Last night on Twitter, Morrus, the main man behind ENWorld, was involved in multiple discussions regarding the "obsolescence" of forums as news sites or hubs.
He puts the blame squarely on:
Facebook- did i mention I personally hate Facebook?
Youtube- because you know, it's so easy for the average person to produce a game related video that looks professional and uses celebrities
Company owned websites- how DARE companies have their own forums!
Celebrities- This means YOU Will Weaton!
Blogs- the bane of all existence, especially when those evil game making companies run one.
Apparently G+ is a pimple on the ass of the internet. He doesn't see it as a news distribution method or a threat to his business model.
Oh yeah, that's right - ENWorld is a business. It makes money off ads and subscriptions from it's numerous users (more like a donation). For the longest time it was one of the slowest sites to load on the internet. It seems to have gotten past that, but whether that is due to increased bandwidth or lower traffic numbers, I couldn't tell you.
I used to go to ENWorld fairly religiously before 4e hit the market - and the forums. It wasn't the edition wars that soured me, but it was the changing of ENWorld slowly to something with more flash and obviously more of a commercial appeal. Heck, even finding the forums these days can be a chore.
The more the site changed, the slower the traffic / postings seem to be. There's been less and less of anything I wanted to add my thoughts to, let alone read.
Morrus wanted to know where online "communities" were going to go if forums withered and died? The answer is simple enough - Facebook, G+ and blogs (which already form a loose community). It might not pay anyone a salary, but the communities are going to go where their interests are served best.
One good thing did come from last night's twitter threads - I realized I was still paying $14.99 every 4 months as a Silver Supporter of ENWorld - a site I visit 2 or 3 times a month. The community has been leaving ENWorld for a while - the posters whose threads I would search out have moved on. So I canceled my supporter account.
I'm sure I can find a way to spend those $45 a year that will better support my gaming habit.