Before social networking and Anime blogs existed, Anime forums and message boards were one of the main ways of discussing about a particular interest besides fan sites. For a while now, there is one thread on Animesuki that caught my attention with people noticing a decline in forum activity. With that, I would like to share my past experiences and why Anime forums will still be relevant despite the popularity of social networking and blogging. (Image Source)
Back in the late 1990s, there was no such thing as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google Plus. Back then, message boards or forums are perhaps the only main ways to share one’s thoughts about a particular episode of a show or discuss about it. Of course, most Anime related forums have other sections for people to share fan creations or to talk about other topics besides Anime. The good thing about these forums is for the fact that you can participate without knowing anyone or going to the trouble of following people like you would on social networks.
Back when I first got on the Internet, I primarily participated on Pokémon forums. Granted, I was a bit immature since I was 10 years old, but I got to share my thoughts about the Pokémon games and even the Anime with other fans. While I eventually stop participating on them in the mid to late 2000s during high school, I eventually got back into it when I joined AnimeSuki when I started this blog. I used to share my brief thoughts for various shows and made posts in the General Chat and video game forums.
Nowadays, I lurk around since I spend most of my time doing other things besides blogging. Out of the many Anime forums out there, the only ones I’m active on and lurk around are AnimeSuki and Bulbagarden Forums (for Pokémon related stuff) under the same username I use (I’m also on Project IM@S, but I don’t go there that much nowadays).
In general, one of the main reasons why I don’t participate on forums is mostly because of blogging. While Anime blogs didn’t get popular until the mid to late 2000s with the whole social network boom, people used to write thoughtful posts mixed with troll posts and simple responses saying that someone enjoyed a particular episode on a forum. I feel that some people, especially Anime Bloggers are somewhat less inclined to share these thoughts on a forum and would rather make a thought-out post on their own blogs so it won’t be forgotten in pages of posts in a particular thread. Not only that, blog posts tends to feel more personal rather than adding to a discussion to a particular thread.
On the other hand, does this mean that Anime forums will die off and be replaced with social networking? I don’t think so for the fact that social networking tends to be limited to how much you can say and it’s not always about Anime. If you see a timeline of any Anime fan or blogger, he/she will usually talk about other stuff such as TV shows, sports, music, life stuff, etc. in addition to Anime that you might not be particularly interested in. Moreover, most people typically follow or friend a certain number of people, thus not everyone will communicate with each other like they would on a forum. This is probably the main reason social networks will not kill forums since the latter allows one to discuss about a particular interest to everyone, not just to your friends or followers.
As a whole, while Anime forums in general are not as popular as they are back in the day, I still feel that they are still relevant today for actual discussion. Some people might view the decline of activity as a bad thing. To me, I think it can be a good thing for the fact that it allows for a more quality discussion as seen on Anime blogs with the openness of social networks without the character restrictions. I still think they still have a place where Anime blogging and social networking is mainstream.
What are your thoughts/experiences on Anime Forums? Feel free to share some that you participate in personally.