Save the Fo­rums!

Hot Rod - - Thereturnroad - Phillip Thomas Staff Ed­i­tor @tex­as­thomas

Fo­rums have pro­vided a wealth of in­for­ma­tion I never could’ve found on the street, but it’s time to take a step back and look at the state of things and see what needs to be done to pre­serve the decades of knowl­edge we’ve built across this World Wide

Web. Build threads, tech info, and more were nearly de­stroyed re­cently when Pho­to­bucket (a host that pro­lif­er­ated with easy fo­rum em­beds) made a re­cently re­versed de­ci­sion to turn off its free host­ing of hun­dreds of thou­sands of im­ages, and I see this as a prob­lem for the greater au­to­mo­tive com­mu­nity as these sites age.

The im­per­ma­nence of the in­ter­net is a real thing—it could all be deleted tomorrow, and Pho­to­bucket proved the point. How do these fo­rum com­mu­ni­ties find long-term sus­te­nance?

Re­cently, Wiki-how pages (how-to sites that take Wikipedia’s com­mu­nity-driven, in­for­ma­tion-gath­er­ing for­mat) have be­gun to host valu­able con­tent, tak­ing the Sloppy Me­chan­ics as an ex­am­ple of con­tem­po­rary com­mu­nity knowl­edge-gath­er­ing. A Face­book group and a fo­rum are where daily dis­cus­sions hap­pen, but im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion is archived in a Wiki page. Some fo­rums have dis­tilled com­mu­nity info into archive posts while leav­ing the greater dis­cus­sion on the boards. In both ways, in­for­ma­tion is de­cen­tral­ized.

While we etch what we can into and HRM, the decades of grass­roots knowl­edge hid­den in fo­rums is some­thing to con­sider pre­serv­ing be­fore it’s too late—again.

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