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hey everybody - the basement blog is hosting this month's IndieWeb Carnival, this month's theme on "accessibility on the small web". Please go check it out and participate if you are so inclined!!!

general On the Sustainability of Small Forums

joined jan 27, 2023

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joined jan 27, 2023

I've written similar thoughts elsewhere, but I think topic-less forums can struggle a lot to maintain consistent posts. In niche hobby forums, posting is slow, but it's often consistent despite the low total number of users. There aren't many new threads because there aren't many total users, but most users do have an opinion on most threads. So what I've seen happen most often is users check the forum once or twice a month to see if there's anything new, and share their opinion. It's a small community, and it isn't particularly active, but it does enough to stay alive.

On freeform community forums like this, it's a lot harder. There's usually an introduction thread, some "what music/games/movies do you like?" threads, and if your lucky a "what's the meaning of your username" or similar game threads. But, because there's no unifying interest, most users aren't actually interested in that many threads. So they show up, make an introduction post, and maybe add their favorite anime/sport/book or something. Most users don't react, the new one comes back once or twice, sees there isn't anything new to read or comment on, and stops coming back.

One thing I've noticed about this place, and a few places like it, is that small forums are kind of a niche hobby in and of themself. So when people make threads about web development, the "good old days" of the internet, or how bad mainstream social media is, the majority of users are interested, and contribute.

I'm usually a bit wary of the third type of thread (how bad mainstream social media is) because I don't think "we all don't like <thing>" is a good community unifier, but that's its own topic.

posted 8/30/2023, 8:59 pm

joined dec 4, 2022

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joined dec 4, 2022

i totally agree that a place like this is going to have trouble getting going. I think what's most important to me is less about the consistency of posts, but rather about quality and building a community of people over time, who find value in having discussions with a smaller group. That being said, i've definitely thought about some ways to kickstart some more discussion, whether that's making posts on https://basementcommunity.bearblog.dev or potentially making threads about more general current events in tech, gaming, life, etc. (which i haven't done much of yet)

it's funny you mention unifying people around the "old web" because that definitely crossed my mind a bunch. And I thought about pivoting the site to be mainly about this niche. From what I've seen online, there seems to be 2 different sub-cultures around this topic: 1 group that wants to talk about creating websites that are an omage to the earlier internet (which is what people on https://forum.melonland.net love to talk about) and 1 group that wants to capture the "spirit" of the earlier internet (which is what sites like https://forum.agoraroad.com are trying to achieve). FWIW, I don't have a problem with either of these sites. I've posted on both

I think I landed on not wanted to be either of those things. I don't want to be in the first group because the "yesterweb movement" seems to attract a lot of children, who I absolutely do not want to make the main demographic of this site. This site isn't 18+ and it's fine if you're not a full adult, but I think https://forum.melonland.net has some insane heavy-handed moderation because he needs to protect his very young userbase.

And I don't necessary want to make this site about the spirit of the early internet either because I think a lot of people interpret that as being an asshole and super edgy for the sake of it. Like just look at that last guy that got banned - he's being a baby because being racist isn't allowed here. Moderating that kind of demographic I think would be a massive headache.

just as a final note, this site started out as a side-project for me, so really anybody actually going out of their way to use it is just a bonus - i'm glad to keep the site running indefinitely. i'm definitely not breaking the bank to pay for the costs to keep it running and am most likely never going to need people to donate or find a way to monetize the site. i'm just happy to be providing a cool place to chat.

e: i stickied this thread because i think it's a fun topic to talk about

edited 8/31/2023, 12:37 am

joined jun 30, 2023

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joined jun 30, 2023

I have to admit, I miss the internet of the 90's and early 00's, but that genie has left the bottle, never to return. It's just different now, everything is flashy and slick, and funneled through Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

To me the spirit of the old internet was exploration and creation. It was a real crapshoot going out there to find something, you had some not great search engines, and with the right key words you might find some pages about The X-Files, or Soundgarden, and if you didn't bookmark it, you might never find it again.

On the creation side, you had places like Geocities and Angelfire, where you hand coded your own websites, usually by stealing code and images from other sites. Everything had that default grey background with black text, and minimal flourishes to it, it took a little while before people figured out how to change that. Big images were slow and had to be linked, so everything was small, and mostly static. Lets also not forget our monitors were around 800x600, so a website from 1996 would be the size of a postage stamp on a modern monitor.

