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Internet Forum Pitfalls


Staff member

<span style="font-size: large;" data-mce-style="font-size: large;"><strong>Internet Forum Pitfalls</strong></span>

There you are, searching the internet for an answer to your RC aviation question, and you found yourself directed to an RC forum. You decide to post, and find yourself in a horror land of unfriendly natives, hostile guards, and alarmingly yeah, there's even trolls.

Don't get me wrong; I am not trying to turn folks away from forums. Forums can be a wealth of tips, tricks and information, as well as a place to meet and become friends with people who don't think you're odd for being an adult playing with 'toy” aircraft. There are even Flite Test topic threads on a few different forums. So, they've got to be good! Yet for the unwary, it can also be a pit of despair, filled with misinformation, and treachery. Here's a list of my top six forum dangers, and what to do about them.

<strong>1) Use the search feature!</strong>

Ok, you've found your way into a forum. You are lost, you think you might be in the right section for the topic you are inquiring about, so you start a new conversation thread asking the fine people of the forum for assistance with your problem, and you sit back, waiting for all the good folks with years of experience to come to your assistance. You check back in, and reply after reply is filled not with the information you sought, but commentaries declaring the question have been asked before, and you should have used the search feature before asking. What the heck is a search feature? Where is it located? How do you use it? You were feeling pretty good you got as far as you did, now they add yet another layer to you getting an answer to your question?

The 'easy” solution is going to take a little work. First familiarize yourself with the forum layout. Make sure to check the topic section that most likely hold the answer to your question. Next, learn how to use the search feature, and use it. It actually is a very helpful tool. I can be a bit tricky to understand, especially if computers aren't your favorite things. Some forums search engines will default to putting emphasis on what it thinks the relevance of the post is to your answer. You can also adjust this to list the results by date of posting, or most recent replies. Maybe you can't figure out the search feature. Find the thread that offers forum assistance. Post a question asking for help on how to use the search engine.

<strong>2) You're wrong</strong>.

Don't be offended, one of the amazing things with internet forums, is that you're going to be wrong, about everything, at least according to somebody. No matter how clear, concise and well thought out a defense of your viewpoint you might have. Someone will attempt to convince you you're mistaken, often with the age old recess answer of 'because in order for me to be right, you're wrong”. Really, how can you argue with that? It gets even more frustrating, when you realize they're still arguing with you, even if you're agreeing with them. Trust me, you will see this, if you use forums eventually.

The solution here is to know ahead of time that this will happen. Sometimes the other guy will be correct about you being wrong. Avoid that situation by making sure you research your point before you assert it. Be willing to gracefully concede if you realize that you were mistaken. In the situations where you're correct, understand the person with the opposing opinion is likely even more sure that they're correct. Agree to disagree, at this point; you're at an impasse, and to continue the debate will likely only end in an argument.

<strong>3) Post count.</strong>

To a certain segment of existing forum members, post counts are some sort of identifier to your qualification to express yourself on a subject. It doesn't matter your age, experience, or even if you were the inventor of the subject being discussed. If you are under some magically formulated number of posts, then you don't know what you're talking about.

This is a hard one. One solution would be to inflate your post count with useless posts, and risk frustrating people by possibly derailing threads with off topic comments. The other is to ignore them, and only deal with the people who treat you with respect. Actually, this is a solution to many of the problems you'll face.

<strong>4) Forum Arguments.</strong>

It is best to avoid these all together, but you'll get sucked into one eventually. Sometimes it's not completely your fault. You're going to come across what's called a Troll (see section on this) at one point or another. These are people who excel at drawing people into a pointless argument, and know how to keep the flame alive. Other times it's over a topic that lots of people feel strongly about and feel anyone who differs from their view is absolutely wrong, with no room for compromise.

The solution here is easy to say, but a little more difficult to follow through with. Since there's no winning in these situations, if you find yourself with emotional attachment to your responses, it's best to extract yourself from the conversation. There's no shame in abandoning these sinking ships. Since there's no victory to be had, the only way to lose is to continue adding to a bad situation.

<strong>5) Trolls</strong>

Trolls are people, who enjoy throwing the switch on the railroad tracks, and sit back and just wait for the train wreck. Often this is done with a hot button topic in the thread title, or making broad reaching statements on topics that tend to be polarizing. A skilled one will come across as innocent of the havoc their comments have wrought, frequently not commenting again to the thread they started, merely reading and enjoying the show. Most have to keep things going with interjections that keep an argument alive.

The best way to avoid this trap is to check you. Do you want to post because you feel emotional about the topic? Did you read other replies, and got the feeling that the mood was less than jovial? Noticing that tempers seem to be on edge, or that people are not debating in a rational manner and have started to respond with insults instead, are cues that you might want to stay out of that conversation.

<strong>6) Violation of TOS</strong>

So, you got a little hot tempered and you responded in a less than civil manner. Or maybe you decided to boost that post count, and went on a spree commenting the same comment in several similar threads. Or you decided to clear house of some RC equipment, and you posted it for sale wherever you thought people might want to see it, even in the forum assistance threads. Next thing you know, a forum user with the title of moderator is policing you. Who knew there was someone that would reprimand you, and how were you supposed to know you weren't supposed to do whatever it is they're giving you corrective actions for?

The answer here is simple. Most forums have a set of rules. They often call them Terms of Service. They're part of the fine print you click past as you sign up for the ability to post. It asks you if you've read the rules, and agree to abide by them. Yeah, yeah, sure, sure, click. Well, had you read the rules, you would have known that they don't want you to talk about your collection of recently broken props that you're willing to sell at a really great price, in the Flight Shows and Events section.


Well, there you have it. Six things that could make your forum experience a less than pleasant one, with some easy, and some not so easy ways to avoid them. Learning these snares, and how to recognize, then step deftly around them will go a long way to making your forum forays a fun, and enjoyable experience.

Did I say I had six? Well, I have a seventh, I left it out, for the simple reason that I am terrible at following my own advice on this one, and that's to stay on topic. Once upon a time, (I'm cured now, I promise) I would enter into a thread, and join the conversation. I would suddenly be distracted by some thought, and start following it in the thread, others would join in, and all of a sudden the conversation takes a left turn at Albuquerque. Well, that seems to upset people, especially when they're interested in the topic that you just diverted from. So, tip number seven, it's always important to keep to the subject at, hey, look, something shiny…



Rotor Riot!
Very good article! I was going to say that you could give a prize to the second (I'm the first right now :p) top poster on the forum, but then I realized that it would only lead to spam posting...
One thing I would like to suggest. If someone is offensive, don't just warn them--remove the offensive post and replace it with a note that "Post removed--(description of violation)." Just about all the forums think that freedom of speech precludes any editing of posts. Hogwash. Your forum, your rules. Run up the Jolly Roger. Civility enforced without mercy!:applause:


Junior Member
Excellent article Fred !

I will pre-warn you , I am infamous for derailing a thread into the "Off Topic " aspect , but I think its part of my boyish charm LOL

I often think if half of the aggro on internet forums could be harnessed , world hunger , climate change, various international conflicts , and overpopulation would cease to exist :D