By Jonathan 9 Comments

Are You Wasting Your Time In Web Forums?

I admit it. I have been guilty of this activity. I am human just like the rest of us, and frankly, the internet is addictive.

Off and on I have frequented a certain photography forum. Each an every time it has been for the same reasons; I have been bored, and I like photography. Each and every time I have wasted countless hours of my life and eventually been left with a sour taste in my mouth.

In theory, an online forum is about creating a community. The problem is that in almost every case that online community resembles your average high-school in that it is dominated by a small group of regulars who are busy patting each other on the back while doing whatever is possible to make newcomers feel unwelcome. It is a massive popularity contest where only the strong survive. It’s a game, everyone is there to argue and win. Basically it is a toxic atmosphere.

Everyone is a zealot, and anyone level-headed and balanced is quickly run out-of-town, or *gasp*, banned.

Years ago I came across a website that listed the various forum archetypes. It’s hilarious reading, and particularly relevant to anyone who has actually attempted to participate on any sort of discussion on the internet. If read it you will quickly discover two things:

  1. You have encountered some or all of these personalities at some point on the internet.
  2. You are probably becoming one of them.

The second one is a bit disturbing to those of us who pride ourselves in being sane and down to earth. But like it or not, the environment of a web forum tends to have this effect on the best of us.

Very few people will make more than a few posts in any forum before they find themselves in an argument. Someone will attack them, almost always unprovoked, and  as humans our natural response is to be defensive and argue, especially when we know that we are in the right. The problem is, that you as a rational person, will never win an argument with any of the forum archetypes who are, in fact, professional arguers, and the more you try to argue with the irrational the more irrational you yourself will become, until you have become on of “them”.

You may think that forums are a source of vast pools of knowledge. This is incorrect. Though many of the forum regulars no doubt have some knowledge, if you should harmlessly request they share it, they will often snap at you and suggest you do a search. You see, discussing things in a forum that have already been discussed two years ago is a waste of time, never mind the fact that all too many of the people actively participating in the forum don’t know what they are talking about anyway.

The reality is that you will likely gain much more knowledge from reading the forum than you ever will from participating in it, and without wasting hours of productivity.

My advice? Be a lurker, don’t get sucked in.

Updated (June 1st, 2010): Well it seems one of the resident trolls has found his way over the my website and has posted several comments below. Evidently this post hit a nerve and he just can’t stand it.


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Comment Policy: Please use your real name and be polite. Rude or disrespectful comments will be deleted or mocked, depending on my mood. In some cases your comment may be moderated before being posted, please be patient and do not re-submit your comment. Thank you!

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  • Toby the Defeated says:

    Oh, and decided to switch moderation back on now. Did you decide to censor my comments after all?

    Brilliant. You made my day.

    Anyway, laters.

  • Toby the Imbecile says:

    Lol, just realised you changed my name to ‘toby the loser’.

    Bwahahahahaha, brilliant.

  • Toby the Cretin says:

    Anytime kiddo ;)

  • Toby the Troll says:

    Lol, good one.

    I see your plan; realise that you’re making hollow threats to someone that has merely expressed an opinion and then decide to swing back to throwing passive aggressive insults at them. Way to drop to my level.

    I’m glad you did leave my comments up, now everyone can see what an absolute dick you are.

    You’re just the same as the people you moan about, when will you realise that? It’s just that they have more staying power and trolling material than you.

    The game. You just lost it, neck beard.

    • Jonathan says:

      Once again, I would like to thank you for contributing the conversation!

      I am also extremely grateful that you would take the time to show everyone what a dick I am by calling me names.

  • Toby the Loser says:

    Wow my IP is recorded, and what? What exactly are you going to do with it?

    I haven’t commited any offence, I’m just voicing my [widely shared] opinion, so sue me?

    FYI I’m not even in your country, letalone state, good luck with any silly laws you wimpish Canadians live by.

    I should also add that my IP is dynamic, shitty ADSL and all that. But if you’re lucky you might be able to figure out my ISP. Or better yet you could ban the whole range and risk losing a few more of the already tiny subscriber base you have.

    Please don’t try and threaten me. I’ve worked in tech since you were just a stain in your Mom’s panties.

    So to reiterate; You are a weak minded, opinionated bigot with delusions of grandeur. You are nothing more than a jumped up little twit that thinks he knows it all yet hasn’t even lived yet.

    Good luck with the Tarot. You got the image right with that lame fluff on your chin, what a douche.

    P.S. I promise I won’t reboot my router, that should give you a chance to hunt me down….Terrifying. Please don’t pinch or scratch me, pussy.

    • Jonathan says:

      Thanks Toby,

      I am glad you like my site to. I am so glad you are able to take time out of your no doubt busy day to share your thoughts with me. Your maturity and depth of thought is truly inspiring. Have you thought about writing a book? With a vocabulary and imagination like yours it would be a shame if you didn’t.

  • Toby McKinnon says:

    Made too many enemies and vanished from DPR did we?

    I didn’t think it’d be long being as you were the worst troll on there. Just another full of shit Canuck with shit for brains.

    I thought you were pretty smart at first, but now I see you’re into tarot. Wow. An instant insight into just how weak of mind you are, little man.

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi “Toby”,

      I was going to delete your comment, given it’s obviously abusive nature, but instead I have decided to leave it because it illustrates my point perfectly.

      Unlike me, Toby, you are clearly a big, big man, stopping by my website just to post vitriolic nonsense while hiding behind a fake email address.

      You are aware that your IP is recorded when you comment, right?