Like most tinkerers, I’ve been a member of a few technical forums over the last 15 years. I don’t know what I would have done without them.
At one time, before social media, I would sit at a computer and jump between 2 or 3 forums for a couple of hours every evening. Back then there was no Facebook ,twitter or Instagram. Fast forward 10 years and forums are dying off in their droves. Let’s face it, most of them look and feel pretty clunky these days, especially when pitched against modern social media platforms. Mobile devices now dominate. If a forum isn’t mobile responsive ( optimised for viewing on a mobile device) it’s pretty much useless to anyone who isn’t sat in front of a computer. Worse still, if it is still relying on remote picture hosting like photobucket it will now be full of black squares where pictures used to sit.
In contrast, platforms like Facebook make it very easy to start an interest group and it’s simple and convenient to use from any device. Easy picture uploads, unlimited bandwidth. So who needs forums right?
In the face of all this “progress” why the fuck did we bother re-launching the oldskoolsuzuki.info technical forum? It’s not like we hadn’t seen others try to launch similar forums and fail in the interim. Even some of the long established technical forums were emptying, replaced by Facebook groups.
Well, the answer to that question was obvious to us from the start and chances are, it might now be dawning on others too. We wanted to be independent, we wanted to control how our space on the internet looked. We wanted to make sure we owned and controlled all of the data and privacy settings for the information our members were sharing and building.
Recent news coverage of the facebook data scandal has confirmed most peoples suspicions as well as vindicating our own decisions. Facebook know who you like, what you like, when and where you like it and who you liked it with. Facebook use that data to profile you and then they sell those profiles to businesses that want to target you for advertising. In fact, that’s the very deal you strike with Facebook; your info, in exchange for their social media platform. Facebook has been sold once already and your profile was sold with it. In case you were under any illusion about what Facebook’s product actually is; It’s you!
Our only use for facebook is as a community page to share articles from our website. Every-time we post a link on our community page, Facebook offers us the opportunity, at a price, to target new members by selecting interests, locations, age etc. That is Facebook’s principle purpose and revenue stream. Ultimately, we are not concerned because we know that if anyone really wants to be a part of the OSS community they must come here and register on our forum (oldskool). We know it wont be long before Facebook start charging facebook groups for the privilege of appearing on members timelines or at best, they will pepper group pages with targeted advertising. Facebook already controls the posts you see. For publishers, they are already being charged to appear on the timelines of customers, even if customers have liked and followed the page. Interest groups may follow. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
So why is www.oldskoolsuzuki.info bucking the trend? The answer to that question is simple: We re-thought the concept of a technical forum and updated it. Many have made the mistake of thinking it’s easy to run a forum. It’s not. While other forums fail or fade or take the easy option of transitioning to Facebook groups we have gone in the other direction and more than that, we have actually been successful, despite our narrow subject matter. We know this is not down to blind luck or happy accident. We did it this way by design.
Firstly,thanks to our technical Guru and man behind the curtain, Jelly, we selected the right platform. It’s mobile responsive and it’s easy to use. We have little or no restriction on picture sizes and all pictures are hosted by us. We have a well moderated forum. We have hand picked traders who offer discount to our members with 0% commission to the site. Our news page has regular updates and the site is 100% free of charge. We do the occasional t-shirt run and the money goes back to the site. Any shortfall is made up by the site Admins. Everyone involved in running the site gives their time, effort and their skills free of charge.
Our approach has gradually attracted over 2000 people to join us over 2 years and that is largely down to our growing digital footprint across a range of digital channels but for us, the single most important point is, everything leads back here, to the URL that spawned so many other interest groups www.oldskoolsuzuki.info
Our efforts have taken time, forethought and planning by our busy team of enthusiastic mods and admins. More importantly,of course, we would be nothing without our enthusiastic members who are willing to spend time sharing their builds and answering questions on our technical boards.
The popular illusion about forums is the idea that ” if you build it, they will come” This is idea is outdated, simplistic and somewhat naive. In a growing universe of digital noise, how does a potential member find you? More importantly when they find you, what is it that makes them want to stick around?
In our case, we know that people will find us, we know that when they do find us and they understand us, they will stay. If they don’t understand us, well there is always Facebook.
Back to the original question; Why the fuck did we re-launch a technical forum?
We set out to build something of quality that we hoped would gradually attract like minded people from around the world. Like everything of quality we knew we had to set out our stall with a clear and unwavering proposition and values.
- We wanted to be a technical forum dedicated to building up free information and expertise with the aim to inspire, instruct and assist those that want to modify, build or race a unique oldskool Suzuki machine – We have a purpose.
- We are not for profit. The forum is free – We are independent.
- We simply want to fulfil our purpose and to do that we have strict forum rules. We rigorously enforce them to keep our content focused. – We actively maintain our culture
- We simply don’t give a fuck what the rest of the known world thinks about what we are doing or how we are doing it. –We have integrity
The short version: It’s about the bikes and the builds, it’s free, there are rules, If you don’t like it, you’re in the wrong place.
We are safe in the knowledge that people will either identify with our values or they wont. To date we appear to have rung a chord for many and that is gratifying but the truth is; if there were only 100 of us here but there were 100 cool projects in the project section we would still be fulfilling our purpose. oldskoolsuzuki hasn’t changed at all in that respect.
With every year that passes, the information we build together creates its own digital gravity, drawing in curious members who have stumbled across our digital breadcrumb trail on search engines or shared social media feeds. Our project section and bike of month winners are ultimately what we create. All of the info and threads are well arranged and they are always in the same place when you come back.
We are not the the pick and mix section of the internet that has become the norm over the last decade. We are a friendly bunch but we don’t suffer the sort of fools you’ll find so readily elsewhere. We are never worried about reducing our member count. Quality , not quantity is our moto. Those that instantly get it, eventually get it, or even just grin and bear it, are the people that make up our community.
Just like the bikes that we all love, build, race and ride; the best performance always comes when you tighten up on any tolerances. We built this place as a place for others and ourselves to enjoy. That is why we swim against the tide and maintain a forum .
So judge us on what we create rather than what we allow. That is is the true measure of any culture.
Members discuss here