Why has the SDMB been as successful as it has for so long?

Still here.

Some advantages of the SDMB that I see are the large archives - a product of the long life of the forum and dedicated staff that have made sure that our archives remain available - and just as important, archives that are google-able and viewable by non-members, which allow us to attract new users.

Reddit is what is cannibalizing all the other message boards, especially ones that are dedicated to a certain subject. Why not just use a subreddit? This message board makes no sense as a subreddit, as it’s its own community, not a single-topic board.

I’d say the fact that we have rules of debate are a huge factor. For instance, try arguing a point without cites here- you’ll be skinned alive. Versus a lot of places where people routinely argue “Go do your own research” as proof of their argument.

Also, I agree that we have less humor than we used to.

I think that’s another reason we’ve stood the test of time as well as why we keep, and hold on to, members for so long. There’s plenty of standalone message boards, but many of them exist for a purpose. Even if they have plenty off forums for off topic discussions, they still serve the purpose of helping people get information on a specific topic (or narrow range). I’m on two different saltwater aquarium message boards. I used to be very active on a Tivo message board. I’ve spent a bit of time reading threads on a few 3D printing boards. There’s tons of message boards dedicated to politics. But unless the off-topic community is really thriving and you really get to know the other members, when you’re done with that hobby or get tired of that topic, off you go. But, ignoring the connection to the SD columns, this board is designed to cover pretty much whatever people want to talk about. You end up becoming a part of the community just by being, even a little bit, active.

That exactly. I’ve been a member of car enthusiast boards for the various cars I’ve owned. Lots of good info on maintenance, performance tweaks, etc. And a certain amount of chewing the fat in general. But …

When I sell that car I have no further need of that board. And what fat-chewing there is is still centered around those cars and the people who drive them. Occupational boards or hobby boards are the same. Much more transactional: “How do I connect a gizmo to a doodad? Thanks all. G’bye till next time I have a question”.

Here, for whatever accident of history, we’re not like that. Mostly we’re not all the same. Yakking with folks from South Africa, Australia, Finland, and that really exotic place called Chicago. Not all engineers, not all stay-at-home parents, not all college students. It’s more like Noah’s Ark, where there’s two of everything here. Which two often provide very different perpectives on whatever it is they have in common. Be that an occupation, a hometown, an education, a disease, or a hobby.

I don’t think we can say really anything useful about why that happened. Right mix, right place, right time, right luck would be my answer. But it happened to form a self-sustaining mix.

But knowing that we are successful, at least in the sense of still being here at all, we can maximize that future success by trading on what we are, rather than trying to become something we aren’t.

Stay open to international participation. Emphasize things that let us connect as people, not just as disembodied experts or opinion-spreaders/spewers. Most of all, preserve the civility that helps us all remember that the words of others we read aren’t coming from bots to be shouted at; they’re coming from actual people with feelings just as sensitive, prickly, and rubbed raw as our own.

Definitely moderation.
But also that it isn’t too big.
I came here from Usenet 20 years ago. I found this place when someone on talk.origins said there was a good evolution discussion here. Which was true. At that time even the few Usenet groups I was on had such high volume it was hard to keep up, plus I had crap newsreader software. So I moved here.
I’ve been on reddit, but the subreddits I’ve seen have lots of posts but not much personality. It has posts, we have people.
I’ve been on message boards since 1975, so I have lots of experience. It would be nice if we had more new people popping in, but the volume here is pretty reasonable.


  • I get that joke!
  • That was a joke?

0 voters

I’ll always associate the SDMB with Cecil’s wonderful books from 1986 onward. Everything else I love about it is secondary.

Beautifully said, LSLGuy. That Noah’s Ark analogy really hits the nail on the head. I’ve been a bit embarrassed at myself for having had such a sheltered and narrow life experience up to this point, and not being able to meaningfully contribute to topics like parenting, law-related issues, DIY projects, etc. But your post makes me feel better now - I’m just another animal on the big boat that is the SDMB, occasionally chipping in with the small amount of knowledge I do have.

I actually was the type who would hang out at a bunch of different forums back in the day. Most of them would (and often did) port over to Reddit just fine. Reddit specializes in commenting on things that already exist, and then having little small back and forth conversations within it.

