Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Coming End of the IMDb Message Boards (And Where To Go Next)

The Internet Movie Database has announced it will soon be shutting down its message board system. My IMDb profile tells me I've been active on those boards since 2004. For a lot of those years, it was my primary internet hang-out for talking movies. IMDb maintained boards on nearly every movie or television series; you could go there and write about nearly anything in the way of screen entertainment and find other interested people with whom to engage. Unlike so many places on the internet, it wasn't run by fanboys who acted as overbearing moderators, putting a stop to boisterous discussions or disallowing criticism or debate of things they, themselves, liked. It wasn't quite the Wild West either--if you cursed, the system would filter it into a *beep*[1] and there was a reporting system that allowed one to flag "inappropriate" content.[2] It didn't have any feature for sharing images, which could be seen as a shortcoming for a place concerned with an art built around images, but this was arguably to its advantage; it was a place for discussion and this limitation meant, among other things, it could never get buried in memes by trolls. Not that it lacked trolls--there are always trolls--but they were usually outnumbered and relatively harmless.[3] It was an open forum with a great interface that drew a big crowd of people with a passion for its subject. In many ways, the best the internet can be.

This blog has, from its birth, been intimately connected to the IMDb boards. When I launched it, it was partly to act as a repository for a pile of articles I'd been producing for various places, primarily those boards and particularly the Horror board, which was not only my IMDb home for many years but my primary internet home as well. The Horror board was, in my view, the gleaming jewel of the board system. Usually the heaviest trafficked of the mainboards, it developed a cadre of great regulars who, for those who spent much time there, became a network of friends, the ones who love all the black and bloody flicks that most people disdain and think you strange for watching. A disproportionate number of articles from the early years of this blog were written for the Horror board, developed from things I'd written on the Horror board or written in part with an intention to share them on the Horror board and spawn discussions there. I wrote for other boards (and other forums) in those years as well but Horror was the big one for me. In more recent years, I've been writing about THE WALKING DEAD, which I at first assumed would also be a Horror topic but it found more traction on the board devoted to that show (where I'd been lurking for a while before writing anything there) and that's where I've spent more time in more recent years, producing--heaven help me--over 80 articles here on TWD.

For those who have been there so many years, the end of the IMDb boards is like a favorite tavern closing. For years, it's been a place "where everybody knows your name," where you could go after work, get away from the drudgery of life for a bit and relax among friends and familiars. Lots of memories are tied up in the place. It seems odd to me, maybe because of my age, that a "virtual" place like that could elicit those feelings. This one does though. I'm very sad to see it go. I'll miss it and the people there.

In my view, the IMDb boards are irreplaceable. That doesn't, however, mean they can't be succeeded. Rather than resign themselves to being scattering to the winds, the communities developed there have taken various measures to stay together. I've tried to compile all of these efforts here, to make this article one-stop-shopping for those trying to reunite with their former colleagues and comrades beyond the demise of the IMDb boards.

An obvious stop is the Movie Database, a competing db that also has a message board system:

There are several efforts to continue the IMDb main boards:

As these replicate the IMDb mainboard system and often even the look of IMDb itself, I fear takedown notices from IMDb's lawyers on intellectual property grounds. Hope for the best.

UPDATE: Both MovieChat and Filmboards have managed to port over our old IMDb posts from just before the end. Filmboards allows users to reclaim their posting history.

Further general movie discussion here:

And there's a Facebook group, IMDb Message Boards RIP:

There are several projects aimed at preserving that Horror board community. There's an IMDb Horror Board Facebook group (which has been great so far--lots of old friends):
And others message boards:

I've created a Facebook group aimed at preserving the IMDb Walking Dead and Z Nation communities:

For a few years now, I've maintained Cinema Cult, a Facebook group devoted to movie talk:

There's a related site called Comic Cult, where we discuss comic books stuff, including comic-related movies and tv shows:

There's an effort to preserve the Film General board community at a new Reddit locale:

"The Lost Cinephile"--an appropriate title--has been repurposed as "a hangout for IMDb message board castaways":

If there are any I've missed, I'll add them as I find them; if readers know of more, send them my way. The IMDb ends its message boards on 20 February.



[1] But if we users really needed to insert a "shit" or give a "fuck," we found ways around the filter.

[2] Users who were fuckers--or, on the boards, "fvckers," would sometimes misuse that reporting system, which was automated, to have removed posts they didn't like. I ran into this problem a couple years ago when an obsessed stalker started doing that to my posts on the Walking Dead board. The other posters there--bless 'em--reacted to this by copying and reposting my posts themselves. That's the kind of place IMDb could be.

[3] Exceptions to this were particularly common on boards devoted to tv shows that were off the air or in repeats most of the year, which could leave fewer fans around to talk about them and allow the trolls to take over for a time. I take a milder view of IMDb trolls than do a lot of users. Fans of a given show often try to treat as a "troll" anyone who disliked that show; if I had a dollar for every time the accusation has been thrown at me (over THE WALKING DEAD, mostly), I'd have no trouble financing my first feature. I have no use for people who set about trying to render a given board dysfunctional but most troll activity is much less extreme and even if I don't see a point in some of it, it isn't really harmful.ctional but most troll activity is much less extreme and even if I don't see a point in some of it, it isn't really harmful.

Twitter: @jriddlecult

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