Adult chat boards are, in essence, one-stop resource centers. At most boards, both newbies and seasoned professionals can trade traffic, request galleries, ask links and stat questions and generally banter about anything and everything 24 hours a day.
And while there may be a glut of discussion boards on the Internet, in the end it is the aggressive branding of unique URLs and solid community input that continue to outpace competition and provide webmasters with valuable business contacts and information to keep their businesses successful.
"People spend an enormous amount of time online and want that bonding and interpersonal feel that message boards deliver," said Eric Matis, director of marketing for Adult.com, the owners of GoFuckYourself.com, the current industry leader in webmaster chat forums.
GFY was established in November 2000, and business has been booming ever since, Matis said.
"The overwhelming number of posts on GFY grabbed my attention, and that has been my first place to look for webmaster chat since early 2003," said porn gossip maven Luke Ford, who regularly haunts and harvests material from chat boards for his daily column.
In the No. 3 slot behind GFY is JustBlowMe.com, according to BoardTracker.
"JBM does not have nearly as many posts as GFY," Ford told XBiz, "but it frequently has better quality."
Message Board Hot Seat
JBM has been in the message board hot seat for slightly more than a year and averages 1,000 posts per day with a total of 450,000 posts since its inception. JBM relies solely on post counts and Alexa rankings to track its traffic.
"The idea for JBM came from my partner," Brad Shaw said. "We were sitting in Cabo relaxing when he finally convinced me to open up my own board. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Throughout the years, I had been a major attraction on other boards. In turn, I made those boards money, but they did nothing for me. By setting up my own board, if people wanted to converse with me or see what I had to say, they would have to come to my board. The initial response to JBM was phenomenal. We sold more than 20 ad slots the first day."
In the end, Shaw said, JBM is a thriving business.
"We want to provide a good experience for our webmasters, but we also want to turn a nice profit from ad sales," Shaw said. "JBM has grown into an amazing community of people and continues to grow every day."
In many respects, GFY's Matis said, chat boards have replaced soap operas as daily entertainment and are creating a much-needed sense of community while providing a reciprocal source of income for all who participate.
General guidelines vary from board to board. JBM's Strictly Biz forum is a "no bullshit forum with real business discussions" and is an invite-only forum with discussions focused on "real business and real ideas among respected webmasters and businessmen."
To keep visitors returning, all of the boards offer contests and other incentive programs.
"We were one of the first boards to do that kind of marketing and promotion," Matis said. "It was a huge contributing factor to the growth of GFY in the beginning."
JBM's Rewards Program offers board posters five points for each post they make in the chat forums and two points for each post that is made by someone the original poster referred. Points can be redeemed in the Just Blow Me store for items such as DVD players, XBox game systems, gift cards, JBM gear and more.
While most discussion boards strive for simplicity in style and format, YNOT attempts to serve as many needs as possible by offering six message boards.
Founded in 1996, YNOT reports that it has nearly 17,000 registered webmasters.
When Luke Ford launched his own website in 1997, YNOT was a daily must-read for news and gossip.
"It was the gathering point for the Internet porn industry," Ford said. "Industry leaders such as Ron Levi and Serge Birbair posted frequently and feuded frequently. Important industry figures posted their phone numbers. There was an openness and camaraderie that has never seen its like since."
Birbair would later create Oprano.com, an active and well traveled board that boasts 2,256 active members with 210,188 posts in its chat forums to date.
"In the future, I see many boards coming and going, as they have over the past few years," Shaw continued. "There are far too many boards but only a handful of decent ones that get any traffic. Sponsors are no longer willing to overpay for ad space on dead boards."