I’ve been here since the start. I was at Drill Sergeant (DS) School at Fort Jackson, SC when I saw the forum was started, and it looks like my first thread was 15 February 2016. In 2018, as my DS tour was nearly over, I made an effort to check the forums daily, just to earn that 365-day badge. Never did, I’d get to 8 or 9 months and then forget to log in one day.
I’d hate to see the forums go, and I really enjoy the format, where I can post an often-long-winded thread and engage in casual conversation with those who take the time to comment. With that said, I’ve noticed for years that the days of the internet forum are basically over. Back in 2005, I discovered LivingWithStyle (LWS), a large forum that was pretty successful. Around 2006, I took Moderator duties for their gun subforum and spent countless hours generating content to ensure the forum stayed busy. The founder of LWS started Zoints in 2006-ish, which was a collective of forums. I was Admin for f15.com (a military site) and theroadtowar.com (a military history site) and was a Mod for mymetallunchbox.com (a nostalgia site). None of those forums took off, despite thousands of hours’ worth of effort in creating threads, replying to comments, addressing concerns, and doing typical Admin and Mod work like deleting spam and banning trolls. In 2008, LWS itself went offline, having been bought out. Internet culture is counter-productive, and long-time members revolted to some unpopular changes made by the new owner, ultimately causing the new owner to delete the site entirely.
Ah, internet forum history. This is your site, but it’s also ours. We have some time invested in it, but at the end of the day we’re merely unpaying tenants on a site that you have invested in with not only time, but money. I fall on the side of helping to manage the site, if needed, and could probably even toss in a little to help financially. Being ever-cynical, though, especially after my experiences with LWS and Zoints, I doubt that things will pick up. LWS’s “successor”, casualdiscourse.com, was dead in the water from nearly the start (but still around somehow, and I can’t figure out my log in info), and the TIA forums see only a handful of posts per week.
One of the things I love most about the forum, and even blog-style, site format is the willingness that members have to pitch in. I’m sure some hyper-successful sites pay their staff, but the ones I’ve always been active in do not, being more of a volunteer additional duty for regular and trusted members. It takes a like-minded collective of passionate individuals to run a quasi-successful site, and monetary gain is not a thing, in my opinion. I just like to share my thoughts, opinions, and whatever knowledge I have about any subject, hence why I stick to tools, guns, history, and the military.