So what exactly happened with WinWorld? I've heard it was because one of the admins got in trouble for doing sexual stuff with some kid on the site, but I can't find any evidence for this claim other than a tweet referencing a forum post that didn't get archived.

All I know is that the site shut down in early September, and reopened at a new domain at the beginning of October. Do any of you know whats up with the site?

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Which member are they talking about? There were only 4 staff members I can remember: Duff (The Founder who had IRL problems) Someguy (Nathan Lineback), ampharos, and stitch.

sage for double post.

I did some research as to what happened. You are 100% correct, there was sexual harassment going on ( The domain name was owned by the admin Stitch according to whois history, the email matches the one on his personal site, and the new site makes no mention of him what so ever. I theorize that since Someguy and Duff had DB backups, they discovered his PMs and had to act. Stitch who was running the show responded by nuking the site.
tl;dr: lol idiots

IDK but I'm glad i grabbed all of those ISOs and disk images. It figures someone would have to go and rape a kid.

Is that what happened? Did the admin actually rape someone?

In my mind he did.

So it was Stitch? Oh man, there's some sweet irony in that. He lost his sphagetti over the election. And then pulled a NeoGAF months later, before the NeoGAF thing happened. Are all forum admins like this?

I'm glad the software archive got saved from this.

The only other one who said anything about the election was Someguy/Nathan Lineback, but largely he didn't let it affect him running the forum I think. I don't browse their forums or idle in the IRC.

So he NeoGAFed it? Explains why everything came crashing down then. It seems in the last few months anything that has been invaded by extreme liberals/progressives has fallen apart.

Yeah, I lurked a little bit there out of boredom. The guy flipped his shit and got pretty obnoxious about trump. Not exactly what you want to see from an abandonware site.

Stitch I mean

The ones that pander to people to get adshekels are, google killed off open discussion with their advertising network. The fear of getting excluded dictates a lot of policy at the owner level. This is why you'll see staff revolts, anyone leaving isn't responsible for server costs or making money through ads. Most of the owners will give you a bleeding heart story about not begin able to afford the server while bringing in thousands from multiple forums. At one time people regularly bought and traded them with each other. The money isn't so good now that ad networks are on the decline. I think this is why you're seeing so many large forums die or implode.

Makes sense to me. They're also getting less traffic now then they did a decade ago so they're less likely to rake in cash, or even break even.

Yeah, it's unfortunate that all these sites that used to have rules like "No politics/religious discussion" suddenly decided to relax the rules when they wanted to bitch to people about it. It drives people away from a community and makes them not want to partake anymore.

Yea traffic is way down, just look at webhostingtalk and it's obvious a lot of people have given up. Forum software has also suffered as of late. vBulletin had a full on user revolt/brain drain when most of the people modifying the software left due to a buy out. The company that took over pushed a new version out that was so awful no one wanted to run it. They sued their new competition (previous owners of vBulletin) a year late stating they'd violated a no-compete clause. Now they sell the same shitty software running "on the cloud". Meanwhile the rest of the scripts for this both commercial and open source have failed to add anything new in well on a decade and most are still running the ancient php software they were running 15 years ago with a few modifications on top.

It's really obvious in admin circles, if you go to the forums where admins congregate you'll see both a massive drop off in their traffic combined with most threads dealing with "are forums dead". They all blame facebook and other social media for denying them their income. They can no longer depend on waves of normalfags to provide them with ad-money. No one lurks their forums because no one bothers to sign up and add content anymore. They have also lost a lot of users to imageboards. If you try to tell them to add the ability for user to post they'll always retort by citing how much spam it brings it or how it's open to abuse. Most of them have gotten very restrictive about allowing off-topic politics on their forums these days even though they generate the most discussion by far. Sure, it's cancer, but it does allow people to vent and if it's in an off-topic sub-forum who really cares?

At any rate many of them have had to go back to having an actual job. There are still some good forums and admins around but they usually run a site focused on one subject and don't run ads or sell them directly. Also, another thing that is killing them is google directly harming them by ranking forums lower in search results these days. Most top results for "how to do something" will return multiple videos from youtube. The world has moved on like they did from usenet/e-mail. I suspect forums will stick around but will never be as active as they were from the late 90s-mid 2000s.

Sage for begin a bit of a blogpost.

I don't see why they can't just have a category for off topic and political stuff. The sites I've seen with them do just fine. Heck, even the Spore forums allow that.

So by not allowing discussion like that, you've got a ticking time bomb that can tear the forum apart with a pissed admin bending the rules.

