I used to be a huge blogger. Since 2004 I’ve been blogging all over the place and I loved it. I would enjoy writing and getting my point across to an audience of people I never knew and would never know. I suppose I like the idea of a monologue. Well, I guess I knew some of my audience, as most of my early readers were friends and family. But as my blogs grew, strangers began to creep in and read my stuff.
As I said, I used to love blogs. I could prepare my posts and take pictures of all sorts of things. I’d add those photos to my posts. I would write my posts and my readers would stop by to see what I had on my mind. I even set up a mailing list so those who were truly dedicated could sign up to receive my posts right in their email boxes. That was cool…for a while.
Okay, you probably already know what a blog is. It’s a type of content management system that allows different authors to write and share posts. There can be categories, tags, authors, date archives, and some other types of pages that I’m likely forgetting about. I’ve always written on WordPress, which is incredible as a platform. There are tons of plugins and many different companies have integrated their products with that software. A blog is a wonderful addition to a static website or as a standalone site. I’ve used them for both.
While blogs are great and are commonly viewed positively, there are a few issues with them. I’ll explain these issues based on my own experiences.
First, I found that through the years, blogs aren’t as much of a conversation than as a “I write it, you read it” sort of thing. Even though I’d write some posts that attracted dozens of comments, I never felt that the post in question was a conversation. When someone writes a comment, they write it, leave, and usually forget to return to follow up or to see if anyone has written back. I’ve seen this time and time again. There are plugins that will email readers who have left comments when a reply is written, but these plugins are clunky and can be a nightmare for SEO. Many of the plugins add additional URLs to a page that are considered thin. That’s no good. So basically, I stand by my claim that blogs are one way streets, no matter how many comments you get. After 16 years of blogging, I’ve never felt that I can visit a blog to see what everyone is up to. People don’t hand out at blogs.
Another area that sort of got to me was the mailing list aspect of blogging. I installed a mailing list plugin on a few of my blogs some years ago and, while I enjoyed sending my posts via email in the beginning, I lost the love of that after about a year or so. The reason for this is because no matter what I wrote, big or small, light or dark, smelly or fresh, everyone on my mailing list would receive an email. If I wrote about gardening, people who signed up for recipe posts would receive a the gardening post. If I wrote about dancing, people who signed up for gardening posts would receive the dancing posts. After a while, my writing became extremely inhibited because I was sort of creeped out by sending random people so many emails that I knew they didn’t enjoy reading. This is actually part of the reason I switched my content management platform preference to forums. I’ll explain below.
I have never used a forum until recently. I always thought they were cumbersome and difficult to navigate. After I installed my first piece of forum software, I began learning the ins and outs of what makes a forum tick. It was actually much more simple than I had imagined and after just a short period of time, I almost felt like an expert.
Forums are like blogs on steroids. They can do pretty much anything a blog can do, but more and better. You can write posts on forums, add plugins, and receive comments The great thing is, once a posts is written on a forum (considered a thread if it’s the very first one), users can reply to that post right on the same page. And when someone else replies, the users involved receive emails notifying them that someone replied. Everyone on the entire site doesn’t get an email, only those who are involved in that particular conversation do. And what’s even better is that you don’t even need to write a comment or a reply to receive an email alerting you that the conversation has progressed. All you need to do is sign up for an account and “watch” the thread. Every time it’s update, you’ll be notified.
Forums can include multiple categories, just like blogs. They can include tags, just like blogs. They can support user accounts, sort of just like blogs. Actually, I don’t see many blogs that offer user accounts. As I stated above, they just aren’t like that. When it comes to forums, each new thread that’s created has the potential to turn into something that’s akin to a website unto itself. I’ve seen threads that have 20 responses per page and that continue on for thousands of pages. I’ve also seen threads that only consist of one post. If you’re reading this post right now and there are no responses below by other members of this website, then you’re reading one of what I’m referring to. And just so you know, if you’re interested in “watching” this thread to see if there is any activity in it in the future, you can register as a user to this website and then click the Watch button up top. It’s that easy.
There are tons of other options that forums offer than blogs don’t. I encourage you to register as a member here to see them all. Each member gets their own set up pages where they can write their own posts, just like on Facebook. They can write on the general site as well. These things are so versatile that it would take hours to talk about everything. Trust me, I would love to, but…well, maybe I actually will in the future. We’ll have to see about that.
I’ll add to this post if I can think of other aspects of forums that I like over blogs. And if you have any, please don’t be shy. Add your thoughts and ideas below.
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