Welcome back folks. I’ll be doing my level best to keep this up as much as my aching hand allows. Now, I love the internet. I liked it ever since Al Gore invented it 🙂 I liked it when I had to use dial-up and I still do now when you seem to always be online. One of the main internet outlets were always the forums. What a wonderful concept! our own little water fountain in cyberspace. It seems like lately they lose out to Facebook and Twitter in terms of our preferred avenues for conversation. I used to belong to quite a few of them. Literary forums, IT related ones, and more often to sports related forums. I can categorically say that while not perfect, the most intellectually stimulating ones were literary, while the most difficult to participate in are the sports related. It’s difficult for many reasons, and I’ll try to touch on a couple in this post. I do have 5 ground rules that if followed, would ensure your survival in this, sometimes insane, environment.
1. Understand the environment and the ground rules.
Understanding the environment and understanding the ground rules are two different things. But they’re linked because the ground rules are largely there in response to the environment needs. What I want to say is this – Sports related forums are consisted of a wide variety of people. Gender, age, geography and other separating aspects are represented, but it would be a very safe assumption to say that out of the total number of registered users, a small fragment is active.
I would take a big risk, but keep in mind that I have been doing this for a while, when I say that the majority of active posters would be mostly (not exclusively) very young males, some single males in their 20-30s and some married older guys in their 40s+ (Hey, I AM one).
Knowing this, you can expect the rules and regulations to correspond with language, “behavior” and other limitations that are required in order to keep the forum going. No normative person wants to discuss sports with a bunch of racist people… Most people do not enjoy a forum full of profanity and insults towards each other. That’s why there are rules. Those rules will tell you what can lead to you being suspended (temporarily banned) or expelled (Banned). I HIGHLY recommend reading these rules, as what might seem to you as an innocent statement, might “get you in trouble”. You also want to be taken seriously (if you’re an adult), so staying away from negative would prove beneficial overall.
I highly recommend resisting the urge to join and start posting. Instead, take the time and “lurk” for a while. Get a feel of how things are done ’round here. When you think you’re ready, jump right in. Introduce yourself (Without making a big deal about it…) and post away.
2. ALWAYS remember – You’re conversing with people you don’t know.
Don’t assume. People come from different walks of life, have different views and habits. They have different slang, different mentality. You’re also conversing on a platform that does not translate sarcasm or humor very well. The people on the forum are not your friends. Some might be very friendly, but they are not your friends. Why is that important? Well, we have this tendency to develop expectations from people, small as they might be. Don’t. This is doubly important if you’re very young, just some basic internet safety, on top of the above. These safety rules are just as important on a forum as they are anywhere else.
There’s absolutely no need to share your name, address, marital status, kids, social security number or any identifying details with anyone on the forums. As nice as they are. In fact, the nicer they are, hold that information closer.
Remember this point (about people you don’t know). We’ll talk about it again.
If you don’t have a sense of humor or if you’re unable to take a joke (especially when it’s on your expense), do yourself a favor and stay well away from these forums. Two things happen a lot more on sports related forums than any other kind. Joke threads and Troll threads. Yes, there’s a difference between them and it’s up to you to remember this.
Joke threads are just what they are – threads that were created just because the original poster (OP from now on) thought of something that made him giggle and decided to share it with the forum. What do you do in this situation? Up to you. You can read and have a laugh, then move on. You can read and decide to participate (I recommend doing it with good taste, but again, up to you…), or you might find it not funny at all, in which case I urge you to ignore and live on.
Now troll threads on the other hand have one purpose and one purpose only. Here, the OP wants attention. Believe me, he wants ANY KIND of attention. Reasons are plenty and they matter not to you. You should follow the golden rule – DON’T FEED THE TROLL.
Here’s how it works – the OP will post something ridiculous, more often than not – offensive to as many as he deems possible. “Good trolls” know how to write this so it will solicit responses. DON’T. Let that thread die a horrible and lonely death. I promise you, I have never seen a troll thread that brought any good. At best, the OP would be banned and you could go about your business, but if you participate, you might find yourself suspended or banned. What for? For a person you don’t know?
Do not, repeat – do NOT allow yourself to be dragged into a pissing contest with another poster. Same results. Leave it to the forum’s moderators. The vast majority of these are fair and adult. They will help weed out the trolls. Trolls will never go away, as they need attention, but you can, and should, help by staying well away from their shenanigans.
4. Opinions are like…. you know. Everyone has them.
You joined a forum. What the hell were you expecting? You’re not joining a religious cult. People WILL think differently. Learn to deal with it. First of all, you might learn something. I’m not suggesting that as a result of a forum thread you’ll say “Well, dang, fuck this shit, I’m no longer a Manchester United fan, I think I’ll be a Manchester City fan from now on!”. No. First of all it’s ridiculous, cause everybody knows that Man U is far superior to City (heh). Second, I mean, you might learn that there are different ways to look at the game (or whatever).
Have some respect to other people’s opinion if you want yours to get some, is all I’m saying. No one is attacking you personally when they say that Kobe played like shit last night (that’s an impossibility right there, but still). If someone called YOU an ass, ok, see point 4 about trolls, but other than that, you’re here to talk about something you enjoy talking about, right? How boring would a forum be if all threads started with the initial premise and only had supporting replies? It wouldn’t be a forum, it would be a Church (of any religion).
Good threads are always ones where multiple posters share their various thoughts about the original topic and you can see how every reply might challenge and solicit more discussion. As long as it stays on point (VERY difficult in sports related forums due to favoritism) and maintain mutual respect, these are really fun threads to read and participate in.
5. You are here to enjoy!
Every time you log in as yourself two questions.
Why am I here? You should always answer this with “To enjoy myself”
Then ask yourself “Are you enjoying yourself?” The answer should be very simple – Yes or No. If you answered Yes – happy posting! If you answered “No”, well… what are you going to do about it? My recommendation is – leave.
Look, this is not a marriage. It’s not a job. It’s not family. It’s not a jail. Simply go and do something else you DO enjoy. Why on earth would you stay if you don’t enjoy it? You don’t know any of these people and they don’t know you. Don’t worry, you won’t hurt anyone’s feeling by leaving… believe it or not, many have done that before you, as will many after you’re gone. Besides, if years later you discover a new passion, well guess what? You can come BACK! Yay!
One last recommendation for you, if you said “No”. Do not post a farewell post. You’re not an attention seeking troll, are you? no one cares 🙂
I hope you found this interesting and somewhat helpful 🙂 What is your take on forums? sports related or not.