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Forum2000's return and Internet Q&A Sites

By tetsuo in Internet
Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 08:40:07 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

Almost two days ago, Forum 2000 was reborn as Forum 3000.

This marked the return of one of the longest lived and popular humorous Q&A sites.


In the beginning ...

According to Oracle's about page Internet based Q&A can be traced back to 1975. A few programs at first gave way to a larger one, which eventually became known as the Usenet Oracle, and now today, the Internet Oracle.

The format was simple, and it worked. Users would submit a question to the Oracle, and luck permitting, recieve a response. Unlike the Oracles of ancient times, however, this one had a bit of a twist -- humor.

From the sarcastic to the sublime, responses from the Oracle were hilarious. It has been a staple of online humor for the computer inclined for over a decade now.

Enter Forum2000, stage left

In 1996, the forum2000 opened its doors, and no one knew quite what to expect. Here was a Q&A site, much like the oracle ... why bother?

The reason, or should I say reasons, were the Somads. Simulated Personalities of all kinds of beings -- philosophers, cartoon characters, gay men, childrens toys, etc. The gimmick, if I can be so brave as to call it such, was that they weren't always accurate representations. Take for example Barbie explaining finite state machines, or a bitter crack baby and God mocking Bud Light.

This is exactly what makes comedy comedy -- portraying the ordinary in a different light. It's something that's unexpected but not too horribly offensive or vulgar, and laughter is the correct response. They are impersonations or personifications geared more towards a tech culture.

It was on August 12th, 2000 after nearly 4 years of the Forum entertaining a steady stream of visitors with its "simulated personas" that the site shut down. Articles about it were written in several online publications, and many of the regulars fled to the ripoff sites.

The spinoff has spinoffs ...

They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. With respect to the Forum, that is correct.

During its lifespan, Forum2000 generated many "copycat" sites, the two most popular being The Conversatron and The True Meaning of Life. However even these had further refined the format of answering.

Whereas Forum2000 "personas" generally leaned towards philosophers and the like, the "askees" from the Conversatron lean more heavily towards pop and online culture references, while answers from the "gurus" at the True Meaning Of Life are more based on video game characters.

I still don't get it

Unfortunately with comedy, there's rarely a middle ground as far as "getting it". It's not an intellectual or maturity thing always (look at the AYBABTU phenomenon); sometimes it's context.

That appears to be the case for the sites mentioned here. The humor appeals to a very specific subset of culture. Video game characters? Dead philosophers? MST3K characters? Dilbert characters? There is definately pandering to, and for want of a better word (and in the face of angering readers), geeks at play here.

Perhaps 'referential' is a better word to describe it -- all of these sites depend upon references for the character of their character to work. For example, if you had no idea about Ayn Rands Objectivism, her "A is A" responses simply aren't funny. The sheer breadth of responsive subjects requires an educated reader to understand them. "Getting" them is still another matter.

There's also a bit of the problem of ongoing storylines -- answerers are created, dropped, forgotten and reused. Often times, responses reference previous ones, and new answerers are created in response. It's quite like a soap opera in some respects, in that new viewers are thrown in with little to no idea of what's going on. A bit of a suggestion ... no woodchuck questions.

So where does it all lead?

Even sites devoted to such a specific purpose form communities behind them. Both TMOL and the Tron (True Meaning of Life and the Conversatron respectively) have forums for their users to converse. And the Tron recently held a get together for users and operators alike.

As it stands, the sites all serve their purpose well. A good dose of light raunch and wit brighten most peoples days. The variety found between them should hold something for everyone. And, deity willing, they will continue to for some time to come.

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Poll
Funny Internet Q&A site
o Forum2000 (now 3000) 25%
o Conversatron 12%
o True meaning of life 0%
o The Usenet Oracle 12%
o Internet? I use a magic 8-ball, Chester 50%

Votes: 16
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Forum 2000
o Forum 3000
o Oracle's about page
o Usenet Oracle
o Barbie explaining finite state machines
o a bitter crack baby and God mocking Bud Light
o The Conversatron
o The True Meaning of Life
o Also by tetsuo


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Forum2000's return and Internet Q&A Sites | 6 comments (4 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
forum rocks (none / 0) (#2)
by Justinfinity on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:29:58 AM EST

i'm just amazed at some of the stuff that comes back. it's often hilarious, sometimes insightful, always unique.

makes you wonder. if they have AI that can do that, then why my computer doesn't talk to me like in Star Trek :-P

-justin
If you really want a reliable oracle (none / 0) (#4)
by itsbruce on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 09:03:18 AM EST

Then you should consult Mr T or the Yes/No floaty pen.


--

It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
weak (none / 0) (#5)
by jeanlucpikachu on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 02:45:34 PM EST

You guys need a REAL Q&A site, like Master Ninja. Forum 2k used to be funny, now it's not. TMOL's V is taking too long to obliterate mankind, and F2k's Andrej is doing abso-fucking-lutely nothing to stop him.

--
Peace,
Capt. Jean-Luc Pikachu AIM: jeanlucpikachu
I had thought about that (none / 0) (#6)
by tetsuo on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 02:50:03 PM EST

I've visted master ninja often (they won't give me a custom tetsuo icon though =( ) ... but I was mainly listing the big three ...

There's also the Q_&_A one on geocities, the disembodied floating head of Abe Lincoln ... but I think that TMOL/Tron/Forum are among the most consistently and broadly funny. Masterninja has a somewhat limited appeal (I mean ... they're all ninjas ... what gives?)

[ Parent ]
Forum2000's return and Internet Q&A Sites | 6 comments (4 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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