IMDB message boards RIP
February 3, 2017 12:21 PM   Subscribe

The Internet Movie Database, one of the oldest sites on the Internet, will disable its message boards on Feb. 20. IMDB, which was purchased by Amazon in 1998, says the boards are “no longer providing a positive, useful experience” for the vast majority of its users. The Film Stage laments the loss of "critical cinema discourse."
posted by Clustercuss (65 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
The interface was horrible so IMO any value was negated by that....
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 12:22 PM on February 3 [8 favorites]


I have to agree. The boards have long been near unusable. It's a shame such a high profile site can't have a better system, instead of just scrapping it entirely.
posted by inthe80s at 12:30 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


yeah, who could manage to make their way to these message boards? The UI makes National Treasure look like a trip to Ikea.
posted by GuyZero at 12:30 PM on February 3 [13 favorites]


I hope more sites take the initiative to do this. If you're unwilling to pay for moderation you have no business soliciting comments from the public.
posted by dilaudid at 12:31 PM on February 3 [52 favorites]


Was the second link supposed to go somewhere specific? It just takes me to The Film Stage's twitter account. Even searching through their recent history just shows a picture of the announcement and a one-liner.
posted by firechicago at 12:36 PM on February 3


Only some 10 years too late.

Poorly moderated (if at all), atrocious design, few discussions of value. It has been like this since I remember.
posted by lmfsilva at 12:36 PM on February 3 [10 favorites]


Firechicago: I was just trying to link to the tweet
posted by Clustercuss at 12:38 PM on February 3


They should migrate to Youtube, I hear they have a tremendous comment system. Sad!
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:41 PM on February 3 [17 favorites]


The Film Stage laments the loss of "critical cinema discourse."

...lol
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:41 PM on February 3 [24 favorites]


Firechicago: I was just trying to link to the tweet

This is a link to the tweet.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:42 PM on February 3


I was just thinking, after reading this, good riddance! Bad UI, no one really uses them, etc.

Then I realized how often I'll look up an episode of a current TV show to gauge people's reaction, or I'll dig into the archives to see what people thought of a particular episode when it aired. Not just reviews - but the message board discourse. Definitely more for TV than for Film. But, still, useful at times.

It's a shame that it appears they won't be kept online as an archive.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 12:43 PM on February 3 [10 favorites]


I wonder if the 40 Year Old Virgin forum is still going strong.
posted by edeezy at 12:44 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Ahh thanks liz!
posted by Clustercuss at 12:44 PM on February 3


But how else am I going to know how boring a classic movie was or what actress internet commenters think is ugly?
posted by octothorpe at 12:45 PM on February 3 [13 favorites]


[Fixed that link.]
posted by cortex at 12:47 PM on February 3


Then there are the people who insist on reviewing lost movies.
posted by larrybob at 12:55 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


I wonder if the 40 Year Old Virgin forum is still going strong.

Yep.

From http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0405422/board/:
I'm an autistic virgin and I'M PROUD OF IT and here's why....
by SuperNostalgicBrother » Sun Apr 17 2016 20:15:44
has the last reply 2 days ago.
posted by GuyZero at 1:02 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


It literally started as a discussion page on usenet. Then the guy took all our information and opinions and monetized them. I don't think I've ever participated in an iMDB discussion, but I've certainly seen some interesting and informative discussions, and easily managed to ignore the fluff and ugliness. Moderation would have been a boon all around, of course.
posted by Chitownfats at 1:10 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


Cortex! Cortex! It's Atom...
MeFi member Atom Eyes.
You know that new sound FanFare was looking for?
Well listen to THIS!
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:12 PM on February 3 [13 favorites]


The only thing those were useful for, other than making you weep for humanity due to all of the racist, sexist and homophobic content (and probably many other things), was to find out if you were alone in thinking that ___ actor/actress looked like ___ other actor/actress.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:15 PM on February 3 [10 favorites]


Cortex! Cortex! It's Atom...
MeFi member Atom Eyes.


*slow clap*

Nice job, McFly.
posted by GuyZero at 1:19 PM on February 3 [6 favorites]


I can't recall a single IMDB board comment that ever enlightened me or changed my mind about a film. Good riddance.
posted by mathowie at 1:20 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


no longer providing a positive, useful experience

It continues to baffle me how companies think that ANYTHING unmoderated is a useful thing. Newspapers always had editors for their Letters to the Editor. They threw a ton of shit away. Why does everyone assume that people are suddenly different because computers?
posted by Melismata at 1:30 PM on February 3 [21 favorites]


Of course MeFites are not going to lament the closing of the IMDB boards at all. We have FanFare.
posted by orange swan at 1:37 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


I would occasionally check these when I was looking up a bit of movie trivia to play "let's see what the idiots are up to." So, yeah, nothing of value lost. I do hope they keep an archive, though. Seems like it would be interesting research data, and as terrible as they were, maybe useful to keep in storage somewhere.
posted by codacorolla at 1:39 PM on February 3


The Film Stage laments the loss of "critical cinema discourse."

