Our 10 Most Popular Discussions (and Why Discussion Forums Matter)

Our discussion forums have been running for more than 17 years.  According to Google’s Analytics, these are the 10 most popular conversations over that last 6 months.  The text in quotes are excerpts from those conversation.

1 – The 10 Best Damn Black Websites Period!

The best Black websites Huff-Post, Essence and Madame Noire“These sites are note worthy because they represent the cream of the crop (in terms of traffic), of what the world wide web targets to Black people.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide if these are the best sites in terms of content.” 

2 – Almost half of Black Gay Men, in Atlanta, are HIV Positive

Gay men in Atlanta “The black HIV epidemic: A public health mystery—and love story—from Atlanta’s gay community. A journey with the researchers and citizens struggling with the troubling disparity in HIV diagnoses. ”

3 – “Foot Wash” & Fair Hope Christian Benevolent Society

“Foot Wash celebration is a euphemism for an off-the-chain festival in the woods, attended by up to 100,000 people.  One can buy BBQ, tee-shirts, fried snickers candy bars and all the things you would expected to be able to buy during events like this. What makes Foot Wash so wild are the rampant illegal activities that it is known for; including drug sales and prostitution.”

4 – Who the heck is Elias Gutierrez?

“ Who the heck is “elias gutierrez”? Six of the top 10 Google searches bringing traffic to my site yesterday was for “elias gutierrez” or some variation of that name. Each time the page from my site returned was one about the life of a famous author Bebe Moore Campbell.”

5 – Bill Withers Documentary

Sill Bill documentary“Hey I heard last night that Bill Withers was known for physically abusing his ex wife actress Denise Nicholas. The documentary made no reference to those allegations. In fact I don’t recall any mention of Denise Nicholas. While I appreciate Whiter’s music the I find the prospect of his beating his wife deeply disturbing. ”

6 – 46th NAACP Image Awards Nominees – Outstanding Literary Work

“There was a time I complained about the NAACP image awards; not about the award itself, but the nominees.  It seemed to be a popularity contest, which I thought marginalized the better books available, that needed more attention.  I thought the NAACP with their platform could do a better job of pulling together a list.”

7 – Niggers and Flies

““Niggers and flies, I do despise. The more I see Niggers, the more I like flies.”
–Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States”

8 – Bill Cosby/Sex Addict, Rapist

Bill Cosby - Its True!“I’ve really avoided this whole convo because in my mind, being from the South and knowing what happened to Black men touching white women, there is no way in the entire hell that this dude did that all of that, all that damn time and it didn’t gain any traction in a court of law and no stories gained steam.”

9 – “Slaves” Versus “Enslaved Africans”

“Maybe one day, the use of the term “the slaves” will be frowned upon much as the use of the term “nigger” is frowned upon. Maybe we will one day refer to our ancestors that came to the Americas as our people who were enslaved, human beings who were forced to slave on sugar cane plantations, cotton plantations, in rice fields and so on.”

10 – Reading and Writing Science Fiction: The Challenge to Minorities

“ …let’s face it, if your entire galaxy is populated, then there has to be more black people than Lando Calrissian. Even when Stargate changed from an African/Egyptian origin to a European/Ancients origin, I could still watch the show.”

Here are the most popular discussion forum conversation from the past 30 days:

1 – 3 Reasons the Confederate Flag is Not a Problem

Kayne and the conferate battle flag“ …I really can’t get so bent out of shape over the Confederate battle flag controversy. This media fueled-for-profit outrage does nothing to advance our cause.  Before the recent mass murder in Charleston, I posted a photo of this flag which is flying quite prominently over I-95, in VA…”

2 – Dumb sh-t on Black Twitter #RachelDolezal

“Black Twitter, despite the name, does not serve Black people.  It helps enrich the likes of Twitter, and the so called news sources that propagate dumb shit like this.”

3 – Black Lives Don’t Matter, But Black Dollars Do

We Must BoycottBlack Enterprise reported that Black buying power will reach $1.1 Trillion this year.  How much of that money goes to Black owned Businesses.  I don’t know, but I’ll bet my life very little of it does.”

What makes discussion forums unique?

Discussion forums are one of the oldest forms of “social media,”predating the World Wide Web. CompuServe, before it became a popular internet service provider (ISP), had its own proprietary discussion forums.  Discussion forums, like text messages and email are the foundations that all other social media platforms are built upon.

Interestingly, the most popular modern social media platforms are actually less feature rich, from an end user’s perspective, than discussion forums from a decade ago. Consider the fact that even the most basic text formatting features, like the use of bold face, italics, or changing text size is simply not made available to users on modern social media platforms.  The use of images, hyperlinks, and videos are also strictly constrained.

Discussion forum conversations, in contrast to social media, provide the ability of participants to create rich media content which includes colorful text, multiple images, embedded videos and hyperlinks and more.  Discussion forums are optimized for substantive conversations, and conversations can last months or even years.  For example, the “Still Bill” conversation listed above was started in January of 2010, but is still frequently read today.

Social media has its place, and so do discussion forums.

With all the focus on social media, run by billion dollar corporations, discussion forums, which are typically run by independent entities get virtually no attention.  Social media is optimized for revenue generation.  As a result, the nature of the activity is different.  Long contemplative posts are less desireable than short messages, because long posts appeal to fewer people. Social media filters the messages that you see based upon what they think will engage you more. As a result, you may not see messages that differ from your algorithmically determined worldview.

news-foumsDiscussion forums require more effort to participate than social media.  Writing a thoughtful opinion or crafting a argument is much more difficult than sharing a humorous meme or short note.

AALBC.com’s Discussion Forums

AALBC.com forums have continued to evolve over the years.  Our software was upgraded recently to optimize it for mobile access. Our forums have enjoyed an increase in readership of 45% compared to last year. However, the number of people who have actually joined a conversation by writing something has been steadily declining over that last few years.  Growth in readership is great, but for a discussion forum to thrive it needs active participation.

We encourage you to read what is going on; participate by joining a conversation or starting a new one; and sharing with others what we are doing.  Ours is an independent platform, we do not mine your profile for information and sell it to others; in fact you may remain completely anonymous.  We don’t bombard you with advertisements or post advertisements, masked as opinion.  We are regular people who don’t mind having our ideas challenged–indeed this is what we are looking for, because we grow from the experience.  Our primary goal is to build community, learn and enjoy the process.

We can’t replicate what we have on social media, the functionality is simply not there.  Even if we could migrate AALBC.com’s discussion forums to say, a Facebook group and not lose functionality, I still don’t think it would be a good move, because ownership is important.

AALBC.com’s forums are here for the long term. So pop in from time to time; Share your ideas and let us know what you think.