Are art forums nearing extinction
Yes I know it's a weird topic. but after a long time I have kept me away from art forums. I get a little sad to see that not much has changed during the time I have had a break. it makes me very tired to see that almost every art forum where there is being put a post up there are if we are are lucky 8 comment. and 2000 views. it amazes me a lot that there have been so many people passing but only 8 replies. Sad

Those who write a response is 80% of the time the same people on all posts

(And I know sometimes it's because someone has replied to the question and solved the problem).

My question is very simple.....why? Thinking

Is it because the majority of them at the various art forums only want and not give back to the community. they will have criticism or praise of what they do, and only that.?

And this is not to point the finger of anyone, but more me during me about it and think it's a shame. as one example, if taking a another hobby forum there is a lot of activity from the majority of the members Question

So do not take it too hard this post it is only a question Bomb

That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stranger.
I think theres 2 points to this problem

1, is that there are simply too many goddamn forums. The artist community is fairly small as it is. It gets even smaller when a forum is mostly dedicated to one facet of art, such as illustration as this one is more or less. So the community is microscopic to start with. On average most forums (ALL forums, non art included) generally have about 10% of the population contributing regularly to the post count, and then usually the majority of the posts are contributed by a smaller margin like in the >5% range. In other words, 90% of the population are lurkers or just inactive

Also theres the fact that people tend to eventually get jobs concerning this field and so have less time to post what they normally would. SO you have a small community, divided by multiple art sites, divided by the general theme involved in it, divided by the general amount of posts people make with a very high attrition rate. See how fast that reduces the numbers? It's almost a natural cycle, unfortunately. People constantly turn around and say "Yea let's be the new Sijun! Lets be the new CGHub! Lets be the new CD! YEAA!!" and so you get dozens of derivative websites with gradually fragmented user bases. People don't have time to post on 20 different forums, but to be noticed you kind of have to spread yourself out that way and market yourself that way, since the community is so fragmented. It was probably different when the cost of running a server and of transmitting data was much more expensive, so there were fewer sites and more people on them but thats no longer case

When you talk about a hobby forum, thats a much broader community to draw from. Most communities are quite a lot bigger than the art community, and even when they are the same size, they're rarely this fragmented. They also don't suffer from the second point, criticism. Hobbyists can have casual discussions about whatever it is they're doing, but artists are a fairly intense bunch of people, especially the kinds that are active on forums, and the marjority of the conversation will invariably revolve around critique and feedback one way or another.

2. Most of the contributions people want are in the form of critiques one way or another. The problem is that most people are not comfortable giving critiques, for a lot of reasons. They don't think they're good enough, they're afraid they're going to hurt people's feelings, they don't know how to vocalize their opinion... It's also hard to be understood properly online, and so even if you DO get a crit and even it IS solid its possible its completely misunderstood. If people give a crit and the person shoots it down they're more likely not to want to give a crit again in the future since they'll start to think its not worth their time or that they must really be wrong about it. I think we need to encourage people to give crits, without any flinching, without thinking too much about the implications. Just be constructive about it

There's also a weird stigma where people who don't know what they're doing don't ask for help. Theres nothing wrong with dropping by someone's thread and asking them directly for feedback or a question about how people but people are so afraid of doing it. It's so rare that an artist is rude about these kinds of things if they have an online presence, theyre more likely to not respond than to give you a bad answer. And the ones that do shit talk get torn down and defamed so fast its hardly an issue.

I think to solve this we need to encourage people to be open to communication more. Artists that are good and could help others need to be more open about helping their brethren, and artists that are in need of helping need to realize that they have to ask to receive. At the same time, maybe there should be a reciprocal policy or something. If you get a crit, you must give one to that person as well or to someone else, to keep the ball rolling. Just an idea

that was a beautiful answer. Happy

You have some good points in it that people are very scattered in many places. and it contributes that there is less traffic on art forums. I also think that Facebook takes a large part of those who used to come on forums.

And you are absolutely right in that many are afraid to speak their minds, perhaps as you say they are afraid to say something wrong or do others sad, or they are afraid to say anything that might harm their art career . who knows!

But I have also sometimes considered to just be passive on the forum since my dyslexia makes spelling is a big problem. And I very very easily expose myself as a bit of a dolt. Maybe I am Stupid

As I see it, it might be a good idea to reward people who are active, perhaps with a point system, not as the page now have, but more like they do on the Video service LiveLeak. where you are rewarded for being active and it offers some advantages to be active and get points.
And so people have to in a way to be active to give and receive criticism, I think it will serve as a motivation when people see that it pays off to be an active part of the forum

Example of how to do it LiveLeak:

What are points and how can I earn them?

