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Forums are good!

Welcome to my newest blog. This is place I wanted to put together to discuss my journey back into the world of the web.

Who am I? 

I’m Al and I’m from England. But you’re not interested in that. This is about my online ventures so let’s take a trip down memory lane. 

Way back in 2003 I stumbled upon gamingforums.com and got hooked into online forums. My username was AzH and I devoted a lot of time to the forums eventually gaining a role as Senior Administrator in charge of a community of thousands. I loved it. My time as GF was enjoyable but like all good things it came to an end. That end took the form of me standing down, coming back, standing down again. Eventually I was struck by the banhammer. 

These were very different times to today. Facebook was in its infancy. Twitter was too. Forums were the premium ‘social media’. I started by own forum, devioustyrant.com and then another rockpapernuke.com, then supremecommanderforums.com too! I was invested. 

They were dark times personally. Life was tough outside of the online world. Money was tight. Relationships were complicated. I was treading water and not doing very much. These forums gave me clarity of purpose. 

As I developed skills in forum administration and promotion I had some success. left4deadforums.com was comparatively huge for me. My first true personal online success story. I launched it before the game was released and nurtured a community of passionate individuals to the point where we became the number one L4D fan site on the planet. When the game launched my inability to fund and successfully monetise such a large venture hit and I had no option but to sell the boards. They were snapped up and the success of the forums continued with the release of the game’s sequel. Eventually, however, as all boards dedicated to a single game, they withered and died and were merged into a larger forum. 

Building on my success with left4deadforums I opened another community for another similar game, Dead Island. I was better than I had been. I engaged with developers and publishers. We became the number one destination for people wanting to talk about Dead Island. 

That forum was sold too at game release. I still wasn’t competent at making money online and the opportunity to gain a few thousand dollars from selling it outweighed the cost of keeping it. 

I tried a few more – all games based; alienscolonialmarines.com (or was it .net?) and dreadnoughtforums.com. Neither was as popular as previous ventures and Twitter/Facebook were superseding forums as the discussion medium of choice. It was a difficult slog. I anticipated success would fall into my lap but it didn’t happen. Both were abandoned as real life took over. 

Children, relationships, a proper career, friendships, family. These all took precedence and my involvement in online ventures too a back seat for many, many years. 

My life has settled. I am comfortable and happy. I am not rich beyond my wildest dreams but I’m financially well off. The coronavirus lockdown hit and I needed a hobby. Why not get back into forums? I never stopped gaming. I’ve always been a gamer at heart. That’s what got me started with forums to begin with.

So here I am. Back in the game, as it were. Back where I belong? I am not the person I once was. A lot of water has passed under the bridge. A lot of time has elapsed. Forums have changed too. The landscape is different. Discord, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter. Lots of different competing outlets for information sharing. But does that mean there isn’t a place for forums anymore? I don’t think so.

These huge sites as mentioned above do not have a sense of belonging that forums do. My time on GF was a time of personal connection. They weren’t always positive connections and despite making a lot of good friends I rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way. For that I am sorry. Those personal connections and that sense of belonging are still sought after by people young and old. Those who hanker for the ‘old days’ of forum membership, those who don’t want to join the swarming masses on social media, those who want specific, well ordered, targeted information in an easy to manage and easy to navigate way. Those people still need forums to exist and that is why I am back. 

If you have made it this far, well done. I have grown wordy and long-winded in my old age and I have a tendency to use one hundred words when five would have been sufficient. 

This blog is a personal one dedicated to my journey into forums future and occasionally forums past. I will discuss successes and failures. I’ll look at where I started – that’s an interesting point – and where I am going. I hope you stick around – and maybe join a forum or two! 

Al

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