Competition Over 1000 Posting Webmasters?

Ive come to the conclusion that its the same general pool of about 1000 or so webmasters who regularly or at least semi-regularly post at the adult webmaster boards. Its a guess, sure, but I think a somewhat educated one.

The minute that anyone puts a number on something like this, it opens up debate for the number itself. If the number in your head is 2000, 5000, whatever, well then just use that number for the discussion in this article and try not to clog your mind with the number itself, but rather the concept that follows. 

Who hasnt witnessed the phenomenon of some newer webmasters that come in, fall in love with the process of posting (some do this at a detriment to getting their work done) and then take their shots at respected programs and people in the industry (mostly to advance their own situation or when having a bad hair day) only to find out that 6-12 months later they are out of the industry altogether. Some of these same people have actually been appointed as board moderators or started their own latest, greatest adult webmaster boards before pulling their disappearing act.

From the sound of some posts Ive been reading on various boards out there, others have witnessed this all too familiar cycle. Repeatedly.

And how does one compare the message boards themselves, these days? The content, participants and the moderation? The interesting thing about boards is that at any one time most all of them can provide identical services to webmasters: a place to gain knowledge, network, let out a little steam, relax, mingle, etc.

Sure, there are different strokes for different folks out there. Some like business-type boards, some prefer chit chat, some want carnage and/or entertainment, some want the most action, some like it slower and therefore more easily manageable, some want a board where the riff raff is kept to a minimum.

If one rounded up the posting collective, all of the day-to-day working, posting webmasters individually, less the extra nicks (masks) that some folks have, I think one would be hard pressed to bang the counter for more than 1000 regular to semi-regular posting adult webmasters.

1000. Think about that for a minute. 1000 webmasters shaping the conversations and atmosphere at 200-300+ competing boards. Roughly a 1:4 ratio.

Now some boards will say they dont compete with any other boards. Sure they do. Some will say that their board is the best. Well, there can only be one "best" board, and that is so subjective its barely worth going there. For example, recently, I saw one webmaster post at two different boards over the span of three days that he thought each board was "the best" -- now how can this be? GFY has proudly advertised, including printing t-shirts which exclaim that they have "more posts than all the other boards combined" which anybody with a calculator and five minutes to spare can debunk. GFY has a lot of posts, more posts than any single adult webmaster board, absolutely yes and congrats to them, but not truly, factually more posts than "all the other boards combined." That would be something considering there are now hundreds of adult webmaster boards and the list is growing.

Sure, there are a lot more webmasters than 1000 reading and in the lurking mode (and ripe for advertising) and those who make the one here-, one there-type posts (not to mention the cut and run spammers) but Im not really talking about those folks because their actual impact on the site content is small to nonexistent. Im talking about the regular patrons, if you will; the webmasters who alter the landscape, mood and overall board atmosphere simply based upon their written words.

Today what is essentially happening is board to board competition for this relatively small group of "posting" webmasters. Some are trying games and contests (100 posts for a t-shirt, mouse pad, etc), some are paying to post, some are focusing more on business, some are going controversial or fringe, some are saying they have no purpose whatsoever except that it was a cool thing to do, so on so forth for enticement to stop by their board and post.

Here I am, however, thinking that as a webmaster I can only visit, realistically, a relatively small number of message boards regularly or semi-regularly. I saw a poll on Netpond where the largest percentage of those polled were visiting 1-5 boards. But there are hundreds of boards to choose from out there! At the time I looked at the poll I didnt see anybody, not one webmaster, check the poll option for 10-20 boards. There are some who semi-regularly hit 10-20 boards, but apparently not very many voted on this poll.

I realize there are tools out there which help folks to scan the threads of the many boards better. Lensman from who operates GFY called these new tools "board leeches" during an interview on a radio show recently, as he felt (he actually said they had run their own studies and tests) that at least some of these tools were biased as to what information was being shown and also that they took away from the flow of traffic to the boards paid advertisers. Good points he made, but at the same time I can see why these tool were developed.

Tools like these fulfill a perpetual need to help webmasters manage one of their most valuable assets: time. The more boards that come out, the pool of data increases, but the base number of webmasters who actually swim in the pool through actually posting remains fairly constant. If 100 new posting webmasters would enter the business when a new board was launched, the saturation wouldnt be so obvious, but that doesnt seem to be happening. Instead, new boards are popping up with almost the same regularity as new posting webmasters, and it is making many of the new boards clones save for the design (and even some of the designs are starting to look similar). There is only so much one can do with a VBulletin layout, style and color scheme.

Eventually this fascination with new boards is going to either burn out or fade away. And thus the fad of having your own VBulletin board will turn out much like having your own guestbook did in the 90s, and probably the way blogs (which are the rage at least in mainstream at the moment) will someday turn out as well.

At the time of this writing, there are a couple hundred different webmaster boards vying for this relatively small groups attention out there and Im sure there will be many others after this is written.

I wonder how many of these boards will drop off the map in 1, 2, or 5 years? I wonder if the number of "posting" webmasters will increase, decrease or stay about the same as I believe that it has been for awhile now? 

How much webmaster time will essentially be absorbed posting at boards which ultimately hit the recycle bin due to disinterest and too few webmaster posters? Or is it the networking aspect of the boards that will stay at the forefront and the boards themselves, and the conversations therein, are just window dressing?

Time will tell.

TDavid is co-owner, programmer and webmaster for several sites devoted to programming including his own TdScripts He has done custom programming in various programming languages for companies all over the world. Every Friday at 2pm PST you can catch his weekly radio show dedicated to the technical side of webmastering and programming at ScriptSchool.


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