Why I Hate Forums

I hate forums.* I’ve tried several times to get involved with a few different forums only to find that I never feel at home. It always starts out well; I find one that offers some useful information, I sign up to respond, I have a few good responses, and then I inevitably find the trolls (or rather, they find me).

It always starts with something innocuous like, “Does anyone know of a good hairdresser in the inner west?” and usually ends with, “Didn’t you read the rules?? Do your research before you ask questions!” Who are these people and why do they hate life so much? If the question is so basic that it doesn’t warrant your answer, then why answer at all? I always get frustrated when I see these kinds of posts because they are so aggressive and damaging to the community spirit. If you know the answer or you know where to find the answer, help a person out by sharing the link! Often times people just need a little introduction to get started on a forum.

I also hate how many forums are moderated. Of course the above mentioned person is usually a moderator because their fingers are in every thread, their rank is somewhere around “All Knowing God” and their post count is 985,729,846,504. But one thing I’ve noticed about moderators in a lot of forums is that they take things personally. Earlier this week I posted something on a forum thread and was soon after quoted by a moderator who called my view bullshit. I made a fair and objective response which was promptly deleted. The deletion was uncalled for but what was more annoying is that many of my other comments were deleted as well. Apparently I woke a sleeping bear?

I like the idea of forums. I like that in theory they allow us to all contribute information for the common good and many times I find what I read on forums immensely useful. However, this kind of behavior ruins forums. It’s aggressive, offensive, and often deteriorates the community. New people feel hesitant to join and people like me, who hate confrontation, quickly turn and leave taking all their knowledge with them. The only people left are the trolls and the only people capable of joining the forum are other trolls who are capable and willing to fight.

I think we need a universal Forum Bill of Rights. In my version, I would include:

  • The right to free speech;
  • The right to ask questions;
  • The right to a peaceful community;
  • The right to request a second opinion;
  • The right to respect; and
  • The right to not be called names.

What would you add to the Forum Bill of Rights?

*Not inclusive of Persephone Magazine which basically stands in a league of its own.

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Thelma is a photographer and traveler currently residing in Sydney, Australia. In her free time she can be found with her nose behind a camera or obsessing over koalas.

3 thoughts on “Why I Hate Forums”

  1. I think my biggest pet peeve in forums are self appointed “moderators”, particularly when they pile on to someone for a minor infraction of the rules. If someone makes a post in the wrong forum, or makes an off topic post, or whatever, just report the post to the mods without comment. They can handle it. That’s their job. The pile on crap pointing out all the rules with shamey overtones just scares off new posters, and turns the forum into a clique impenetrable to outsiders.

    I also fall in the camp of not letting people say whatever they want, but keeping an enforced respectfulness of other posters.

  2. I don’t think forums should necessarily have a right to free speech.  At least, I don’t frequent places that do.  Because – there be trolls.

    No one has to agree with me all the time, but IMO they should be reasonable and not call me a brazen harpy who should be set on fire just cuz I hold an opposing viewpoint.  Free speech means they can call me whatever they want.  Sure – the gov’t shouldn’t restrict their speech.  But free speech and safe spaces don’t necessarily overlap.  I like safe spaces.

    Current forum participation in unmoderated/lightly moderated spaces seems to follow the Miranda example in which “anything you say can and will be used against you”.  In my own forum, the rule of law would be reasonable-ness.

    1 – Treat others how you’d like to be treated
    2 – If something upsets you, attack the idea – not the person.
    3 – If the person/troll truly is awful, TATTLE. (That’s what mod’s are for)

    Oh – and ALWAYS read the rules before commenting.  It might just be you that’s out of line.

    I think that covers my philosophy.  Reasonable whenever possible, scorched earth when necessary.

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