Dying forums?

arun

Administrator
Hello guys, it's me here after a long time. I hope everyone is doing fine :)

I just want to give you my thoughts about this, this has been a myth for a while now. I am a part of pretty large sized forums, so i am sure that Facebook is not killing them.

Only small and mid sized forums have this problem, i call them as seasonal decline or users loosing interest because of their life style changes. Yeah, FB may be a reason for that but not exactly.

FB can't offer what forums offer to an user, i would blame the mindset of the people for moving to fb from forum.

Also forums will continue to evolve even in the near future, even if a site gets closed there will be a new forum in the same niche very soon.

But at the same time, people tend to forget one simple concept. During the early days of a forum, people try so many new things to attract new users. When the activity drops, you gotta keep the same simple logic. Offer something new to the users, for a site like this i would say write articles about your passion. I mean get a CMS (content management system) home page, like and share the articles on fb, reddit be socially engaged. This will drive new visitors to your site.

Also, you gotta keep an eye on http://www.reddit.com/r/Bellydance/ to see the latest trends and what can you offer to the community members. Actually you can drive visitors from reddit but i am not a reddit user. You gotta follow their community guidelines when posting links to other sites i guess. Yeah, that's just an example.

Social media sites will help you drive new visitors/members if used properly.

Sorry, if my post was inappropriate, just my 0.2 scents.
 
I liked Arun's concepts. It would be nice to read articles from other dancers (different perspectives, other countries, different genres, etc.).
 

Sophia Maria

New member
Also, you gotta keep an eye on http://www.reddit.com/r/Bellydance/ to see the latest trends and what can you offer to the community members. Actually you can drive visitors from reddit but i am not a reddit user. You gotta follow their community guidelines when posting links to other sites i guess. Yeah, that's just an example.
For whatever reason, it hadn't occurred to me to go on r/Bellydance, even though reddit has everything and would certainly have Oriental dance. I must admit, it doesn't look to me like it's thriving either, I reached only the bottom of the first page and already I saw, "posted 4 months ago". And many were simply youtube video links, not interesting discussions.

I truly love the forum format, I think it still has something that other formats can't replicate--it's sole purpose is discussion. I find that different from facebook (and even reddit sometimes) because one finds more "sharing", or at worst, attention seekers. However, the advantage that I think facebook has (at least for me) is the ability to make connections and the event-organizing convenience. I can always easily find/follow dancers I like and admire, and find/join events and workshops.

Like I said, I adore the this forum. I'm on bhuz too, but for whatever reason mostly lurk/post here. But I haven't been of late, and I think a lot of that is just being tired. These days, I have so many websites to deal with, so many usernames and passwords, I feel inundated. 2 personal emails (personal and professional), 1 work email, facebook, linkedin, twitter, my university alumni network, this forum, another forum, Meetup, a roommate finder network (trying to move), Skype, a language exchange website, plus all those little random things you're required to make an account for...I enjoy having these resources at my fingertips, but do not enjoying sitting on the computer, so unfortunately I pick and chose at times, and may cycle through different phases of what networks I pay attention to. These days I barely go on facebook, and spend most computer time either job searching ( :mad: ) or using the language exchange website.

But I'll always come back here, because like I said, this community and the format of the website gives me things I wouldn't get anywhere else...and at times, man, it really educates me. I find that invaluable.

I think what might lure me here in and keep me regularly would be an app, if at all possible. Or even just making the site mobile-friendly when accessed from a smart phone. Is it mobile friendly? I do not enjoy being on the computer for more than half an hour or 45 minutes, so I find it feels nicer and easier to check on things from my smartphone. That way I can hop on and hop with ease, and I don't have to wrestle the ethernet cable away from my brother :) (no wi-fi for us!)

Edited to add: Logged on from phone, my bad, it is indeed mobile friendly!
 
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Aniseteph

New member
See, you made me unlurk / decloak or whatever. Had to like me some posts on here and add my name to the FB resisters. I'm on there in a never bother to post, my page has cobwebs on it kinda way. I think for BD people use it over forums because it's better for publicising local events, and a lot of them aren't interested in debating anything. That has to be a numbers thing that suffers when we are out of fashion.

I've been posting less because I dance less and feel a bit remote from it at the moment. My teacher does more yoga now, and though I have good intentions about getting the DVDs out, there are other things that always get in the way, not least a knee injury. I'm still in the local BD loop, just shockingly out of practice.

I would love it if BD got fashionable again, although it would be super annoying if it was watered-down fusion.

Note to self - try to do your bit, don't delete, post it! (Hitting post NOW, not even previewing...)
 

