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  1. #1
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    UK dive forums vs. the rest of the internet

    Following another thread, maybe an open discussion about the state of play with diving forums. We've seen several forums close in the past year or so and the specialist CCR forums are virtually dormant. TDF is the last one standing -- teetering? -- in the UK.

    There's one exception to this in ScubaBoard which is very busy.

    Is this caused by the inexorable rise of Facebook? Is it the continuing decline of diving as a hobby -- example, BSAC membership halved since the peak, dive shops and boats closed, etc.

    Why are the forums in decline?

  2. #2
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    Personally I think it's a combination of events including social changes and the effect of the internet. Also doesn't help when there's a lot of cliquishness as old lags get bored of the same old topics coming up.

    Is diving declining as a sport?

  3. #3
    Tofu eating wokerato Chrisch's Avatar
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    Diving has been declining for a long time. There are many reasons why and several debates on here about it.

    Forums are (well IMHO) better than debates on things like facebook because they are compartmentalised. Posting up you think some politician or another is a twat on facebook is fair enough until you look for a job with an employer that has the opposite opinion. (Like you I am not on fb at all so not an issue...)

    Forums are great for sharing information and helping, but after a while (as you say) the same topic comes round again and eventually people get bored with it (pink snorkels are really the best and what more is there to debate?)

    Scuba bored might be "busy" but it has a big reach and a lot of bright eyed newbie types. Back in the day it had some big names and some really interesting discussion. I don't see that ever coming back anywhere.
    There are only two things that are infinite, the universe and Tory corruption and I am not sure about the universe.
    With apologies to Albert Einstein.

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    The great thing about forums is the fantastic resource they represent, especially with more detailed or esoteric topics. There's a lot of that on here which will be a real pity to loose.

    I do think the biggest loss will be for "new" divers moving either into diving, or upping their game to new levels. I found the discussions on CCR extremely useful, interesting and very helpful.

    It is interesting that there's few, errm, instructors and thought leaders doing online mentoring on the forums. Seemed to happen in the earlier days but definitely not around any longer aside from the odd decompression expert popping up.

  5. #5
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    I think there are a few things. The death of forums isn't necessarily down to the decline of diving. They've been dying for a long time. I think people don't like the format when so much communication is now app driven and very visual. You've suggested many times that FB might be killing forums but I don't really see it. Maybe I'm just a member of the wrong groups but there's not a lot of decent discussion going on there either. I don't think people like or want to be getting into discussions that can't be answered in a single sentence. If you're reading a 2 paragraph response on your phone on FB it feels like about 10 pages of text. As people may be working, typing or reading a longer response on a phone is probably going to get you a bollocking so maybe there is a bit of that stifling discussion as well.

    Personally, I've never really liked the format of forums. I loved things like Techdiver, NW Designs rebreather list, Scuba-UK & DIS-UK which were email based. You could take time to read and respond and I think people were a bit more savvy about what and how they wrote. There was something nice about getting the digest at the end of the day which you could sit down and pick and choose what you got involved in, in your own time and in your own way. Sure Techdiver descended into a shit-show but generally on the others you didn't get people posting for the sake of posting because it would become unintelligible rubbish in minutes. Every "ftfy" post or similar that you get on here just makes me think FFS why bother.

    As for diving's decline, it seems to be becoming the domain of the middle class and middle aged. For a generation that lives through photos, reels and social media then diving isn't exactly attractive. That's been coming for a long time, even before covid. Add that to the investment required and where's the appeal? Paddleboarding and mountain biking are massive growth sports. You can get into either for less than 500 quid, you don't need a car, you don't need much room, you don't spend half your life either preparing for a dive or cleaning/maintaining kit afterwards and there's no-one telling you that you can't do something because you don't have the right card. I also think there is a particular lifestyle associated with these types of sports that diving lacks. People want to post crap that makes their lives look a Finisterre or Patagonia advert.

    The other thing that has really affected my own motivation for diving is the loss of adventure. There just doesn't seem to be the same appetite for doing stuff off the beaten track, diving in marginal conditions, doing dives that can't be executed 100% perfectly, etc. I feel quite privileged to have gotten into technical diving in the mid 90's when it genuinely had a counterculture feel to it. But equally I know that is nostalgia. I can also look back and see that the number of dead friends and (when I allow myself to admit it) the mental toll it took is maybe not the healthiest, especially not for a hobby. Eitehr way, there is something missing from modern diving for me but that might just be personal to my fucked up brain that needs it.
    Last edited by notdeadyet; 12-10-2022 at 10:04 AM.
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England

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    UK diving is certainly declining as a sport. I was discussing this with Lee Hall of Farne Diving Services when we were there in August. This is his last year of running a dive boat. There used to be 14 boats operating up there. Next year, DEFRA permitting there will be two. Lee was saying that clubs are finding it increasingly difficult to fill boats. He used to have three boats and could fill them all season. This year he struggled to half fill one.

    For most people theses days, diving is something done on a once a year warm water holiday, not a regular weekend activity.

    There are a number of factors at play. For inland clubs like ours, cost is definitely a major factor. A weekend trip to the coast is an expensive undertaking even before the cost of a boat is added. The fickle weather is another problem. We have to plan well in advance to book a boat and too often, windy conditions have canned the diving. A couple of years ago, one group from our club went to the Scillies. It cost them twice as much as another group who did a Red Sea liveaboard. The first group lost one day due to weather so managed 8 dives. Our group in the Red Sea did 19. We have had three trips to Norfolk, our closest diveable sea are cancelled due to wind.

