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Editorial: The End of The Messageboard Era

Walker Evans and Anne Evans Walker Evans and Anne Evans Editorial: The End of The Messageboard Era
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As of today, the messageboard/forums at Columbus Underground are going offline. The reasons for closing the messageboard are multiple and complex, and the decision to shutter them was not an easy one to make.

Fifteen years ago, when Columbus Underground launched in 2001, the messageboard was a primary component of our website, and quickly became the most popular and highly utilized part of the CU experience. These forums served as a place for people to digitally gather, make new friends, share insider information about the city we all love, and a place where conversations about any topic — for better or worse — could take place.

As the years ticked by, and the advent of social media came into the world — first with Myspace and later with Twitter, Facebook and others — the places for localized online conversations multiplied quickly. A decision was made in 2009 to pivot Columbus Underground’s model to become a news publisher where conversations would start, rather than a responsive place for reactions to external news.

Since then, the readership of Columbus Underground has grown exponentially, while our messageboard usage has expectedly declined. We’ve grown our own conversation spaces within popular social media platforms, and have been able to engage with readers everywhere from LinkedIn to Instagram, providing a wider array of digital communication options suited for the places that our readers individually prefer.

In the meantime, maintaining a large archive of old messageboard content built on antiquated software has become a drag on our servers and resources. The loading times at Columbus Underground have gotten slower because of this long tail of information, and we can no longer justify wasting costly resources on a portion of our website that fewer and fewer people are using.

Of course, closing the messageboard does not mean that any functionality is disappearing. We’ve already migrated the event posting section of the forums into its own Events Calendar section of the site, and the apartment listings have grown into the Urban Living tool. And, the ability to comment on news articles will remain enabled, providing topical places for vibrant and knowledgable conversations to continue here on CU. We also have a few new projects in the works that will provide more functionality and engagement for our readership, which we will plan to roll out later this year.

But for now, we say farewell to the Columbus Underground forums. They have served their purpose over the past fifteen years, but their necessity has come to an end. We’re very excited to share what comes next very soon, and thank you always for your support!

– Anne Evans and Walker Evans, Founders of Columbus Underground

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