Points are a virtual reward for your activity on Liveleak. For some functionalities on Liveleak (like rating comments), you will need a certain amount of points. You can earn points the following ways:
- Adding items, for each upload you get 1.5 points.
- Sharing items to your friends, 1 point(s) per item shared.
- Getting your comments upvoted by other (0.1 points per upvote).
- Getting your items featured, 30 points per item featured.
- Getting your channel featured, 50 points per channel featured.

How to rate comments up or down?

In order to rate comments up or down you need to have a minimum of 20 points. For details on how to earn points check

And a post could also get points depending on how many think it's good or relevant so people do not spammer to get points

Or have an intro video to all the people who create a new account to explain how important it is that they become an active part of the forum. and how to give good criticism and receive criticism.!!

Hope it is understandable what I write? otherwise to where I need to correct. (Are dyslexic and English is not my native language) Wink

That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stranger.
Nah man your english is fine. I've read much worse and still understand it, and theres really no way to know that you're dyslexic by reading your post either lol. The guys on Level up! all had thick accents and terrible mics and people still value their opinions. You have the advantage of being able to take your time and type it out, use it!

I'm personally not too keen on points systems. To me they don't really mean anything and don't encourage the right kind of behaviour. It's interesting that they give out points for certain actions rather than let other users give out points like we do here on CD; if that would really be the only way to do it then perhaps a mixture of both could be good, some for actions, others from the users. Then again most people like incentives like that, I fairly certain I'm in the minority who don't care about that kind of thing.

I do like the idea of an introduction video explaining why its important to participate and how to give a critique. In my opinion that would do a better job than using rewards, since then people will likely start doing things for the rewards rather than give thoughtful feedback. You might not get as many raw numbers but you will get better feedback by encouraging good form.

Also, this is a bit controversial, but charging a tiny amount to become a member is another way. Not to make money or anything and not for greed reasons but when things are free people are far less likely to be engaged with it. They haven't invested anything into it so theres no loss if they decide to bug off. In a way you weed out the people that wouldn't commit. I can speak from experience about this too, I have several hours of free gumroads I've yet to watch for that reason exactly. In every other sense though charging so people can gain access to a community is pretty lame

Patrick mentioned a whole lot of good points and this is how I see the crux of the issue.

1. People conduct their lives and interact with anything mostly for their own selfish reasons, to get what they can out of what's out there. I don't mean it in a Machiavellian way, but generally it is true in all facets of life. People are intrinsically selfishly motivated. It is not our fault, it has been taught to us to be this way. The western ethos supports this, modern civilisation supports this.

Even the situation of being busy and having a job and not having time to provide help to beginners, is actually a totally selfish thing isn't it? i.e. My needs over others. wins out. The founders of CD, were all into it at first when it met their needs, and then the moment they got what they wanted out of it, well....gone girl. I don't blame them at all or am criticising them, it is just their condition and the conditioning of most people.
When I realised how few people actually gave a shit to help out a learning artist past a few words a few years ago when I asked for crits, or mentorship etc etc, I vowed to NEVER ever be this way and to dedicate some portion of my time to helping others completely selflessly. Even this is a lie, because I get some sense of satisfaction out of helping and I enjoy doing crits. If I was to do something I really hated for someone else but did it anyway, that would actually be true selfless service.

2. People do not actually see themselves as one of a truly common community. It is always me vs. the world. We cannot see ourselves as just one humanity, and so we have wars, and conflict on a large scale, and a general lack of true interaction and collaboration on every other scale. If we truly saw how much we actually were the same and how strongly we affected each other, perhaps things might change. Until then, no chance in hell of this happening on a large scale. I'm sure it happens here and there, but yeah, not good enough.

Things like facebook and other social media forums which appear to be all the rage now for artists, only promote bite size, interactions that take absolutely minimal effort to participate in. Even if you provide a crit or advice, it is on a minimal scale, practically anonymous, sometimes not even appreciated. There is no lasting interaction past a couple of back and forths.
How often have you seen an in-depth critique or paintover on facebook where the helper goes past two or three posts to help? few and far between. When something like level up came up, and these guys were awesomely doing paintovers...goddamn did they get overwhelmed almost instantly. Why? Yeah, more takers than givers. It's obvious. We won't change anything without looking at ourselves first and foremost.

