I have been wandering the Internets a lot for the past three years while writing this blog, seeing a lot of websites come and go. Yet in the climbing world, the gold standard for keeping up with developments in sport-climbing and bouldering has long been 8a.nu. Reviled by many and visited by many more, this site has provided visitors and users with a handy and comprehensive platform for keeping track of new developments and recording their own. It has proved a winning formula and the numbers that Jens shows on the site's home page echo this.
And yet. Maybe it's just me,but am I the only one who is feeling the whole 8a proposition is getting a bit repetitious, perhaps even a dead-end? The concept for which the site is best-known, world-wide rankings according to points awarded for climbs, aroused ire and disgust from many climbers. Others participated but argued that the ranking system led to grade inflation. Some just used it as a log of ascents. I myself saw and used it as a motivational tool.
However more and more, and this is not a criticism of Jens (for that go here) I wonder how much longer climbers will remain enthusiastic about continuing to participate in the 8a community. I have a feeling that the site must initiate some kind of major change to avoid becoming a relic. The two-dimensionality I mentioned above, the textureless reporting of news that isn't really new at this point, the monotony of recorded ascents, the sheer volume of them has left me increasingly uninterested. I visit the site, though less often than before, have even contributed to the site, even still have its news feed on my blog, but the sense that something important is missing from it is growing stronger.
Others may chime in and say of course the site is trivial and shallow but I would say not so fast. No other climbing media enterprise has the global reach or member base that 8a.nu has attracted. Others routinely criticize its founder as idiosyncratic and temperamental. Who isn't,myself included, at some point? My argument reaches farther than those criticisms. Eventually 8a.nu must retool its brand, its concept, and its editorial focus or face obsolescence. The question is what shape will that transformation take?
I don't have answers or even useful recommendations myself. I would not presume to prescribe what 8a.nu should do next. But I would say that at some point soon a re-evaluation is in store.