This board does things differently. We start with a topic, but then have an ongoing, evolving conversation. There may be some level of splitting off into small conversations, but it still remains part of a whole.

Nowadays, I either comment in comment sections or on Reddit. The sole exception is this message board, as it just gives a different experience. For the rest, Reddit seems to replace them just fine.

I think a big piece is also that we have mature posters. I mean, Reddit is great for reading, but productive debate isn’t necessarily its strong suit.

I made a post in a video game thread about why what a company was doing as far as making the game such that players playing at the highest level basically have to be fantastically good, or pay real money for maintenance costs (it’s a tank/airplane/ship game), and was pilloried for being a bootlicker for the company.

The general thrust was that the company doesn’t “care” about the game, while my point was that they do care… about the money players represent. And that lower-tier players typically spend money on improvements, cosmetics, etc… but that higher tier players already have all that, so the only way to monetize them is to do something like up the maintenance costs.

Apparently according to Reddit, video game companies are supposed to produce video games as passion projects first, and monetize them after the fact or something equally moronic. And I got my ass chewed and called names for suggesting that they’re a business and that their #1 goal is to make money from people willing to pay for stuff in a free-to-play game.

That is why the SDMB is still around; saying something like that here may irritate people, but we’ll debate it fairly and consider its merits. And we’re not 12 year olds who think that businesses operate for reasons other than to make money.

Since the switch to Discourse, a lot of the results aren’t Googleable. I usually use Google to search the boards for old threads. Frequently, threads that I know should be here just don’t turn up. I worry that the board is losing a lot of organic traffic on topics that had a lot of discussion on this board that can’t be found anywhere else. Without Google, they can’t be found here either.

I use Reddit quite frequently as well, but the amount of garbage that shows up on the front page is pretty bad. Some days, half the posts will be from the Wall Street Bets subreddit, and there’s always sure to be one from the MurderedByAOC subreddit that just shows whatever vomit comes out of AOC’s Twitter feed. SDMB has a much better balance of what shows up on the front page. The maturity aspect that @bump mentions is huge as well…none of this bullshit like on reddit every time the number 69 is mentioned. Some Reddit threads are unreadable because of all the jokes about that number.

You know, I think you just perfectly captured the subconscious reason behind why I hardly post to Reddit anymore. There are so many times I see posts that are factually correct or make predictions based on pragmatic reality, yet get downvoted to oblivion and shouted down by the rabble for not being the rose-colored things they want to hear.

Oh, dear.

Reddit subreddits tend to engender a hive mind mentality. Everyone there is there for a very specific topic so kinda self-select homogenous crowds. I have found gaming subreddits to be among the absolute worst (apart from really specific hive mind subreddits like /r/The_Donald which will ban you if you say so much as one unfavorable thing about Trump).

I too have been lambasted relentlessly for pretty innocuous things in gaming subreddits. Even if I provide a cite to backup my point from a respected source…doesn’t matter.

Reddit does not lend itself well to lengthy debates by its very nature and how it operates. The SDMB does.

Also, I think the SDMB faithful are pretty good at demanding a certain level of quality from the other posters. It’s harder to get away with BS here. That is not to say bad posts and arguments do not happen but overall it works well.

I would also add the SDMB community seems more tightly knit. People “know” each other here. You become familiar with certain posters and care more about what they are saying. Reddit is far more anonymous.

The filthy, ridiculous jokes on reddit are one of my favorite things about it.

But reddit skews pretty young and is also immature in ways I don’t like. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen kids 'splaining adulthood to grown-ass adults. Plus people can drive - by post really hurtful things in otherwise innocuous threads. That kind of thing doesn’t fly here. I feel more comfortable being myself here.

I’ve seen a very distinct trend of Boomer-bashing on Reddit lately.

I am not a Boomer (Gen-X) but still…it’s starting to get toxic and offensive. A little here and there…eh…whatever. Now it crops up in places where I would never expect it and is a non-sequitur but they go there anyway and a pile-on ensues.

The Parents Are Always to Blame for Everything. It’s kind of comical.