Fall scene in Forest Hills Cemetary, Madison, WI, October, 2011
Creative Commons License photo credit: ra_hurd

I like Quora. I really do. But, why is it that I can’t go more than a few days without seeing someone asking, on what is essentially a forum, why forums are dead, how forums can be saved, why people don’t use forums or something similar?

I can only answer this question so many times. There is not enough time in the day for me to tell you that forums are not dead. I have other things I want to do.

That may be one reason I created areforumsdead.com. Day or night, 365 days a year, you can check to see if forums have died yet. It’s updated in real time.

Jokes aside, forums are not dead and they are not dying. Forums will only die when we no longer wish to have threaded, text based discussion. Since that is part of the backbone of most community and social platforms, forums are doing fine.

I find that these types of questions are often motivated by limited thinking that leads to short sighted conclusions about forums and what they are. In no particular order:

“Forums are always the same thing and never change.”

Please see: Forums Haven’t Evolved Over the Last Decade (or Have They?) and Forums Are Everywhere and Here to Stay, So Skip the Tools Discussion and Focus on Your Objectives.

In short, forums are like bread. We’re all used to bread, but we know more about bread than ever before. We can do a lot of things with bread. Similarly, forums are very flexible and used in so many different ways. Plus, platforms learn from one another. Facebook/social networks learn from “forums,” if you choose to isolate them in such a way, and vice versa.

“No one uses forums anymore.”

On Google, as a search term, enter a topic, hobby or profession (pick one) and then add forums, discussion and/or community to the end of the query. More often than not, you will find an activate forum that exists for that topic. This is where very powerful, deep engagement happens around that topic.

“Well, I don’t use forums and I don’t know anyone that uses them.”

There is a tremendous chance this is false and that you are just thinking of forums as something overly specific (see above). Ever looked for the answer to a question? There is a fair possibility that you may have ended up on a forum.

Beyond “pure” forums, you are exposed to forums that are in different packages and with different labels, all the time, whether it be a Q&A site, a knowledge base, a social network or something else.

“Forums need to be more like <this thing I use that I think is totally different from forums, but might not actually be so different>.”

They can be – you can certainly customize them. That’s one of the great things about forums.

But, you also need to understand that this is not a competition. Just because you may not like “forums,” as you might view or compartmentalize them, does not mean that millions and millions of others don’t prefer them over whatever it is that you like best. Platform choice is a great thing – forums don’t need to assimilate into whatever you like and forums don’t need a savior.

“I don’t like the way that forums look, so that means they are dated.”

Aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder. An online forum, while more than a website, is still a website and the look can be customized, as with any website. Do you like the way Quora looks? Quora is essentially a forum. It’s just that they’ve moved some of the elements around and added a handful of new features. Again, the flexibility is a beautiful thing.

That said, there is certainly a traditional forum look and though you may not like it – many, many people love it and feel comfortable with it. There is something to be said for that.


First, forums are not dead. Asking if forums are dead is like asking if threaded, text-based discussion is dead.

Next, if anyone tells you that forums are dead, you should be highly suspicious of any online community or social media related advice that they dispense. Their perspective is limited and they don’t have a comprehensive grasp of what makes up the actual landscape of community building and social engagement on the web.

Finally, instead of asking questions like this and wondering if this tool is dead or that tool is dead, be thankful that we have the tools that we have. They provide you with options that will allow you to find the tool that is best for you. Maybe it’s a traditional forum, maybe it’s not.

I love forums, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and more platforms and communities. Bottom line: it’s good to have the tools. It’s not a competition and it’s not a death match where you are trying to kill off each one until you have one left.

For further updates on the death of forums, please stay tuned to areforumsdead.com.