Tesla has closed its forums to launch a social platform and fans are not happy

Tesla plans to shut down the forums section on its website as it launches a new social platform called the Tesla Engagement Platform, a move that’s raised the ire of a community of its most ardent supporters.

Tesla first announced the new engagement platform with a notice at the top of its forums page that reads: “Starting March 15th, Tesla Forums will become read only. To continue the conversation with the Tesla community visit engage.tesla.com.” The Verge was the first to report the changes.

Rather than create posts and threads, the new site invites owners and fans of the brand to engage by commenting on Tesla’s public policy-related posts and campaigns that run the gamut, including calls to support the company’s disaster relief efforts in Texas and requests for Nebraskans to ask their state lawmakers to encourage the passing of a bill that would allow the direct sale of Teslas in certain districts.

In the replies of a March 2 Tesla forum post announcing the 13-day countdown until the platform’s demise, one commenter with supposed “inside info” alleged that the forums were closing because Tesla couldn’t afford to hire multiple full-time moderators to keep up with the barrage of spam and trolls that would frequent the threads.

Those trolls are likely to migrate to Twitter now, as the Tesla Engagement Platform will be moderated.

The forums, which will now be available as read-only archives, were a place for Tesla fans, investors and verified owners to ask and answer each other’s questions; however, the unmoderated nature of the forum led to an environment where its most active posters would, at times, attack people for raising concerns. The new microsite, which also helps people apply for membership to local owners’ clubs, promises a direct feedback loop with the company’s policy team and encourages visitors to get involved in Tesla advocacy.

“Engage Tesla is a new platform for both Tesla’s public policy team and Tesla Owner’s Clubs,” reads the first post on the new microsite. “Its goal is to create a digital home base for all of our work, and make it easier for Tesla community members to learn what’s top of mind for us, take meaningful action, and stay in the loop. We hope you’ll join us in getting involved.”

A quick skim through the comments section of the first post reveals a bevy of unhappy users who want the forums to stay, or at least remade into something similar — and moderated — on the new site. There are no shortage of Tesla and other EV-related forums on the internet. This one has been held up as a bastion of toxicity, while being lauded as a place for owners and potential buyers to share honest information on the good and bad parts of the company’s products.

“Please do not get rid of the Forums,” implored one commenter.”This is not a replacement. The forums (with exception of the trolls on it) brought about informed discussion to help fellow owners with issues.”

Indeed, the new platform doesn’t appear to be a replacement. It looks more like a blog that shares industry news, Tesla events and campaigns, an effort to gather the work already being done by its supporters in one place and encourage further advocacy on the company’s behalf. For example, the Tesla Owners club in Silicon Valley had already raised $10,000 to support the Del Valle, Texas community, which surrounds the area in which the company’s new factory is being built.

Not everyone is a critic. While many of the initial comments on the platform’s first post call for a moderated forum, some suggest improvements to the company’s customer service department and others request resources on how to advocate for public charging infrastructure. It’s still early days for the new engagement platform. We’ll see how engaging Tesla’s fans truly find it to be.