Good riddance to one of the worst places to socialize on the internet. Amazon-owned IMDb announced today it will be closing down its discussion board later this month, and turning off the ability for users to private message each other. The company claimed the decision was made because the boards were “no longer providing a positive, useful experience for the vast majority of our more than 250 million monthly users worldwide.”
Anyone familiar with the boards would say that’s putting it mildly. Like many large, internet gathering places without strict moderation capabilities in place, IMDb’s boards didn’t serve the community as intended. That is, they failed to offer a place to have productive conversations about movies, shows, actors, and other members of the entertainment industry.
Instead, the boards were notoriously known for hosting some of the most pointless and hateful commentary around. They’ve been compared, in many cases, to YouTube’s sort of unfettered brand of internet commentary – which is another way of saying, these boards were full of trolling. There’s an entire Reddit thread about the matter, in fact.
Often, the boards only seemed to exist for people to bash others’ dissenting opinions, or thoroughly trash the TV or movies being discussed, no matter how critically acclaimed or generally popular. At their worst, they would delve into other sorts of offensive commentary, or even racist remarks.
Cleary, even IMDb no longer saw the value in keeping the discussion forums around, either. According to its announcement on the matter, the decision was made “only after careful consideration and was based on data and traffic.”
Or, to translate that into human speech: we looked at how terrible they were, saw they didn’t provide the site with enough website traffic to matter, and decided to kill them off for good.
Given the current political climate, where offensive language and hate speech have been normalized thanks to President Trump’s rhetoric, it’s not surprising that IMDb would want to take itself even further out of the fray.
The closure is also partly influenced by the fact that on-site commenting is no longer many users’ preferred means of discourse. We’ve already seen a number of internet publishers shutting off commenting because it’s not worth the time to keep them spam-free and moderated. Discussion has instead shifted to other, larger social networks, like Facebook and Twitter.
IMDb notes this too, saying that increasingly IMDb’s users are commenting on its Facebook page and on Twitter, where, combined, it has an audience of over 10 million fans. The company also maintains accounts on Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube and Tumblr, it says.
In addition, IMDb’s value to Amazon is not really in the social side of the business, it’s the database itself, which is used to power features like X-Ray for Movies and TV Shows. This leverages IMDb data to help bring information about actor bios, background info, and more to Amazon Video, Fire TV and other devices.
While the announcement about the boards’ closure was posted today, the forums will remain online for two more weeks, before shuttering on Feb. 19, 2017. This will give users’ time to archive their conversations, if desired, or reach out to anyone via private messaging that they want to stay in touch with in the future. The company is not offering any sort of data-extraction tool, however.
h/t to @TheFilmStage’s Twitter account for spotting the news