I'm trying something a little different this week with quick(er) thoughts on two different topics. Let me know what you think of this format: your feedback is highly important to me.

The Death of Car Forums

Bulletin Boards and Usenet groups were replaced by forums in the 2000s. Then, forums were replaced by social media in the 2010s. Unfortunately, social media generally sucks for the archivable knowledgebase that automotive forums excel at.

Why did forums lose popularity to social media? It probably has to do with us checking social media tens or hundreds of times a day. I also believe that forums, for their part, simply didn't put up a fight.

vBulletin, a very popular forum platform, has been riddled with bugs and database issues for years, leading to slow performance and error messages galore. Most forums at their best are only somewhat mobile-friendly. Photobucket went to paid subscription, resulting in decades of photos lost to the ether. Attention spans have been dropping.

Photo by Erik Mclean

Meanwhile, many admins get fed up with the work and money that goes into running a web site. They either give up entirely (seemingly the case with R3vlimited, which hangs on by a thread, and E30Tech, which disappeared entirely), or they sell the site to a conglomerate who then heavily monetizes the site via an onslaught of advertisements.

I don't think that it has to be this way. There is a yearning for the resurgence of forums. Sites like R3vlimited are not too far gone. If the admin(s) would put some effort into the site (really, just some), or relinquish control to those that would love to see it flourish again, revival is still possible.

One of the best examples of a still-thriving niche forum community is Watchuseek. Watches are an anachronism up there with vinyl records, and yet this community continues to grow more than 2 decades after it's inception. With a modern and user-friendly interface, Watchuseek has continued to improve and add new features regularly, and their leadership engages with community feedback. If any forum could be the model of how to sustain niche forum engagement in the 2020's, it should be this one.

Social media interest groups may net a fast answer to an easy question, but we are no better off for it. Social can serve as a supplement to forums, but it will never replace them.

Getting into Sim Racing

This week I bought my first sim racing rig, at the behest of several bad influe-ahem, friends. Truth be told, sim racing is something I've wanted to get into for a while, since I don't make it out to the track nearly as much as I'd like to, and I am a believer in the merit of practice / repetition leading to success.

At this point I'm still a noob, so I'm not about to start dishing out advice on equipment or anything like that. There are a lot of web sites out there that have all the information you could ever want about sim racing gear, and then some. That said, I will probably share some insights on my experience as I get into the sim world.

Inside of a professional watercooled gaming/workstation computer with RGB LED lighting
Photo by Christian Wiediger

There is an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to sim gear, especially since it requires so many pieces to come together in harmony (chassis, seat, steering wheel/base, pedal set, monitor setup [or VR], powerful gaming computer, lots of software, etc.). It didn't take long for me to reach analysis paralysis. In fact, I would say the paradox of choice is why I hadn't bought a sim rig years ago – there are simply too many options across too many necessary pieces, and I didn't feel ready to spend weeks researching the optimal setup.

Recognizing the potential to just give up and not buy anything again this time around, I started searching for complete sim rigs for sale. Most were very low end, console-based setups, but I found a few that looked intriguing. The goal was to buy something ideal-enough and as complete as possible, so I wouldn't have to piece together every little thing myself.

I ended up buying a nearly new setup complete with a stout gaming PC from a guy getting out of the game (it sounded like he had an addiction to the point of affecting his relationships...). Thus far I've spent a few hours adjusting the chassis, pedals, and steering wheel to replicate my E30 cockpits, but haven't loaded up iRacing yet. More to come later as this adventure unfolds.

I Need Your Help

Last week's article Built Not Bought (Is Dumb) seems to have resonated with my readers, because I received more responses and positive feedback on it than any other article I've written.

With this new web site, I am relying on my readers to help steer the ship. It can be quite difficult to know what does (and doesn't) resonate with an audience without feedback!

If there is anything that you would like me to write about, I need you to share it!

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I would love to do a Q&A post as well. If you don't have a topic to suggest, but rather have a question to ask, please send it in! As long as I can compile enough questions, I'll answer them together in one Q&A post. Please contact me here.

Thank you as always for reading!

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