The (Abortive) End of The Russia Debate

Its failure is so stark that I hardly need post a notification on the actual site. To the extent that I visit it nowadays it is mostly just to clean spam, which is just depressing. It has not achieved critical mass, despite the initial incentives on offer, and in my experience if a forum fails to get going early on then any exisiting participation rapidly collapses.

In all honesty I half-expected this anyway. It would have probably taken off had it gone online in 2006/2007, at the height of the so-called “New Cold War.” Nowadays, in these days of “Reset,” Russia just doesn’t command the interest it used to.

Thank you for all the people who tried to get it going.

Of particular note: Alcestis Eshtemoa, Alexa M, Alexander Mercouris, Alex Bond, Bellum, hoct, mls13, Moscow Exile, Ombrageux, owenpolley, Patrick Armstrong, Sevan, SWSpires, Vostok.

Barring a miraculous splurge of (genuine) acitivity in the coming weeks, the forum will be going offline at the end of September.

To forumers – Please look through the archives and save anything you wish to save of your posts for future use elsewhere.

To everyone – The future of The Russian Spectrum is solid and promising; be assured it is not going the way of the forum anytime soon. Do not mistake a relative lack of posting in the past two months as a sign of trouble – to the contrary, it is because the time I previously used for translating there is now taken up by serious discussions of funding and partnership with major media outlets.


  1. Fedia Kriukov says:

    Coincidentally, I just finished translating something for the Russian Spectrum. I’ll try to clean it up and post today.

    Well, it’s unfortunate about the forum. I didn’t participate, but it would’ve been nice if it existed. In particular, I sometimes check the Kremlin Stooge blog and see a lot of interesting discussion in a horrible format that makes it difficult to keep track of. I was hoping they’d move it to a dedicated forum, but alas…

    Maybe what should’ve been done to kick start he form was to post links to interesting Russia related blog posts so people can comment on the forum as well. It could grow from there. It’s not like there’s a lack of people talking about Russia, it’s just that those discussions are very atomized and unwieldy.

    • Cool, cheers. I’ll approve it first thing tomorrow.

      Could have, should have… the biggest problem perhaps was that I simply didn’t have time to personally encourage the growth of the forum. I was hoping it would flower organically.

      Completely agree about the atomized nature of the discussions. But I suppose it also reflects the atomized nature of the debate in general – and some of the participants really, really can’t stand each other. Maybe I’m just not the right person to carry through a project like that. Someone like Andy Young (of Siberian Light) would qualify and might even succeed, but he hasn’t written anything on Russia in 2 years.

      Anyway, as per the request of a few users, I’m giving the project a renewed lease of life until late September. So it’s not dead for certain… yet. Though the chances it will revive are, I’m afraid, quite bleak.

  2. I’m kind of bummed about this. The problem I ran into with the RD was that I would check in from time to time, but rarely did I feel like I had anything particularly relevant to say… not that that stops anyone on Facebook or Twitter, of course.

    • That’s the problem with forums… you really need an active “core” of people to keep the momentum going. To create new topics. If nobody is doing that, the only thing left is to observe the empty spaces – and eventually leave.

      Thanks for participating anyway mls13, I enjoyed your toe anecdote.

  3. Scowspi says:

    I tried to get some culture-related discussion going. Got a few interesting replies, then it died. Since I lost interest in Russian politics and current events sometime in 2011, I couldn’t really contribute in those areas.

  4. That is a shame, I enjoyed what little discussion I saw on that site. An alternative would be to get to know a site like Reddit that lets you create your own communities free of charge, of course the administrator tools are lacking but it works quite well for some people. This – – for example, is a community on reddit that focuses on the discussion of politics within the UK.

  5. Drutten says:

    Bit of a shame I must say. I started a couple of threads but with less feedback/reactions than I’d hoped for. The forum has (had…) potential IMO but yeah, the spambots were for a while the most active contributors… 🙁

  6. alcestiseshtemoa says:

    Sad. )=