Changes in Online Woodworking Communities

Woodworking can be a solitary and isolating pursuit, and one of the big changes the Internet has brought us is the ability to form connections with other woodworkers from across the country and around the world. One way to do this is through online forums such as WoodCentral, SawMill Creek or WoodNet. You can ask questions about tools or techniques, show off your work or gloat about a fantastic deal you got. As with anything else, online forums grow and change and there have been some recent changes you should know about.

LumberJocks was started about five years ago by Martin Sojka, and it has grown to include more than 20,000 users. Growth in a community is generally a good thing, but it brings along administrative chores and time-consuming maintenance. A few days ago, Martin announced that LumberJocks, along with two other community sites he owns, had joined Escalate Media. Martin will be staying with the site, and the move will allow him to focus on the creative side. You can read his announcement of the changes here.

There is also a new forum called the Burl, that’s worth a visit, started by a woodworking neighbor of ours, Michael Flaim. Frustrated by software changes that made another forum slow and difficult to use, Michael started the Burl using a more user-friendly platform, looking to continue the sense of community that had developed from the other site. It took a while to get rolling but this new forum has grown in the last few months, and many familiar folks from the other forum are appearing.

It’s an interesting group, with a lot of experienced and talented woodworkers contributing. Forums take on a life and personality of their own, and we wish the Burl well. It’s become a regular stop for me as I surf the net when I probably should be working. If you’re looking for a place to discuss all things woodworking, it’s worth a visit.

Visit the Burl at: http://www.theburlforum.com

If you have a favorite forum, or an opinion about online communities, you can use the comment button below to let us know what you think.

– Robert W. Lang

11 thoughts on “Changes in Online Woodworking Communities

  1. cliff booth

    Hi everyone I worked many years as a Grizzly Inc service tech and I was also able to help customers with non grizzly machines I felt bad sometimes knowing thert was a problem with a machine and they sold it any way and sho fox same just white I found out I had cancer and after my flma time off they let me go not happy but if there is anyone needs help with there machine email me I will help I could set up machines to per as a kitten. thanks Cliff Booth p PA

  2. tom blair

    At this point in my woodworking, I’m only using hand tools to build things. Any good forums for only hand tool junkies?

    Tom Blair

  3. Dreamcatcher

    Quoting Phil Williams:
    "I just checked out The Burl, and it seems that they are using the same forum platform that the Knots forum used to use. This is a really easy to use platform, I stopped visiting Knots when they switched."

    Phil,
    Fine Woodworking Magazine’s forum "Knots" and Fine Homebuilding’s forum "Breaktime" (both owned and operated by The Taunton Press) completely changed formats at the same time and without any warning after several successful years of community building. Considering that carpenters and woodworkers can be even more afraid of change than the average joe – this really didn’t go well for Taunton.

    I think the attraction to web forums for most is the sense of self and becoming connected to others with that same sense – hence why there can be found a web forum for just about every conceivable human interest reguardless of how strange the interest may be to outsiders (OWWM is the one my friends shake their heads at). As users become more comfortable with the format and discussion style, these communities may become a very personal extension of the users life. When they all of a sudden change, it can seem like a personal attack.

    I ‘lurked’ around both Knots and Breaktime as the veteran users attempted a revolt of sorts by sending email, writing some nasty stuff on the boards, and even threatening and pranking the admin. of the sites. When that didn’t work, they staged a "walk out" by regrouping at a newly set up forum that was a near identical recreation of the old forum. Breaktimer’s went to "Quittin’ Time" and Knotter’s went to "The Burl".

    While Taunton’s approach to change was pretty abrupt and uninformative, apparently based mostly on their want to cash in on google search hits within the forum and selling ad space to vendors as well as further promoting their publication, I can only hope that Lumberjocks’ as being purpose built gathering place for woodworkers will handle the switch much more delicately. Good luck Mr. Sojka.

    DC

  4. Roger Nixon

    I think the older forum and blog software has just about run its course and social networking type software is taking over.

    I’m running a test of such a site set up for woodworking at http://www.workbench.com/facevise if anyone is interested in trying it. It will accept facebook credentials or you can create an account.

    If it appears to be something that enough people like, I can set up a production site.

    Roger

  5. Peter Gabriel

    I enjoy hanging out at talkfestool.com. It is a good mix of hand tools and power tool junkies.

    Peter

  6. Pete Mohr

    Hey Robert that’s a really cool hutch there! I wonder who made it. . . .
    Oh, darn, I know, It was me!!! I feel like I’ve hit the big time!
    Do I get some kind of royalty?
    Just Kidding!!!

    pete

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