    Another issue is lack of commitment. When I booked the Farnes trip for this year, 14 wanted to go. Close to the date, it was down to 4. Ours isn't the only club to have this problem, other local diving clubs have suffered in the same way as has a local fishing club.

    Forums are mainly of interest to regular divers and with the numbers of these falling, the participation in forums is going to fall as well. Things go in and out of fashion too. Facebook use is falling away rapidly amongst the younger generation.

    All is not lost though. Our club almost folded a few years ago as the number of hard core divers dwindled due to age and health reasons so that we no longer had enough active divers to mount a decent trip. We re-positioned the club to be more family oriented and have several parents and teenage kids as members, have just finished a snorkel course and are trying out a Discovery Diver course. These are not the sort of members who are likely to get involved in a form such as TDF. Our membership is fairly stable at the moment because unfortunately, we have lost 12 members in the past couple of years - not due to giving up diving but moving out of the area. However, new members are joining at a similar rate. Our challenge is to keep the young ones interested - there is still a 'been there, done that' attitude amongst many young people who want to try as many different activities as they can, divingsimply being one of them.

    The future for diving is going to be a challenging one, especially in the current economic situation. It is rapidly becoming a rich person's sport and the lure of far flung exotic places is more attractive to many of this demographic than the cold grey UK waters. Diving was never cheap but it was just about affordable for most divers. I started as a student, 58 years ago when camping was the norm for accomodation and we made a lot of our accessories. I even made my first ABLJ. If diving is to survive as an activity for a wider demographic spectrum, it needs to become more accessible and affordable.

  7. #7
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    It has occurred to me that one of the other reasons for the fall off in the use of forums is the fact that most people now use smartphones and not laptops/desktops to access them. Small screens are not conducive to reading the voumes that appear on a forum. Smartphones are suited to a 'soundbite' type format, not for any form of in-depth discussion.

  8. #8
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allan Carr View Post
    there is still a 'been there, done that' attitude amongst many young people who want to try as many different activities as they can, divingsimply being one of them.
    That is very true. My daughter is 13 and she and her friends think that way. Why would I want to do something again when I've already done it?

    Because you enjoyed it and want to get good at it?

    Sighs and walks off...
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England

  9. #9
    Tofu eating wokerato Chrisch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notdeadyet View Post
    ...Paddleboarding and mountain biking are massive growth sports. You can get into either for less than 500 quid, you don't need a car, you don't need much room, you don't spend half your life either preparing for a dive or cleaning/maintaining kit afterwards and there's no-one telling you that you can't do something because you don't have the right card. ...
    Mountainbiking is my main thing. I do not go on any MTB forums. I would argue with you about the 500 quid - I guess you might just, at a push, get a heap of shit third hand bike off ebay for that but it would break in a week. 8 grand is nearer the mark.

    I live on a private road that is a bridleway and leads to a heathland. Otherwise I would need to drive to ride.

    But I agree with the sentiments, it is a lot less faff than scuba. I would dive a lot lot lot more if they had not shut Horsea Island - I dived a lot more when I lived in Luxembourg and could go to the lake. Vobster doesn't cut it for me and is way too busy (and expensive). I would dive in the sea if I could find anywhere to park
    There are only two things that are infinite, the universe and Tory corruption and I am not sure about the universe.
    With apologies to Albert Einstein.

  10. #10
    Nicotine, valium, vicodin... notdeadyet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrisch View Post
    Mountainbiking is my main thing. I do not go on any MTB forums. I would argue with you about the 500 quid - I guess you might just, at a push, get a heap of shit third hand bike off ebay for that but it would break in a week. 8 grand is nearer the mark.
    Depends what you want. I got a bike that does everything I need it to do for 500 quid. It's probably a piece of shit compared to an 8 grand bike but it a. does the job and b. I don't know any different. There's also c. I fucking hate cycling with a passion so 500 quid was the absolute max I was paying I can also get a train at the bottom of the road and be in the Lake District or Peak District in a little over an hour. Same with paddleboarding or kayaking, I've got access to two canal networks a bus ride away and I can see the sea from my back window. The barrier for entry is massively lower than diving.

    My diving this year has been feeble but it's been better than the last two years which have been zero. I have no plans to do any boat diving next year. It's all going to be shore diving and camping along the west coast of Scotland until the summer when the cnuts in campervans start infesting the place or cave diving in the Dales or Wales which is doable in a day. I might do the occasional deep trip with Marinequest if I get enough diving in at the start of the year. But other than the occasional air fill for my dil and suit cylinders I'm not planning on spending any money that's really going to see its way into the diving industry. I know I'm probably not alone in that and that must be a hell of a worrying time for skippers and shops.

    I've even been considering swallowing my dislike of BSAC and joining a club. But it really appears local clubs don't want members. Of the 10 listed on the BSAC website's map local to me, only one has their meeting times listed and only one has a functioning website link (at least five have links to dead sites). As yet, none have actually bothered responding to enquiries. I'm sure they will all be whinging about declining numbers though. If Crapnpay weren't so anal about solo diving then I'd just go there and save the hassle.
    Last edited by notdeadyet; 12-10-2022 at 11:01 AM.
    Caliph Hamish Aw-Michty Ay-Ya-Bastard, Spiritual leader of Scottish State in England


 
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