Forums, also known as message boards, have been on the internet since its inception. They were once known as a great way to interact with other people that have similar interests as you do. Most unmoderated forums are now known as a spammers paradise and a haven for trolls. Moderated forums are still a haven for trolls and a source of headaches for those who post and moderate them. Once popular, most forums are now being abandoned in droves.
Forums and message boards were originally developed to allow website visitors to interact with the website owner or the online club they were a member of. Yahoo groups is still one of the largest member type of forums where other members can interact with other members. Other websites with a large member base soon started their own forums. Most of them were moderated by website employees. Smaller websites would often find one of those free forums to link to from their website and often it was too much trouble for them to keep up so they were often unmoderated.
Spammers, those who simply wanted to advertise something without regard to common courtesy, target unmoderated forums in droves. Even moderated forums are not immune to spammers if the spammer plays nice for a few weeks or months before covering the entire forum with their advertisements. Spammers are usually easy to control but a troll can be hard to remove.
Trolls, like their name sake, are nasty little things (people) that lurk in the dark then spring out to make a nasty remark and go back into lurking mode. What they like to do is stir up trouble on message boards and then sit back and watch to see what happens. The problem with trolls is that they are often hard to spot until they have pulled their trollish behavior more than once.
Since I run a message board/forum, I have experienced trolls, spammers and some really strange odd ball posters. In the beginning I erroneously thought that I could let people post and they would behave themselves, but I was wrong. First came the spammers and I just banned their membership. Next came the fights. One person picking on another until I stepped in and stopped it. Then came a few people that thought they could run the board and acted like they did. They were sent packing by me. I have had one troll in all that time. The troll played nice in the beginning and only became nasty to one person on the board. That person was a 12 year old girl and I stepped in immediately to stop the harassment and kick out the troll. While having a message board is fun and most of the conversations informative and pleasant, encountering a nasty message or ill tempered troll will ruin your day if you let it.
So what is the future of message boards? Are they here to stay? I would guess that most message boards are being replaced by Facebook, Twitter and other types of interactive social media. Many of the old message boards that were for local use like Yahoo local have disappeared. Private, paid members only, message boards are probably the only ones that might survive for a few more years until something more technologically advanced comes along. Until then, stay safe while visiting and posting on a message board and remember, “don’t feed the trolls.”