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  1. #1
    Registered User
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    11-01-2014
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    Anchorage, AK
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    Default Is it real, or is it my imagination?

    It seems to me like WhiteBlaze forums have become significantly less active recently when I would have expected Covid followed by spring to bring on more people spending more time thinking and typing about their backpacking passions. AT logistics and information threads seem to be maintaining activity, while general community questions, thoughts, and banter seems to have become dramatically reduced.

    1) Is my perception of a decrease in general activity real?
    2) If it is real, why?

    - I don't perceive a significant change in backpacking as a sport or pastime.
    - Any thoughts on why backpackers, as a group, would start spending less time on forums than in the past.
    - Has our on-line community started moving its focus to other forums or community activities? If so, which ones and why?
    - Have a few critical posters moved onto other things, so the community as a whole is less active?
    - Are many of the past active members getting old and tired of talking about the same old stuff, and somehow we aren't attracting new participants? Can we come up with new and still interesting alternative topics?

    Anyway, I thought I'd offer up a topic that might be of interest beyond AT logistics.
    Feedback is certainly welcome and requested.

    Hike on!
    Last edited by Alligator; 06-01-2021 at 01:55. Reason: TOS #3
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  2. #2
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Default

    Seams real.

    YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram and all the rest, have siphoned off much of the energy of sites like these.

    TLDR is real for stuff that matters, and even more so for hiking stuff.

  3. #3
    Registered User
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    02-04-2013
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    Washington, DC
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    Default

    Facebook, which I dislike for many reasons, has network effects that stand alone forums lack. The Facebook hiking groups are very active. I’ve noticed a drop in activity on hiking related Groups.io forums as well, not just WhiteBlaze.

  4. #4
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    03-14-2020
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    Evanston IL
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    Default

    I think NSherry meant a trend more recently, like in the past couple of months, correct me if I’m wrong.

    I have noticed that. A couple months ago I would open the “What’s New?” tab and there would be 15-20 threads, vs 4-6 now. I’ve been attributing that to the start of thru hiking seasons. (I will fall into that category myself soon, when I start an AT SOBO)

    I would think Facebook’s drain would mostly be over by now, and would’ve occurred mostly 3-5 years back.

    I’m not on FB, but there is a public SOBO page one can observe. I’ll just say it has not inclined me to join.

  5. #5
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    Default

    I do notice the images section seems stuck on about 10 years back.

  6. #6

    Default

    I share Coffee's concerns about FB, and social media in general. As to why WB is less active, I'd venture a guess that a lot of us are introverts, have already completed our AT thru or section hikes, and (gasp!) are too busy for chat just for the sake of chatting. I'd be interested in knowing the average age of WBers and how it has changed over time. I bet it has gone up. Last, anyone searching for AT backpacking info on this and other sites can easily find it using a search engine.

  7. #7

    Default

    FWIW - I don't see much out of the ordinary in terms of the annual participation ebb and flow patterns between March and October. I think lack of participation, or numbers of posts, indicates people are getting out more than last year when many postponed their travel and/or backpacking. My guess is if this were graphed out over a period of a few years it would be fairly visible with some years having a lower "dip" in summer than others.

    To expand on HankIV's comment, I doubt Facebook peels off many WB posters. Given what I have seen, those who are serious about this activity are here, we just get busy when shoulder season passes and summer beckons, which is an indication of practitioners being involved as opposed to people who just want to fight and break things.

  8. #8

    Default

    I am a member of a few FB groups, but it is such a contrived format that I don't see how anyone can use them for anything even halfway serious. They work moderately okay for things like classified ads, but there is otherwise no organization (just a flat, continual listing) nor any way to do a meaningful search.

  9. #9
    Registered User
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    07-21-2014
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    Bar Harbor, Maine
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    Default

    Personally I am on Facebook but Iíve started setting a daily time limit. It sucks you in but the content on hiking group pages is really not that interesting to me. I still have it so I donít lose touch with colleagues and friends in distant places.

    I think Whiteblaze has much more interesting discussion threads. Perhaps the art of conversation is slowly being lost and folks would rather post a quick selfie photo than have more engaged interactions.

    I have personally been less active on Whiteblaze because I am so busy with school and solo parenting for the last few years.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #10
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    08-12-2012
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    Northwest Georgia
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    Default

    It's real my friend. I have been amazed at how Whiteblaze as declined in postings and replies. I have pondered it since the 'Covid' demon launch. I really thought it would be hard to keep up with the info flow, like it was just prior to thruhiker season kickoff in late winter. I have found myself just looking for something new, or just anything trail. Also, replies to questions are longer and yes, fewer. Anotherwords-AMEN.

  11. #11
    Registered User VT-Mike's Avatar
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    04-19-2012
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    green mtns, vt
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    Default

    I too have noticed decreased activity here. I wonder if people have altered their recreational interest. Are folks sticking to more local hikes and not traveling as far? Will there be fewer thru hikers this year? Or traveling via RV and hiking? I see lots of them at popular trail heads.

    During COVID I decreased my radius of travel and noticed tons more people on area trails. It felt overcrowded even without COVID. This pushed me into new areas of recreation. I've been hiking much less and rock climbing much more. I also visit a forum around that activity and there's lots of traffic there.
    -My feet are my only carriage so I've got to push on through-

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    Seams real.

    YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram and all the rest, have siphoned off much of the energy of sites like these.

