This month we’re introducing another new segment – ‘Forum thread of the month. We plan to scan the three main English speaking forums, Rebelscum, The Imperial Gunnery (TIG) and Star Wars Forum UK (SWFUK) to pick out the most interesting collector related thread for the month. It will be tough as some months are busy as hell with a multitude of fascinating threads, while some months are a bit quiet. The reasoning behind this new series is to expose vintage collecting forums to collectors who love their vintage but aren’t on the forums. For example I know there are a huge amount of people on the SW vintage Facebook groups who aren’t forum members; some consider the forums “snobby”, some find them too cumbersome to navigate, while others simply aren’t aware of their existence. While there is some truth to these views, I’m adamant the advantages far outweigh any negatives and I encourage every Star Wars vintage fan to sign up.
The thread that will kick of this series is from the forum that I consider my home – Rebelscum. This thread has actually had quite a bit exposure already on Facebook and was discussed almost exhaustively on Rebelscum so I’m not expecting this post to really generate much discussion on the blog or on our Facebook page. But the fact is that this was by far the most engaging thread of last month so I’ve chosen it to keep the spirit of this series intact.
On 9th September 2014, Chris Georgoulias (a well known collector and major contributor to theswca.com) posted his opinion that the Facebook vintage Star Wars collector groups are driving collectors away from forum and scattering and diluting vintage discussions. I found Chris’ post extremely thought provoking and while I am a huge user of Facebook, I agreed with a lot of his sentiment. There were some really fantastic responses, both in support of and in opposition to Chris’ thesis. I’m not going to summarise these but will let you guys read them yourself at this thread:
And here’s Chris’ full post. Enjoy!
I hope Chris doesn’t mind me reposting his thread…
So I didn’t want to derail the Wealthy thread, but the FB comments urged me to talk about something I’ve been dealing with for awhile. As much as people love FB groups (and creating them for so many sub-genres of collecting) I grow to despise them day by day. Yes, it’s easier to post images get instant responses, but at what cost?
13k people might be on one group, but the quality of much of the commentary is worthless. Lots of one-liner replies and people giving answers who should be in learn mode, not speak mode. How many people “View Previous Comments” before they write? And often even when you expand it’s pages of commentary that often never needed to be stated. It’s noise. Unlike forums, there’s no threading and every single post piles on top of other posts. Everything is a culmination of every day’s talk and it’s absolutely not searchable. You are doomed to repeat the same topics over and over. It’s Groundhog Day.
FB makes it too easy for people to create a little world to discuss things, but it spreads things out very thinly. And it’s so easily wiped out if the creator chooses to delete it. FB wasn’t intended to be a resource for organized thoughts, it’s a way to share your day to day musings with friends. Joke of the day? Video of the day? Post some photo of your food? Sure, nobody cares a week later. But with a collecting forum you need to be able go to back and see what’s been discussed, to be able to link to discussions and, for the love of Pete, ORGANIZE it.
When the USENET discussions migrated to Web forums like this one we lost the legacy of searching. We gained threading rather than creating separate groups so that was a plus, and certainly hyperlinks are incredibly helpful. Searching this site is difficult and Philip himself wiped out years of old discussions years back that was never archived. The SWCA forums wiped out a lot of good discussion. All of that was good info wasted and wasted info is missing history and experience. The search functions are critical for that to work and without a good way to search, it still makes it a bit difficult to find what you want. But hey, at least you CAN search a forum like this. You can’t do that with a FB group.
I just fear that FB groups will drive people away from organized forums and continue to scatter and dilute the discussions. I thought it was hard enough when SWF UK and TIG started growing, but at least they’re just 2 more searchable and threaded places to keep up with. But with so many FB groups, you can’t keep up with them all and there’s no way to have great discussions that go on for pages. It’s all based around the mobile here and now. Snap a photo, use your thumbs to scribble out a comment and move on. But what is the result?
As this continues we’ll move into an era where the chatter has to be repeated time and again on a near weekly basis. We should be using those groups to drive people to places where they can learn from experienced collectors and see the benefit of creating searchable history. Being so decentralized and “day to day” doesn’t help promote a long term bond with the hobby IMO. You need to have places where the beginner can come to learn, not be thrust into a spot where they can’t figure out how to interact or take the time to learn.
I see a lot of participation in FB groups by people who could be just as active on this forum. It’s hard not to sound like the old man who doesn’t want change, but making things faster and more accessible will come at a price.