Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by azriel on Sun Jun 19, 2016 10:07 pm

Im glad you take the trouble to sift thru it all Smile

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Orwell on Mon Jun 20, 2016 8:25 am

cheers

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by malickfan on Mon Jun 20, 2016 5:58 pm

Very Interesting stuff Eldo, surprised the TORn archive is so small, and it's a little sad to realise how dead the LOTR plaza is these days...

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Eldorion on Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:33 pm

Thanks guys!

malickfan wrote:Very Interesting stuff Eldo, surprised the TORn archive is so small, and it's a little sad to realise how dead the LOTR plaza is these days...

Well, the figure for TORn only dates back to the creation of the "newboards" referenced in their URL, which went public in early 2007. That was well past peak LOTR hype and the vast majority of their posts came during the Hobbit period. Unfortunately, TORn has made it impossible to view the old boards anymore (they used to be accessible through the site's archive, which is otherwise still online), though bits and pieces of the boards were picked up by Archive.org over the years. The 1999-2007 board doesn't report post totals (that was the case with a lot of message boards that far back), but I found a partial memberlist. Unfortunately, it only includes users who made 10 or more posts, but by adding up all the totals you can get a general sense of how active it was, and the answer is not that much, relatively speaking (even if you double the total to account for low-posting members, though I don't think the actual total would be that high). However, TORn positioned themselves at the vanguard of Hobbit hype as early as 2004 with a website and petition called "Make The Hobbit Happen" and their blog, which was always significant in the fandom, outlasted all of its competitors to the point that plenty of sites just gave up trying to cover news themselves. So they continued to draw greater numbers of newbies after the larger forums of the LOTR era had peaked.

That said, there were still lots of people signing up on the Plaza and other sites in 2007-10 (admittedly a somewhat arbitrarily defined period). It's kind of hard for someone my age to imagine just how big LOTR was, especially right after TH came and went with very little fanfare from popular culture as a whole (especially the latter two films). Even so, plenty of sites were dying out even by 2005, but the big sites continued and even drew some benefit from the resulting consolidation of fandom. At that point inertia was on their side, though I don't want to imply that the management of such sites did nothing but sit back and watch how things went. However, I think inertia worked against many of the larger forums when they tried to reposition themselves in preparation for TH, and most of them continued to decline throughout that period. Activity comes in fits and starts, though. The Plaza had a fairly active period for a couple months earlier this year (which I noticed both through the data project and cause I've been posting there again), but yeah. It's still trucking along but the sheer size of the place makes it feel like a ghost town sometimes. TORC is probably worse ... there are just so many individual forums that activity is spread really thin throughout them and looks like less than it is. That said, while Plaza's Lore community has lost a lot of really bright minds, it still has a quite impressive group of semi-regulars, many of whom are also involved with the Tolkien Society and/or other RL aspects of Tolkien fandom. But it's much less active and I feel that there are fewer self-taught, digital native "scholars" as a proportion of posters (much less in absolute numbers).
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by malickfan on Tue Sep 19, 2017 2:54 pm

I no longer post on TORn but occasionally have a quick look around the forums, it seems like they've been almost as quiet as us lately-proportionally that is-the reading room etc still has a reasonably large amount of discussion but when you factor in their much larger number of active members it's like a Ghost Town, so different to 2011-2014 when I was still a reasonably active member, dozens of posts each hour, now there's a relative handful each day...

Most of the discussion here is off-topic, but that helps build up our total number of posts-it's currently nearly 213,000 compared to around 900,000 in total on TORn, which is pretty impressive considering they have thousands of registered members compared to 325 here (maybe half of which were spam/novelty accounts), I wonder if there will be months (or even years?) when this forum overtakes TORn in number of posts (presumably total site traffic will still be much lower in comparison)...

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by azriel on Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:14 pm

Its nice that we all get on, that really helps. I think that even tho there isn't as much Tolkien chat going on but, more in the way of cosy, friendly chat speaks for itself. It shows we've built up something special. Here, is a go to place for comfort, familiarity, fun, giggles, its like walking into a room & seeing all your old friends Smile

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:34 pm

{{{Yup, cosy and yet crabbit at the same time! Perfect. And we might have a small amount of active members, but at least they are all quality! Nod }}}

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by azriel on Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:43 pm

Awh, how snuggily Smile

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Eldorion on Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:47 am

malickfan wrote:I no longer post on TORn but occasionally have a quick look around the forums, it seems like they've been almost as quiet as us lately-proportionally that is-the reading room etc still has a reasonably large amount of discussion but when you factor in their much larger number of active members it's like a Ghost Town, so different to 2011-2014 when I was still a reasonably active member, dozens of posts each hour, now there's a relative handful each day...

