Thursday, September 28, 2006

Message Board Idiosyncrasies



How many of you post on a regular basis to one or more message boards? If you participate in at least two, you've probably noticed that the rules (not to mention the behavior) can differ diametrically from board to board.

I used to belong to/post on a number of boards. These days, I pretty much stick to only one -- my own. Some, I lost interest in, some went pretty much dormant, and others became a bit too totalitarian for my taste.

I don't like boards with huge numbers of members. It's too easy to get lost in the shuffle, too hard to interact on any meaningful basis with so many different people with so many diverse personalities. Of course, the ones with too few members are a no-go, too -- unless you get off on sitting around talking to yourself and maybe a handful of other people.

Some boards have censorship policies which I find disturbing. On its most elemental level, censorship ameliorates freedom of speech, and it tends to stifle creativity. I understand in principle the theory behind censorship, but I think it's far, far better to find some other way to solve problems. If you have members who are incapable of observing basic proprieties, ban them but don't impose censorship on the whole membership.

Some boards have rules about what members may say and how they must say it. That, I find just plain silly. These are, after all, boards for grownups. Some boards will delete posts that don't meet their standards. Some will publicly censure posters for "saying the wrong thing." All of those types of places, I avoid. Those kinds of strictures are fine for kids but anathema to adults. I let loose with the F-word every now and then, pepper my posts with a little profanity on occasion, but it's not a constant theme and I don't need policing. On the other hand, boards where "anything goes" are equally problematic. I for one don't care to wade through post after post of yelling, insults, porn, whining, etc. Still, censorship is just a bad idea, period. Once it starts, there's no stopping it. I don't frequent boards where it's imposed. And I simply avoid the boards where people are incapable of censoring themselves for the sake of civility and decorum.

There are some boards where moderators can (and do) read members' personal messages. That just burns me up. Personal messages are sacrosanct as far as I'm concerned and I'll have nothing to do with any site where privacy is violated. There's one board I know of where the administrator has been caught reading private messages.

Other boards, depending on the format, have features such as karma points, rep points, post rating, comments from members readable only (ostensibly) by the recipient, etc. There's one site I'm aware of where moderators have the capability of reading members' privately received comments. That's a violation of privacy, potentially embarrassing, and just insulting. Again, it gives the appearance of administrators treating their members like children.

Still other boards actually have rules governing their members' posts and behavior on other boards. That's a bit too Big Brotherish for my blood.

Some publishers provide message boards for their authors. Some of them allow interaction with the public by permitting guest posting. There's this one publisher, however, that runs its board like a cult. They allow no guest posting on their public forums, and they have a private board that the public can't even view. All posts have to be "upbeat." No dissension against this company's crappy policies is allowed. If somebody sneaks in a comment the company doesn't like, they delete it. Sometimes a company representative will post a snarky reply for the sole purpose of humiliating someone, and sometimes they'll even lock the thread or move it to the private board. If posters get "out of line" by questioning company policy, they get banned.

Boards can sometimes take on overtones of little feudal communities. And when they declare war on each other, good Lord, look out.

11 comments:

RexZeitgiest said...

Hmmmmmmm....I have never been in wars on blogs or chattrooms, nor have I ever been censored, banned, stalked, deleted, and vilified.....Nor have I ever been put up on a pedastal as the warrior for one side of a fight, nor choosen as the spokesman for a particluar viewpoint, or figurehead for a particluar forum or venue....

OK, maybe I have....but that was in a past lives....now I am just an innocent wordfarmer, growing my crop of verbal greens for fall harvest.....

Anonymous said...

ROFL. Nice post Rex. An honest laugh out loud.
I would say after my past in the blogwar world I am not ready to go into the messageboard world. I am still getting the occational terrorist attack from the last war I was in.

RexZeitgiest said...

C'mon Kan, I am just another blogger....never had any problems with adminstrators or anything like that....You know me......wink wink...


ahahahahah......You should have seen me when I was a chatrom warrior....talk about arguing over nothing....That was a crazy time in the chatroom history.....


I have found out in running a blog the problems you can have trying to control, out of control people, and blindly angry trolls....It kind of, slightly, makes me feel bad for what I put Rcade through......ok, not really......

RexZeitgiest said...

Message boards are a whole new frontier I can get banned from.....

Serena Joy said...

nor have I ever been censored, banned, stalked, deleted, and vilified

Shoot, Rex, I've been all of those things. You live and learn. It's just too bad I can't grow soothing green stuff. Alas, I have Black Thumb. I kill everything that tries to grow.

RexZeitgiest said...

I can provide you with links to get your green thumb growing!

Serena Joy said...

I can provide you with links to get your green thumb growing!

If you can prevent me from murdering another innocent green thing, bring it on.:)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good reason not to visit them. I used to belong to a few, but found them to be time wasters. Better to spend that time writing.

Serena Joy said...

Better to spend that time writing.

Good advice, Lesia. But ... some boards actually do offer writers excellent resources and support. It's just a matter of finding the ones you like and staying away from the ones you don't.

Dorothy said...

Serena, I am so enjoying your blog. I have a group you might want to join. The addy is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thewriterslife/. Friendly, informal, and since I rule, you can talk about just anything. I think you'd like it.

Serena Joy said...

Thanks so much for the nice comment, Dorothy. I'm enjoying your blog, too. I'm already overloaded with groups and boards but what the heck, I'll check out your group. And you should feel free to visit/join any of mine. Just drop me an e-mail if you need info.