How do they keep up?

blah blah blahWhen I was into the BBS scene, I was a pretty active message board poster. My main haunt, a place called Inverted Reality, had some pretty lively discussions on a variety of topics – sports, video games, high school (I was 18 at the time), things like that. I would probably average 20+ posts a day. There were probably 50 active users, with about 10 of us being “heavy posters.” Since then, I’ve participated in various message boards and the like, but I have never returned to my prolific posting ways. I still participate in the occasionaly discussion over at Evil Avatar, but that’s about the extent of my posting nowadays.

A while back, I came across a link to the site Forum Rankings, which ranks the most active message boards across the ‘Net. I was simply amazed by the numbers some of these boards are boasting. Unbe-fricken-lievable! Gaia Online, the #1 board, has 3.8+ million members and 630+ million messages. That is insane! (Don’t even get me started on the way the message threads are laid out, what an atrocity that is.) Honestly, how do the members of these forums keep up!? If you go into the actual discussion areas, there are threads that are 25 THOUSAND posts long! I simply can not wrap my brain around those kind of numbers. The Boards at IGN (aka the Bane of Gamers everywhere) come in a distant second, with a paltry 132 million posts. Honestly, are there that many things to say about things? That’s a lot of things! With those kind of numbers, shouldn’t the internet be full by now? Holy shnikes!

Funny thing is, I wonder how many of those messages are “me too!” and “O RLY?”. Is anything really accomplished in these threads? Are people ever convinced by the other side? Or is it simply the inane cacophony of millions of disparate voices? The mind boggles at the collective hive that is the internet. I think the singularity may be farther away than some people think.


  1. That is why I like to stick with small message forums.

  2. There is certainly a point at which meaningful communication and discussion breaks down. I, too, used to participate regularly, and for a time even moderate, a forum. Sevral hundred members is manageable by a few people if the discussions are relegated to different rooms. As you progress into the high hundreds and thousands you have to focus on areas of discusion that you find interesting even to have a hope of staying current and managing a life outside the forum. There is also a lot of scanning for useful posts that goes on.

    For me, it became impossible. I have to read everything, it’s my mildly obsessive nature. I also don’t like missing something, and I firmly believe that a lot of internet miscommunication happens because people (myself included) read past a lot of what is being said.

    Once the community becomes too big, it becomes a mish-mash of pointless banter and garble. The first few posts of a given thread may be the most useful, but good luck trying to squeeze anything from the rest. You wind up lookin for people you know, or reading for key words. Will anyone read your intelligent reply on the 45th page? Not likely. Too many people read the first couple of posts and just hit reply, dump in their answer and walk away. Some few troll the whole thread. They have no lives.

    This is where the blog-o-sphere has taken over, in my opinion. There are smaller groups of people, engaged in smaller discussions, on far more focused topics. But try going to a really popular blog. Do you ever read all the comments? Is it even worth it? Usually not. There really is a breaking point for meaningful internet communication.

    And now I’ve rambled on for far too long. 🙂

  3. agentgray says

    That’s the one thing I like about EA. The signal to noise is low.

    However, I have noticed a trend of noobs coming into the system and just posting drivel to get their count-post up.

    O RLY?

  4. superguido says

    I just started reading EA recently but post-E3 the tone seems to have gotten a little more hostile, especially in terms of the Sony stuff.

    And it’s pretty safe to say that there isn’t much useful conversation happening at a place like IGN Boards. There is some content to be found, but you have to wade through a lot of trolls and drivel to get to anything that resembles human conversation.

  5. Interestingly, the book you referenced discusses this example of the increasing “hive-like” behavior of humans… 😉 Kurzweil actually uses it as evidence that the singularity is approaching.

    Not sure that I buy into it, but since the singularity requires a Borg-like approach to hive minds… maybe the Internet is the “australopithicus” of the future collective intelligence?

    I hope not, because the Borg would look pretty stupid. “Resistance is futile.” “O RLY?” “Your income will be assimilated INTO OUR COUNTRY WITH FUNDS WHICH ARE PRESENTLY TRAPPED IN NIGERIA.”

  6. Oh come on…. IGN is a FUN place to post 🙂

    Ok… I was just kidding.

    /em hides his 15,000 post count.

  7. Me Too!

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