TORn held on longer than anywhere else but they too have been hit by the massive decline in activity that's hit all Tolkien forums (and, to varying extents, Tolkien fandom as a whole). Their last year with a greater than 100 post-per-day average was 2015, which is also the last year any Tolkien forum (in English at least, but I doubt foreign-language forums are doing much better) broke the 100 ppd barrier. Our last year above that threshold was 2014 and the last year that a forum other than us or TORn was over 100 ppd was 2012 (when the LOTR Plaza and TORC made it as well). Last year us and TORn were the only two forums above 50 ppd (though we just barely squeaked by) and this year it's doubtful that any forum will finish over 50 ppd.

Most of the discussion here is off-topic, but that helps build up our total number of posts-it's currently nearly 213,000 compared to around 900,000 in total on TORn, which is pretty impressive considering they have thousands of registered members compared to 325 here (maybe half of which were spam/novelty accounts)

TORn also has the benefit of their active archive going back to early 2007 (though their original forum dates to 1999), while ours only reaches February 2011. But TORn certainly did extremely well (by latter day standards) during the Hobbit movie release years, helped by them being the main all-in-one go-to site for so many fans.

I wonder if there will be months (or even years?) when this forum overtakes TORn in number of posts (presumably total site traffic will still be much lower in comparison)...

It's ... not impossible, but I would still say probably not. I'm gonna spoiler tag my explanation though because it's probably way too wonkish and I don't want to detract from the point that Petty and azriel mentioned (and that I agree with) which is that the value of Forumshire obviously comes from the people here and not from any statistics.

Spoiler:
The margin between us and TORn last year was smaller than it has ever been both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of activity (the latter is more telling since we're both much less active than we were a few years ago), and as of the middle of this year (I've been taking much less frequent measurements lately so that's the most recent complete set of figures I have) was even narrower. And TORn has also seen a noticeably steeper drop-off since 2014 in relative terms than we have. But because we've always had a smaller user base and haven't been affiliated with a blog since Bree went under (and even that was informal), we're in a more precarious position where two or three people leaving the forum or posting less frequently would have a major ripple effect. OTOH, it's been a long time since I was active on TORn and I'm honestly not sure how many people are still posting regularly there, so they could be vulnerable to that too.

An illustration of the ripple effect working in the opposite direction is the unexpected renaissance of Arwen-Undomiel.com earlier this year. They used to be a major forum and they still have one of the largest archives (over 1.1 million posts), but they haven't had a top four finish since 2011. In the space of a few months this spring, they jumped up from the #5-#8 range where they'd spent the past half-decade to displace TORn to take the #1 spot for the year thus far. This happened primarily because of a rejuvenation of their role-playing section driven by a handful of persistent regulars, though they convinced some oldbies to return and had several active newbies, which are rare on most Tolkien forums these days. But this renaissance started running out of steam after about three months and AUC's YTD average is almost back below 50 ppd again, though they'll still likely end up #1 for the year. I don't want to come off as condescending -- they are, after all, still ahead of us -- but compare this to TORn toppling the LOTR Plaza in 2012 (the last change at the #1 position), which came as the culmination of eight years of refocusing and rebranding the site to be about The Hobbit, including relaunching the forums with a (slightly) more modern format five years before taking over. That we can see a new champion from such a small fluctuation says something about how much (or little) that distinction means at this point.

Fake edit: also, we've been locked in a fairly close battle for third-place with The Hall of Fire and they were leading the last time I checked, but it's not a done deal yet. If they do stay ahead of us we'll finish at #4 behind AUC, TRN, and HOF. That would be the same rank we achieved in 2012, right before beginning our stint in the #2 spot.

Spoiler:
Here's what the all-time medal table would look like in that event (based on figures as of 1 July 2017):



And here's what a "weighted" ranking (as discussed on the previous page) would look like using the formula first place = 4 points, second place = 2 points, third and fourth place = 1 point. This system was adapted from a FiveThirtyEight essay about (IIRC) ranking soccer dynasties.