It's actually about ethics in game movie journalism!
posted by INFJ at 1:47 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Wait, an internet message board that creates a positive, useful experience?

Shoot for the moon, IMDB.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 2:33 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


In college, my friends and I used to get drunk and write lengthy semi-coherent message board posts that, while loosely related to the film in question, were really a performance art collage of poorly understood film terms, proud ignorance and randomly selected passages from books we had lying around. Even though that was years ago I can't help but feel somewhat responsible.
posted by downtohisturtles at 2:42 PM on February 3 [6 favorites]


I use IMDB for cast and crew info, trivia...and that's about it. I've seen headers of comments but have rarely ever dove into those. With other site's forums I can forget that it's mostly awkward teenagers posting, but with the IMDB forum posts, it's really easy to see that.
posted by zardoz at 3:28 PM on February 3


Huh, IMDB had a message board. TIL, etc.
posted by chavenet at 3:33 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


I use it a lot when I can't remember (or figure out WHY) something about a movie. It usually delivers. I'll be sad to see it go.
posted by one4themoment at 3:41 PM on February 3 [5 favorites]


For instance just last night I was on it for "Millennium" and I rediscovered the professors speech about time travel... I had forgotten the speech but not the professor. And I too (like some of the responders) would like to see a modern interp on the story. Also I learned that there was a book written post movie that may be better and have put it on my reading list.
posted by one4themoment at 3:44 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


I miss Usenet.
posted by crossoverman at 4:39 PM on February 3 [8 favorites]


I know a guy who's actually a published film writer now because somebody noticed his posts on the IMDb message boards.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:03 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I use IMDB all the time. Usually because I recognize an actor and I cannot rest until I know where from. Like that woman from the last episode Black Mirror? She played Diane in Trainspotting! She's all grown up now, and still killing it.

Either that, or checking when something is released, which is actually bothersome, because I'm gmt+10, and they don't account for that. Really? Amazon runs this site, and they certainly know the exchange rate for Aussie bux at that very second.

metafilter does this too, if you post a comment right now, it appears to me you did that yesterday.

The actual comments though? We already know what to expect. I did read one review and it was some weird cargo cult approach. As if this person had read a film critic once and mimicked them, hoping it would be the same kind of thing. Then they opened up a thesaurus. Possibly a thesaurus app. Maybe an automatic find/replace bot that changed all the adjectives into whatever had the most syllables.

There are better venues to talk about art. Fanfare is up there ^^^ click on it sometime.
posted by adept256 at 5:25 PM on February 3


But how else am I going to know how boring a classic movie was or what actress internet commenters think is ugly?

Try reddit
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 5:37 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: Poorly moderated (if at all), atrocious design, few discussions of value. It has been like this since I remember.
posted by dr_dank at 5:49 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


As a nascent watcher of movies in the early-oughts, I found some of the IMDB user-generated content to be at least thought-provoking. Hasn't been that way in many years, but I feel of sense of nostalgic loss upon reading this news.
posted by sibboleth at 5:51 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


There's a typo in that quote, “no longer providing a positive, useful experience,” was supposed to be “never provided a positive, useful experience...”
posted by pwb503 at 6:00 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Why does everyone assume that people are suddenly different because computers?

That's my line. And I still haven't figured it out.
posted by bongo_x at 6:17 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Where in the hell am I going to go now for my poorly crafted, barely coherent, "English as a 19th language", "WTF where they thinking" fancrafted plot explanations?

Oh, right. Fanfare!

I keed, I keed. I love you all!
posted by Samizdata at 6:57 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


one4themoment: "For instance just last night I was on it for "Millennium" and I rediscovered the professors speech about time travel... I had forgotten the speech but not the professor. And I too (like some of the responders) would like to see a modern interp on the story. Also I learned that there was a book written post movie that may be better and have put it on my reading list."

Okay, so there was a short story called "Air Raid" written by John Varley in 1977. He later novelized it as "Millennium" in 1983. He then wrote the screenplay for the movie version of the novel, the movie was released in 1989.

