Death of a beloved forum

Posted: 2017-10-03 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

On September 21, 2017, the website Silverfishlongboarding.com went dark.  It’s not the first skateboard forum to go bye-bye, and it won’t be the last.  But, I’ll be honest, it was hard for me.  I wasn’t involved in running the site at all, but Silverfish was my very first introduction to longboarding, something that’s become a vital part of my life.  Hell, people know me as “longboard guy,” and that’s something that can’t be faked.  I’m not super skilled or anything, but longboarding is something that I’ve grown up around, and something that I’ve taken from college adolescence into post-graduate adulthood, all the while having my loving wife at my side, encouraging me the whole time.

Sometime between the 28th and October 3rd, even Google removed any links to Silverfish from their cache.  Whoever said “The internet is permanent” is only partially correct – the Internet is only permanent if anyone cares enough to save and backup all that data.  The thing with Silverfish is that the site dated to the year 2000…the site in its most recent iteration began a couple years later in 2002.  So, there’s over 15 years of information that went *kaput* in the blink of an eye.  Sure, there were millions of posts of drivel, asking which wheels were best for sliding, or if I can cruise on this board, but an online community like Silverfish is deeper than that.

A community like the one that grew around Silverfish transcended longboarding.  Relationships form, local skate crews used to congregate there, events were organized, people even fell in love and developed romantic relationships using Silverfish.  That’s not to mention the humongous exposure that brands got through word-of-mouth, product demos, and genuinely stoked users.  There were brands that existed solely within the confines of Silverfish, and while that’s not necessarily a long-term sustainable business model, people made a frickin’ living selling boards on this one website!  There were at least 2 brands I can think of offhand whose owners actually quit their 9 to 5 jobs to make boards full time!

I’ve been in contact with the owners of Silverfish for years…again, the relationships that form are pretty real.  I’ve got at least one of ’em on my phone, and the other on a few other sites.  Looking through texts and emails to me, as well as a few “in memoriam” pieces that I’ve read, it seems like the site’s demise was a long time coming.  I’ve touched on the longboard EXPLOSION of 2009 a little before, and that brought about dozens of new companies.  I liked to say that everyone and their duck had a board, truck, or wheel company.  With that came most of these brands looking to establish an online presence – what a better tool to use than Silverfish?  By 2009, they had over 10,000 daily page views, and at their peak, over 100,000 active users (making it, for all intents and purposes, the largest skateboard site on the whole internet).  Some of this was due to the great recession, no doubt.  Cabinet makers could keep their carpenters busy during the downturn by cranking out boards; machine shops could keep their employees busy knocking out precision skateboard trucks; urethane manufacturers could keep their guys busy by producing small batches of wheels.  Once the Recession was over, and they could go back to doing their own thing, they dropped longboards like a bad habit.  As a result, brands folded, and advertising dollars to Silverfish decreased.  As revenue decreased, so did the support for maintaining such a huge infrastructure…as support decreased, malware and spam attacks increased, which drove away page views, which drove away ad dollars, and repeat ad infinitum.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Reddit were also exploding in popularity, and forums in general were declining…I mean, who wants to remember a different username and password for 18 different forums when you can just go on the Facebook that you’re already checking 48 times a day and check on those 18 different interests in one stop?  The problem is that Reddit and Facebook don’t have the history, nor do they have a meaningful way of organizing what they have like a forum does.  And, in my experience, pseudo-celebs don’t really respond on Facebook or Reddit…I can’t tell you how many movers and shakers of the sport and industry I personally dealt with either by private message or in the chatrooms at Silverfish…most of whom have generic corporate accounts set up on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, and don’t get involved personally.

It blows.  It blows hard seeing the former largest skateboard site on the internet just evaporate into the ether.  But, with that, I’ll close with a few inspirational quotes from the owner:

We knew the best wheel for sliding all along, but people have to find it for themselves.

The sage, Longboard Buddha, once said “A tree spends 100% of its lifetime in a static environment and only after its reincarnation as a deck is it allowed to move at fast speeds. When allowed, the wood will give thankless service if allowed to flow”

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Comments
  1. […] Death of a beloved forum […]

  2. […] an odd resurgence in the skateboard world.  After forums have maked and breaked our beloved sport of skateboarding, Facebook took it over.  Skaters sought not good, solid […]

  3. […] second forum I joined was about longboarding (also gone). Here, the tweens and whiny teenagers came out en masse. This is where most of my problems came […]

  4. […] reviews.  I signed up for Ramprage.com in December of 2006, Skaterscafe.com in January 2007, and Silverfishlongboarding in February of 2007.  It was addicting being on the cutting edge of the skate industry, and having thousands of […]

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