||02-25-2005 06:22 PM
An article about participating on internet forums from an outside source, just plain good advice.
Internet Forums are highly popular, they cater for all tastes and deal with every topic imaginable. People visit Internet forums for a variety of reasons, the most common being the search for information or entertainment. The Internet forum is a safe environment if you behave sensibly but you can find yourself in dangerous territory if you ignore the following warnings.
Don't Join Internet Forum Flame Wars
An Internet Forum flame war is to be avoided at all costs. The airing of differing points of view, debate and discussion are healthy things for an Internet forum: they keep it lively. An Internet forum flame war can make entertaining reading but don't be tempted to join in or start one. If you make a habit of leaping into forum flame wars, you will acquire a reputation as a trouble-maker and you could find yourself barred from a forum because of your behaviour. Another good reason for avoiding forum flame wars is that you could find yourself caught in the crossfire. Before you know it, people will be firing at you from every direction when all you intended to do was have a bit of fun.
Don't Make Jokes On An Internet Forum
Well, you can if you really must, but remember that the Internet forum has the same drawback as email: the reader can't see your expression or gestures. The smile, shrug or grimace which can lift your comment from serious to humorous will be missing and your message will be something which the reader has to interpret. If the reader gets it wrong, you might very well find that you just started your very own Internet forum flame war quite unintentionally. You can safely tell a joke on a forum (provided that your joke's content is appropriate) but sarcasm and irony are dangerous and best avoided.
Don't Be An Internet Forum Drama Queen
The Internet forum is not a suitable stage for you to perform your very own drama. If you flounce about making extravagant statements merely for effect, you will be the object of ridicule by other forum members even if nobody tells you so. If you are a member of a support forum for a particular programme, it is quite in order to post a message to the forum saying something along the lines of "I've started to feel unsure about [whatever], I don't think it's going to work out unless I make some changes. Can anybody suggest what I should try next?" Compare this to the next post in drama queen style: "I quit! This Sucks. I've done everything right so it must be this ****ing programme. You will never hear from me again!" Which forum member would you want to help? There will be kind people who feel the drama queen's pain and offer support and suggestions. When the drama queen makes a big re-entrance to the forum after a few days sulking, posts "I'm back!" and expresses a resolve to work diligently towards success, the kind people who offered support will feel that their advice must have done the trick. When the forum drama queen posts another "Goodbye Forever!" message, the same kind people will empathise as the drama queen is obviously being affected by an emotional roller coaster and they will offer further sound advice. The kind forum members will be pleased when the drama queen makes a further "I'm Back And Here To Stay!" recovery. By about the third or fourth "I Quit!" drama, even the kindest people will be wishing the drama queen had stayed quit the first time round and Internet forum credibility for the drama queen ends there.
Don't Be An Internet Forum Puppy
A real puppy can't help chasing after everything that moves, getting under people's feet and being hyperactive to the point where it sometimes becomes annoying: that's just its nature. The Internet forum member who behaves like a puppy can help it and should desist. I am talking about the person who joins an Internet forum for the sole purpose of getting the links in his signature file on the forum as often as possible. The annoying forum puppy will respond to every message posted whether he knows anything about the subject or not. He will post messages which are of no value to anyone, these messages will range from boring pointless observations to obscure drivel to requests to poll an unimportant question which bears no relevance to the forum. If you are desperate to plaster your signature file all over the place, join lots of Internet forums and just post a few messages on each. With any luck, you will grow out of this time-wasting pursuit before the other forum members form a lynching party.
Don't Be An Internet Forum Seconder
Have you ever come across Mr Me Too? If you have, you will know who I mean. He is about as annoying as the Internet forum puppy. Mr Me Too will post a response to every thread that appears on a forum. It won't take him long as he won't bother to read through the thread, all he will do is add a comment saying "me too" or "I agree". This gets his signature file posted with the link back to his website and that's all he wants. Mr Me Too does not go to the Internet forum for entertainment or information or to contribute anything useful. If you are subscribed to a forum thread and receive notification that someone has posted a further message on the topic, it is very irritating to log in at the forum only to find that someone has posted a message saying "me too" or "I agree" just to give his signature file an airing. It is sadly true that the Internet forum puppy and Mr Me Too will get their links on the Internet alongside the forum members who post meaningful messages. When the day arrives that Search Engine Robots are able to distinguish the difference between valuable forum messages and drivel, those two offenders will find that it's pay back time for their transgressions.
Don't Attack The Internet Forum Moderators
If you have a message removed or edited by an Internet forum moderator, there will be a reason, so don't post complaints on the forum. Even if you don't understand or don't agree with the decision, there is no point in arguing. Attacking a moderator is like holding up a placard saying "I'm a pest, throw me out". The moderators are there to ensure the Internet forum is kept to the required standard. Remember that somebody owns this forum and invests time and energy in keeping the environment -- well -- moderate. The Internet forum is not your private sand-pit, you are a guest and if your behaviour is not appropriate, your invitation to play could be withdrawn. You should also remember that anything you post on an Internet forum will be available for public scrutiny for years to come.
The dictionary definition of the verb to moderate is: "to keep within measure or bounds; to regulate; to reduce in intensity; to make temperate or reasonable". If this does not sound like your kind of environment, perhaps you should stay away from Internet forums.