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 Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying?

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Mech 1 twa
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BrianInVA
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BrianInVA


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Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying? Empty
PostSubject: Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying?   Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying? I_icon_minitimeTue Jun 21, 2022 12:32 pm

Nice to see the Silverwing forum bucking the trend. Thanks to all here who freely offer their help and encouragement.


https://www.revzilla.com/common-tread/why-are-online-motorcycle-forums-drying-up-and-dying

Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying?
Lemmy
Jun 20, 2022

Moped Army. thevog.net. Triumphrat.net. alt.motorcycles.ducati. BARF.

If you're over age 30 and didn't come to motorcycling late in life, you probably remember at least one of those motorcycle forums, even if you didn't belong to one. In the heyday of the internet forum, you could reliably punch almost any make or model of motorcycle into a search bar (AltaVista, anyone?) and someone, somewhere, had started a forum for it. And now, in 2022, that same forum is likely a wasteland. Why is that?

What's a motorcycle forum?

For those who didn't live this little bit of history, forums were sort of a crude version of social media. I used quite a few, moderated another, and still log on to a couple today — but things have changed.

Through about 2010 or so, using a motorcycle-specific forum went like this: You'd join, introduce yourself, often in a "New Members" area, and you were off to the races, asking questions, sharing advice and opinions and talking about the forum's subject matter. Some forums were about a specific model, like 600rr.net. Others focused on a brand, like Triumphrat.net. Some, like bayarearidersforum.com (affectionately known as BARF) were regional, and some of those transcended their local beginnings and had people posting from around the world.

In most cases, it was likely to be a community of warm and welcoming people who had gathered. There were as many people asking questions as giving answers and it was awesome. Trolls were few, moderation by volunteers was adequate, and most people genuinely wanted to help. Often, you could find deep and detailed writeups and how-tos from people creating genuinely wonderful user-generated content because A) they really loved posting helpful stuff and B) it was before most people were aware that all commercial enterprises on the internet are using you and your content for their own profit.

Since there was a specific forum for just about every popular model of motorcycle, if you were doing a job at home for the first time, instead of reading a generic article about how to do the work you could read a description from another person who did the job on the exact same bike. And if you got stuck, you could get online and ask for help. It was great.

So why did the party stop? I think there are a few answers.

The internet stopped being accessed by desktop

In January 2014, desktop internet use was overtaken by mobile internet use in America. This means screens got smaller, layouts moved primarily from horizontal to vertical, and physical keyboards were largely unavailable.

This means writing a longer post was more difficult. Formatting it to appear nicely with photos in line with the text became more difficult. Reading a post that was text-heavy became more onerous. As people drifted away from their desktop computers, they began to drift away from forums.

Anyone who has used motorcycle forums for a long time has probably noticed that activity has dropped off, but it's hard to quantify just how much it has reduced. These screenshots from the ChopCult forum demonstrate the difference. At left is 2012. Most posts are minutes or hours apart. At right is 2022. Posts are now hours or days apart. RevZilla illustration.

Social media sure is easy

With most popular forms of social media, you're being served interesting things all the time with cross-pollination all in a one-stop dopamine hit. Do you love golf, Audi cars, retro-cafe motorcycles, and sushi? Social media can easily serve that up to you in a seemingly constant stream. With forums, however, you'd probably have to log in and catch up on four or five different places. Granted, that conversation may be deeper and more helpful for technical topics, but most folks aren't trying to read about the best way to do a valve check on a Suzuki GS450 every day when they have a few minutes to burn.

You may be saying, "Hey, it's easier to consume, but it's a pain to create content on Insta or Facebook." I'd agree with you. I'd also argue it's going to be much harder to find great content in the future (if it even exists) because traditional social platforms like Twitter and Facebook are designed to deliver the latest content, not the deepest.

Photobucket broke the internet one day

The people creating those helpful how-to posts on motorcycle forums needed a place online to host their photos, and many used the popular image-hosting service Photobucket. On June 30, 2017, Photobucket quietly carried out what amounted to be a full-on murder: It elected to disallow embedding of images. To continue uninterrupted service as had previously been provided, Photobucket began charging $399, which was seen by many as tantamount to extortion.

The ramifications were twofold, extending far beyond the motorcycle world. First, many forum articles, tutorials, and knowledge bases were wiped clean of images, rendering many posts either much less useful or not useful at all. Compounding this issue was the fact it affected so many forums which had relied on free user-generated content.

More devastatingly, some users realized rebuilding was futile as they really were not in control of the information produced individually or in aggregate and simply chose to discontinue use of the bulletin board forum instead of starting over from square one. If several different companies can dismantle something you built, well… what’s the point?

The amount of devastation this caused was really hard to assess. I was moderating a motorcycle forum at the time this occurred and could not believe the amount of stuff Photobucket rendered unusable in just one flick of a switch.

