Thursday, February 16, 2017

IMDb Boards 1994 (or whenever)-2017: Good Riddance

Depending on exactly when they're going to pull the plug, either today or tomorrow will be the last day the IMDb boards will be active. It's yet to be seen if the current boards are going to be archived or removed entirely (more on that later). With so many things coming to a close in 2017 (not just GMW or even Liv and Maddie, which like it or not was always going to be a blip on the cultural radar, but things that have had more persistence - Disney's Club Penguin, for example, which will close its servers down next month) it's easy to see 2017 being a year of finales, and seeing these changes even as being "bad," but things don't shutter down for no reason. In fact, while the IMDb boards had at one point been a useful resource (particularly for Disney Channel and Nick enthusiasts and their parents in 2012-2014, the last hurrah of Disney Channel's ratings dominance - and I'd like to point out that not only it's how most people found out about GMWReviewed from Christian's post on there, including how I myself found it, but it's also how I met Mike) it's finally clear to IMDb themselves that their time has come and gone and it's time to ditch the system. Here's an outline of those reasons:

It had become a troll haven

This is probably the most outwardly obvious reason, but it's also the least important: most message boards like heavy traffic and they don't care what form it takes, even if it is trolls (but more on that later too). If you've been hanging around the GMW boards on IMDb in particular, I don't think I need to explain this one that much. You've got specific trolls, including "crotchrocket" who is probably the most overt troll in that he makes it the most blatant; but you also have "Manna-Fest" who turned multiple threads into multiple-page ordeals with constant arguing back and fourth, and a few others (those are the most prominent trolls so those two are the ones that come to mind the most). And of course that's just for GMW; other boards had no shortage of trolls either.

It had specifically become an alt-right haven

As unfortunately seems to be the case of things in general lately (look at just the actual, real-life pervading attitude of the nation right now, most personified in the President it had elected) but message boards in particular seem to be swinging not just right, but alt-right specifically. What do I mean by alt-right? Well you can probably just Google it yourself, but at its most base it means exactly what you think it means - right-wing but an "alternative" to the "mainstream" right. Unfortunately rather than swinging more moderate it's swinging the exact opposite direction, back towards deep-seeded racist and discriminatory roots dating from the 1920s in particular (corresponding with the rise of the KKK). And when I say going back to "these roots" I don't mean the Republican Party in particular, but basically back to a time "when racism was cool" in general. 

Probably no other board exemplifies the alt-right swing on IMDb more than Last Man Standing, a show that practically specifically caters to the growing alt-right base (if you remember, we got "invaded" by IMDb LMS denizens when I did a [positive!] review of that show, causing me to cease anonymous posting, a policy that has stood until recently). Some examples of some active topics there are "Sure to give liberals conniptions," "Politics" (you can take a guess which direction that topic has swung), and "pro-war and pro-guns" (a topic started by a liberal that predictably took an immediate turn alt-right). Needless to say I'm not going to miss this section of IMDb.

Not that LMS is a unique example just because it catered to a particular and particularly distasteful political base: The Dark Knight Rises' boards had a tendency to swing alt-right in its longer threads, and hell we've seen it on the GMW board in reaction to Rowan's apparent social justice leanings.

Again, though, that's not a specific reason why the boards are going down as so much just a reason to celebrate them going down (and now I got the Ke$ha/Pitbull song stuck in my head). Again, IMDb likes traffic, and whether it's alt-right or not, they can live with it. No, rather....

