Dear 100 Hour Board
Somethings has changed about the board. I don't know what it is but I feel like you guys are really boring. I found the board much more interesting back in 2012-2014. Maybe people aren't just asking interesting questions?
-My Name Here
Please provide examples of answers from 2012-2014 that you liked and examples of recent answers (or groups of answers) that you found boring/didn't like. I'm actually serious about that, it would be helpful feedback. I can't speak for the other writers but I would definitely take a good look at what you have to say.
Here is a survey. Go to town.
While we're sorry you're not as interested in the Board now as you used to be, I don't think you can place all the blame on the writers. For whatever reason, the frequency of questions the Board receives has gone way down, and sometimes we go over 24 hours without receiving a single question. That means fewer questions to answer in a fun way (especially if the questions we do get aren't super engaging), and it also means less new content on the home screen every day. I don't know why fewer people are reading the Board now, or why the readers we do have are submitting fewer questions, but if any of you find yourself bored with our content, I would encourage you to ask more of the type of questions you like to see answers to.
You're not wrong. Kind of rude. But not wrong. I've also felt like things have been different from when I first started reading. I don't know how much of it has to do with the number of writers or the questions being asked. Maybe it's just because you and I have grown up a lot. Maybe, as these things go, it just lost it's novelty and it's not exciting for you anymore. I don't know what it is, but I think I could do more to make it more fun and exciting for the readers. I'll try to do that. Thanks for being honest.
What made the board fun for me when I first started reading was when I really felt like the writers had made an effort and engaged with my question. It blew me away when I asked a question, and later found out the writers had actually gotten together to go test the theories they were presenting. I also recognized, however, that I needed to ask interesting questions to get an engaged response. We want to help you with your problems and we do our best. But some questions are just so engaging that all of us want a piece of it for our own heck of it. I would love to get more questions like that. I would like to see the Board go a little farther to find helpful answers and corroborate our opinions. I would like to see a better variety of writers on each question, rather than the one or two answers we see.
I pledge to:
1) Put forth every effort to find the answers I don't know. I will spare no investigative avenues that recommend themselves to the question.
2) I'll include more jokes and be more intentional with my writing.
3) Answer more often, and answer more hard questions.
But you can help too!
Ask interesting questions and be specific about how extensively you want it answered (within reason.)
Consider applying to be a writer.
Tell your friends about the Board and invite them to ask questions.
But all in all I still think this is a great place. We're building an archive that I've referred to a lot.
I've been casually following the rate at which Board questions are asked for a couple years now (without any fancy internal data like Anathema uses), and it's clearly been on the decline for quite a while. What are the immediate reasons? I'm not sure. But in a broader sense, I think it's part of a general decline in small independent web sites. I've learned about the phenomenon from several sources, but the single best summary I can give you is from this interview (warning: contains swears). Let me highlight a few key passages:
The whole story is basically that Facebook gets so much traffic that they started convincing publishers to post things on Facebook. For a long time, that was fine. People posted things on Facebook, then you would click those links and go to their websites. But then, gradually, Facebook started exerting more and more control of what was being seen, to the point that they, not our website, essentially became the main publishers of everyone’s content. Today, there’s no reason to go to a comedy website that has a video if that video is just right on Facebook. And that would be fine if Facebook compensated those companies for the ad revenue that was generated from those videos, but because Facebook does not pay publishers, there quickly became no money in making high-quality content for the internet.
Facebook has created a centrally designed internet. It’s a lamer, -------- looking internet. It’s just not as cool as an internet that is a big, chaotic space filled with tons of independently operating websites who are able to make a living because they make something cool that people want to see.
Remember when your fingers just remembered different URLs, and you would go to The New York Times, and The Onion, and Funny or Die? Now it’s less so. You type in Facebook or Twitter or Reddit and then you just sit there and passively take in this feed of what’s selected for you.
Now, I don't think this is exclusively Facebook's problem. Over the last year, I've gone from spending all my time on Facebook to spending all my time on Twitter, and it leads to more or less the same result that the article describes. If I want to find anything online that isn't on one of my main social media platforms, that takes effort. In a very few cases (most notably, the Board), I still make that effort. But I'd guess that well over 90% of my online experience is mediated in some way through social media, and I'd guess that the same is true for nearly everyone else.
If it's not on social media, it might as well not exist.
How can the Board adapt to this? I have no idea. Much bigger sites with more assets are running into the same problem and struggling to find solutions. Local newspapers across the country are hemorrhaging both money and staff. Last year, the Salt Lake Tribune won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting; last week, the paper laid off more than a third of its staff, including names that even as a distant and casual reader I was familiar with. Sites like Funny or Die (where the interviewee works) are doing the same thing. Those of you old enough to remember Homestar Runner at the height of its popularity: do you honestly believe another site could do what they did today, building itself from the ground up and spreading through word of mouth, without any help from other platforms? When I want to watch Teen Girl Squad videos or SBEmails, I don't do it on homestarrunner.com, I do it on YouTube.