Links rot and people die

This is the ugly obverse side of the coin we just covered. As it turns out, it doesn't feel friendly or inviting to show up to a forum where half the stickies were penned by someone who is deceased and link rot means all the links and images are broken. It feels like walking in on a bulletin board (like a physical corkboard) that has old information and sales ads on it. It's not real helpful, and unless you really suspect something good is on there, you probably won't spend time digging. Fewer people contribute to the forum and the downward spiral continues.

Conclusion: As in "the end"

The death of the motorcycle forum is probably like the death of the printed motorcycle magazine. It was mourned by some, but hasn't been replaced because a replacement isn't something most people are asking for. Most people I know seem perfectly happy to get motorcycle memes from Instagram and used bikes from Facebook Marketplace, so perhaps our current social scenario is the most evolved version of how bike chatter and kibitzing with others should take place.

The forum, which was somewhat asynchronous and perhaps more demanding of users' time, whether giving or receiving information, has been supplanted by a much faster mode of communication. Some quality of the exchange probably suffers, but the volume has probably increased by more than the quality of post content has slipped.

Perhaps where we are is exactly where we are supposed to be.
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Loosemarbles
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Loosemarbles


Number of posts : 1012
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PostSubject: Re: Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying?   Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying? I_icon_minitimeTue Jun 21, 2022 2:16 pm

You've caught me at a very philosophical moment! I put it all down to age, progress and evolution.

I used to love reading aviation magazines but did the text get smaller?, to allow more space for advertising?, or did my eyesight just get worse? I now use an e-book to read. (I can put the text size up to a point where I can actually read it without glasses).

I can't use my phone for internet use, because of the hassle involved in fighting with the damned thing to get it to show me what I want to see! Youngsters, and some older people, don't have a problem with this stuff.

My point is, I have to have a big fat keyboard, a mouse and a nice big screen in order to accomplish my task here on the forum. We're not bombarding each other with sound bites and street talk, we're communicating as though we were talking. That's how it works. I don't come across many younger bikers who are passionate about their bikes....and I mean, 'passionate'.

So, I quote from Marvin, the paranoid android from 'Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy'.....

"Life?...don't talk to me about life"!
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zrx212
Touring Scooter Rider
Touring Scooter Rider



Number of posts : 340
Age : 62
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Registration date : 2020-12-26

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PostSubject: Re: Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying?   Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying? I_icon_minitimeTue Jun 21, 2022 2:39 pm

I'm still a member of the http://www.zrxoa.org/forums/index.php?s=9bd7c645aef7f8edcb79e4373137f15e
Have been so for 23yrs, even though I sold my ZRX 2 years ago, I still visit almost daily, there's still fair amount of activity/post about the bike itself, but also it has grown/changed to accommodate a big diversity of bikes types, riding styles and lots of other topics, IOW it has evolved with the times. The best change was to completely eliminate discussions of politics/religion and a strick set of rules/enforcement.
 There's was some bumps in the road, but the ZRXOA still alive and well at 23yrs old and 17yrs since they ceased sales in the US and 10-15 in other markets.
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Terry Smith
Touring Scooter Rider
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Terry Smith


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Registration date : 2020-03-11

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PostSubject: Re: Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying?   Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying? I_icon_minitimeTue Jun 21, 2022 2:44 pm

Given that we all post here, maybe we are not representative of the wider community?

I reject the assertion that forums are dying, and being replaced by FB groups. I see FB a bit like a text message; ok for short yes/no/7pm type answers and an attachment, but hopeless for conveying details or having a discussion. The depth of know-how freely available from knowledgeable folk is incredible, especially in the VFR and ST1300 forums, and I think I can add some of my correspondents there into a "friends I've never met" group.
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BrianInVA
Maxi-Scooter Rider
Maxi-Scooter Rider
BrianInVA


Number of posts : 141
Location : VA
Points : 244
Registration date : 2022-04-17

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PostSubject: Re: Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying?   Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying? I_icon_minitimeTue Jun 21, 2022 3:01 pm

Frankly I’ve been a member of several large political and smaller Catholic discussion forums, and I’ve been a moderator or owned several of the latter. The ONLY place where forum discussions of religion and politics might work is where every forum member supports one end of the spectrum or the other, and there is robust charitable and even handed moderation.

I’m also a member of a forum dedicated to collecting firewood, of all things, and all the tools and skills that go with it. It is fairly large and still growing. It does have a fairly “conservative” political and religious outlook, but it split off from another forum dedicated to the same topic that was “progressive” in its outlook. A third one caters more to the camheads who want to build bigger/better/faster chainsaws.

I also frequent a forum about e bikes. (Battery powered bicycles.) Its a huge forum and growing too.

Sometimes specialization of forum topics is a good thing.

Sometimes when the product on which a forum is centered is no longer in production, like our Silverwings, it can be self limiting. I used to frequent forums for previous bikes such as the Honda Pacific Coast and ST1100. I no longer have them so no need to go there.