Like Stranger Things' depiction of the 80's, the way to "emulate" the old internet is to make it a pastiche. It would need to be a mix of what we remember of the internet from when we were 15, excising the bad, adding things from our 2023 eyes, that would have been out of place in 1996, but seem perfectly in place in 2023.

I think I'm off topic now, but these are my thoughts on the old internet in 2023.

posted 8/31/2023, 12:06 pm

joined jan 27, 2023

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joined jan 27, 2023

Exactly. I've heard the term Personal Web used to better describe this new movement than Yesterweb. Because it's not the time period that these old websites came from that I love, it's the DIY, personal nature of the sites themselves.

I've used Agora and Melonland some. Agora had that one Dead Internet Theory blow up and break its way into the mainstream, or at least as close as something like this can. I think that brings in a steady flow of new users, and sets the general tone of the conversations there. There have been some genuinely interesting conversations there about social media, and the changing internet, and things like that. The culture is more "4chan-esque" than I'd like, but I don't think it's as bad as actual 4chan. Agora has plenty of nice, friendly users, but you have to scroll past or block some bad posts in order to enjoy the site.

I like Melonland, but it's hard to have deeper conversations there. I'm not sure if it's due to the user count, or the moderation, or the general culture or something, but very few threads seem to make it to the 2 page mark. I want to post there, to help it grow, but it's hard to contribute to a thread that consists of "Do you like cookies?" followed by 3 or 4 "Yeah, cookies are great" responses.

posted 8/31/2023, 5:46 pm

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edited 9/28/2023, 4:09 am

joined jun 30, 2023

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joined jun 30, 2023

quoting Devastatia:

I had no idea there was whole "yesterweb" movement until just a couple of weeks ago. I discovered a webring, and tried to add my forum to it. They said they don't take forums, only personal websites. So I spent the last two weeks making an old style personal site. When I say "old style," I mean in spirit. I'm building it the same way I used to back in the early 2000s, using all of the latest technology at my disposal. The technology has changed, but the method is still the same.

The whole "yesterweb" thing is new to me also. I've been a bit of a luddite when it comes to the internet for close to 9 years, because one day I closed Facebook, and never looked back on social media. It was pretty bad back then, when you had the internet conglomerating around Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter, and honestly it's worse now IMHO.

The bigger issue I see is that because the internet has 5 big sites that crowd out everything, it's just harder to find small gems without looking for them specifically. Google anything and the first page of results is all paid for. Throw in the ChatGPT generated and/or assisted garbage and it's nearly impossible to find anything on a whim.

posted 9/28/2023, 11:34 am

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posted 9/28/2023, 2:29 pm

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posted 9/28/2023, 3:57 pm

joined apr 12, 2023

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based? based on what?

joined apr 12, 2023

quoting Devastatia:

Of the few members my forum has, most don't even read any threads other than the ones they posted themselves. If there are no new replies to their threads when they check in, they leave. They're not even curious about any new threads that may have been posted since their last visit. Some of them say they find my posts interesting, but I'm not seeing the evidence of it. If I don't get a response, then I assume nobody's interested. Others want to talk about your content anywhere else but on your site. I don't get drawn into that. The whole point of posting it on my own forum was to generate discussion on my own forum. Duh.

ough i'm guilty of being the person that hardly ever posts on forums. i'm such a big lurker and it's bad! it's really bad. it's mostly due in part to me being terrified of sharing things about myself (like my opinions) with people, since i'm not great with my words and sometimes things get lost in translation. don't get me wrong, it's not like i don't read any other threads on here, i do! and i enjoy this community. you guys all seem very kind :] i am just a very anxious person and i'm working on it (i have been posting more even if it's only a little !!! big huge for me).

quoting Devastatia:

Anyway, I'm one of those people who is down on social media and the modern corporate Internet pretty hard. I have a huge sticky thread about why everybody should have their own website, why you shouldn't trust Big Tech companies, and why "influencer" culture is rotten to the core. I've posted dozens of links to articles and YouTube videos to support my opinions. I've been preaching about "build your own website" for years. Nobody listens.