Code:
PLZ: 40 points (8x champ, 2x runner-up, 4x semis)
TRC: 34 points (5x champ, 2x runner-up, 10x semis)
TRN: 29 points (5x champ, 3x runner-up, 3x semis)
AUC: 15 points (1x champ, 4x runner-up, 3x semis)
FOR: 10 points (4x runner-up, 2x semis)
IML: 8 points (4x runner-up)
RBR: 6 points (6x semis)
WRN: 3 points (3x semis)
DWN: 2 points (2x semis)
HOF: 2 point (2x semis)
ENT: 1 point (1x semis)
B77: 1 point (1x semis)
COE: 1 point (1x semis)

NB I started using this system of three letter codes for forums to replace the inconsistent hodgepodge of abbreviations that I used to use. Not all of them are used by the members of the sites in question. For example, members of Arwen-Undomiel.com usually refer to their site as A-U.com. Obviously TORC and TORn use four letters. Forumshire is FOR because THM was already allocated to the old forum and HMF to the (now deleted) forum.thehobbit-movie.com. Bree was BRE for the same reason. Halofirians (Hall of Fire members, and no I did not make that word up) do use HOF, though.

In my big historical post near the bottom of the previous page of this thread, I stated why I think comparing forums by "medal count" of yearly results is a more interesting comparison than just seeing who has the largest post total, since racking up lots of posts in an era when tons of forums were doing so isn't necessarily more impressive than getting fewer posts but being near the top of the pack in leaner times. But there's a limit to how far this argument can be taken, and I think we're nearing that point, if we haven't passed it already. I haven't been doing as comprehensive a research job this year so maybe there have been other AUC-esque fluctuations that I just haven't noticed, but I doubt it. AUC at least had something to start with. Last year there were only six forums that fit the criteria of my project that broke 10 ppd. It had been eight for several years prior, which is still bad. There's a decent chance that figure will be only four or five once 2017 is in the books. In 2018, we might well see a forum reach the "top four" with only 8-9 ppd for the entire year. This has put a bit of a damper on my excitement about 2018 being the 20th year of web-based Tolkien forums.*

Anyway, I'm sorry if this is all too gloomy. Even early in this project (which initially began in January 2013) I used to comment that it was sad watching so many forums decline. The last two years has really seen the bottom fall out, though. I have gradually managed to wean myself away from checking in on activity numbers too regularly but I obviously haven't kicked the habit entirely. Laughing

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**Listservs work through e-mail which is not the same as the web, although the rise of webmail has significantly blurred that distinction. I should also note that the Tolkien Usenet newsgroups (alt.fan.tolkien and rec.arts.books.tolkien) are excluded from the web-based definition for a similar reason. They were the primary center for online Tolkien discussion in the '90s, though. They began at the tail end of the era when the Internet was still mostly limited to college campuses, the military, and certain kinds of companies; rec.arts.books.tolkien received its charter five months before AOL began offering Usenet access. The web was still in its infancy at that point.


Last edited by Eldorion on Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:24 am; edited 4 times in total
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Eldorion on Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:51 am

So, er, I haven't had the chance to discuss forum statistics with anyone in a long time which is probably why I went overboard with my response. It's kind of embarrassing but after spending a lot of time on it I don't wanna just delete it. Embarassed Laughing
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by halfwise on Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:21 pm

Why would you ever have been tempted to delete it? Suspect

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by halfwise on Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:27 pm

BTW, my calculations based on that first chart you posted was that Forumshire would catch TORN in 2 years.  Since that was posted 2 years ago, clearly an extrapolation based on linearity of the last two years was bogus, which is not unexpected.

So what is the current TORN PPD?  For the last 12 months ours is about 29, though october isn't finished so I rounded up.

EDIT: my extrapolation would put us at 50 ppd, but it's crucial to know when the extrapolation ends.  Eldo's chart ended with the wrap up of 2015, so my extrapolation should be the wrap up of 2017, so in September we are already below the end of year mark, meaning we are declining faster than linear! Shocked One would expect an exponential decay which would be slower than a linear extrapolation. I may need to go listen to some old Trump speeches to restore hope. Sad

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Eldorion on Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:15 pm

Thanks for your interest halfy; you're very kind. Smile

Here are the ppd charts for last year and for the first half of this year. It's not a very pretty picture. Razz

2016 Top 8

  1. TORn: 84.7 ppd
  2. Forumshire: 50.4 ppd
  3. LOTR Plaza: 39.1 ppd
  4. Hall of Fire: 38.3 ppd
  5. A-U.com: 21.1 ppd
  6. TORC: 21.0 ppd
  7. board77: 8.2 ppd
  8. Barrow-downs: 7.5 ppd

(I am highly confident that there were no other qualifying forums that would have made it into the top eight.)

2017 Top 8 (as of 1 July)

  1. A-U.com: 60.6 ppd
  2. TORn: 41.8 ppd
  3. Hall of Fire: 32.1 ppd
  4. Forumshire: 30.6 ppd
  5. TORC: 13.2 ppd
  6. LOTR Plaza: 11.8 ppd
  7. board77: 7.2 ppd
  8. Barrow-downs: 5.9 ppd

(I am reasonably confident that no other forums would break into the top eight, but haven't been checking as thoroughly.)
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by halfwise on Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:20 pm

Ratio wise in 2016 our rate was 50.4/84.7 = 59% of TORN
2017 our rate was 30.6/41.8 = 73% of TORN.

So we are catching up! TORN dropped to about half their post rate while we dropped to about 60%. We'll catch them yet.

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Eldorion on Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:26 pm

I did mention that in my monster post. Razz And compared to 2014 (BOFA's year of release and the last year we were both over 100 ppd) TORn has fallen 41.8/341.3 = 87.7% decline whereas we've fallen 30.6/113.3 = 73% decline. So yeah, we might continue to hold on. But because we're talking about such low numbers, I think things are harder to predict due to the "ripple effect" I mentioned. But it's possible I'm being too pessimistic (what, me? never). Shrugging
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by halfwise on Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:08 pm

At 30 ppd we are right on the verge of where people traditionally declare issues from small number statistics. From here on out random fluctuations rule.

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by David H on Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:58 pm

halfwise wrote: From here on out random fluctuations rule.

And randomness is our specialty in Forumshire! :carrot: Metal :carrot:

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:22 am

{{{{ Down roughly 30 posts per day- well its plain enough what you're getting at, Petty the drunken Scotshobbit hasn't been posting as much so Petty must fix it, all himself, except for some buckie... guess I aught to start now, fine!  Mad  }}}}

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by malickfan on Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:07 pm

Very interesting stuff Eldo, I don't think the picture is quite as bleak for us as some of the other forums (though I can't decide if its more impressive or depressing that we are catching up to TORn so quickly...), Forumshire, despite the name and purpose of its creation has always been more than just a dedicated Hobbit forum, we have a much smaller but much more active pool of regular posters and discuss lots of different topics, real hardcore Tolkien fans would probably head to one of the other big names first and looking at TORn, TORC the Plaza etc recently it seems even many of the old regulars have stopped or decreased activity, I think we will hang in fine for a few years yet, whether TORn will ever recover or just bottom out completely like the Plaza did remains to be seen...

It almost makes you wish for a Tauriel spinoff to be announced just to see the reactions...


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Well, that was worth the wait wasn't it  Suspect


I think what comes out of a pig's rear end is more akin to what Peejers has given us-Azriel 20/9/2014
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by halfwise on Thu Sep 21, 2017 8:07 pm

Unless we get a new movie we won't get a new member.

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Eldorion on Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:45 pm

malickfan wrote:Very interesting stuff Eldo, I don't think the picture is quite as bleak for us as some of the other forums (though I can't decide if its more impressive or depressing that we are catching up to TORn so quickly...), Forumshire, despite the name and purpose of its creation has always been more than just a dedicated Hobbit forum, we have a much smaller but much more active pool of regular posters and discuss lots of different topics, real hardcore Tolkien fans would probably head to one of the other big names first and looking at TORn, TORC the Plaza etc recently it seems even many of the old regulars have stopped or decreased activity, I think we will hang in fine for a few years yet, whether TORn will ever recover or just bottom out completely like the Plaza did remains to be seen...

It almost makes you wish for a Tauriel spinoff to be announced just to see the reactions...

