February 3, 2017 Last Updated 7:49 am

IMDb to shutdown website’s Message Boards, moves discussion to social media

The movie database website IMDb announced that it would be shutting down its Message Boards and moving discussions to social media.

“After in-depth discussion and examination, we have concluded that IMDb’s message boards are no longer providing a positive, useful experience for the vast majority of our more than 250 million monthly users worldwide. The decision to retire a long-standing feature was made only after careful consideration and was based on data and traffic,” the website said.

Like other sites, IMDb has seen the tone of the conversations decline in civility over the past few years, but the decision is still rather odd in that much of the boards remain only about films and TV. As you can imagine, its politics area – and why they chose to have one is odd – is a sewer.

The real problem with IMDb boards are that, well, they are boards – very old fashioned in design and programming.

Boards are really at the heart of the Internet, some of the first ways people new to the web interacted. They served the purpose of building community, and as I have said in the past, building community is the key to success on the web. It was in the late nineties, it is today. The issue is not what is the answer, but how to do it.

For a few years I was the publisher of a B2B magazine that covered the coffee industry. The magazine had its own discussion boards, but for reasons that are as hard to understand today as they were then, the boards were under the supervision of the company’s circulation manager. It was her decision that every new member had to be manually approved by her. The result was a board that no one used (well, next to no one, there were maybe a dozen members that actually used the message board).

No matter how hard I argued for the boards to be opened up and managed by the editors the company would not do it. In the end, I think the whole company was a scam anyways, so it probably doesn’t matter – that magazine was eventually shuttered along with many others. But the magazine had, within its grasp, one important way to build community and insure its continued success.

Today, there are still millions who use message boards – MacRumors being a good example. They have evolved, been redesigned, and the best of them have dedicated groups of moderators who maintain them. Still, the web is moving on, the decision to move the discussion to social media is not an unusual one.

But one wonders if those that choose to do this will regret moving so many readers off their sites. It will, after all, be hard to woo them back.

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