I went to Newsarama this weekend. I was surprised to see that I hadn't been there in over two months! But my forum posting has been on a downward trend for some time now. Newsarama, however, was the place I initially got hooked. I have met a lot of friends there and am still in contact with many of them through other forums, Facebook, blogging, emails, what-have-you. But my posting on Newsarama (or Nrama) had been in decline since the spring. There was no reason for it, really. Sometimes I just don't care to post. Nrama does have a rep for trolls, and not an entirely deserved one, but I wasn't avoiding anyone. It was just a slow period and I was limiting myself to returning to old threads.
And then it happened. Newsarama came under the Imaginova umbrella and the End of Universe came to Nrama. Or so you'd think with all the complaints. I had seen it all before, when the site's generalissimo Matt Brady broke up the main forum into a series of sub-forum's. People protested. A Star Wars themed Rebellion was raised. People quit and vowed never to return. But they did. After a while it all settled down and everyone was back, happily, and sometimes snarkily, posting. Maybe Brady and Co thought the same would happen this time, but this time was different. This time change came with the loss of a lot of basic functionality. No PMs, no polls, no email alerts, videos cannot be embedded, etc, etc, etc. It seemed like a backwards step. And the switchover was far from smooth. I myself had to make several attempts to log on to the new site before one of the moderators helped me.
So how have things changed? Well, two months later it looks like they haven't much. People are still complaining (that is, providing User Feedback). Promised upgrades are still being promised. I was struck by how slow things are. Before the June changes it was next to impossible to keep a topic on the first page of the forum unless a lot of people were interested. If a thread didn't gain others' attention, it would drop like a stone. Of course, it was the weekend and things are always slower then, what with everyone posting from work, but even today the last post on the main Talk@ thread is three hours old. The equivalent post on the previous version (which is still accessible) is only twenty minutes from the top. So I checked Newsarama at Alexa, which tracks web traffic. In the last three months Nrama's traffic is down twenty percent. In the past the site could shrug off whining fanboys. There were always more where they came from. Not so now. And hits, page views, are important. They are to websites what ratings are to TV.
So, it turns out that Imaginova was not such a good business decision after all.