TechCrunch, the Web 2.0 blog we all read, has recently expanded into a network of no less than fifteen sites with the inception of TechCrunchIT, which aims to focus a bit more on the enterprise side of the next web. Impressive, and somehow I’m getting the feeling it’s not going to end with those 15. However, CrunchNetwork , as it’s often referred to by the cool kids, also boasts a giant black hole which has gone mostly unnoticed for the past couple of months: TechCrunch Forums.

Update (11:30 AM CET): Looks like it went really unnoticed up until now. Someone took the TC Forums down, it now redirects to the main blog.

Launched in January 2007, the idea behind the so-called CrunchForums was to provide (and I’m quoting from the introduction post):

“a good place to pitch your new startup or product if it hasn’t been featured yet on TechCrunch (or even if it has), share tips with the community, spread rumors, or endlessly debate the definition (or existence) of Web 2.0.”

I’m not going to start a debate about whether or not ‘old-school’ message boards and forums belong alongside a new media property like TechCrunch, but has anyone taken a look at those forums lately?

First of all, the main category currently contains 832 messages in 449 threads. The lion share of these messages come from two fake users who are manually or automatically adding spam links to some website offering exam preparation packages (see screenshot below). The rest of the forums are hardly in better shape; you’ll find most users to be pushing crap software applications and devices, plugging completely unrelated websites, and other good old spam. And don’t even get me started on the way some users are self-promoting their startup or service on there.

crunchforums   techcrunchcom and tc stories TechCrunch Forums: drowning in a sea of spam

Second, TechCrunch Forums is a ghost town. I checked every moderator account I came across, only to find most of them have not logged in for several months, and I’d bet good money on the assumption that none of TC’s editorial staff have done so either. If a legitimate question is asked (e.g. this one), there’s a good chance it won’t be read, let alone answered, which of course totally discourages anyone with good intentions to come back.

I reckon the CrunchForums still generate a good deal of pageviews, but in the spirit of Ernst-Jan’s latest post on ‘killing your darlings‘, allow me to suggest either ruthlessly cleaning up the site to get it back on track, or stop giving spammers such an easy-to-use platform by deadpooling it. I know it must have cost some money to implement (the forum software is a paying service by Jive Software), but why let people with bad intentions take advantage of a high-PageRank message board which is ultimately linked to at the bottom of every TechCrunch blog post?