Discussing retro games in walled-gardens such as Discord and Facebook Groups is bad for the future of your hobby

Ramokromok

Administrator
May 11, 2021
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An Open Letter to Retro Gaming and Vintage Computing fans.
Want to know how to beat Impossible Mission on the C64 (or Evercade)? Want to know how the VIC-20 uses memory expansions? Or Why your Vectrex won't turn on? With modern technology, the answer is just a quick search away. And the chances are, the answer will be found on an Internet forum – and for retro gaming, there are many.

If you are discussing your favourite retro games in Discord or Facebook Groups, you are doing a disservice for the future of your hobby. Discord and Facebook Groups are pretty much walled-gardens, and what happens in there stays in there. All that information is essentially lost the moment it is posted. One, because finding older posts in both services is a complete nightmare, and two, because you can't find Discord posts or FB Group posts on search engines.

I know old-skool forums are probably not as fun and modern as Discord, but let's face it, you're discussing systems that are old fashioned. It should be second nature! You can't complain about a forum being a bit fiddly when you're happy to load a game via cassette tape...

But forums are searchable, not all owned by one company, and mostly end up on the Internet Archive. Let's not throw all of our knowledge of retro-tech in the bin.

And though I've posted this on the dead RAM OK forums, there are lots of non-dead forums out there for pretty much every system going. Even the Memotech MTX 512. Go find them, and go use them.
 
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Ramokromok

Administrator
May 11, 2021
178
20
Kotaku pretty much said the same thing a few years ago, and everything they said is still true.

Forums create a record, an archive we can search through, so that whenever we want to revisit issues, or find help with a problem, or see what was happening during a certain time, we can do that. There’s a paper trail, and while sometimes that leads to embarrassing takes on tv shows and game reveals, other times it’s providing an enormous help with technical issues or parts of a game you’re stuck on.
Discord simply can’t provide that. It’s a river running in real-time, and while it does have search functions, the way the whole app is structured means you’re simply never going to get the same levels of detailed discussion or archived information as we can get from forums. If places want to open a Discord and run that as something else, then cool, but using it as a replacement for forums is a disaster.
While every company closing forums and moving people to Discord in 2021 might have their reasons, if this trend keeps up we’re going to look around in 2026, not be able to find a whole ton of cool and/or interesting stuff, and discover to our horror that, somehow, the internet had got even worse.
 
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