Nostalgic, As Bolt.Com Shuts Down; Thoughts On Community Sites

I just read on PaidContent that Bolt.com has shut down; I used to visit the site every other day, way back in 1999-2000, when 256kbps was almost unheard of and cybercafes would charge between Rs. 30 to 60 an hour. I particularly liked the communities around hobbies – for me, it was next to impossible to find communities dedicated to short story writing and sculpture…some great conversations around politics and the arts, back when the term “social networking” hadn’t even been coined.

There was always too much advertising on Bolt, but as long as the content was good, one kept going back until a better alternative emerged. Over the next few years I switched to an Indian community site built around original content – Freshlimesoda (FLS) – with its debates on economics, politics, arts…until that shut down in 2004. Someone said to me the other day that “it is dating/hookup or marriage, in india. they don’t want to call it dating, because there’re still societal issues, hence the friendship tag”. I disagree – communities are about conversations, and connecting people with similar interests.

But communities change. Even at FLS, people would hang around for a year or so, and move on, and there was the constant refrain that “It just isn’t the same anymore”. Rafat mentions in the post on Bolt that it morphed a few times, even into a video site. With more and more community sites cropping up, people either move to other sites, or just simply outgrow the communities. Facebook may be on a high right now, but…am I the only one irritated by the increase in advertising and the ever burgeoning news feed?

Anyone else with memories of Bolt? I think I might have a few posts saved up since 2000 – saved in floppies, then transferred from one PC to another as backups. I have the complete FLS archives, and lots of message board debates.

P.s.: A corollary to “Communities are about conversations” is “Conversations are around content” :)