The short story and the novel are both pretty good.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:09 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


Aw, that's too bad. Hate to see community boards continue to close. It's making things feel even more proprietary and commercial online, even as I accept there are often good reasons for shutting the boards down. I haven't used IMDb's forums since 2001, but the Classic film board used to be fun and relatively informative. But it seems public conversations just aren't possible without some pretty strict culling and tight restrictions on beliefs of those contributing involved, even if informally, or you get chaos. I've seen even good forums go bad in almost no time at all due to just a handful of bad contributors or changes to the site design causing such extreme rancor that the forum never recovers.

I wish it weren't this way since I find much of the more "professional" writing on many sites to be every bit as insipid with only the value of some writing skill and the notice that accompanies the site's position making it seem somehow more important.
posted by gusottertrout at 3:11 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


The Film Stage laments the loss of "critical cinema discourse."

...lol


Just in case folks missed it, The Film Stage account did clarify it was being sarcastic.
posted by mediareport at 4:55 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


I for one am really going to miss scrolling down to see the little stubs of inchoate rage after I've found whatever I was looking for. (For example, Moonlight's includes "Oscar baiting trash," "Meh," and "Most overrated movie of the Year - BORING.")

Discussion forums can be really great, but probably not ones that are intertwined with a large, general purpose site like IMDB. There do seem to be a few message boards where people actually talk about movies, but they seem to work because the participants are all people who went out looking for them.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:33 AM on February 4


If you're all nostalgic for these type of IMDB comments, I can heartily recommend TPB's comments section.
posted by joeyh at 10:08 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I hate the UI and yes, there are a lots of idiots. But I visit it regularly to see if people have theories or explanations for the minutiae that can hold you up after you see a movie ("was she saying she wanted to kill her sister or did she mean herself?"). Or just a perspective on the film itself, comparisons to other films in the director's oeuvre etc. This is bad news for me.
posted by stevil at 12:58 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


IMDB comments are still readily available. It's no longer my first choice for learning about a movie - that would be wikipedia, which works fine for looking up what else cast members were in. Next to the IMDB for the interesting Trivia and Goofs sections (and sometimes, the soundtrack info as well). But for comments I just go to the User Reviews and then change the pull-down from "Best" to "Hated It" (after first marveling that anybody could've considered that cinematic POS the best).

But message boards? I honestly don't think I've ever been there, not on the IMDB. Sure, I also miss Usenet -- I was all over the rec.arts.movies.* groups, back in the day.
posted by Rash at 2:29 PM on February 4


The Film Stage laments the loss of "critical cinema discourse."

...lol


Just in case folks missed it, The Film Stage account did clarify it was being sarcastic.
This seems like as good a time as any to tell my favorite story about IMDb message boards (and in fact it is a better time than most of the times I choose to tell it).

I used to read the message boards a bunch, for no real reason I can explain. One day I was reading some threads on Amadeus, and someone was saying the movie wasn't historically accurate (my thoughts: yeah, the rivalry was really played up for dramatic effect, some things moved around, &c) because Salieri didn't exist ([emphasis mine] my thoughts: wha?).

To this day, I don't know if that person was just fucking around, or if they honestly believed that Antonio Salieri wasn't a real person.
posted by cardioid at 5:02 PM on February 4


Chrysostom: "one4themoment: "Okay, so there was a short story called "Air Raid" written by John Varley in 1977. He later novelized it as "Millennium" in 1983. He then wrote the screenplay for the movie version of the novel, the movie was released in 1989.

The short story and the novel are both pretty good.
"

I read the novel in the mid-eighties, loved it and was so excited when I found out that it was going to be a film and then I saw it.
posted by octothorpe at 5:49 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


The interface was horrible

So much so I had no idea it had message boards.
posted by juiceCake at 7:23 PM on February 4


I'm gonna miss those boards. I liked going there after watching a movie with a puzzling ending to see what other people thought of it. Or when I watched an episode on TV that had some big heavy themes, I'd go to see how people were reacting to it. And a few times the "X looks like X actress!" saved my sanity, because I will not be able to let it go until I figure it out. And sometimes people in bit roles weren't in the credits, so the boards were the place to find out who that background actor really was.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 7:31 PM on February 4 [6 favorites]


