Forums Are The Best

I’ll admit the title is not-fully-accurate clickbait, but in my defense it was out of laziness rather than malice. I’m not sure how to cram the thesis statement, which is that webforums have a significant but oft-overlooked advantage over modern social media (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest, etc.) in that aspiring creators of any kind of media can discreetly advertise their work in such a way that it will still actually reach board members. Specifically, a creator can put a one-line pitch for their work in their signature, turn that one line into a hyperlink, and an unobtrusive ad for their stuff will appear in every post they ever make. At that point, they can advertise their work by being an active and constructive member of the community. Every post they make is advertising for their work, and every good post they make is advertising that other forum-goers might actually like or care about. People who don’t want to be advertised to barely even have to notice.

This is about the only thing that worries me about how gaming communities are beginning to congregate more and more around Discord. Discord is generally speaking a very good communication platform that doesn’t suffer the serious problems that sites like, for my most loathed example, Reddit are plagued by, but there is no means of unobtrusive advertising like this. Your only two options are 1) maintain a small enough community that someone can be all “hey guys, I wrote a book” and people will check it out purely on basis of knowing that guy and being curious what he’s up to – although that’s still way less effective than the way a forum user reminds people of their work every time they post, because someone who doesn’t care enough to check it out the first time might get curious eventually, or else 2) you can have a dedicated advertising channel and let people post their stuff there on a weekly basis or however often they update, but generally speaking these channels are used exclusively by other creators, which is a tiny market compared to the community as a whole. Very few people intentionally go to advertising channels to see what the community members are up to.

Unlike Reddit’s flaws, which I consider debilitating (and most other social media have similar if not worse “features” that hold attention but produce terrible communities), I don’t think Discord is particularly negatively impacted by this, but it does make me worry about the future of indie creation, real bottom rung “slapped together in my garage for $50 or less” style indie creation, when its creators can’t rely on being sincere and productive members of a community to advertise their stuff, and instead have to resort to either spending lots of money for proper ad campaigns or annoying sales tactics like finding any excuse to reference their work while dropping a shameless plug.

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