The connectivity potential of the net is huge, and yet the way we use it en masse tends to be appalling and promote separation through anonymity and loose linkages rather than any true connection. Think of how many friends you have on facebook you have never met or talked with even once. Shit even I posted some good news about some freelance movie work I got, and all of a sudden I got facebook messaged by certain artists who came out of the woodwork who hadn't bothered to interact with me on a personal level for over a year, but were suddenly all nice and shit. Why? Because they saw what was in it for them now. Funny that. One guy, was actually really genuine and just offered congrats and left it at that. The others clearly saw that I could give them something in the future. So transparent it was funny.

I still think forums should and will exist because that social media type interaction is basically utter bullshit, and anybody with depth and integrity who values a bit more, will seek out something better. I asked a question about social media use a while back, and it actually surprised me how many people who are regulars here, claimed to not really use facebook. Kinda backs up my point.

I don't know what to do to change this. The net is too fractured and people are still way too self asborbed to create real community in my opinion. I have managed some really large concept art groups on dA with thousands of members, and let me tell you less than a handful out of them would ever go even one extra step past their own self interest. Happy to receive, happy to get exposure, loathe to give anything back. Actually it was damn hard work to try and engender community into a tribe of individuals. Basically a pointless attempt in my opinion unless the people participating are willing to look at themselves, and that is a WHOLE different ballgame entirely.
It goes deeper than just artists, or the right points system or the right platform.

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point system will have its pros and cons, some will hate it and others will love to be rewarded with points, it is pure psychology

But using payment was certainly not a bad idea, a symbolic sum to be paid to be part of the company could clean out the passive uses. and if it will help people be more active in the forum would create a truly unique community.

And I have also been part of such some forums where you had to pay in order to participate and I must say ok that was once in the several century was active and helped each other both beginner and professional. Unfortunately I could not continue in this forum due. Things in life got in the way.

And there are probably many of those who use these free forums think about is that there is art forums which is closed unless you pay. and the forums there are plenty of people who are just beginning to draw and there are people who live by drawing. and they are in full time of networking and build friendships. and thereby help each other in finding work in the future.

So if you do not have access to these closed clubs, you should really use and participate in these free forums. Otherwise you will be forgotten.

And there is also the risk that these free forum closes if there are not enough participants in the forumt. debates, help each other and so on. I have encountered some ghost art forums around the web. they died out because the people who were active, stopped using them and then there was only the passive uses back, and when they found out that there was not more help available because the active user had given up. So died the forum.


I agree with what you write, that we humans are selfish and we want to elevate ourselves by helping thereby be visible. And as you say, there is nothing wrong since it helps that we all come forward.

But one must also assume that even if you help others you should not expect to receive help from them when you need it. Many see it by helping others like putting money in the bank where you make a deposit and expects 100% of the money comes out when you need them.

But unfortunately it's not always when it comes to people. we can hope but do not expect. I have also been burned many times by people I have helped with their projects, but one must take it as an intelligent person and move forward in life and of course not help them again. action and consequence.

just remembered an article I read by name: How to promote your art online.
There is an excerpt from the article that speaks volumes when it comes to participate in the forum:

"Remember," Angelo says, "deviantART is a community, not a comment machine. You don't get anything out of it if you don't put something into it. We've seen an upsurge in the careers of artists who have learnt to build their own brand, and it's paid social and financial dividends."


"Building your brand may not sound like an artist's endeavour, but it's key to the success of any 21st-century creative. Angelo explains that this means not just self-promoting, but also participating. Comment on artwork and user pages. Use the chat room and the shout box. Offer constructive criticism and people will return the favour. This is brand building."

Link to article:

That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stranger.
Yeah i get you man, but I totally hate this idea of brand building crap for artists.
Don't you think it is insane that we have made something that is a fundamental instinct to express the experience of life as a human, into this horrible capitalist-like business in order to be "successful", as if that was all that mattered? This is exactly what I am talking about.

Even artists who are supposed to be the conscience and eyes of the world are being sucked into this utterly selfish system of thought. No I don't believe real community will be generated from a motivation of uber selfish brand promotion. Yuck. Quite the opposite.
And dA is not a real art community at all.

We need to all wake up to ourselves and the system we willingly participate in or go along with status quo blindly, but as I said not likely anytime soon.

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Selfish self-promotion, I am not a fan of, and the only thing that will come out of it is that one finds himself very much alone one day.

I am for fellowship and mutual help, (I will help you, and then you help others when they need help or me). The fact that then comes Branding of it that I totally findt with me. But yes it should not ONLY be the only reason that one helps!

But one must also accept that this is how the art world function and that is important to be seen with all the noise there is on the web.