Same here, Hazelsmrf. I generally find the imdb message boards useless to heartbreaking on big, current films or films that lots of people have seen against their will. But for niche films, old films, old niche films, etc. they can sometimes be as good a source of information as anything else online. I also love it when some 78-year-old comes on to say they once stood beside Desi Arnaz in an elevator or what a dick Laurence Harvey was in the 60s. Or just that they remember seeing something at their local movie theatre when they were 14 and that, unlike everybody else, they never could forget it. Those people are dying now, and a whole dimension of classic cinema, how non-critics experienced it and how they remember it, is disappearing. More and more, the people I think I want to talk to about the movies of their youth are actually too young to remember them. The comments their big brothers and sisters left on the imdb message boards in 2002, though, are still with us. So it's a real shame to me that they'll be going away. I wish the lower-traffic boards could stay.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:41 PM on February 4 [5 favorites]


> I can heartily recommend TPB's comments section.

Use an ad- blocker (ublock) unless you enjoy tons of porn ads popping up on and about your page. I used ad blockers for years and never realized at what point TPB started heavily investing in porn ads ... until someone to whom I recommended that site asked me "Are you sure this is the site you want me to go to??" After a few embarrassing back and forths I turned off my ad blocker and .... "oops !"
posted by AGameOfMoans at 1:28 PM on February 5


This is really a shame. I've been on a classic-movie spree (watched about 150 of the "IMDB top 250" over the course of around 4 years) and pretty much always check the boards after (or sometimes before) watching a movie -- it helps me understand scenes or lines that don't make sense or are ambiguous, learn about alternative theories for what happens or a character's motivation, follow debates about creative choices, understand what people appreciate the most about the movie, figure out which top-voted movies are actually good and which only appeal to a particular subculture, choose which cut of a movie to watch when there are multiple choices, etc. Sure there are trolling threads but you can just ignore them. Having the boards gone will be a big loss.
posted by phoenixy at 1:33 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


This is really a shame. I've been on a classic-movie spree (watched about 150 of the "IMDB top 250" over the course of around 4 years) and pretty much always check the boards after (or sometimes before) watching a movie

Classic movies? Post 'em to Fanfare! I've seen most of the classic movies listed as essential viewing and would be more than happy to join in any conversation about them, or if I haven't seen one dig it up and watch it just for having it posted. I think there are at least a few others here who might also enjoy such postings as well. So bring 'em on and let's see if we can replace some of the talk from IMDb here instead.

Incidentally, the Variety article wasn't entirely clear on whether they're getting rid of just the discussion boards or those and the comment sections for individual films too. I assumed the former, which would be less of a loss than losing all those reviews, but I guess that could be part of it too?
posted by gusottertrout at 2:32 PM on February 5


Stopped paying attention to IMDb a long time ago beyond "also starred in" information. Over the past few years it became a honeypot for angry young white dudes to take a dump all over any movie that did not cater specifically to them. Can't even imagine what the boards were like.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:04 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I was the original developer of the IMDb boards system. Here's my writeup of what that was like
posted by cms at 1:48 PM on February 6 [28 favorites]


Good riddance. No doubt there were exceptions, but the comments were often ignorantly inane. One of my recent "favourites" was from a guy who couldn't like (the awesome) Under the Skin, because the house that she lived in had no chairs, and he insisted that even if she weren't from earth, she still would have to sit down at some point. JFC!
posted by anothermug at 7:11 PM on February 6


Here's my writeup of what that was like

How did I never notice that BeOS song back then? Thanks for that.
posted by asperity at 10:07 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


For instance just last night I was on it for "Millennium" and I rediscovered the professors speech about time travel... I had forgotten the speech but not the professor. And I too (like some of the responders) would like to see a modern interp on the story. Also I learned that there was a book written post movie that may be better and have put it on my reading list.

I watched this last night on Netflix, and... what an interesting mess it is. There are precursors of 12 Monkeys, and hints of Brazil before it. The story itself is pretty terrible, but the production design is awesome. Kris Kristoferson isn't doing the movie any favors, and I wish it had just been the story of the main female protagonist without anything to do with him.
posted by codacorolla at 11:53 AM on February 7


Nooooooooo I am still waiting for someone to reply to my thread about my David Lynch's Rabbits theories!
posted by Theta States at 7:09 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Now when will they do away with (or at least push newer) lists? It seems really weird to see lists like My Favorite Cancerian Celebrities ♋, which were created back in 2011, but listed as "Top Lists" - do you want to include social features or not? I guess lists are the least controversial aspects of social interactions on the web, because there's no discussion and a limited potential to be offensive.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:55 AM on February 8


a limited potential to be offensive.

That sounds like a challenge to me.
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posted by unliteral at 7:07 PM on February 16


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