Call it too little, too late. Last week, Netscape abruptly decided to shut down its community forums, much to the dismay of the
community's hosts and longtime members. Although the official "shutdown
date" was Friday, technical difficulties made it nearly impossible to
log in after last Wednesday.
But since Salon's report last week, Netscape
seems to have changed its mind: Netscape spokesman Nate Tyler is now
saying that the forums will be left open for another 30 days. Why the
sudden change of heart? Tyler again gave the official
nonanswer -- "We're transitioning from the Netcenter community as a step
toward building a more robust offering" -- and also told CNet News.com that "because we really value the forums and the
community that has grown around them, we have done everything we can to
reallocate resources and will extend the forums for 30 days."
Meanwhile, links to the forums from the front page of Netcenter have been
removed, and then reinstated. And the forums are still experiencing what
Netscape officials call "technical problems," which have made it virtually
impossible to even enter the community area from the front door for more than a
And even if they have been given a brief reprieve, the forum hosts say the
damage has already been done. "They couldn't be more clumsy about how they
are doing this if they tried," says Elizabeth Lewis, a former host who says
she has already archived her forums and given up. "None of the regulars are in
the forums anymore, and I doubt they'll be back. The only people who
come in now are confused newcomers who wonder why they signed up if the
place is being shut down."