The Chronicle is moving to a new set of technologies to power Chronicle.com. While there are many upsides to that change, one downside will be the loss of support for our forums. The software that powers these forums is about a decade old, and we won’t be able to continue them after we upgrade to our new technologies. Those changes are scheduled to take effect in the fall of this year."Second question: Do you care that the Forums feature is going away?
I kind of do, actually.
The Forums had some good advice, especially on jobs and teaching. I never posted there, but I did read them sporadically over the course of many years and even got to recognize the personas of the various commenters there. Yes, they were a clique, and they could be less-than-welcoming to newcomers, but they did have information.
The comments had been going down in number and relevance over the past year or two, probably because of some shakeup that only the regular readers were privy to and possibly because they'd already answered the questions that people had x1000. How many times can you tell people "Apply for the Damn Job (AFTDJ)" or tell them that search committees take forever to reach decisions? It was valuable, though.
Occasionally they'd refer newbies to the search feature, which was so beyond terrible that I referred to it here one time as a Ouija Board rather than a search feature. Tell the truth: have you ever been able to find Ms. Mentor on the site except by accident?
The Chronicle's move is probably part of the broader trend toward getting rid of comments; IMDB did it, remember, and so have most newspapers. On sites with comments, the Internet is like a Mr. Hyde Kool-Aid that people drink to release their vicious, base, and uncaring selves. You can supply your own examples without too much trouble.
Every place now wants to move the discussions to Facebook, the better to enrich Mark Zuckerberg and track our data for our overlords. But not everyone is on Facebook, and if we are, we know we probably shouldn't be.
(Side note: Facebook is the Diet Coke of the Internet. We know it's bad for us--heck, a guy at Costco the other day said "that stuff is terrible for you!" as I loaded a case into the cart--but we can't quit it entirely.)
Anyway. As each online space rises and gets destroyed in its turn (and I am an Old who remembers Usenet), there are two constants:
1. There's an airline-like consolidation that herds us into fewer and fewer spaces where we can be more intensively scrutinized and monetized.
2. There are fewer and fewer places to be multiple people--that is, playful and irreverent in one place and a Serious Professional in another.