MPU vs MacSparky Labs

This could be purely anecdotal, but it seems to me that the volume of posts here is down this year. There was a WWDC spike, but I’m wondering if perhaps a lot of the activity that might otherwise have happened has been siphoned off to MacSparky Labs Discord or other means of interaction? I know that Labs members were doing a WWDC live chat on Discord, but I have no idea how many Labs members there are.

Can someone with knowledge of the Discourse stats and/or MacSparky Labs member stats either confirm or disprove my observations?


I agree with you and was thinking the same thing. I am not a member of MacSparky Labs, but have purchased numerous field guides over the last few years. It is a little sad and disappointing.


Yes, I think you are right. I have been noticing the same. I have just checked the MacSparky Labs Discord, I had to login again after a long time - there is not a lot of activity. I enjoy the Labs, but more in a passive way as a consumer of MacSparky’s content (and because I want to support him). The Relay FM Discord is very active, though. But I am not sure that this is the reason, either.

I can only speak for myself: I do not write anything on Discord, I do not really read there on a regular basis. I am reading a lot on Mastodon (without writing anything to be honest) since early 2023. When I learned about the MPU community in 2018 I was hooked. The interactions with David, Katie, Rose and so many great MPU listeners had been great, especially in those early days. The community was thriving. To be honest, it is the only community I have written posts in on a regular basis during recent years and I cannot believe that I am still active (to a lesser degree) after 5 years. I am not 100% sure why, but it feels to me as if the community has changed. For whatever reason. There is much less interaction these days.

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While David just announced to be more active within the Discord think, I do not think that this has anything to do with the decrease here within MPU.
There is almost no traffic on the Discord.
Discord is a nice medium, if you are a gamer on YT or some other Side, and you could keep your viewers “locked” to the Discussion on Discord, but it is simply not a format to do real longtime discussions, or as a substitute for a Forum.

I think MPU had some other problems during the last months, who are keeping new and existing users away…

It’s hard to sustain online communities over time (and in fact community groups in real life!), and natural ebbs and flows are normal. Having been Very Online since the internet was a thing in private homes, I’ve seen a lot of online communities come and go. Those that survive tend to have a core group of users who appear regularly. Individual users may change within the core group, but as long as the core group isn’t shrinking things are generally ok. Once a core group starts to fragment and shrink in size, unless the dynamic of a space changes and a new “group” of regular users emerges to become dominant (and thus keep conversations going), a community tends to fall into decline.

(Obviously there are other dynamics too, this was my thought for what’s most relevant here. And this isn’t science, though I’m sure research has been done on these things. It’s just a dynamic I’ve watched play out numerous times over the years.)


I’ve notice this too. I’ve also noticed that there are fewer different posters; I’m seeing more posts from the same suspects. :slightly_smiling_face:


Just imagine doubling the posters with the same intensity!


I didn’t even know they had one…

Mainly you! haha :slight_smile:

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Guilty as charged! I’m just trying to make up for those who no longer post or post less frequently. Some one as to make up for the slack. :rofl: Just imagine how dull this place would be without me. :rofl::wink:


Only for paying subscribers.
I lost access when I cancelled all my subscriptions (3).


I’ve noticed this across all the places I chat on the internet post pandemic. It’s bittersweet


Do you think people are becoming disenchanted with social media? Years ago, I had several Twitter accounts and used Facebook. Today, this is the online online forum (“social media”) I use.

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For the most part, yes but not enough to stop using it. I think people have less time to be online now that they’re not stuck in their homes all day😁

It’s hard to generalize though, across generations, interests, etc


I only ever look at a small fraction of the posts on this board, but, yes, in recent months I’ve noticed that overall posting frequency seems to have gone down, and several people who routinely showed up in the conversations I typically read seem to have scaled back participation or have disappeared entirely. I don’t know if it has anything to do with MacSparky Labs or Discord or whatever.

Even in the subset of threads that I ever read, there does seem to be a good amount of repetition, with many discussions taking a pretty predictable course over time. That’s just the nature of forums like this.

My guess would be that some people get fatigued, especially if they try to stay up on all or most of the threads here — not unlike people who get a little too ambitious in what they choose to follow in an RSS reader or on a social media platform. Eventually, keeping up gets to be a chore without a lot of payoff.

I get plenty of useful information here (including learning about the differences between Discord and Discourse that I didn’t understand before), but I also make sure I do as much as I can to gravitate toward the wheat and avoid the chaff instead of inspecting all of the chaff to make sure it’s chaff.


I’d think it’s because people come in, ask a question and either get it fixed or at least get some direction on how to proceed, then leave and don’t come back.

To know about this forum, you’d have to know about podcasts and find MacPowerUsers or learn about David from another source. It’s harder to get your word out when there’s so much other activity on the internet to get noticed.

Anecdotally, I don’t think there is a cause-and-effect correlation.

For me, Discord is a horrible, horrible, comic-book, pre-pubescent teen visual UI, and I can’t bear to use it - even for the Labs. (It also has functional limitations and is inferior to the more traditional forum-style systems like this one.)

I understand that it is free with the membership system that Relay and the Labs use, and that is probably the biggest reason it was chosen. (Hosting and running an online forum can be costly in time and resources.)

(Quick throwback - I ran an early CBBS bulletin board system on a Z80 with a single dial-in modem but stepped away when the multi-user hacks were added just before the CompuServe/American Online explosion.)

IMHO, there is a big difference between user-to-user forums and company-to-users or themed/personality forums.

My definitions:

User-to-user forums are hosted publicly by online services, Facebook, etc.
Company-to-users are primarily tech support or self-help and have migrated to Discord
themed/personality forums are started and centered on a specific topic or person/star that created it.

No affront to any of us still participating, and I get a lot of valuable help here (and hopefully have contributed some positive info in return). This forum has morphed from a themed/personality forum to a user-to-user forum.

As such, it is less successful - too small to attract the substantial user-to-user base of a large Facebook group or a Subreddit and it is rare to have a drop-in from the themed hosts that it doesn’t draw participants excited to interact with the podcast hosts directly.

There is no easy fix - nurturing an online community is a big investment in time, and the long-term soft benefits (branding, user loyalty, etc.) are hard to measure versus the real cost of information overload and time sink.


It is the GeoCities of forums/communities. All that’s missing is the Dancing Baby. :grinning:

I look at the MacSparky Labs discord from time to time but there’s not much there. Thankfully, I don’t think it takes many users away for this forum.


I have been disengaged with online communities in general recently. Not sure why. I am not doing as much digital experimenting as I have in the recent past and I think that has something to do with it. I read this forum all the time but have just not contributed with questions over the past few months. Definitely deeply value this community and the knowledge that is shared and that it provides!!

Interesting to see the negative options on Discord. I tend to look at Discord more frequently than the few discourse servers I belong to. Especially since many servers are converting from the Text channel type to the Forum channel type.

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There were great contributors on MPU that, little by little, were banned because of their alleged confrontational style. Here we are, compliant with forum rules, diminishing contributions, and reduced number of contributors.

I hope this is not against forum rules. If it is, I apologize and ask the mods to be so kind to remove the comment.