20+ years of bringing the Latino community together online
by Charles Walter
HelloForos.com oficialmente cerró el 2 de marzo, 2021. Por favor sigue disfrutando con amigos en holaforo.com o MiForo.us
The beginning of the foros
In the 1990s, message boards were the primary way Internet users formed online community. And in January 1999, when we launched Spanish-language message boards, or foros, on Galavision.com, they debuted as one of the few spots where users could interact en Español.
While we were building out the Univision website, the foros were featured on the Univision.com homepage starting in April 1999 and rebranded as Los Foros de Univision. They provided a key point of engagement around telenovelas, soccer, and tv shows. The Foro de El Gordo y La Flaca quickly because one of the top spots for Latino celebrity gossip online. I still recall the holidays at the end of 1999 when users started throwing virtual parties in their country's foro, and bonded with others. I had to make calls to David Didato at Leapfrog, where the UBB software was hosted, to ensure we could handle the capacity.
The launch of Univision.com
When Univision.com launched in September 2000 and received all the TV promotion, the foros continued to grow. With every major event, new waves of foros users emerged. Soccer tournaments, natural disasters, live music events such as Premio Lo Nuestro, all brought new users to create their first post. And then many became enganchado in spaces like Reinas de Belleza or La Cafetería Internacional (where my mom participated for years)
UBB became Infopop, and we migrated to Infopop hosting to keep up with the demand (now CrowdStack). And we would later migrate to a new platform of message boards by the company Lithium (now Khoros). Stephen Tiszenkel (one of my best friends from high school) worked with me for 8 years on this project.
Thanks to the amazing work by Lotty and her team, the foros were an engaging and fun space where users spent hours bringing graphics and music to have virtual parties. It was unlike anything you would see on English message boards. Sort of a MySpace-esque feel where users used basic HTML to customize their posts.
The foros reached their peak 2005-2008 with the airing of youth telenovela Rebelde. The show was a worldwide sensation, and fans of Anahí and Dulce María would come online every afternoon after the show aired on Univision at 3pm. (Check out Anahi forum on archive.org) With the explosion of the foros, we also encountered latency. And as users expected to access content on their mobile devices, the foros were not mobile friendly.
Our attention became somewhat distracted with the launch of Mi Página in 2007, where we hoped to create a full social media experience for our community. But it was difficult to compete with the likes of Facebook. Mi Página eventually closed its doors, while the foros continued to thrive, although not with the same energy that they had during their prime.
The foros stayed around on Univision.com until August 2015. I had left in January 2014, but when I heard that the foros were going to close, I invited many of the foristas over to a new site, helloforos.com, powered by Discoursecommunity software. The team at Discourse has been amazing and I strongly suggest their platform to communities out there.
The end of HelloForos
We had a good run, but in the end, we didn't have a sizable enough community or the ability to resolve the numerous moderation conflicts to justify keeping the site alive. The foros lived through the heart of the pandemic in 2020, but we said goodbye to the foros as of March 1, 2021
Foros de Univision Homepage March 2007 pictured below
Old URLs for Foros de Univision. Search for them on Archive.org http://foros.univision.com/ http://www.univision.com/content/channel.jhtml?schid=16 or http://www.univision.com/content/channel.jhtml?chid=1&schid=16
About the Author
Charles Walter is the founder of Realified. After years working at Univision and Tigo, he realized that the world need a new type of social application that actually brought people closer together. Please stay tuned for the launch of the Realified app.