In response to a post by Salemite, saying vBulletin won't last, bulab says:
While I don't agree with everything you wrote, you have hit on something important. The idea that vbulletin is "the future" or "modern technology" is false. It's an old, dying technology.
Yes, the old grassy-style threaded message board probably died in 2000ish. Vbulletin became the standard for message boards. But vbulletin is not the modern standard for internet discussion.
Blogs took off after 9/11 when they allowed people to say what the traditional media wasn't saying. I was part of this growth, having started a blog in 2003 and grew it to having ~6,000 regular visitors a day. I'm not saying this to brag, and lord knows those numbers aren't much to brag about, but rather, I say it to show I know a little bit about what's been going on with the production of content on the internet over the last decade.
Funny thing happened when I first saw twitter. My response was, "Microblogging? 140 characters? So you've basically taken away the entire content of the blog post and left the title in place? Who the hell wants to read that? Just titles? People want in-depth content, essays, meaty blog posts! That'll never work!"
A $10 billion valuation later, I learned a very important lesson. There's a lot of money to be made in making things easy. Twitter made it easy for anyone to blog--just sign up and start. You don't need to learn how to buy a domain, install a content management system, use the wordpress interface, etc. You just sign up and start posting. Mark Cuban had a nice essay on this idea. If your product yields the path of least resistance for the consumer, you have a good chance of winning. Apple grew to being the biggest company in the world partly for this reason: they make things easy.
I see the same kinds of arguments on these forums today. "Don't you want in depth discussion? Don't you want giant threads with meaty content?" Well, sure I do, and yes, vbulletin can result in those kinds of threads. But vbulletin isn't easy to use. It's not fun. I use linear/topic to view the forums. It's simply not fun. It's work. That user experience is a huge reason why so many left and why so many current users prefer the old threaded boards. It's not solely due to the users not adopting to a new technology, though that's part of it. It's that the technology itself, even after learning to use it, isn't fun.
Just to clarify: I'm not saying the old threaded style is better because just like Twitter, it caters to drive-by short posts. I'm saying the old threaded style is better because just like Twitter, it's easy and fun. Nerds will never understand this part because they can't relate to non-nerds.
If you look at the newer technologies, they all aim to make things easy, whether it's keeping up with your friends and family or sharing photos.
Discussion has moved away from message boards to blogs for this very reason. It used to be, back in the early part of the decade, that if wanted to read about paleo diets, you went to a couple of big forums (yes, vbulletin forums). Now, those forums are wilting away and the discussion is at a few "hub" sites centered around blogs: Mark's Daily Apple, Robb Wolf, etc. Same with investing: Silicon Investor, IHub, and Yahoo groups were the place to go for discussion. Today, people go to various blogs. And note that pretty much every well known blog site has threaded comments.
I'm not recommending to Will that he bring back the threaded board; I don't envy his decision. I'm just trying to critique some bad arguments put forth by vbulletin enthusiasts. Yes, vbulletin beat threaded style boards long ago, but it's not a "modern" technology any more than CDs are a modern technology today because they beat out audiotapes. It's not "the future" nor "what the kids are using" (haha--that's a funny one). It's a dying technology when it comes to internet content. And the reasons why it's dying should inform decisions about where to go in the future.
Last edited by Will Stewart; Thu May 23 2013 at 04:29 PM.