But you can also do without being selfish, if you give and active rest comes by itself.

And it's also something I've been told that one Entrepreneur Guru in my country (Denmark). Is that if you give it will come back to you automatically, but as he says it must be genuine.

That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stranger.
Yep Martin, I agree with the pay it forward approach, because this is a motivation of total selflessness and it results in a positive propogation of a better way of living really.

I will however never agree that we must accept the way the world and society currently tells us is the correct way to live or that the status quo is something I just have to suck it up and participate in, because that's just the way it is.

That idea is so often said, that it has almost become unchallenged in itself, but it comes from such a sense of personal disempowerment, apathy and a lack of personal integrity, a power of the state or a system over the life force of people that I find it abhorrent.Abolition of Slavery and apartheid, the women's suffrage are positive changes that all came about as a result of going against status quo.

I'm not saying selfishness in art and in general life, and this cynical viewpoint on what drives the industry or community is like slavery, but in a way it is. We are told to go along with it, in fact we are bred and raised to go along with it and become cogs that fit into the system. I choose to not be a cog if I can help it. We all can. If you participate in the system, you are actually helping to keep it going.

Yeah I actually believe the world could be such that artists or any creatives don't have to sell themselves or their own integrity in order to surmount the noise of all the others, for the dollar, just to survive. Sounds crazy right? Well why the hell not? If resources are pooled together huge change can happen, but it requires acting selflessly, not selfishly. Most probably won't agree with this viewpoint, but then again I think most of us are still in a state of just accepting all our status quo, not just art stuff,unquestioningly.

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(03-13-2015, 04:10 PM)Amit Dutta Wrote: The connectivity potential of the net is huge, and yet the way we use it en masse tends to be appalling and promote separation through anonymity and loose linkages rather than any true connection. Think of how many friends you have on facebook you have never met or talked with even once. Shit even I posted some good news about some freelance movie work I got, and all of a sudden I got facebook messaged by certain artists who came out of the woodwork who hadn't bothered to interact with me on a personal level for over a year, but were suddenly all nice and shit. Why? Because they saw what was in it for them now. Funny that. One guy, was actually really genuine and just offered congrats and left it at that. The others clearly saw that I could give them something in the future. So transparent it was funny.

Wow. It sucks if friendship works this way in art community. I got lots of great contacts on facebook but I sometimes feel like I would be less ignored if I suddenly reached master level and revealed that I worked on some big projects. But then such friendship wouldn't really have good foundations.

Just stumbled in here; a good read overall from all of you. I've been thinking of ways to fix this myself for a long time, with things like the "crimson sticky" and the random generator activities, which haven't really helped much to be honest; even though I've been pretty damn slow with the crimson sticky. Personally, I feel like we kind of devolved into a place where the like button is equivalent to a comment.

I don't really post much myself anywhere these days, because I have some personal issues and have been really busy and reclusive (excuses), lol. But I still love this community and want to keep it alive for as long as I possibly can, and when the time is right, start posting my work here again. I should definitely start posting more in peoples sketchbooks, though, and trying to help out.

I've kind of been against charging artists anything because I know just how shitty it is to be broke all the time; being in debt myself.

If someone wants to make a video explaining the importance of contributing to the community by commenting and helping out, I can try to find a place to put it.

I'll probably be moving at the end of June, so I'll be a bit busy, but I'm always checkin up. If you guys think of some ways to help solve this problem, we might be able to put something together. So please do continue the discussion. I'll keep this stickied for now because I do think this is a very important issue.

I mean, Yea, Facebook has taken over. But as long as there is a small community that appreciates the value of a forum and the focus it provides, we'll keep it alive. There is a whole LOT of irrelevant shit on the facebooks groups, and stuff just gets forgotten a couple days later. Its not really viable. It is more accessible tho, so there you go.

(06-04-2015, 07:21 AM)Jeso Wrote: There is a whole LOT of irrelevant shit on the facebooks groups,

Really true, the proko group made for the anatomy course is a perfect example so many of the posts don't even have to do with anatomy(let alone the actual assignments) that it's a complete clusterfuck..

To stay on topic though, I try to comment sometimes i'm not really that good at critique though, (i'm assumin that's just somethin you naturally get better at)even if the piece has an issue unless it's glaringly obvious I don't notice it so I usually just end up having to leave the generic compliments and stuff, I do end up managing to think up a good crit every now and then but it's not often.

I don't think charging artists would be an issue as long as it's done carefully, it'd have to be a small amount but not insignificant enough for the person not to care.

