Posts Tagged ‘silverifsh’

On September 21, 2017, the website 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”


Online forums save longboard maker’s sale from going downhill

That’s from a Canadian newspaper, talking about how Rayne Longboards really utilizes social media, specifically in the shape of forums, to help their brand grow.  I’ve often thought it was weird how all of longboarding has sorta snuck into the mainstream, using social media and Web 2.0.  Rayne’s a perfect example of that, as illustrated in the article.

I look at the skate scene in my home state as another weird example of how social media helps grow longboarding.  When I got into longboarding in 2007 (with much assistance from social media), I tried like hell to expand the skate scene around my college.  Meanwhile, at a State University, longboarding had been smoldering for years at that point.  The State University had been a hotbed of longboarding, and all the local shops treated it as something of a longboard mecca.  Now, the 2008 skate season ended with an injury to me, which spooked me off of the board for most of 2009.  I wound up losing my sole source of social longboard media due to some personal drama, and Facebook finally opened up their doors to everyone (not just college students).  It was during my year away from longboarding that, via Facebook, the whole state’s longboard scene EXPLODED in popularity.  The aforementioned State University, spearheaded by a young, ambitious student, stoked the longboard embers on campus up into a wild inferno that quickly took the entire state by storm.  Now, this young student had actually been in regular contact with me in years past, and I had given him some great ideas of mine, which he eventually put into place igniting the state.  It’s been phenomenal watching longboarding grow like it has throughout the state…I’m not trying to take credit for anything; I guess I’m just trying to express my disappointment in my missing it all.  And please don’t take that any of this as actual, historical fact…I’m just calling it through my own eyes, and from my own viewpoint.

Now, open up a new tab and check out longboard videos on Youtube…There are multitudes of videos about anything related to longboarding.  Many users have created their own music videos, product reviews, and promotional videos all about longboarding.  Some of the biggest names in longboarding today have gained untold popularity due to Youtube (and other video hosting sites) videos.  Loaded Longboards used Youtube as a platform to launch their Loaded Challenge video series, in which users submitted a series of trick videos to Loaded’s channel in return for a discount on boards.  Original Longboards gave discounts to subscribers to their Youtube channel.  This actually pertains to the skateshop in that the top 2 brands we get questions about are Loaded and Original, mostly due to their Youtube presence.  Sector9 went viral with their Blue Suit Bombers, which was actually featured on Tosh.0 if I remember right.  Skatehousemedia is an entire website devoted to Youtube (and Vimeo) vids.  Hell, I myself won some Veloz longboard trucks through a Youtube giveaway.

As I mentioned in Educated Idiots , a TON of people come in with bits of information gathered from online sources, be they Loaded or Original videos, skate- and longboard forums, blogs of all stripe, or Facebook groups.  So yes, I’ve seen this social media explosion happening right in my own shop.