Followup on dpreview Closure

The immediate response most of us had to the dpreview closure had to do with archiving the rich data set that dpreview accumulated over the years. I’m told by multiple sources that multiple projects are underway to do that. The problem will be that, at its core, dpreview is a relational database, and while the data itself may end up somewhere we can search, all the linkages may not survive (e.g. you couldn’t go look at a personal profile of a poster without doing so manually). 

But now we have a new problem that’s appeared: dispersion. 

Pretty much every forum on dpreview now has someone setting up a Facebook page or a dedicated forum. Several for-profit sites are targeting forum users with new potential homes. What we’ll end up with is a minimum of 80 new fora popping up, all with varying staying power. There simply won’t be the connecting tissue that dpreview provided. Even for someone like me, who spends an hour or so (beyond what my news scraper provides) every day browsing sites to see what might be new or how trends, memes, or topics are changing, the forum proliferation will mean that I see far less each day. 

Moreover, what we’re dealing with here is the decay of information on the Internet (despite Wayback Machine, I don’t judge Facebook as a good place to try to replicate a forum. First because Facebook will manipulate things for monetization, making it less/more visible as they see fit; but more importantly because these giant, near monopoly tech companies can and do change plans on a whim. Who's to say that they don’t add an automated AI poster to said fora? (We already have that problem with people using a ChatBot to create the text they end up posting, something we have to be careful to pay attention for.) 

The dedicated forum engines that are popping up (partly by rumors sites) have a different problem (and goal): monetization. A healthy forum has real costs associated with it. Costs that require income. This morning I happened by my local newspaper’s site (to which I pay a subscription fee) and hit articles/comments that were serving up ads all over the place like I was being shelled by artillery. That’s not a future I want to see with photography forums, though it’s becoming more and more prevalent with many photography sites.

I almost asked Nikon if they would consider sponsoring a new place that would have Film, Coolpix, Nikon 1, DX DSLR, FX DSLR, Pro DSLR, Z, and both F and Z lens fora. Two problems with that: first, sponsors often want to steer, and second it would be just another thing to take all the time I already don’t have. 

Bobn2, who has a long media background and a solid dpreview resume, proposed (and got the URL registered) that there be a that could stand in for the dpreview fora. Yes, that’s a better solution, as it has the potential of large mass, and you need mass to be able to fund any such venture. But it’s also a start-from-scratch thing, and all those attempts to start individual forums will dilute it faster than it can get established, is my bet. It also wouldn’t have the anchors that dpreview had: reviews and news. At the moment, it’s just a proposal, a name, and some folk trying to make it happen. 

Lest anyone think that “forums” are simple and inexpensive, they aren’t. They have to run off an active database, and as forum activity grows, you run into latency issues that are only solved by buying more server power and caching services. It’s compounded by the fact that, once you include images along with text, the database size grows like a weed that’s been given fertilizer. SUCCESS = COST. COST also must <= REVENUE. 

As I noted in my previous article, dpreview hit the wave of digital cameras perfectly, and thus many of those issues just self-repaired as volume increased and the site became more central to the photography scene on the Internet. Amazon’s purchase also gave them shelter for a number of years, back when Amazon was all about wave-riding themselves (and not so focused on profit). 

Everyone’s problem with trying to replicate what dpreview was is that the wave has flattened out as it hits the shore. You’re going to see a lot of surfers getting hit with their boards.

I’m off the Internet later today. I expect to find a mess when I get back in a month.

 Looking for gear-specific information? Check out our other Web sites:
DSLRS: | mirrorless: | Z System: | film SLR: all text and original images © 2023 Thom Hogan
portions Copyright 1999-2022 Thom Hogan
All Rights Reserved — the contents of this site, including but not limited to its text, illustrations, and concepts,
may not be utilized, directly or indirectly, to inform, train, or improve any artificial intelligence program or system.