Can there be too many Online Fora?

Over the weekend, when I was moving the boat, I was sitting on the back deck thinking about a lot of things. Camsigh has gone quiet over the past couple of years, and other boards that I’m signed up to such as Ghostly Stay , PhantomFest and Café Phoenixx all seem to have similar cycles – a flurry of postings and then it all goes quiet for a bit, then some more come along and then it goes quiet again.

So why should this be? Is it part of the normal cycle that forums go through or is there something else happening?

I think its the latter – When I set Camsigh up back in January 2004 the only way to get a forum was to either pay for one or run your own server (either from a hosting company or if you were really sad – yourself) and run a forum on there.

Then along came proboards, myfreeforums etc. etc. and the “free” forums phenomena took off. Running costs are recovered through the placing of adverts (over which you have no control) but in return for that you get a good uptime, a responsive server and it would seem some pretty good anti-spam measures.

So now there is a forum for everything – a forum for bunion sufferers, a forum for people who collect pictures of buses, a forum for every conspiracy you could ever imagine (and then a few more). The list goes on and on, it is endless. The Internet is full of forums.

But something is going on with these free forums. Running this site and doing admin on a few others there is a rising level of spam advertising forums (hosted on various free forum sites). These forums aren’t real forums – they contain nothing but a URL redirect to another site which will then try to sell you dodgy drugs, iffy insurance, or manky mortgages. These sites bring no money into the coffers of the companies hosting the forums and give the scam merchants yet another marketing vector. Sooner or later the free forum hosters will have to clamp down on the processes needed to create a forum and put more stringent controls in to stop their services from being abused.

Of course the spammers are well ahead of the game – they are now spamming free Blog services which they using in a similar way to the way they abuse forums.

So who knows what will happen – maybe a couple of free forum providers will go down the tubes, maybe users of the forums will get sick and fed up of the continual stream of spam being forced down their throats.

The Web should be a great place for people to learn, to communicate, to share. But the problem is that the spammers just don’t give a shit : they don’t care who they annoy, who they abuse, who they peddle their shit to. They have no morals at all – I’m sure they spam cancer support forums and such like with their odious filth.

Of course the spammers are just doing what they have been paid to do. At the end of the day its people like Visa and MasterCard who could put a stop to a lot of it. If they refused to do business with companies who spam or who deal in products like “Generic” counterfeit drugs then the money flow would stop. Mind you it would stop if people out there actually stopped believing the crap they are being spammed with.

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