Forums have been around for as long as I have been on the Internet. I've always found forums useful for finding out "how to" information. But its always been a hit or miss experience. And I've always used search (google mostly) to find the forum post with the info I need.
Our portfolio company Stack Overflow is attempting to change that. As they have done with programming tips and techniques at StackOverflow.com, they are bring social networking and game mechanics and a number of other important changes to the forum model to create vertical communities that allow people to solve each other's problems for each other.
One vertical that has literally hundreds of forums on the Internet is gaming. I'm not that much of a gamer but I watch my son. When he needs a cheat code or wants to find out how to conquer something in a game, he goes to Google and does a search, finds a forum, and finds his answer. There is a huge amount of traffic to gaming forums on the Internet for exactly this reason.
So Stack has launched gaming.stackexchange.com to bring the magic that exists on StackOverflow to the gaming vertical. I'm optimistic that gaming will turn out to be a big vertical for Stack. Gamers love to earn points, badges, and status. You don't have to do anything more than spend a week with my son watching him accumulate foursquare points in europe to see what points do to a gamer. And now gamers will be able to earn status and reputation by sharing the knowledge they have with each other.
If you are a gamer, check out gaming.stackexchange.com and let me know what you think. It is early, the service just launched in beta this week. So there won't be a lot of content up right now. But the mechanics are in place and you can get a feel for it.