After 16 years, IMDb’s message boards and the ability to privately message other users is shutting down, with many members of the community openly mourning the loss of the section.
IMDb, which stands from the Internet Movie Database, is one of the world’s biggest databases for film and television. According to the company, there is information on more than 4.1 million titles and 7.7 million personalities available on the site as of January 2017. The message board, which was introduced in 2001, reportedly remains one of the most used services on the website, but despite that, the company is getting ready to shut it down, citing a desire to foster a positive environment and serve its audience the best way it can.
“After in-depth discussion and examination, we have concluded that IMDb's message boards are no longer providing a positive, useful experience for the vast majority of our more than 250 million monthly users worldwide,” a statement on the site reads. “The decision to retire a long-standing feature was made only after careful consideration and was based on data and traffic.”
Despite the company’s reasoning for the decision, longtime users of the message boards and private messaging function were quick to point out that losing the ability to use those services wouldn’t give them a reason to return to the site anymore.
Even though IMDb’s message board community is upset over the removal of the communication platform, the company isn’t the first publication to do away with public, loosely moderated comment sections. Various newspapers, magazines and online publications have decided to close comment sections citing similar concerns about fostering a more positive environment for all users. In a followup email, an IMDb spokesperson neglected to offer any more information on the decision, pointing to the statement available on the site as comment.
Targeted harassment, sexism, homophobia and racism have been longstanding issues in most comment sections and IMDb readers have pointed out the company’s community wasn’t much better. Multiple people on Twitter have pointed out that IMDb’s discussion boards have become a hotbed for internet trolls while others have questioned why it took so long for the website to come to this decision.
In its announcement, IMDb added that it understood the message boards were an important part of daily users’ visit, and that’s why the announcement was made weeks in advance.
“Because IMDb's message boards continue to be utilized by a small but passionate community of IMDb users, we announced our decision to disable our message boards on February 3, 2017 but will leave them open for two additional weeks so that users will have ample time to archive any message board content they'd like to keep for personal use,” the statement reads.
“During this two-week transition period, which concludes on February 19, 2017, IMDb message board users can exchange contact information with any other board users they would like to remain in communication with (since once we shut down the IMDb message boards, users will no longer be able to send personal messages to one another).”
The full announcement can be read on IMDb’s page.