Where have all the atheist forums (sic) gone?
I was reading Twitter earlier this evening, and did a search on “atheism”. I found some stale jeering, a few self-important or foolish tweets; and a mass of muslim propaganda. If ever I saw an area dying for lack of participants, it was this.
This made me think of the atheist discussion groups of yesteryear. First before all others, there was usenet. I remember alt.atheism, where you could get a good fight, if not much common sense. There were other usenet groups where interesting discussion might be had. Often the baby atheists would trot out some outlandish historical claims, culled from some ignorant or mendacious source, in the belief that few would know better. It was a real pleasure to track these claims down. It provided stimulus.
Then there was the Internet Infidels forum, which morphed into Freeratio.org, whose BC&H forum had quite a bit of useful historical stuff.
Dirtier, and pretty irrational, was TalkRational. A strange US atheist called Sam Harris had his forum, with some of the dimmest followers that I ever met. Acharya S had her forum, although you never quite knew how many of the “posters” were actually her in disguise! Richard Dawkins had a bunch of discussion groups on his website.
Yet today all of these are gone. Usenet was first to go, as people stopped using usenet clients and relied on DejaNews website, which was replaced by Google Groups, and then discreetly rendered useless. I suspect that some of the Google hierarchs prefer that the antics of their younger days are no longer accessible, in these intolerant days.
Internet Infidels spun off their forums, which were eventually taken over by some strange woman who picked fights with the regulars and then closed the whole thing down, for no apparent reason. Acharya S is dead. Dawkins closed down his forums. TalkRational has gone. And, as I found today, the atheists don’t really use Twitter that much any more.
I never found Theology Web that interesting, but I wandered over and it was still there. But I could find nothing of interest. In fact it has been so long since I visited that they have deleted my user account.
So where do they go to, the people, as Peter Sarstedt might have sung? The cranks, the atheists, and so on?
Truly I do not know. But something has passed from the web, that was interesting and useful, and a valuable stimulus for work.