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Webforums In The Time Of Facebook: Dead or Alive?

When we started out with our webcomic at Onezumi.com one of the first companion sites we set up was a phpbb based forum site. Back in those days (wow, is it really going on 10 years soon?) there wasn’t many central places where people could talk about your work–unless you set one up yourself. So we set up the forum and it went well for a few years. We built up a nice but small community. Eventually as LiveJournal, MySpace, and Facebook arrived we noticed the traffic and discussion was eroding away. We eventually shut the forum down and moved on to a very open commenting policy on all of our sites.

So, is this experience just limited to us? I don’t think so. I think that the rise in “Massive Social Networking” sites has lead to the idea that there isn’t a need for a million little places to discuss each of your hobbies or fandoms. There are definitely many independent forums still out there–most of which had very large traffic before things changed, but I really can’t imagine many new ones coming into existence now–though if you want to disassociate your “real life” from a fandom (i.e. furry, kinky, or other things you don’t want people to know you are into) then I can see why that would be a possible successful development.

In some cases a “support forum” seems to be a valid usage for a site specific forum, but they are a real problem to keep spam free and on topic (which was another reason we eventually killed our forum–it was getting too difficult to maintain).

People have always valued convenience–remembering one login is way easier than a million–and going to one website is better than having to follow many. The insidious Facebook login feature they rolled out for web developers–to allow them to be your authentication system–keeps them even more as the central location.

Do I think this is a good thing or a bad thing? I’m not sure. It’s definitely annoying to have to maintain fanpages and other elements that aren’t on our own sites–and we have very little control over changes they decide to make to their sites. And I think that the top reigning sites will change over time, which means constant roving for where to find your fans and community.

Ironically it seems that with convenience we’ve lost some measure of focused fandom with the collapse of site specific forums. It’s easy to “Like” something on Facebook, but the depth of discussion seems to have become much more shallow and diluted. Maybe the harmonic will pull back the other direction if people start to become suspect of the MSN types of sites.

More AWSOM to Come

Hi everyone. Yup, It’s been a long month. Instead of dwelling on the lack of updates I want to announce a new contributor who will be updating here starting next week. Onezumi, the writer/artist of the webcomic Stupid and Insane Defenders Against Chaos will now be writing her own column here at AWSOM.org talking about all elements of web development and promotion. You’ll easily recognize her posts due to the new avatar system we will be using from now on. Plus, the posts will be longer than a paragraph (unlike mine :) )

iPhone Mobile Web, Finally Usable

This post is slightly off-topic, but still a major concern for any serious blogger/webcomic/whatever WordPress admin. What do you do if you are out and about and you discover that your website has been hacked, or has malicious spam displaying, or whatever you don’t want there? If you are lucky (and rich) you might own a portable laptop that you can use to connect to your site using wifi or a cell network. But in most cases, you won’t have that. So what will you have? Maybe a phone.

Until recently I primarily used a combo of a Nokia N800 internet tablet connected by bluetooth to a Samsung Sync cellphone. This worked ok, but wasn’t very fast. It had other negatives also which would be worse for non-tech oriented people.

Then came the iPhone. It works pretty well on it’s own. However, as most people who have one have discovered, it doesn’t always work well with advanced javascript or other related programming. So it’s not easy sometimes to log into a WordPress admin area using the phone. There are some plugins out there for WordPress that make this better, but it still doesn’t replicate what you can do with other devices.

The biggest drawback of the iPhone was that it couldn’t tether to other devices to be used as a modem. It doesn’t have a dial-up networking or PAN bluetooth profile, and it didn’t have a wifi connection tool built in.

Until now. Yes, a new program out there called PDAnet for iPhone is available, and it turns your iPhone into a wifi router. So now any device that uses wifi (like a laptop or my n800) can connect to the iPhone and use it just like any other wifi hotspot. With a 3g iPhone this makes the connection pretty snappy–I’m actually using it right now with my Macbook pro to post this.

The best of all is this is free once you jailbreak your iPhone. So now I can use my iPhone for most tasks and set it to router mode when I need to use my n800 or laptop for more advanced needs. It’s a system I would strongly suggest to anyone searching for a convenient out and about system for internet use.

A Thank You For Your Support

I just wanted to give a thank you to our most recent supporter, Mr. R. Wilder, who used our Paypal donation link to donate to the AWSOM.org development fund. I’m a firm devotee to the free Open Source Software model, and I will never ever charge for anything developed here, so it really makes me feel appreciated when someone feels strongly enough about my work to help keep it going. I would like to point out that purchases from the Onezumi Studios Online store are also a great way of contributing to the site. Also, for those of you who would like to contribute but can’t do so financially, the other way to help is to simply tell others about our software and sites and therefore bring us more web traffic, which is a great alternate way of supporting us.

So, thank you Mr. Wilder and everyone else who has contributed and mentioned us, it’s what really let’s us know that what we are doing is right and is making a positive impact. It’s greatly appreciated.

How to Lose an Entire Week

Hi everyone, sorry for the lack of posts this week. My regular job had an exhausting week of work that basically saw me get up, work, come home, and crash for the entire week. So nothing of note development wise happened this week. I will be working on some suggested updates to all of the AWSOM plugins and will have something out next week.

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