I can’t do it anymore. I can no longer keep up with all the shaving-related discussions on the various forums I inhabit. When I first got interested in this “hobby” a few years ago there was only one discussion group devoted to shaving, the old MSN Wetshavers forum (well, OK, technically there were two forums, both on MSN. Both were started coincidentally after the original forum was suddenly deleted, but pretty much everyone hung out on one over the other. Both have since been deleted, replaced by MSN’s “The Wetshavers Group” but it is a shadow of its former self). The “bandwidth” was pretty low, a few messages a day, and the mods made sure the “signal to noise ratio” was high by keeping out the spam and diplomatically re-directing off-topic messages to the “Off Topic” section of the forum. Forum traffic went temporarily insane after Corey Greenberg’s appearance on the Weekend Today show (US), giving the “traditional shaving” niche a tremendous boost (some vendors reported selling a year’s worth of inventory in the space of a couple months following that video). Corey “rode the wave” by starting a blog, but he’s apparently gone on to bigger and better things, as he hasn’t posted in a long time.
Then in 2005 (I think) “Shave My Face” appeared. Unlike the MSN forums, which are, frankly, ghastly to use (in terms of features/functionality) SMF used up-to-date forums software that made it much easier to use. Initially there was a lot of membership overlap with the MSN gang, but soon new users were gravitating to SMF exclusively. Within a year or so Badger and Blade (“B&B”) started, again initially with some membership overlap then picking up their own base. Then 2007 saw the start of The Shave Den. There is still a lot of membership and topic overlap between these sites, but each site has its own “vibe” or personality so there are members that stick to one forum.
And it all used to be pretty easy to keep track of. Then about 9 months or so ago, traffic across all the sites seemed to pick up. New users were coming in more often (some referred by my videos), posting more often, with less overlap between forums. I found myself having to check the sites more often, from once a day to several times a day. At the same time I discovered other, grooming-related forums with semi-regular questions about shaving (style.net, mankind.uk, menessentials, etc.) that I started to keep track of as well. I suddenly found myself reviewing about 15 different forum sites every day–and that doesn’t include blogs (i.e. Leisureguy, shavingstuff, manscaping, etc.), video sites, and video forums! See the set of links titled “Discussion Forums” on the right side of this blog to give you an idea.
Even with RSS feeds and automated readers I can’t keep up. B&B alone can have several hundred new messages a day. On the one hand this is a great thing, as its obvious that more and more people are getting fed up with the shave they’re getting and are looking for something better. On the other hand I feel bad I can’t keep up with the traffic volume anymore and I might be missing something “important.” I’ve been trying to summarize the relevant topics for a couple vendors as well (who have even less time than I) but its become impossible for me to do that too.