Quote Originally Posted by oldfrat View Post
I found FAOL shortly after seriously taking up fly fishing as a hobby. I was immensely grateful for the information the overall site offered and, especially, for the customized responses to my questions on the forum. As I came up the learning curve, I found it was also gratifying to be able to answer questions from newbies.

Meanwhile, long time fly fishers were being delighted to find a place they could meet and communicate with other fly fishers other than on the river, at shows, or by chance encounter. The Net was "new and revolutionary" then; a totally different way of getting information, communicating and meeting people.

More FF websites developed. Some developed distinct personalities. Some focused only on fly fishing, and some on fly fishing niches or regions. Others branched out into general discussions, including politics. The ones who included politics had civil wars and new boards sprang up to allow birds of a feather to flock together. Meanwhile, the amount of fly fishing information on the Net overall increased exponentially. You no longer needed to come to a bulletin board with a lot experts. You could simply Google your specific question.

Then the inflow of newbies slowed. The overall interested audience grew incredibly fragmented. The novelty wore off. Every FF bulletin board I visited on a regular basis, and there were several, saw traffic fall off sharply.

Today there are only three "FF" boards I visit regularly. FAOL is the oldest and the only one that remains a pure FF board. Another one started out resembling the friendly corner bar down the street from LF's living room, but turned into a site of nasty political infighting. The third was created by like-minded people who left the second board in disgust and anger. (The second has since mellowed.) FAOL remains unchanged in its principles and nature, but has lost a lot of traffic in line with the overall trend for all FF boards.

Most of the people on the third board are ones I first encountered here, met again on the second board, and then threw in with on the third board. Both boards two and three get very little in the way of posts specifically related to fly fishing. Most posts are in Off Topic or Politics sub-boards.

It seems strange that the board three daily post count is higher than here given the far smaller membership, but it is understandable. Most of us have now met each other in person, fished together and become friends. The process that led to the board's founding means we share interests, views, senses of humor, ethics, etc. We get together annually for a long weekend of fishing, food and drink, good conversation and an auction raising funds for PHW. I'll be at the 2014 gathering tomorrow.

I'm forever grateful to this site. I have great respect for it staying true to its principles. I do not see the decline in bulletin board postings as anything but a natural part of the evolution of FF boards and can't think of a single thing I would recommend to boost traffic here. I try to post here when I feel I have something to add. I consider the FAOL archives to be one of the greatest treasures in all of fly fishing history and, if it ever comes to the point where member donations are needed to keep them online, I'll sure step up to contribute.
That is an accurate, complete, and well reasoned response, in my opinion.