I hope this trend can find a way to reverse itself, but (at least in the short term) I'm not optimistic. If it's any comfort, though, the Board can at least take some comfort in knowing that this is not a personal failing. It's a failing of the entire online world.
I don't want to end on a depressing note, so here's my flawed but hopeful call to action: Subscribe to your local newspaper. Buy stuff from locally-owned stores. Visit independent web sites. Whenever you can, put your attention and your money into the things that you love, because without attention and money they cannot survive. Personal change can't resolve structural problems on its own, but structural problems will never be solved without personal change happening first. It takes effort, but I promise it's worth it.
Guys it was me. I started writing for the board in 2014 and ruined it for everyone. I'm sorry.
Tires squealing, I jam my really gaudy muscle car up and over a grass median of 100 Hour Board High School parking lot. Sleeves ripped off my Maroon 5 concert T-shirt (Denver, 2011), I step out, take in a deep breath and flip my Oakley wraparound sunglasses to some obviously baffled current Board Writers.
"I heard SOMEBODY was hankering for some ..." I reach up to pop the collar of my shirt, realize that it's a T-shirt with no collar so I just kind of scratch my neck. I try to make it look cool and it totally works.
"... 100 Hour Board glory days."
I kick the driver door closed on my car without looking and it closes on the flannel shirt I have tied around my waist. It takes a minute to extract.
"Don't worry, losers. I'm ba ...!"
The current writers have walked away and I stand alone in the parking lot, thinking about the transient nature of taste and the nostalgic glorification of the past. Then I realize I locked my keys and phone in the car so I head in to ask to use the phone at the Editor's desk.
- Furious George
The Board changes as the questions, writers, and general culture change. It is common that readers prefer the style that existed when they first stumbled upon it, and thus are dissatisfied with later styles. In that, at least, the Board is consistent.
My favorite parallel is to the film Midnight in Paris. (Yes, booooo to Woody Allen and I'm re-evaluating how much I value the movie in the light of his personal life, but it's still a good parallel, so I'm referencing it anyway. Also, plot spoilers.) A modern writer is able to travel through time back to the era of his authorial heroes, only to find that the people that live during that time ALSO want to time-travel back to live among their authorial heroes. The modern writer, upon realizing that the "golden era" is a fallacy, decides to return to his own time period.
So you can re-read the archives and enjoy the hilarity, learn to deal with the new Board, ask questions you think will lead to funnier answers, or move on to other sites. So many options! Hooray! Just don't forget to follow your heart.
A part of me wonders the same thing sometimes. I stopped writing for the Board two years ago, and I rarely come back to visit its auspicious webpages, and when I do, most of it simply isn't interesting to me anymore. I've decided it's not because the Board has changed in any fundamental way (the questions aren't as good, the writers aren't as funny/inventive/interesting/clever), it is mostly that I have simply moved on with life. And that is okay. I don't think the Board has become less interesting since 2016, I'm just less interested (most of the year).
It's okay if you are too.
The Soulful Ginger
We get this question pretty much every year in some form or another (#89465, #88463, #75048, #36420 - just as a sample, Cntrl+F "golden age" and enjoy). It even inspired a card in Uffish's response to Board Question #43468, one of my personal favorites.
There's a similar effect with Star Wars. Many who liked the original series hated the prequels, many who liked the prequels hate the post-quels (I know that's not the word, I'm not changing it). Lots of kids growing up now have trouble getting into the original series but have no problems with the current editions. It's all about timing and where you are in life.
Have fun storming the castle, and searching the archives for your golden age. And get off my lawn!
Is it the lack of interesting locations? I'm writing in from the Central African Republic where not eighteen minutes ago I backhanded and clotheslined a guy who ran up from behind me and tried to snatch my bag--or something, I happily never found out the end of his now-foiled plan--as the sketchy mototaxi I was perched on accelerated to depart the dimming markets of the capitol. Moments before I'd just had another thing snatched from an outside pocket of the same bag, and though I think I'll miss my precious DEET spray a little bit in the swamp forests to come, I'm glad it managed to stall at least one bloodsucking pest.
Drawing on some suerte right now,
--Ardilla Feroz, from Bangui, Central African Republic
P.S. By the time I answered this your question was cold and by the time you read this hopefully I'll be far from here and hopefully giving, yes, boring answers but I really, really just need to vent right now so thanks and please look at a sloth picture for me and maybe eat a block of Graham Canyon.