I Think AI Saturation Will Revive this Old Web Platform

Today, I want to speculate, so please bear with me, and read on – I’m only human. Pun intended. It’s becoming increasingly evident that a rapid saturation of artificial intelligence (AI) is shaping our online interactions in profound ways.

As someone who has witnessed and contributed to the growth of the internet from its earlier days, I believe that I’m also observing a fascinating trend emerging: a renewed interest in human interaction. For example, (but not limited to) online discussion forums. Ok, ok, I know forums are dead! Right? But, are they? Really? Personally, I would say, as a whole, “mostly dead”.

That said, although this renewed interest in human interaction touches far more than online forums, I’m specifically using web forums as an example because they epitomize software solutions that rely entirely on human engagement and interaction to thrive.

The Princess Bride: Miracle Max revives Westley, who is "mostly dead."


The decline of online discussion forums

Over the past 10 to 15 years, the landscape of online community engagement has shifted, with traditional web forums being replaced by various modern platforms. Let’s face it, the most popular forum software options of the 2000s were really showing their age and lack of ability to scale with or manage the growth of these online communities. However, we have seen Discourse, Xenforo, Flarum, Muut, and others manage to address this.

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit have become popular spaces for community discussions, offering multimedia support and integration with broader social networks. Messaging and communication apps, notably Discord, have risen in prominence, providing real-time chat, voice, and video calls, appealing to many former forum users. Additionally, blogging platforms and comment sections on news sites and blogs have taken on some roles of forums, allowing for public discussion and opinion sharing.

Each of these platforms offers unique features and experiences, but collectively serves the purpose of facilitating online discussions and community building, much like traditional web forums once did.


I think discussion forums are coming back!

An accurate preview of what the resurgence of web forums will look like. YW!

There, I said it! Don’t quit reading, not yet. Or, I will throw you a pop-up newsletter signup box when you try to click the back button on your browser. JK. But, I really do believe that within this decade there will be a resurgence of online human-centric platforms reminiscent of their heyday nearly two decades ago. This resurgence, I believe, will be largely fueled by a growing niche of web users yearning for more human connection and less AI engagement in their online experiences.

While, it’s refreshing not to have Chatbots questioning, “Why on earth would you want to do that?” or sarcastically asking, “Have you ever heard of something called Google search?” and the classic, “Why are you reviving this nine-month-old thread?!” There are actually still many of us who miss this type of human interaction – unless bossing around ChatGPT is your thing! The human element. Flame wars, necroposting, over-quoting and all! That’s what’s missing from AI interactions.


Here’s why you can’t call me crazy

During the late 90s and early 2000s, forums like the ones I created and managed, including PureHonda.com (50k members) and PinStack.com (700k members), were thriving communities where real human interactions were the heart and soul of the online experience. Users would flock to these forums not just for information, but for the sense of community and personal touch that they offered.

Fast-forward to today, and we’re amidst an AI revolution. From chatbots to algorithm-driven content, AI is everywhere, (I swear, I’m writing this article, not AI.) making our online experiences more efficient yet, ironically, more impersonal.

The initial appeal of AI was undeniable – streamlined processes, quick answers, and an endless stream of tailored online apps and content. However, as AI becomes more pervasive, a certain monotony and predictability have crept into our digital interactions.

This is where I think online forums and other similar platforms, which have seen a decline in popularity, will find a new audience. There’s a growing appreciation for the unpredictability, warmth, and authenticity of human interactions – elements that AI, despite its advances, can’t truly replicate.

So being completely serious, here are the main reasons why I believe web forums will rise again, yeah like Batman!

  1. Structured Discussions: a more organized structure for topics, making it easier to follow and participate in specific discussions.
  2. Searchability and Archiving: better archiving and search capabilities for older posts, which is useful for referencing past discussions.
  3. In-Depth Conversations: encourages more detailed and in-depth discussions, compared to the fast-paced nature of modern platforms.
  4. Less Real-Time Pressure: Forums don’t require immediate responses, allowing users to take time in crafting their posts.
  5. Topic Longevity: Topics in forums can remain active for a very long time, if not, we will bump them.
  6. Community History: Forums often have a long-standing history and a sense of community that’s built up over years.
  7. I couldn’t think of anymore. But yeah, have I mentioned the human factor? :)


Your chance to become a people-person!

Join a web forum and become enthusiastic about social interaction. Like Sheldon!