i'm trying to do that with my friends also!! generally the consensus is "it's a lot of work and i don't know if it will be fulfilling" which i mean like,, never said it would be easy but no change is easy. putting the work into making a website and swearing off most if not all modern social media is not easy! it's like actively closing yourself off from being a part of greater society because like,, who doesn't have an instagram/twitter/x/tiktok/whatever new social is the next best thing? you're probably lame if you don't have one (which obviously that isn't true, i'm being a bit facetious). not to mention that they're essentially designed to force feed you content you'll almost certainly enjoy, while a lot of old web stuff you have to actively search for in order to find something you might like.

quoting Devastatia:

I had no idea there was whole "yesterweb" movement until just a couple of weeks ago. I discovered a webring, and tried to add my forum to it. They said they don't take forums, only personal websites.

ooh yesterweb, i was a part of the forums (as much as i could muster) when those were still active - now they're read-only. the whole situation there was so confusing and nobody was really happy by the end of it. the simplest way i can think to put it is the creators of the movement didn't anticipate how popular it would become, along with general lapses in communication between the creators and the community. the biggest surviving branch of yesterweb that i can think of is currently 32-bit café, which i'm also trying to be a bit more involved in (scoping out their forums right now. they also have a discord server that i've been in but discord servers have always been scary for me so ! idk where i'll go with that).

posted 9/28/2023, 3:57 pm

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edited 9/28/2023, 4:11 pm

joined aug 16, 2023

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Energy imprisoned will make itself free...

joined aug 16, 2023

quoting Devastatia:

Social media has turned the Web into a spectator sport, like television. There's a small group of influencers who produce content, and the larger group who consume it.

I'm not convinced this is a new phenomenon or that social media is to blame. I think that most people online just lurked without contributing even before the Web. People would lurk without posting on USENET and on IRC, too, as well as on dialup BBSes. If anything, this behavior was encouraged in the hope that people would get to know a space and understand its customs before attempting active participation.

quoting Devastatia:

YouTube are trying their hardest to become Television 2.0 by pushing pay-per-view corporate-produced content and a few top influencers. That wasn't what YouTube was originally intended to be. It started as a platform for home grown DIY creators. I call it "ThemTube" because it's about them now, not about us.

Let's face it: streaming multimedia was a mistake. It's impractical to mirror audio and video because doing so seems to generally run afoul of copyright as well as being much more resource-intensive than mirroring text, so we've imposed centralization on what was originally supposed to be a decentralized meta-network (Internet came from "internetworking"; it was the ultimate WAN (wide area network) connecting smaller WANs, which in turn connected LANs (local area networks)) and turned the Internet into a shittier version of cable television. But at least there's free pornography.

quoting Devastatia:

Unfortunately, that spectator mentality carries over when visiting real websites. They're there to read, not participate.

I don't provide a comments form on my website precisely because I don't want audience participation. At least, I don't want to provide a platform for such participation that I would then feel obligated to moderate lest it become overrun by spammers, trolls, and neo-Nazis.

I also think that people should participate on the Web not merely by posting to forums they don't own, but by building their own websites and linking to other websites while commenting on what they found there (if they want). If somebody has something they really need or want to say to me, they can email me.

quoting Devastatia:

Sometimes I feel like I'm putting on a clown show for the amusement of others.

That's pretty much our entire society, with or without the Internet, at least according to Guy Debord. Ever read The Society of the Spectacle?

quoting Devastatia:

The biggest objection I've heard is, "You're not gonna become the next Big Tech billionaire by doing this."

Way to miss the point. If you're making a personal website for monetary gain, you're doing it for the wrong reason.

Yeah, no shit. Besides, I was never going to become a billionaire anyway. I don't have the connections, or the willingness to exploit everything and everybody within reach. Nor did I have rich parents. Honore de Balzac was right when he wrote that "behind every great fortune is a great crime", and I don't have it in me to be more than a petty criminal.

edited 9/28/2023, 8:20 pm

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edited 9/28/2023, 8:27 pm

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posted 9/28/2023, 8:37 pm

joined dec 4, 2022

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joined dec 4, 2022

quoting Devastatia:

Hello, everyone! I just registered.

hey thanks for joining the forum and being user #400!!

quoting Devastatia:

Long story short, I've had more fun in the last couple of weeks making a personal website than I've had in decades with social media, smart phones, or off-the-shelf forum software. I've been so absorbed in creating new JavaScript tricks and what-not that I haven't posted very much on my forum lately. And when I do post, a few people read it, but nobody replies.

while I think it's fine to just browse the Internet through the popular social medias, i actually think it's really cool there's a sort-of underground sub-culture of people who are discovering just how satisfying it is to create your own website. I think it's a nice skill to have, especially for people like me who don't really have any artistic ability. And as a bonus, I think it's really satisfying to help people out with issues they're struggling with, which is why I lurk around places like the https://32bit.cafe discord and site.

