Welcome to the forum, Andy. Excuse me while I go off on a bit of a tangent, but you’ve set me off thinking again about something I find fascinating in the way users have come to view forums.
I think your comment I’ve quoted above really reflects where local forums sit in their users’ psyches. ‘Abandon’ is an emotive word. People DO feel loyalty to forums, but I wonder why? I think many people see them as a neutral public service. They feel grateful that admins set up and run them. Indeed, many special interest forums are run by people with a real passion and for little reward. Others are run (quite legitimately) to provide a small but steady income stream to the admin.
On the flip side of the loyalty issue is the way people often feel ownership over the forums they use, especially local forums, and get up in arms when they don’t like decisions the admin makes. The truth is, any forum is a dictatorship. The admin can rule it whatever way s/he sees fit. Most admins run benign dictatorships because they want members, they need traffic and advertising. Users begin to feel that approach to running a forum is the accepted norm. They feel it SHOULD be shaped to suit them, that admins are OBLIGED to keep them happy because that’s what they experience at the user end. It’s like Facebook, but on a smaller scale. Users are the income and traffic-generating ‘product’ not the client, but they just don’t know it.
This forum has been set up with a lot of transparency about who owns and runs it, what they get out of it and what the users get out of it. In the early days much of it has been shaped by user feedback. Hopefully the result will be a forum where both members and admin mutually benefit each other. Many local forums are struggling to retain members. To survive, this forum needs to provide something users can’t get from other forums but also, and in my opinion more crucially, that is not provided by social media like Facebook and Twitter.
There’s nothing to stop people using both forums, of course, and some people do still post in both.