The End of My ToledoTalk.com Message Board after 16 Years

created Thu, Mar 21, 2019

http://toledotalk.com

Late in the evening on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, I shutdown the ability for Toledo Talk to receive new content. I'll leave TT up in read-only mode until at least September 2021 when the domain name is up for renewal.

I bought the toledotalk.com domain name in September 2001. In late 2002, I started building the code to power TT. I patterned the early version of TT after MetaFilter.

On January 17, 2003, I made the first post to Toledo Talk. After one year, I decided to continue. After two years, I knew that I would run the site for several years, but I never know how long.

In recent years, I have grown disinterested in Toledo Talk. My interest is more with the IndieWeb, which focuses on individuals posting their content on their own websites first, and then optionally posting their content elsewhere. I have copied all of my TT content to sawv.org.

The Toledo area had an active blogging network back in the mid-aughts. It seems that is not the case today. People are content with posting their content to silos, I guess. I understand. The silos made it easy.

As to why shutting TT down now, why not? I considered shutting down TT multiple times since 2014 or 2015. TT's activity waned over the past few years. I rarely started a new thread, but other people used the site. Why didn't others make posts about local politics, local arts and entertainment, local outdoor activities, local sports, and more?

It seemed that we all preferred to comment on an existing thread, instead of starting a new discussion.

Matt Haughey left MetaFilter. Rob Malda (CmdrTaco) left Slashdot. They both started or co-founded those excellent "old" community sites.

Rusty Foster started another one of my favorite community sites: Kuro5hin, but instead of handing K5 off to someone else, Rusty shut it down.

In my opinion, TT is too small to be passed on to someone else. Who would want it and why? But maybe in the hands of someone more enthusiastic about community sites, TT could have been reinvigorated.

A new person would face some technical challenges. TT is hosted on a shared server, since that was a popular method for web hosting in 2002. I could have moved TT to my Digital Ocean Droplet years ago, but I didn't.

The current code base that powers TT dates to 2005. That's the "new" version. This new code was wiki-based, and the wiki ran alongside the MetaFilter-like first version of TT for about two years.

I liked the new code more. It used Textile as a formatting language. The new code had more features that only I used, but that was okay. Not everyone wants to be a wiki user.

In August 2007, I switched off the 2002/2003 code that powered the first version of TT, and I made the 2005 code handle the discussions.

As to other local options for community sites, I know that dozens of local, topical Facebook groups exist. My wife is a member of several of those groups. I kiboshed my Facebook account in 2016.

Toledo has a sub-Reddit at https://reddit.com/r/toledo that has grown more active in recent years.

I'm not a social media user. I prefer the old ways, such as personal websites, feeds, and email, combined with a dash of the new IndieWeb ideas, such as Webmention, which is a cross-site commenting mechanism.

At TT, I posted the following notes right before I closed down the site on Mar 12, 2019.

Homepage banner: Toledo Talk R.I.P. Jan 2003 - Mar 2019

About

Notice: Late in the evening on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, Toledo Talk closed its doors to new content. The site began late in the evening on January 17, 2003. 16 years. That's enough. Thanks to the many people who made this place interesting. Adios amigos.
- jr

Contact

Somewhere on the interwebz.

My TT microblog page

@TT - Au revoir, old friend. It was a good ride. We reached the restful end. Interests change. New activities take priority. Always be learning. Embrace the indieweb.org.

The last comment posted to TT was made by 6th_floor at 9:04:28 pm EDT, and it was made in the largest and longest-running thread of all-time at TT. The thread contained over 5000 comments. 6th_floor started that thread in January 2011. It's a good historical thread about the changes that have occurred in downtown Toledo this decade.

6th_floor's comment was about a local restaurant closing because the owner was retiring from the restaurant biz after 50 years.

Strangely, it seemed that the planets were aligned for TT to close down. I could not have planned that.

Two days earlier, on Sunday, March 10, 2019, I saw a goofy thread started that made me think, "That's it." I posted a comment late that night to that thread. My comment contained only an embedded YouTube video of the Doors playing live their song "The End". It's a great video and a great song.

I decided late on March 10 that I would shutdown TT on Tuesday night, March 12 because my wife and were leaving town the next day for a few days, and we had a busy weekend planned when we arrived back in Toledo. I knew that I would be too busy and distracted to think about TT being no more.

And now after more than a week since TT has shut down, I have not thought much about it. It's one fewer thing in my life. When I do think about TT, it's a weird feeling, knowing that it is no more. It's a chapter of life closing.

Shutting down TT like I did with no warning might be viewed disapprovingly by many, but I wanted no drama. I did not want to entertain other options. And no official method exists for closing down a community website.

In my opinion, I let the TT community decide the site's fate over the past few years. If the site had been more active, I would have let it continue, even if I contributed less often. The posting activity in 2019 seemed to decrease significantly. I did not want TT to be home to only a handful of contributors.

Etc.

Long-time TT contributor "madjack" made this Mar 13, 2019 post to his blog site.

http://madjackshack.blogspot.com/2019/03/rip-toledo-talk.html

The comments were nice. I liked this one by TT user "sollecks" :

Mad Jack...I'll really miss it. As a very infrequent contributor, I still checked in almost daily. It was informative and some of the regular posters (yourself included) were enjoyable to read.

I secretly harbored a hope to someday move across the street from jr. Delicious home brews, fresh baked bread, a guy who could trouble-shoot my wifi and computer problems with relative ease, and tell me if the approaching storms were worth all the fuss. He just seemed (in my mind) as that guy that would invite you over for a bbq, have some stellar food, great jokes and drinks that would last into the night.

I appreciated his writing, in particular the way he sourced and linked his info. I wish more web designers would take his opinions on web page design to heart. His space was easy to read and navigate.

Yep. That's about the size of it. Sometimes, our outdoor conversations with out neighbors last into the wee hours of the morning. On the weekend.


https://www.reddit.com/r/toledo/comments/b0m00w/rip_toledotalk_jan_2003_mar_2019/.compact

Each site contained another post.

https://www.reddit.com/r/toledo/comments/b6a6fx/toledo_talk/.compact

My emphasis added:

I miss it because even though the site had a massive decline in post rate in the past 2-3 years, it was still as good a place as any to get local news.

Upso posted to that Reddit thread:

There is another thread about TT recently but after 16 years I think JR just wanted to take a break which makes a ton of sense.

http://madjackshack.blogspot.com/2019/03/toledo-talk-obsequy.html

MJ concluded with:

So here's a final hoist of the morning bourbon glass and a tip of the old fedora to JR - you did it right, old sport.

It's now April 1, 2019, and I'll admit that a tinge of sadness and/or regret exists with closing down TT, although that could be due to something existing for over 16 years.

TT costs me the same whether I let the site go with new content being added or leaving the site up in read-only mode.

I could have let the site continue without my contributions, like what occurred for several months last year. But again, the site's activity dwindled significantly in 2019.

TT was on its way out regardless of my involvement. People chose or preferred other options on the web.