I'd be interested in seeing the amount of people who created things for the Web from 20 years ago vs. today. I feel like it's never been easier to actually get something online, but the downside is there's so many options that it probably paralyzes a lot of people from even starting.

posted 9/29/2023, 5:08 am

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posted 9/29/2023, 7:09 am

joined sep 29, 2023

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joined sep 29, 2023

Just a heads up, the OP here has been discussed on another boutique forum.

https://bluedwarf.top/cackle/view-post.php?post_num=2034

posted 9/29/2023, 11:50 am

joined jun 30, 2023

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joined jun 30, 2023

quoting orchids:

I'd be interested in seeing the amount of people who created things for the Web from 20 years ago vs. today. I feel like it's never been easier to actually get something online, but the downside is there's so many options that it probably paralyzes a lot of people from even starting.

It's never been easier to get something online in 2023 because there are plenty of sites that do all the heavy lifting for you. Back in the day it was still easy, but you had to do a bit of DIY via the Geocities type sites. I had a website back then, and it was popular among my friends in high school, mostly because I just typed up their silly manuscripts and put it on my website, with some .gifs I manipulated with paint.

In the year 2000, I was working at the warehouse that Macromedia shipped their software out of, so I was able to purchase Dreamweaver and Fireworks for $20 each. They were fun for the WYSYWIG nature of it, but didn't do a whole lot for making things interesting.

I dabbled with HTML for a few years after that, probably until '03 or '04. Feels like the internet didn't change a whole lot for those first 10 years TBH. Sure you had some things like Flash showing up to make things more interesting, but things were still pretty "basic" IMHO until probably around 2007.

I do blame the iPhone for today's internet. Not that it wasn't something that wouldn't have eventually been invented by someone, but it's what put the internet in everyone's pocket. Prior to the iPhone, the internet was something you had connected to a dedicated box in your home, via a computer, (or xbox/ps3).

posted 9/29/2023, 12:07 pm

joined dec 4, 2022

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joined dec 4, 2022

quoting Devastatia:

I've created a handful of fun custom tags in the same vein as the old marquee and blink tags from HTML 3. My PHP parser converts them to standard HTML tags with CSS classes, then JavaScript initializes them when the pages load. There's a list of them on my FAQ page.

https://www.devastatia.com/personal_homepage/faq

woah these are cool. some of them remind me of runescape text effects

quoting d-von:

Just a heads up, the OP here has been discussed on another boutique forum.

https://bluedwarf.top/cackle/view-post.php?post_num=2034

i did see some referrals coming in from here! (which reminds me I need to remove the noreferer tag from links on this site)

edited 9/29/2023, 2:01 pm

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posted 9/29/2023, 5:49 pm

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posted 9/29/2023, 6:01 pm

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posted 9/29/2023, 6:13 pm

joined dec 4, 2022

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joined dec 4, 2022

quoting NobodyFix:

I dabbled with HTML for a few years after that, probably until '03 or '04. Feels like the internet didn't change a whole lot for those first 10 years TBH. Sure you had some things like Flash showing up to make things more interesting, but things were still pretty "basic" IMHO until probably around 2007.

today you have at least 3 new technologies every year that make web development "easier" and "faster" lol.

people are talking a lot about astro now and i'm already feeling behind: https://astro.build/

quoting Devastatia:

This is actually not what I need to do.

i think the majority of modern browsers add noopener for you automatically if your link has target="_blank"). chrome's documentation on this for example: https://chromestatus.com/feature/6140064063029248

i think noreferrer (yeah i did misspell it in that last post, but not in the actual code) is less of a security concern, but i'd like people to see this site show up in people's analytics.

posted 9/29/2023, 6:56 pm

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edited 9/29/2023, 7:09 pm

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posted 9/30/2023, 3:06 am

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posted 10/1/2023, 8:04 pm

general On the Sustainability of Small Forums