Forums vs. Twitter vs. Blogs

Over on Twitter, Rosie Sherry lamented the fact that too many conversations happen in ephemeral places like Twitter rather than on forums with greater permanence.

I’ve previously blogged about the ways social networking sites all too frequently suck the life out of forums and blogging, and I think the challenge is finding a space for blogs and forums in a world where everyone has accounts in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. People are naturally lazy, and prefer a “one stop shop” approach expecting content to come to them rather than keep track of dozens of individual sites. It’s why so many businesses have abandoned their own web forums in favour of Facebook groups; that’s where their customers are.

A technical fix would be on solution; synching content between a blog or forum and a social network; I’ve looked at WordPress plugins that do precisely that. It’s certainly technically feasible for content to be shared both ways, for example, between a Facebook group and a stand-alone forum. The bigger problem is this comes up against the social networks’ walled-garden approach to monetising their services.

But that’s probably only a partial solution. For example, I find Twitter especially is very different in style and feel from blog and forum discussions. In some contexts, blogs and their associated comments sections are like conference presentations followed by a formal Q&A session. In contrast, Twitter is more like the informal discussions in the bar afterwards. So I’m not convinced that it’s a good idea to try and merge the two.

On the other hand, far more people are likely to read what I say on Twitter than on my blog, so the two need to coexist. Bloggers and forum owners need to make their sites sufficiently compelling that people will visit, and to use social media to promote them.

What do you think?

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10 Responses to Forums vs. Twitter vs. Blogs

  1. Serdar says:

    My problem is that I just don’t have the time (or the energy, or the inclination) to police/read/browse more than one forum at a time. My blog takes up enough of my attention that trying to do the same thing for Twitter AND Facebook AND Tumblr AND whatever the heck comes along next is a losing proposition. Consequently, I just post to my blog, use the other forums to direct attention back to it, and draw the line there. There’s only 24 hours in a day and only one of me, and I want to spend at least some of it doing something other than staring at a screen.

  2. I don’t think it’s that “social networking sites all too frequently suck the life out of forums and blogging” – these never had much life on their own…
    If we have ~300,000 ISTQB certified testers WW, and we see just a few of them (forgive me for being direct (I can blame it for my Israeli origins :-) ), but some would say a loud minority – others would say the only ones interested enough in their own profession…).

    With the overwhelming amount of data and the “Ease of opening a Blog or a Site” which cause the community to be spread all over – I don’t think we can say “People are naturally lazy” – they are just swamped with information.
    Just following Testing issues over Twitter requires a full job.
    One needs to filter out the other hobbies and habits, occasional national disaster, personal trip, and etc. to weed out and leave just the relevant issues.

    Sites like STC hopefully should serve as Hubs, bringing the interesting stuff into focus, and allowing to discuss it – relieving the users from having to follow so many sources at different addresses, and filtering the irrelevant data.
    I’m trying to do the same on a local level in our local forums.

    I think we can gain much more if we work together, and any way to ease the way allowing us to find each other and share ideas is blessed.

    @halperinko – Kobi Halperin

  3. BTW – I failed to find this post under Testing menu above, and could not find the Social Media menu either :-(

  4. Tim Hall says:

    That’s what happens when I let testers loose on my blog :)

  5. @Serdar – I’m with you on that, but still – as very few will take the time to reply in blogs (probably since these seem more “Private”), how do you suggest to make the most out of your blog posts?
    Ideas shared are good, but may bring much more benefit to all sides if discussed further.

    @halperinko – Kobi Halperin

  6. And still on the “Testing” side,
    An Indented feedback area is easier to control and follow as opposed to Flat format where we can’t see who is answering who.
    (Last one on the specific blog Testing side :-) )

  7. Serdar says:

    Setting up Disqus has helped, since people with accounts on most any social network can comment seamlessly that way. But really, it isn’t up to me to force people to do anything. If they’re interested, they’ll comment locally, and they’ll typically be the kind of people I want commenting locally in the first place. If they’re not interested, they won’t bother.

  8. Serdar says:

    The other thing I didn’t mention above is that the reason I generally don’t bother with Those Other Networks is because nobody knows how long of a shelf life they’re going to have. Twitter could be dead in five years, and most everything committed to it might well vanish or become an archived irrelevance. That’s why I’d rather build on systems that I have at least a modicum of control over.

  9. Tim Hall says:

    @Serdar – That’s a very strong point. This blog has been around for more than a decade now, and the content goes right back to the beginning. It’s gone through multiple blogging platforms (Blogger, Moveable Type and now WordPress) and even more style makeovers, but the content has been preserved each time.

    @Kobi Halperin – There are a lot of pros and cons of threaded vs. linear comments. One downside of threaded comments is it’s easy to miss new replies up-thread.

  10. Serdar says:

    Tim: Right. I stuck with MT, mostly because I found WP to be not to my liking, but that’s all a personal decision. I might well shuck off MT and move to Ghost if that proves to be a viable platform — although it requires hosting that supports Node.js (yecch), so it might be a long shot for me. But you’re right: the underlying content is what matters, and if I don’t have control over that then I don’t really have control over anything.