But this forum is remarkable for its overall positive feel and genuine helpfulness. I don’t think the “Silverwing thing” is going to fade away any time soon.
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Mech 1 twa
Silver Wing Guru
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Mech 1 twa


Number of posts : 1275
Location : Allentown PA.
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PostSubject: Re: Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying?   Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying? I_icon_minitimeTue Jun 21, 2022 10:13 pm

You've caught me at a very philosophical moment! I put it all down to age, progress and evolution.
I'm going to quite Loosemarbles on this one so many distractions in life these days and not enough free time to devote to personal time spent in Online discussions. Many people are rude and not open to one's opinions anymore.

Many forums are still active and growing. So many places to visit most here are older and remember a time before the internet it has its good points and bad.

The vast amount of information can be overwhelming, and facts are well let's say questionable at times.
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GHM-PM
Site Admin
GHM-PM


Number of posts : 2248
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PostSubject: Re: Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying?   Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying? I_icon_minitimeThu Jun 23, 2022 8:01 am

I too treasure this forum. One of the few that still serve their intended purpose. I am a member of a couple of automobile forums; one is nearly dead and the other has slowed WAY down. Sad. Photobucket took me out as stated above. I had loads of posts with photos hosted by PB and most have gone away. Sad to say it is way too big a hassle to move photos from PB to another hosting site...

Thanks to all you that prefer this forum format (as I do). And remember if you change bikes/scooters we do have a section for that as well!!!
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Erdoc48
Scooter Rider
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Number of posts : 26
Age : 58
Location : Myrtle Beach, SC
Points : 64
Registration date : 2022-05-31

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PostSubject: Re: Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying?   Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying? I_icon_minitimeThu Jun 23, 2022 10:53 am

I’m very happy this forum exists as it’s a great source of information to keep these scoots on the road. I’m a member of ST-Owners.com as well and that forum has been great as well- a lot of people there are very knowledgeable and I’ve been able to do a lot mechanically to the bikes as well (and my mechanical skills aren’t bad but I’m no master mechanic). Same here…I got my GBoost belt in the mail yesterday and will change it out (due to age, the SW only has 5100 miles on it now) and I’ll keep the existing belt for emergencies unless it looks like it wouldn’t be worth keeping.

The issue with some forums (and I was on a couple of these for the MR2 Spyder I own- a 2004 model and the 300ZX I have- a 1993 model) is that the forum becomes over time much less about the target vehicle and a lot more about politics and issues not relevant to the vehicle, maintenance, upgrades, etc. Then some of the members have become overtly toxic and that drives people like me to leave the forum. If I have a helpful hint, I’d love to contribute, but once it’s about other issues like politics, then it can get ugly really quick- I’ve never involved my self in such an online fight but have witnessed many in the past. It’s the same reason I’m not on ANY social media- it had an original purpose, to connect people, but now it seems it’s mostly used as a soapbox to espouse one’s opinions and get into fights because ‘I’m right and you’re wrong.’ Also, if someone was to ask me about an opinion, I carefully avoid such subjects as it can only open Pandora’s box and get ugly quickly.
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Meldrew
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PostSubject: Re: Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying?   Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying? I_icon_minitimeThu Jun 23, 2022 2:12 pm

Conventional maxi scooter forums aren't getting the posts they were a few years ago and do seem stagnant, maybe it's because they constantly rehash the same topics, are cliquey, or just downright boring. Facebook seems to be the alternative to the forum for any subject you have an interest in, there's been public and private groups for Silver Wing enthusiasts for years.

Facebook simpler to read, add, and edit content from your iPad or iPhone wherever you are. With the added bonus of posting photos from said devices almost as easy as it is to type text.

After a while on maxi forums, it's quite easy to recognise someone who you only knew by their forum name and location on here or other forums turn up on a Facebook Silver Wing or maxi scooter group. Some tend to duplicate the same content they post on here and other forums which is another way of spotting them

I give various maxi groups an occasional glance when I'm on Facebook, although I've never been tempted to join one.
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sc00ter
Super Scooter Rider
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Number of posts : 226
Location : Norfolk, VA
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Registration date : 2018-07-16

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PostSubject: Re: Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying?   Why are online motorcycle forums drying up and dying? I_icon_minitimeFri Jun 24, 2022 10:28 am

My observations concerning the lower online turnout.

1) I would hope that most people are just out riding! It's summer, we all had a rough last 2 years and some are just out riding?

2) Face Book and the other "exclusive" social media forums. I don't do any social media so I'll never join those groups.

3) People aging out? I know it was a hot last sales season for new motorcycles, and new motorcycles shouldn't have issues yet?

This Silverwing forum does quite good considering the Swing hasn't been sold new in the states for awhile. Wife is selling her Swing.
Modern Vespa is still busy. I have a Liberty 150.
Moped Army is still going good. Might get another moped to keep my 2-stroke skills sharp.
Burgman USA is still busy. I had a Burgman 200.

Maybe we just all assume that everyone joins their respective brands online fan club/support group?
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