One of the most notable, and indeed welcoming, new developments comes in the form of Patten’s 555-5555 platform. Sitting alongside their radio show, zine, club night and rolling playlist, geared towards mobile browsing with a sleek interface, it will offer a new space for thoughtful, long-form discussions without the limitations or tortuous threading of Twitter or Instagram. “We made the 555-5555 forum as an open platform for all types of people to use to talk and trade stuff from all over the world without filters and the problems that come with them,” Patten tell us. Of course, no filters doesn’t mean no supervision. “Front and centre, 555-5555 outlines that there’s zero tolerance for racist, sexist, transphobic or homophobic language or imagery, and so far the vibe on there has been pretty spot-on.”
Unlike Twitter and Facebook, whose very universality makes them susceptible to bots, trolls and a swift degeneration into a level of discourse that’s about as nurturing as a sewer fire, the best forums have careful moderation and a shared passion, like a favourite small club with superb residents and a thoughtful door policy.
But of course, existing social media has its positives as well. Take our Facebook: look past the boors who respond to the occasional story warning about dodgy pills with “You should call it ‘Drugmag’, hur hur” and it’s a great place to engage with and debate the dance music issues of the day. Reddit’s dance music forums may be past their peak, but r/EDMproduction is still bustling with tips and feedback. Perhaps the Facebook page doing most to revive the old forum spirit, though, is the flourishing Identification Of Music (IOM). Launched in May 2015, the dynamic hub acts as an exhaustive database of musical know-how and must-knows readily available at the click of a button (and, to be fair, the bane of many a carefully crate-digging DJ’s life). “These groups are not much different to the old forums,” says one IOM admin; “they’re just a new medium.”
So with sites like 555-5555 spearheading the message board resurgence and groups like IOM uniting eager-eared listeners around the world, maybe we’re ready to open up again and celebrate dance music digitally from the ground up, in a way that transcends Likes and RTs. These new, niche pages and platforms use the best bits of forums past to step into the future with fresh, clear community guidelines, and even fresher, more free-flowing conversation. Now to choose that all-important screen name...
Jasmine Kent-Smith is Mixmag's Staff Wrtier. Follow her on Twitter