Are Message Boards Old School?

One of Tom Morris’s many good links today is a post at Learnandteachonline about how message boards have gone out of fashion. Let’s think about this a second.

The idea is that more web sites have become blogs or blog-like, inviting a more decentralized conversation. While I certainly agree with that, here are the big four reasons why I think message boards still have a place in 2006 and beyond.

1) Topics and messages on a message board are more clustered, which permits a faster and more immediate conversation. Faster because you can read and respond to many threads in a message board in a matter of a couple of minutes. More immediate because posters can and often do post a series of responses within seconds of each other. Take tonight’s loss by the formerly great Wake Forest basketball team to Florida State. Within seconds of the end of the game there were teens of topics and hundreds of posts at ACCBoards.Com about the demise of the Wake Forest basketball program. It would take a lot longer to get all of those points of view if they were spread out over several blogs.

2) Most people don’t know what a blog is and most of the people who know what blogs are don’t care about them. If I tried to move my traffic from ACCBoards.Com to some blog, I’d lose most of my traffic and all of my advertisers. There are simply more people who have the knowledge and inclination to visit and read message boards than blogs. This may change over time, but we’ve got a long way to go.

3) While interactivity at blogs is encouraged, it follows (both figuratively and literally) the content posted by the blogger. In other words, the blogger’s content is king at a blog, whereas everyone’s content is equal on a message board.

4) Non-posting readers (called lurkers on message boards) are far more likely to wander around a message board with thousands of posts on a particular topic than they are to surf from blog to blog and read maybe (on a great day) 100 posts on a topic.

I think greater interactivity has taken some traffic away from message boards since their heyday, but I firmly believe that message boards fill a related but separate need that will continue for years to come.

Technorati Tags: