Are forums social media?

My answer is yes. Post over. Roll credits.

The question only occured to me because I two users arguing about it on a forum. A complaint was being lodged regarding user behavior on reddit, not really a big surprise, and the other pointed out that the forum they were complaining on was a form of social media as well and the debate ran off and lived unhappily ever after.

It just don’t see any good arguments against it. The Merriam-Webster definition says “forms of electronic communication […] through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.” Other definitions like the Cambridge Dictionary’s tend to be similar.

I find the original argument somewhat amusing, because as a platform reddit is basically just an extremely large forum with some extra sorting and light user moderation from up/down votes thrown in. It does a good job of not looking like a forum, but functionally it pretty much is. Perhaps the one thing that sets it (and most other platforms) apart are subreddits and other groups that are created by the users instead of the forum moderators. Most forums have a set structure of subforums and users must decide where their content fits within that structure rather than altering it to make their own space.

This isn’t universal, though. The degree to which users can creature custom groups and filter content varies from one platform to the next.

Active forum users have an identifiable username and profile much like any large platform. They can vary wildly from small single-topic communities to extremely massive affairs like SomethingAwful, though I never used the latter personally. I could even make a case for WordPress.com being a social media platform.

I think there’s a lot of other things bouncing around inside my head as a result of this regarding how useful or meaningful a label “social media” is if it represents the majority of online communities, but I think that’s a topic for another day. I’m running on four hours of sleep and having a hard time focusing.

Y’all take care. Stay safe out there.


Hey, it’s Blaugust time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

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