Forum Egos – An Observation

This is a rant. Probably not very coherent, but I don’t give a shit.
I’m very seldom outspoken about people’s choices and opinions, even on those I don’t agree. I disagree and if I choose to tell them why, I never do so disrespectfully. I fully understand different people have different needs and environments, therefore agreeing on everything is impossible. No problem – I try to see your point of view anyhow. I learn. All the time.
But this… the closest word that comes to my mind is pissed. I’m bloody pissed.
I’m talking of some former members of my haunt, TheBookForum.
Now there are (or were) these people who apparently are not content on leaving the forum, but moan and groan wherever the hell they go about the shortcomings of the forum. Yeah, TBF doesn’t moderate all that well. Yeah, the moderators pissed you off with their inconsistencies, their lack of transparency, and other some such crap. They sent you a warning on something you said, and you believe the warning is a wrong so great you’ll never forgive them.
You know what? Nobody’s perfect. If they wounded you so much you can’t stop bitching about it, then I don’t know how to help you, because I simply won’t come up to your face and tell you to buzz off and stop contaminating the freaking air. But make no mistake – please buzz off. Take all your baggage and go.
There is one member who simply couldn’t stop talking about how ill TBF treated this chap. For the first few hundred of these posts, I was fine. I mean, I just try not to be bothered. No problems there. Then I found out that this chap unloaded his feeling on another forum – literally spilled his guts on how shitty it was over in TBF. Nothing I’ve never heard of before, but get this: even though they treated him bad, he’ll still pop by anyway to ‘check on the goings-on’ because sometimes the posts are relevant and not subject to over-moderation. I mean, COME ON!
There is another, how shall I say it, snob, who is ever at hand to tell everyone that TBF hasn’t got anything good to say anymore, because everyone’s talking about their favourite colour and how people stack their books. This is, frankly, the sort of attitude that I myself am glad if they disappear. These apparently ‘I’m a little too highbrow for you’ people don’t start interesting threads anymore, don’t want to participate anymore, but doesn’t bat an eye in complaining about lack of content they would want to discuss.
I have nothing against ‘highbrow’ people. Seriously. I enjoy they things they talk about, there’s plenty to learn, and despite sometimes being more arrogant than I’m comfortable with, they sometimes do say things worth listening to. No problem – different folks, different strokes. Being an Asian in an international forum demands a mentality that is open rather than rigid.
But people who do not contribute but continues to slam the situation in TBF is a little too much.
I’ve learnt that a forum evolves. I don’t think for a second everything will be lovely and rosy all the time. I’ve lost a lot of good members that I wished would have stayed, and a lot of the people I joined the forum for has left. I was sad.
Here’s how my thinking works: in this situation, only one of two things can be done. First is just leave. Pull back from all active participation, post jibes once in a while on how things have turned from bad to worse. Whine.
Alternatively, I could take action. I continue to post, talk politely, contribute where I can. I try to talk and contribute in the forum that I love, which is Scifi/Fantasy. I’m working on the tabulation of the TBF Top 100 SCifi/Fantasy List on my own. Nobody asks me to do it. I’m hoping that by posting constructively I can help improve the place little by little, enough to attract new members with like sensibilites. My unstable internet connections have hindered my appearances somewhat, but I never stopped contributing positive posts. Trying to improve the tension by cracking (admittedly bad) jokes and cracks, hoping the whole community will lighten up.
If enough of us do this, TBF will foster, grow into the place it ought to be.
Yes, it has moderation problems. Yes, certain threads need not be closed. Yes, sometimes heavy-handedness spoil the atmosphere. Yes, Darren’s not around most of the time. Yes, we’d all rather discuss politics and religion, because sometimes we’ll run out of books to talk about, and politics (sigh, and religion) is an interesting alternative. Yes. YES! Agreed on all counts. However since this is the reality, why not make the best of it and show the moderation gang we can hold our own?
Do you seriously think that the moderators don’t know what we’re feeling? Do you think there aren’t moderators who would *love* to join us if we do talk politics and religion?
My problem is this. These people are not just leaving, but they paint a very bad picture of the place. There are new folks coming in all the time, and the majority of these new people are actually people I’d love to meet. Your presense is staining the place, like cloying cigarette smoke in a nice deli. People’d get up and leave, or stay away. If you’re going, go! I want new people who are enthusiastic, fun, smart and funny. I want to see these new people make the place their own, and revive the place. I want to make new friends from all around the world who love what I love.
The natural order of internet forums is new people *will* come. Chances are good that *good* people will come. But they won’t stay with you loitering around with crap.
You’re unhappy – by all means be unhappy. You can’t help what you feel when you feel the way you do. Hell, I was pissed at times too. But don’t drop by, take pot shots, and cower behind guest visits. Your behaviour is like those you’d hate to have around your own beloved forum, wherever that may be. Or worse, don’t complain about lack of intelligent posts when your goodself is refraining from creating or participating in intelligent posts in the first damn place.
I will have to say I’ve nothing personal against all these people. I don’t know them in a personal level, and if I meet them in person we may actually have a good conversation.
I’m sorry TBF has cut deep into your heart, disappointed you like an ex-lover. But please stop whining and let others come and improve the place, if you’re not going to do it yourself.


5 Comments

  1. abecedarian

    Very well said friend! I wish you’d post this at TBF. All the rude jibes and bickering gets old. And having looked at one of the new hangouts, I’m not convinced jumping ship is a viable option for me. When civility gets tossed out from the beginning, I tend to lose interest. Gotta go, think I’ll welcome a few new TBF members..

  2. Hey there, abecedarian… thanks for dropping by. There are a couple of reasons it’s here instead of TBF. One is it would make me look bad. [laugh] No, it’s just that the place needs more sunshine, not gloom. This wouldn’t exactly be a sunny post.
    And secondly, a lot of people already said their piece in the TBF Moderation Issues thread. I was not online very much during the bulk of the conversation, so contributing there seemed a little pointless.
    I just wish more people would take it a step at a time, just be friendly. Things would take care of itself.

  3. Wow, Donny, this is the longest post/rant I’ve ever seen from you. You must be royally p’d! Glad you got that off your chest. 😉
    It’s a shame to lose good people from TBF, but it’s an ever-evolving, ever-changing entity. From time to time, I get frustrated there, but I keep going back for the old friends (like you) and the gems that pop up from time to time.
    abc, I’m giving the “other” site a chance to work itself out. I think it has potential if everyone could calm down and remain civil. We’ll see. There’s room for more than one type of forum in one’s life. 😀

  4. Hmm… what “other” site is this, I wonder? There are at least 2 out there that I know of, but I don’t know which one of these you are talking about. If if is something else entirely (bakingforum.com)? 😀
    And ell… I cannot agree more – there is definitely room for more then one forum in one’s life.

  5. hiya ds,
    that must have been a load off. i would guess ell is talking about the mosh pit which can be found on runboards. the first few weeks was a bit of a free for all of sfg bashing, and a bit of tbf bashing. but i think that now that people have their views aired it will likely settle down and we will see if it sinks or swims. my issues with tbf never had to do with the forum itself, but my place there and how i was using it. i just felt i was not using it to talk about books so i left.

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