What good is a personal online forum?
Questioning aloud what to do with phpBB on my personal website
Have I hit the limit with “because I can” thinking? I recently created my first “real” public website, lyndonwong.com. I shut down my old ATT Worldnet homepage in favor of registering my own domain and using a host with basic PHP and MySQL support. As a result, I can now indulge in experiments with a rich array of open source PHP-based data-driven server apps. I recently installed phpBB, an app I first heard of in the context of the 2003 Webby Awards. It powers my own personal online forums. Now, all of my friends can engage in public discourse with me on a wide range of topics, whenever the mood strikes, from anywhere in the world. The only catch is so far none of my friends have any interest in doing that. They’d rather catch up on the phone, perhaps exchange some emails, or best among all options, actually meet up for a meal or some outdoor fun.
This begs the question, can a mere mortal such as myself make any use of a Web bulletin board? If I were California’s current governor, my forum might be useful and popular on multiple fronts. But would any of my conversations in that context actually be with my friends? I could require a log-in to view a forum and provide some privacy to our discussion threads, but then we might be better off using gmail.
One thing forums do especially well is generate a searchable online knowledge base, as technical support operations have known for a number of years. Could my close family and friends have any use for such an arcane repository?
Or have I created the cyberspace equivalent of a personal one-lane bowling alley? Cute but ridiculous.