Mobile also contributed a lot to the death of forums. Approximately fucking nobody wants to install an app for shitty webforums on their phone (I suspect at least a third of Tapatalk installs are just for XDA-Developers users for example), but the default UI is unusable on mobile.

Another thing contributing to the death of forums is many of them don't want to pay fees for yearly forum software (>paying), and shutdown and either open up a Facebook group, Reddit, or some keep paying and switch to Discourse because they think Coding Horror is funny, which it isn't. It is the XKCD of blogs.

All three of these usually result in the community dying, or being taken over by the users of said site and turning it into a shell of what it once was.

why not use some free software?

Because most of it is not very good. All innovation in forum software was always from non-FOSS projects. vBulletin was the driving force for years, before it UBB/infopop, now it's Xenforo. All of those required purchasing a license for $100+ with yearly renewal fees of $30+. There were several projects that copied what they were doing but always a year or more later and never as good. I've often wondered why admins were willing to hand over all that money to a company every year instead of developing something good that everyone could use. My conclusion is most of them are out for themselves and ownership of the "good software" showed you were in the club with all the big guys. There were a lot of users that wouldn't even view your forum if they saw it running phpBB or similar software.

Extending on this; the forum software community has become such cancer that even simple add-ons fetch $25+ on the open market. No one releases anything for free anymore. Most forum admins base their entire website around the forum and the user database tied to it. So they are not only buying the forum software and paying the renewal fees, they're buying add-ons for things like user blogs, article systems, video/picture galleries, and lots of other things. Many of those add-ons come with renewal fees too. It becomes a money pit. It wasn't always like this but now the major commercial forum software have app-stores. They exploited the hacking community by bringing it in-house and taking a little bit off the top of each sale. The result was no one shares code and wisdom anymore. The entire community is dead and what is left is pozzed all to hell.

Funnily enough most of the forums that are still around are using phpBB

phpBB was the only one out of the free software to really develop a community. I'm happy to see it still around but it suffers from the same problem as all other forum software; major lack of innovation in the last decade. Also, for people building an entire website around the forum it didn't offer as many things as commercial software. You had to develop those things yourself or pay someone to do it. With vBulletin back in the old days you could install the software then go to their hacking community and find plenty of additions to just bolt on. A lot of those were fully featured, supported, and free. It isn't like this anymore.

There were several attempts at making something better over the years. I saw several projects in written in Python and perl that no one helped to contribute to. The one guy working on them would eventually get burned out and scrap it. Everyone was so busy modifying commercial software that they wouldn't help out and honestly most were not good enough to work on something like that in the first place.

Same thing with phpBB2. There were tons of mods for it you could add to your forum, even when forum changes broke them tons of mod authors would regularly update their mods. There was tons of innovation with phpBB skins back in those days. Now you get the same forums running the horrible looking Prosilver skin.

All those web forums are stupid anyway, compared to Usenet. From the get-go, you had intelligent clients that could be configured however you want (or write your own, if you don't like any of them). You had network redundancy. It was easy as pie to archive discussions (no need to scrape anything or deal with javascript, etc.)
What innovation did forums really offer? I'm not seeing it. Even if they did something, it could have been done better and with less resources with the older tech. Usenet worked fine even on an Apple II with modem dialed into a Unix shell. Hell, some people used just dumb terminals. And on the flip side you had fancy GUI clients for Mac, Windows, Unix/X. Netscape came with one built-in.

They were accessible to every idiot with a web browser, and the spammers and shills destroying Usenet took a while to adjust to the new medium. Their centralized nature also also made them easier to control and censor, which made them more attractive to the self important autists and narcissist who seem to make the backbone of every public forum.

Is the end of NeoGAF the signal for the end of forums?

They had good stuff but it lagged behind the commercial software and the hacking community wasn't as big. I do applaud them for begin kind enough to release their stuff though. Even if the software itself is a buggy piece of shit.

True, but there's nothing to stop anyone from setting up a centralized (non-propagating) nntp server that requires user authentication. You could even have an alternate host/port that's open (no auth) and read-only for people who just want to browse. In fact, it might be possible to do both with one daemon, and just require a login for posting. If not, it shouldn't be very hard to add that feature.
And email has tons of spam too, but people still use it. It's like they just collectively gave up on Usenet without even trying.
I don't see what's so hard about nntp either. If someone can handle email, they can also use this.

To be honest, $100 and the equivalent of a dinner out is a small price to pay if you don't have to burn time and tears trying to reinvent your own wheel. I used to never think this way, but now I'm older and have more money than time.

There's actually a set of imageboards that sync over NNTP. They can even route all their sync traffic over Tor. The software is OK, but unless 4 and 8 go down it'll always be a niche haven for random shit and spammers.