Let’s face it, you haven’t spoken to that many people this week. And we are not counting your boss, or your wife/husband. You know what I mean. Hey, I’m not calling you out, I’m in the same boat, trust me. Do you remember back in the day when we had pen pals? Well, not quite that tragic! Instead, forums offer a refuge from the fast-spreading AI-dominated spaces of the web.

I sat here today thinking about how much of the services and tools I use have all integrated or launched some form of AI, mostly generative. You know how I really about the massive amounts of content being generated by AI.

Geez, I’m losing my point. Oh! So, with forums, conversations are driven by real people, with all the nuances, emotions, and diversity of thought – ok and trolling and all the bad stuff too – that comes with human interaction.

On web forums, you’re not just another data point for an algorithm; you’re a valued member of a community, contributing to a tapestry (I used Grammarly for that word, I confess.) of diverse opinions and experiences.

This isn’t to imply that AI doesn’t have its place. In fact, it has been and with continue to be instrumental in enhancing our lives online and offline. But the core of these communities and the interaction all remain human-driven. Something some of us will increasingly desire.

As an old school web developer, Linux junky (Now you know why I still frequent online forums.) and tech enthusiast, I see this as a crucial balance to strike – leveraging the efficiency of AI while keeping the human element front and center.


In Closing

 Wall-E tried to understand and participate in human-like experiences and emotions
Wall-E tried to understand human-like experiences and emotions. Poor guy.

As more people seek out genuine connections online, we could very well see online forums and other human-centric platforms regain the popularity they enjoyed in the past.

I believe these platforms will become sanctuaries for those seeking a break from the predictability of AI-driven spaces, offering a return to the internet’s roots as a tool for genuine human connection and community building.

Do you agree? If so, reply with “Long live web forums!” but only if you didn’t use AI to summarize this article for you. FYI, I won’t admit to being wrong about this prediction until December 31st, 2030.

Until then, I’ll be waiting for your replies below. At which point, I’ll probably by then be asking ChatGPT-15 (code name Sagittarius) to “generate the feeling of an online forum with plenty of answered questions, as a perfume fragrance.”

So, let’s raise a glass (or a mouse) to the comeback of online forums – may they keep thriving as the last defense of human chatter in a world where AI is slowly but surely trying to convince us it’s human too. Cheers to keeping it real, y’all!

P.S. Now that my blog’s domain name is no longer first name + last name, all bets are off! More to come!

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  1. I guess I’m stubborn, I never quit using online forums like linuxquestions.org, this one and others.I don’t like AI even if it is more convenient or more doing and less thinking. The only place AI has really effected me is in the phising emails I get, they’re getting good and harder to spot (which sucks rocks) other than that it’s pretty easy to spot AI responses and chatbots. As far as the last time I spoke to another human…well, I rarely leave the house so I don’t get that chance too much, unless doctors count.

  2. I totally get where you’re coming from with sticking to online forums and being wary of AI. It’s true that AI has been used in areas like phishing emails, but AI will only be as good as the persons wielding it, and let’s face it, these types of criminals are not very smart.

    However, it’s fascinating to note that AI’s capabilities extend incredibly far beyond just crafting emails. Assisting in complex tasks such as medical diagnostics, personalized learning, and even creative endeavors like music composition and database analysis.

    That said, as with everything, some people just will prefer not to use it etc. But it’s people like us who are keeping the last of the classic forums alive. Another forum I remember spending a lot of time on was howardforums.com, oh and webhostingtalk.com. :cool: Nostalgia!

    Haha and yes!.. doctors definitely count as human interaction! :sunglasses: I’ve made friends with mine.

  3. Look, I would be the first guy to say “Long live web forums!” and shout “Revolution!” on the streets with a banner and a bunch of links to nerdy spaces for online interaction. That said, normal people just don’t care a single tiny bit about where they talk online with their friends. They send memes through social media and that’s it. I think we’re on the verge of the other way around, I think people are starting to just get fed up with online community things. The world is so fucking full injustice and the wage gap is getting so intense - even in so called developed countries - I think we’re all just tired of pretending everything is alright and that billionaires can just wave their dicks across our collective faces.

    I don’t know man… just eat the rich,**** social media, join a forum about RPG Maker from 15 years ago and smash the state.

  4. Hi @Daniel_Coutinho :handshake:
    Yes, that too. Social media we flocked to years ago, and now people are fleeing them. Many platforms have become cesspools of unfiltered content and hate speech, and at a rapid fire rate that’s overwhelming.

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