    TLDR is real for stuff that matters, and even more so for hiking stuff.
    In my opinion Reddit and Facebook are not Forums organized like Whiteblaze. It's hard to find subject matter on either FB or Reddit as listed here on Forum subjects. When I punch in r/Wilderness Backpacking and go to classic view (like Whiteblaze) I'm confronted with no organization of subjects and instead experience the Bane of the Internet---Deep Scrolling. Infinite Scrolling. Facebook is also plagued with Deep Scrolling. What is deep scrolling? When you keep moving down the page endlessly and in the process (as with r/wilderness backpacking) never reaching the end and never getting an organized picture of subjects.

    Whiteblaze and BPL.com is much better organized.

  13. #13

    Default

    Oh and one more negatory to Reddit---if you want to print out a long and interesting thread there is no Print Option like here on WB---so you have to go the slow and crappy copy and paste technique.

  14. #14

    Default

    Well, there are currently 534 people viewing WB. Not too bad for early in the morning on a holiday. A bit down from the record of 9,500+ one day in 2015.

    But yea, not a lot of new interesting threads. Maybe we have answered all the questions.

    I do think a lot of activity has moved to FB. I follow several groups, GMC, the 4,000 footers, 52WAV and 55+ backpackers. Lots of activity on these groups. The attractive thing about FB groups is you can post your pictures for everyone to see and like. One of recent photo's got 80+ likes.

    I haven't joined or follow any of the many AT FB groups, but I bet there's lots and lots of activity there.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  15. #15

    Default

    The problem with FB is, once again, deep scrolling with no "forum subject" as mentioned. If someone posts a FB trip report on Cohutta wilderness and I'm not online for two weeks---when I get back it'll be buried deep on the "timeline" or whatever it's called and I'll miss it.

    If I post a trip report on my FB page it'll be buried in a few days if I put up several other posts. But like with Whiteblaze, my trip reports on FB get very few comments. WB and FB share this in common.

  16. #16
    Registered User Maineiac64's Avatar
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    08-09-2016
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    Woodstock, GA
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    Default

    Youtube seems to be excellent resource in an entertaining format for beginners to find gear recommendations, and others to learn about hikes, techniques, etc. I spend a larger proportion of time there than than here now. Facebook is a wasteland of crap content and worthless discussions.

  17. #17

    Default

    I think more people are out hiking, instead of reading, and posting, on forums about hiking. A lot of pent up cabin fever.

  18. #18
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    06-25-2012
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    Lurkerville, East Tn
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    Default

    1. Finished our section hike seven months ago. Having now "graduated" I feel less in need of a regular intake of WB. I am grateful for the many posters who shared information that helped us with our 10-year journey, and expect to do the same for newbies that wanna know whether it's okay to bring their dog, or how long cheese lasts, or what to do about nighttime noises. Not much need for me to ask questions anymore, because I already know everything. Just kidding!!!
    2. We're still hiking, just not on the AT. Last weekend we did an overnight at CS 17 in the Smokies, using Cooper Road Trail and Abrams Falls Trail. Was supposed to exit on Rabbit Creek, but I was having some digestive issues and we took a shorter path out. Earlier this month we hiked to Lost Cove NC. I still have a tab open on my computer because I "intend" to give a trip report.... when I get time. Likewise for a Forney Ridge/Noland Creek/Noland Divide hike. But the daily chores, and the garden, chasing coyotes away from my henhouse, and all the projects I've started, and books I wanna read, etc - just gets in the way. I wish I was more disciplined.

    4. Facebook does have some active discussion, but as noted by Tipi and others, there's no good way to search a topic. Tiresome to look at.
    5. There's a natural falling away of aged members through a decline in health, or reduced opportunity to get out, or death. And there's a natural influx of new members seeking information and guidance or friendship. It's interesting to think about the flow of people through the forum over time. Shortly after I joined WB back in 2012 I started a thread about Life After WhiteBlaze. I noticed how I would occasionally see posts from members who had been here for years, but never said much of anything. A few posted prolifically and then poof, just disappeared.

    In a couple weeks we'll be hiking a GSMNP loop going from Clingman's to Siler's Bald down Hazel, side trip to High Rocks, west on Cold Springs over to CS 83, explore Bone Valley, then up Welch Ridge, back to Siler's Bald and Clingman's Dome. Some of it looks tough, but it oughta be interesting.

    Sometime this fall we're planning to do an off-trail excursion near CS 44. I've read some interesting accounts of Three Forks. I'm not sure that I'm brave enough to venture that far off trail, but I think we might be safe going up and back on Breakneck Ridge.

    For both of these trips, I have the information I need, so I don't really need to start up a new thread. But maybe I'll get a trip report posted.
    Last edited by Alligator; 06-01-2021 at 02:03. Reason: TOS #3.

  19. #19
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    04-07-2017
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    Atlanta, Georgia
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    Default

    Just seems like there have been a lot of frequent posters stop posting altogether in the last year or two, with no new frequent posters coming in to take their place. I suspect the frequent posters who’ve stopped posting are no longer as into backpacking as they once were, and folks just getting into backpacking are already familiar with Facebook and Reddit so they just head to those place’s backpacking communities. I would imagine this trend is true of all hobby forums, not just backpacking.

    The quality of discussion here is vastly superior to Reddit and especially FB. But I’ve tried to get some backpacking buddies into WB and frankly the concept of a forum like this is just pretty foreign to them and they just don’t give it a try, despite its advantages. This place is such a valuable source of knowledge with the search function and the diversity of users, it’s still my preferred backpacking discussion forum.

  20. #20
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    Default

    I think this place could use a lot more trip reports. Those are few and far between but generally create some good discussion.

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