The vast, vast majority of the IMDb boards simply sat inactive

Now we're getting to the real core of the issue. Remember when I was talking about 2012-2014 being peak time for both Disney Channel itself and its related IMDb boards? The last half of 2012 (right when I was starting to get into this thing) was a real golden time for KidComs on IMDb; most of the network's most popular shows had either just very recently ended or were still going on and both networks were still capable of drawing older and even adult demos to some extent (or at least better than what eventually came out of GMW). Discussions were very lively on Austin & Ally, Jessie, even A.N.T. Farm (which were all still relatively new shows at the time - wow how time flies!) Wizards of Waverly Place just ended early in the year and around that time it was just revealed that they were working on a Wizards vs. Wizards one-shot comeback special. Good Luck Charlie and Shake it Up! were at their peaks. Even Hannah Montana and On Deck were still recent memories, having ended only the year prior. Liv and Maddie was a thing only to those people who were most obsessively paying attention to new show schedules, especially since the announcement (and delay) of GMW stole the spotlight (as that show is wont to tend to do with its network siblings, but that was an earlier blog entry already). Over on Nick, iCarly was still airing new episodes (although the number was rapidly winding down so that you didn't even need a whole hand to count 'em), How to Rock was still a thing and it'd still be a year out before BTR would air its final episode, and Victorious would still be rolling out new episodes for the next few months. We were all excited about Sam & Cat and even Wendell and Vinnie, given how we hadn't yet been exposed to how awful either show would turn out, and neither Haunted Hathaways and Thundermans had even been announced yet. 

Fast forward to the present. Each and every show on that list that has died (which is all of them save for Liv and Maddie for the next month) has taken its IMDb board with it, with some minor exceptions here and there (people still post on the iCarly and Victorious boards here and there which really speaks to those shows' longevity, and if nothing else the end of GMW was so recent mere inertia will carry it to IMDb's end). The KidCom discussion landscape on IMDb has become an absolute ghost town. When GMW premiered, it stole the spotlight again and most of the KidCom discussion migrated there (for better or worse - I'd argue the latter, but again that's already an earlier blog post) and whatever trickle of posting that had sustained for example the A.N.T. Farm boards starting near its finale almost immediately dried up. When interest in posting on the GMW boards started to wane, interest on the KidCom boards in general started to wane with it (not a lot of discussion with Bizaardvark or Bunk'd besides hatedom it seems, even though those are current shows).

I'm just using that example because it's the most relevant to this blog, but it's the vast majority of the status quo on IMDb. There are far, far more shows that have "expired" through the years than shows that are kept alive now (bearing in mind both the long history of television and how most series end up being one or two-season wonders) and each and every one of them has a message board by default, not to mention the tens of thousands if not more actors that also have their own boards by default. Most of these have just one or two topics period in their entire posting histories (many featuring the latest posting dating back years or even in some cases over a decade) and especially for very obscure shows, movies and actors the post count is exactly zero. Which leads to the biggest reason of all as to why IMDb is shuttering down its message boards:

It's very expensive to maintain all this bandwidth when the vast majority of it simply gets ignored by the user base

Sure, a message board here and there with only two or three topics period may not use up a lot of bandwidth. Ones that have zero postings use up even less. But it all adds up in a hurry when you're dealing with five and even six figures-count of message boards that simply sit there completely empty and having to rent out the server space to keep those ghost boards existing. And then you take into account the thousands if not tens of thousands of ghost boards that do have pages and pages of topics back when those shows were airing, but have since died with the most recent posting dating back to when the only thing "ISIS" stood for was a girls' name.

That in no way makes good business sense, and so IMDb is forced to make the only decision here that is good business sense: trash the whole thing.

Which is why I think the whole system will simply go away instead of being archived: it's too much bandwidth, and therefore too much money being flushed down the toilet for no real purpose. Yeah, it might be useful to archive the boards for someone's edification, but like it or not the historical and archival significance of IMDb is practical nil - especially considering the troll and alt-right haven it's become lately. That's a cultural history that we're better off not preserving anyway.

So, that's the story of why IMDb is going away. Given what's been happening lately, with individual boards dying (again, taking the whole system with them ultimately) and the incessant trolling, I think I speak for a good part of the population when I say, Good Riddance.

1 comment:

  1. Shipping Wars Are StupidFebruary 18, 2017 at 9:53 AM

    Rot in hell, IMDB boards

    ReplyDelete

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