Jeanne

Member
I've known belly dance to almost fall off the face of the earth at times except for a handful of dogged and dedicated dancers. There have been at least three big peaks and troughs since I started dancing in the late seventies, plus some smaller wavelets. We're sliding into the fourth trough (according to my lights) now but somewhere on the other side there will be another big wave of enthusiasm for the dance. In the meantime, keep the faith and practice your shimmies.
Yeah, I think this is true. It's sad to see how attendance (as well as the number of vendors) has dropped at many festivals, as well as some longtime events being discontinued.

Anyway, I'm glad this topic was brought up. I've been wondering myself what has happened to the forums -- used to be a really active (and informative) source of conversation.
 

Sophia Maria

New member
Lately, I have to admit, other aspects of life are barging in and interrupting my dance practice. I used to dance 2 hours a day, now I feel lucky if I do 4 hours a week.

I think this can have a lot to do with the economy in some ways...I have a hard time practicing when my current job's contract runs out soon, and I have no job on the horizon, so I don't know where I'll be, what I'll be doing, and how I'll be paying for it. The best I've been doing is a regular shimmy practice (shimmies are magical for stress/anger reduction)
 

Aniseteph

New member
Big festivals aren't what they were here. I'm guilty of being less supportive than I was, but the big ones stopped being a draw for me a long time ago. Mainly the workshops... I'm no longer interested in schlepping up to London for a teacher I never heard of (especially to LearnAChoreo and/or for wacky fusion fun :confused:) or to be in a megaworkshop with a star name up the other end of the room somewhere I can't see. Plus same old vendors, same costumes, props and hipscarves that I don't need because I don't perform much. I started feeling alienated from that scene.

OTOH small is beautiful! I do support local regular workshops and a hafla, and there's a small annual festival that is excellent and draws a regular crowd. Maybe I am just embracing what is friendlier to the hipscarf-happy hobbyist. Keeping the faith...;)
 

Sophia Maria

New member
I get what you mean about big festivals. I think more of them are organized, so we start picking and choosing, hey I may go to this one (usually significant $ investment) and skip all these others. I mean just off the top of my head, there's Ahlan wa Sahlan, Nile Group, Raqs of Course, Heshk Beshk, al Ahram, Mahrajane al Sharq, Shimmy in the City, The Egyptian Weeklong Intensive in NY, others in Greece and Russia and Turkey that I forget the names of, and more.

Many workshops are worth the effort, I would argue, but there are some certainly where I wonder why we're all here, if we're actually learning anything-it seems festivals are just trying to pull people in with famous names. Perhaps it's a combination of dancers being tired of that and conserving their time and money.

I'm very picky about festivals depending on who the teachers are. If there's only like 25% of the teachers who I truly think are invaluable teachers, I stay home, honestly. So far from all the classes and workshops I've attended, I'd say some teachers worth going to festivals for (where I was pushed and challenged and I learned) were Khaled Mahmoud, Raqia Hassan, Karim Nagi, Nourhan Sharif, Virginia Mendez, Amir Thaleb, and Bina (who hosts Mahrajane al Sharq).

But there are certainly some festival teachers that make me wonder why I'm there, and that's unfortunate...

Perhaps in oriental dance right now there's too much supply and not enough demand?
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Perhaps in oriental dance right now there's too much supply and not enough demand?
You may have clobbered that nail square on the head.

It also seems to me that a lot of the fun has gone out of belly dancing- too much emphasis on competition, name recognition, advertising one's "brand" via social media, striving to be shockingly different, and/or striving to emulate well-known dancers instead of learning the vocabulary, the music, and just dancing for the pleasure of moving gracefully through space.

Though it has fallen out of favor, I still teach belly dance as a social dance wherein women dance for and with each other as well as prepare to dance for outside audiences. That's not to exclude male dancers- I've just never had any sign up. And that's not saying that belly dance stems from childbirth rituals or the harem or any other eyebrow raising fantasy- it's just the way we do it here and now, and in our tiny dance community, it works beautifully.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Yea, I think we're in a nadir - There were 4 yearly festivals semi-local to me. The biggest, Rakkasah, has probably 2/3rds the vendors as they did in their heyday, and attendance is WAY down. Desert Dance Festival closed their doors last year after 29 years, and the "Bay Area Belly Dance Festival" is very young, very small, and still trying to get off the ground. Whether or not they succeed remains to be seen. Lastly there's Carnival of Stars which is about the same size that DDF was (albeit in a larger venue) - but I will say there was more activity there this year than I've seen before.
 
Things are quiet here in the UK, too. Classes are small with few new beginners, festivals are dropping like flies, and a large proportion of what gets done under the umbrella of 'bellydance' is really more like generic theatre dance with a bare midriff, which I suppose is probably similar to the "Fusion with no hips and attitude".

