Why do people use forums?

Think about it. Completely random people come to a location, ask a question, get a bunch of other people to do all the work, then get the answer for free, then leave and never come back.

Why are internet forums succesful with this method?

Well, in essence they aren’t successful in the manner you describe.

Internet forums (boards) rely utterly upon the number of active members who are willing to respond to questions. Make an enquiry but get no response for say, two days, and I’ll bet you never visit that forum again.

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It may be possible to find some study about this that you can cite, but I have a hunch that the answers that you receive here are going to be more opinion based than factual.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

How is that not successful? That’s what they’re for.

It works because, with enough people, someone in the group likely knows the answer. It’s amazing how quickly “Can you identify this book?” threads get answered in the SDMB’s Cafe Society.

And we like being able to answer those questions! It allows us to flex our memory muscles, and show off how arcane our knowledge is. Also, it’s nice to feel helpful.

Too many strange people who have no real life friends are here. Self included.

We are all research librarians at heart.

We lost at Jeopardy and we’re still trying to get over it.

baby.

Ooooooooh

You haven’t been getting the checks*? Fifteen bucks a post, baby! Cha-ching!

*Actually you should really look into having them set up direct deposit; it’s way more convenient.

I find much better conversations in forums than I do on the street. I belong to about a dozen special interest forums that I participate in to varying degrees. A good percentage of my friendships started off in forums.

You’ve already described the benefit the newbies get from a forum. What benefit do the old-timers (who answer the questions) get? We get the benefit of interesting conversation from the other old-timers. And, heck, sometimes we ask questions of the other old-timers, too.

Among other things, I use forums as a kind of a clearing house for my own thoughts. If I read a post I disagree with, I might start to compose a rebuttal. Sometimes I discover that my own argument is full of holes, I can’t defend it, and I hadn’t really thought it through very well, and I hit the cancel button and rethink my position. It never hurts to be inspired to rethink your own position.

I wonder how long it’ll be before OP realize that by posting this thread, he’s answered his own question.

The OP is a mess. Are you asking why drive-by newbies use forums, why regulars use forums, or how it is that forums as businesses stay in business?

Those are three different questions with three different answers. Others here have tackled the first two, so I’ll address the last one.
In today’s internet, forums are pretty marginal businesses. They’re shrinking as the other less organized forms of social media are growing. But like any pure-play internet business, revenue comes mostly from advertising, plus a smidgen of subscription fees & merchandise sales. Not much revenue is needed because not much cost is incurred with modern cloud-based hosting.

It’s not a way to get rich, but it is a way to be self-sustaining plus earn back their cost of capital and bother.

Either that or we’ve all been suckered / whooshed. :slight_smile:

Because I have no friends and nobody will listen to me pontificate.

Come to think of it, those two things might be related.

I have several passionate interests that aren’t shared by the bulk of my fellow men. I could throw out conversational gambits with people I meet in real life for months, even years, before finding someone else with those same passions. On a forum, particularly one dedicated to that particular interest, I can find a whole group of people who are all obsessed with the same things that I am. Yay! What’s not to like? It’s efficient, pleasurable, and gratifying.

Who answers the most obscure question, has the largest penis.

(Bolding mine)

Yes, I was going to say it’s because many of us just want to help a brother/sister out.