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What killed alt.fan.tolkien?

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Sandman

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Jul 18, 2012, 4:43:53 PM7/18/12
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Doesn't anyone care about lord of the rings anymore?

--
Sandman[.net]

Troels Forchhammer

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Jul 20, 2012, 3:01:27 PM7/20/12
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In message <news:mr-CAAAC8.22...@News.Individual.NET>
Sandman <m...@sandman.net> spoke these staves:
>
> Doesn't anyone care about lord of the rings anymore?

I've been wondering the same thing -- that is, what has happened to AFT
& RABT, because it is quite obvious from discussions elsewhere that
people care very much about Tolkien's work :-)

I wonder if we should have been much more active ten years ago to allow
HTML posts on usenet -- I can even see the advantage of being able to
do some more advanced formatting (though I suspect that the ability to
include animated smilies and other kinds of pictures is more important
to many people).

But those are just speculations -- the people we should ask are those
who are no longer here: those who used to be here (or used to post more
frequently) and those who could be here, but aren't -- those clever
people posting on the various Tolkien-related web-boards.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail is <troelsfo(a)gmail.com>
Please put [AFT], [RABT] or 'Tolkien' in subject.

A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows
how to read.
- /Guards! Guards!/ (Terry Pratchett)

Johnny1a

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Jul 27, 2012, 1:56:41 PM7/27/12
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On Jul 20, 2:01 pm, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid>
wrote:
I've been posting on Usenet in general somewhat more lately. There's
a certain cyclic tendency.

Steuard Jensen

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Aug 1, 2012, 9:52:17 PM8/1/12
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In message <XnsA096D5DE...@130.133.4.11>, Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
> Sandman <m...@sandman.net> spoke these staves:

>> Doesn't anyone care about lord of the rings anymore?

> I've been wondering the same thing -- that is, what has happened to AFT
> & RABT, because it is quite obvious from discussions elsewhere that
> people care very much about Tolkien's work :-)
...
> I wonder if we should have been much more active ten years ago to allow
> HTML posts on usenet

I really doubt that formatting options had much to do with it.
Animated smilies really don't seem like a make-or-break feature here.
Personally, I think it's entirely a matter of 1) dilution, and 2)
barriers to entry.

Dilution, because about a thousand Tolkien forums sprang up when the
web really took off, especially when the movies came out. Prior to
that, a huge fraction of the serious Tolkien scholarship online took
place here, because Usenet was the global hub of online discussions on
most topics. Once people had lots of options, though, there was no
guarantee that anyone would find there way here in particular. So we
were suddenly competing with a bunch of other forums for eyeballs and
attention. We had great discussion quality: none better. (Though it
strikes me that we had some substantial flame wars during that era,
too.) But that leads us to...

Barriers to entry, because for most people, Usenet access has
takes a lot more effort to set up than just registering for a web
forum. You either have to install an entirely new program or set up an
obscure side feature of an existing one, and either way you've got to
track down special configuration information for your ISP that you've
never needed for anything else. The fact that most ISPs don't even
offer Usenet access anymore makes that about a hundred times worse.
And all that presumes that people were hearing about Usenet's
existence in the first place! It's not as if our discussions show up
naturally in Google results (or Yahoo, or Alta Vista, or...), and even
when they do they're usually archives rather than a site where someone
could just jump in and add their two cents.

What about Google Groups (or other web interfaces to Usenet)? First,
it wasn't always there: maybe if we'd had good web-based Usenet access
from the start, things would have been different. But even if we had,
second, its user interface has always felt a bit clunky to me: a weird
blend of Usenet-style and web-forum-style that probably never
satisfied anyone. And finally, the social hurdle: there was (is?) a
time when I saw a strong prejudice against Google Groups users (at
least ostensibly due to spam problems, though I never ran into those
myself) that I'm sure led some people who were participating that way
to say, "Why bother?"


Compared with all that, I really don't see formatting options as a
major factor at all.
Steuard Jensen

Ermanna

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Aug 14, 2012, 10:37:42 PM8/14/12
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On Wednesday, August 1, 2012 9:52:17 PM UTC-4, Steuard Jensen wrote:
<snip>
> What about Google Groups (or other web interfaces to Usenet)? First,
>
> it wasn't always there: maybe if we'd had good web-based Usenet access
>
> from the start, things would have been different. But even if we had,
>
> second, its user interface has always felt a bit clunky to me: a weird
>
> blend of Usenet-style and web-forum-style that probably never
>
> satisfied anyone. And finally, the social hurdle: there was (is?) a
>
> time when I saw a strong prejudice against Google Groups users (at
>
> least ostensibly due to spam problems, though I never ran into those
>
> myself) that I'm sure led some people who were participating that way
>
> to say, "Why bother?"
<snip>

(I know this is rather late but--) I found AFT and RABT on Google Groups by running Google searches for them specifically, and I know my father never thought of that. I guess I'm trying to say that I agree that AFT and RABT are probably hard to find.


Ermanna the Lady of Imladris

You can never become whole unless you embrace the weirdness in yourself. Celaeno
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