To be honest, I'm feeling pretty despondent and disillusioned with the whole scene at the moment. The level of interest in the dance as a cultural dance is so low that I often get a sort of 'alone in a crowded room' feeling in the bellydance community.
In a funny way, I'm glad to read this, as you may have just saved me from uprooting my life for nothing! I've just moved from Sydney, where the belly dance scene is alive and well and thriving, to Southampton. I've been depressed by how little is going on here, and have been seriously thinking of moving elsewhere in the UK, on the assumption So'ton is just in a slump. However maybe the rest of the country is no better?
 
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I just had an interesting discussion about this with a martial arts teacher who's had a similar experience with forums in that field.

His explanation makes a kind of sense. Both martial arts and dance have a strong tradition of learning face-to-face. Before the internet, you wouldn't find many dance students or karate kids studying text books about their art - and if they needed advice, they'd ask their teacher or fellow students. So as dancers, we're not brought up in a culture where we naturally turn to the written or spoken word when we want to learn or seek help - even when we go on courses, very little of it will be sitting in a room with a notebook!

Contrast that with other hobbies which boast a plethora of reference books, and where devotees will happily go to lectures on the topic, even if it's an active one (fishing is an obvious example).

So, his theory is that while forums were a novelty at first, they're not a natural mode of learning for us, and therefore they haven't persisted in the dance or martial arts world as much as in other fields.
 

Amulya

Moderator
That's an interesting viewpoint. Before internet I remember people writing things down in classes, but there certainly we no reference books and the few books that were out there were totally misinformed*
Not sure if I read this whole thread, I probably have, but wanted to say that I suspect Facebook, everybody has gone off to FB. But it's so useless for dance forums, can't find anything back when you want to look something up, you wouldn't know in which group it was and there are countless groups

*this was a big problem in the dance community because lots of the stuff being taught was just nonsense, I felt really stupid when I found out
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
That does make some sense - after all, teaching dance by email/forum is pretty much an exercise in futility! I've been on both ends of it, and sometimes it kinda-sorta works, but for the most part...
 

Farasha Hanem

New member
That's an interesting viewpoint. Before internet I remember people writing things down in classes, but there certainly we no reference books and the few books that were out there were totally misinformed*
Not sure if I read this whole thread, I probably have, but wanted to say that I suspect Facebook, everybody has gone off to FB. But it's so useless for dance forums, can't find anything back when you want to look something up, you wouldn't know in which group it was and there are countless groups

*this was a big problem in the dance community because lots of the stuff being taught was just nonsense, I felt really stupid when I found out
i know exactly how you feel, Amulya. The few books I have on bellydance contain false wishtory. If it weren't for this forum, I might not have been pointed in the right direction.
 

Aniseteph

New member
I just had an interesting discussion about this with a martial arts teacher who's had a similar experience with forums in that field.

His explanation makes a kind of sense. Both martial arts and dance have a strong tradition of learning face-to-face. Before the internet, you wouldn't find many dance students or karate kids studying text books about their art - and if they needed advice, they'd ask their teacher or fellow students. So as dancers, we're not brought up in a culture where we naturally turn to the written or spoken word when we want to learn or seek help - even when we go on courses, very little of it will be sitting in a room with a notebook!

Contrast that with other hobbies which boast a plethora of reference books, and where devotees will happily go to lectures on the topic, even if it's an active one (fishing is an obvious example).

So, his theory is that while forums were a novelty at first, they're not a natural mode of learning for us, and therefore they haven't persisted in the dance or martial arts world as much as in other fields.
I can't speak for martial arts, but for belly dance it doesn't fit with my experience at all. Is there an "us" to have a collective learning culture? I think we are too diverse a bunch for that. I didn't even particularly come to forums to learn, that was a by product; it was more about talking BD with like minded folks.

I think it's more about numbers, and FB drift. Maybe also in downturns of popularity people are more insecure and get more focused on what's going on in their own classes/ groups/ local scenes. With fewer classes and events there's also less BD hot topics to talk about on forums.
 

Roshanna

New member
I can't speak for martial arts, but for belly dance it doesn't fit with my experience at all. Is there an "us" to have a collective learning culture? I think we are too diverse a bunch for that. I didn't even particularly come to forums to learn, that was a by product; it was more about talking BD with like minded folks.

I think it's more about numbers, and FB drift. Maybe also in downturns of popularity people are more insecure and get more focused on what's going on in their own classes/ groups/ local scenes. With fewer classes and events there's also less BD hot topics to talk about on forums.
Yeah, for me it's mostly just nice to chat to like-minded people. But even during the bellydance boom in about 2008-9, when I first started dancing, there was almost no overlap between dancers I met IRL and those I interacted with online. Most people in my regional scene were never on here or on Bhuz, and most don't participate actively in the new facebook discussion groups either.

For me, the value of forums was always that they enabled me to get outside of my local dance bubble (which has tended to be fairly insular) and interact with the worldwide bellydance community.
 
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