There are a number of message boards that I use quite a bit as my goto source of information. Mostly they are based on some of my personal passions around photography, audio/video & apple computers.
For photography I goto dpreview
For audio & video info, it’s gotta be AVS
And for apple related questions it’s still Apple’s very own forums.
These message boards are alive and thriving with tons of smart people that are motivated by passion and a sense of community.
At the same time, most message boards have a dated user interface, poor search and notification & messaging systems that are lame at best. Some are getting better but many seem stuck. Even the more recent ones at Yahoo groups or facebook groups don’t do it for me. They just don’t seem to have the same sense of identity for these groups in my experience.
Online communities continue to gain speed and size though and that’s the key thing to pay attention to. But they need more applications, tools & services. They should start twittering together, searching together, shopping together, playing together and learning together.
And that’s just a start.