As time marches on, more and more young people who have no real connection to the concept of a "forum" join the potential "artist community" that would or could populate an art forum. They've been raised on instagram, whatsapp and facebook. For them, forums are just not quick, responsive & rewarding enough to use. They lack the attention span, the mental coordination and the ability to adapt to a medium that is not conctantly providing new stimuli. No feed that pops up every couple of second with new artwork. No "likes", no quick comment-and-forget.

"Older" people who've grown up with forums (people who are now well in their 20s and upwards) find that there is less and less activity on forums, and so also migrate to social media even though they'd be happy with the medium itself.

Delineating everything into old vs new, is too simplistic. Generalizing the new generation into low attention-span idiots and the "old generation" into old school luddites that value only inter-personal connection is I feel a bit too simplistic, and a cop out lacking any nuance. Do people who use facebook and get sub standard-to-no-critique really that much more fulfilled than if they had proper crit from a forum just because they have no attention span? Bull.

ultimately there is no real truth, just shit that happens, and change. Who gives a shit either way. Go with the flow

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I was not providing the one and only explanation for dying forums, merely an aspect of why it happens. If you think that young people today are not impacted by how new social media works, you've obviously not been in much contact with younger generations.

Look at how mainstream games have changed to what they are today with constant reinforcement, constant stimuli and faked "achievement" to get the kids hooked. The same is true for social media- superficial reward that requires no real investment. That's why there are so many amateurs "photobashing" to get likes out there. Instant reward thru likes on FB without having to do much. That's what the young generation has grown up with, that's what they are used to. Doesn't affect everyone to the same degree, but the trend is obviously there.

(06-07-2015, 07:53 PM)Amit Dutta Wrote: Do people who use facebook and get sub standard-to-no-critique really that much more fulfilled than if they had proper crit from a forum just because they have no attention span? Bull.
That's not "bull", that's the sad truth. Look at all the drama on FB groups when somebody actually gives a real critique. Those people are not looking for critique. The majority wants attention, a sense of achievement etc,. without the work. That in itelf is nothing that is unique to young generations, what has changed is that now, they can actually get it- almost instantenously.

yeah I somewhat agree with you Rene. I am not saying the "younger" generation aren't being duped by the shallowness of the interaction that is social media but I would hardly condescend to a group like that and say they don't have the "mental coordination" required. It's a bit dismissive especially if you participate in it yourself.

It is bull: As you said, I have seen much instant gratification, no investment, bite-sized single sentence, 5 word "critiques" offered up by people on crit forums in their supposed ultimate generosity. Granted this doesn't describe everyone.

This may be the trending truth out there, but I simply choose not to think and go along with the idea that this is good enough just because people's standards are supposedly lower than before due to their age and expectations. If I give a critique or help someone, I will do it to my full effort, and not in some half assed throwaway comment that takes the least amount of time as most do on fb, because that is what people expect. I am not arguing that people don't think this is acceptable, I am saying I don't think this is acceptable. I have higher standards for myself. I assume others might have the same idea in terms of getting crit, but perhaps I am wrong.

This is why I think forums, still have relevance to ensure real community can grow. If you don't believe that, why post on any forum at all besides self promotion and ego stroking? Granted everything may migrate to the shit that is social media, and in the end it makes not an ounce of difference how people connect, as long as they do in a real way.

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You may find it dismissive, but from what I've seen in more than a year of sitting in on counseling and psychological diagnostics with children of almost all ages, it simply is the truth that a large percentage of that age group has major issues with attention span & self-directed learning. They've simply been robbed of a lot of ways to practise those things! Everything is, in a twist of irony, almost too easy to use, too accessible, too quick and responsive. No brain work required! I've seen three-year-olds being raised with an ipad in their hands for playing. Makes me want to bash in the heads of the responsible parents (I don't of course ;) ).

I'm not saying that they "deserve it", that I think they have no potential, that every child is the same (obviously not the case) or that it's acceptable the way it is, I'm simply describing the status quo and connecting it to this decline we're seeing in forum usage. To me, the connection is obvious. Children/Teenagers/ young adults who have these problems don't like forums for the same reason they don't like books- not enough sensory input.

Ah well, we all choose the world we live in. If this is what we choose for our children, so be it. Kinda glad I am never going to have children really :)

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Then again, I've also seen plenty of really bright kids with none of the issues I described above. I reckon if as a parent, you are aware of these pitfalls and dangers, you stand a good chance of avoiding them.

The real issue is how to help the kids who've been raised with all these highly arousing stimuli all around them all the time. What we're seeing today is only the vanguard I fear. There's more and worse to come.


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