Cheers, Malick! Very Happy I feel somewhat similarly about the closing gap between us and TORn. I'm a little surprised at how quickly they fell off over the past two years. Some of that's due to the factors outside of their control of course but I do think it speaks well to the ways in which we've diversified our community. (Same can be said for some of the other forums that are holding on better in percentage terms, such as HOF, though on the other hand being half a roleplaying site hasn't done much to stop the bleeding for the Plaza.) As a result of this thread I did take a peek at how things have changed since June (I was going to wait until the end of the year but my curiosity became too much to resist) and TORn has somewhat stabilized over the past three months for the first time in a long time, while AUC has continued to come down hard from their high this spring. Will be interesting to see if they can hold on to the number one position in light of that.

I'm very glad that we're still hanging on relatively well. It's not like our community would cease to exist or be meaningful if activity fell below a certain point but it's always nice to come here and still consistently see familiar faces and new posts. Smile

Part of me is actually a little surprised that we haven't seen an announcement for a spin-off film yet. WB announced Fantastic Beasts just a little over two years after the theatrical release of the final Harry Potter movie. But they had Rowling's involvement in that, so maybe they're less eager to jump into a spin-off project without the same stamp of "legitimacy"? Or it could be that they're focusing more on the DCEU which has finally gotten underway, though it'll be interesting to see how Justice League does in a couple months. Razz


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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Eldorion on Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:53 pm

halfwise wrote:Unless we get a new movie we won't get a new member.

I was a little surprised at how little of a mark Beren and Lúthien made this year. Our thread about it wasn't that long but still had more discussion than it sparked on most Tolkien forums, to say nothing of the complete lack of impact it had in the mainstream. For a book that was supposedly gonna make esoteric Tolkien texts more accessible to the general public it really didn't have much in the way of marketing compared to other recent Christopher Tolkien-edited publications. But with Christopher saying it's likely to be his last book that really only leaves new movies (or the outside chance of a TV show) as the remaining avenue(s) for the franchise attracting more attention again. (They are still putting out Middle-earth video games but those have rarely if ever made an impact outside of video game fandom.) And with The Silmarillion almost certainly being a pipe dream that pretty much just leaves spin-offs or remakes.

Pettytyrant101 wrote:{{{{ Down roughly 30 posts per day- well its plain enough what you're getting at, Petty the drunken Scotshobbit hasn't been posting as much so Petty must fix it, all himself, except for some buckie... guess I aught to start now, fine!  Mad  }}}}

I already said my bit in the 30K thread but I should make a note of my appreciation for your efforts here too, Petty. I love you


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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by azriel on Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:56 pm

I'm sure we will have something to talk about if this "Tolkien" film gets underway. Just Lily Collins & Nicholas Hoult are named as characters from what I saw on IMDB

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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by Eldorion on Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:59 pm

Good point, az. Smile I kinda lost track of all the different Tolkien biopics that were supposedly being considered/entering pre-production but it is kinda neat that at least one of them seems like it'll really happen.
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Re: Largest Tolkien Forums of 2015 (end of an era)

Post by malickfan on Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:11 pm

azriel wrote:I'm sure we will have something to talk about if this "Tolkien" film gets underway. Just Lily Collins & Nicholas Hoult are named as characters from what I saw on IMDB

Nicholas Hoult is a good actor, and he has some physical resemblance to the young Tolkien, but outside his fame as an author Tolkien lived quite an ordinary life (well, ordinary by the standards of Oxford Lecturers I guess) and literary biopic, the Hoult film is apparently tackling the WW1 period which might be the most interesting/unknown from a cinematic point of view (there's already an excellent book John Garth's Tolkien And The Great War they could use as a reference point-though Tolkien spent most of his 3 years War Service ill in hospital) but literary biopics tend to be quite dry and talky anyway, given the LOTR connection I'd expect them to hollywoodise the story a bit and jazz it up with more war scenes or sensationalize the romance (one idea I had was that they could work in recreations of the Book Of Lost Tales stories/drafts, as dream sequences or something)

It could be interesting, and I'm certainly intrigued to see if actually happens, but I'm rather dubious on the cinematic merits of such a film.


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I think what comes out of a pig's rear end is more akin to what Peejers has given us-Azriel 20/9/2014
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