Saturday, November 26, 2011

Forum Vocabulary 101 -published January 2011

In The Net
Forum Vocabulary 101
Trevor Shpeley

Hi folks, it's been about two months since we re-launched the BC Outdoors forums and I thought it might be a good time to explain some common discussion board terminology and what it means to you, the forum members.

Internet forums are not new. In fact long before there was a real internet there were bulletin boards where like-minded people would gather to share information, discuss computers and make fun of the newbies.

Newbies were people that arrived after the first wave of early adopters had established a beachhead and claimed an internet space as their own. It didn't really matter that the new person might know more about the subject material than everybody else on the board or that they had arrived only a short time after the veterans, they were newbies and therefore fair game for a bit of virtual hazing.

Luckily that was then and this is now. These days the people you meet online are the same ones you meet in everyday life and just about everybody outside of the teen gaming world understands basic social skills and follows the golden rule. The term “newbie” still exists but making fun of one will get you chewed out by your fellow forum members and often kicked right off the board. There is no longer any need to be nervous about your first posts because if you commit some sort of horrible gaff the other members will gently steer you in the right direction and if you fall afoul of a Troll, the moderators will step in before you get in over your head.

No, I'm not talking about the large unattractive creatures that hide under bridges and extract tolls from passers by. I refer to the large unattractive creatures that hide behind keyboards and attack anybody unwary enough to respond to one of the carefully worded traps they design solely to get an emotional response and cause people to write an angry post in return. Nothing warms the cold lonely heart of the internet Troll like disciplinary action being taken against somebody that the Troll has provoked into hostility.

Trolls are not to be confused with their much appreciated and less common cousins the Faux-Trolls. Faux-Trolls keep a forum interesting with biting sarcasm that never quite gets mean, clever well researched rebuttals and a good nature that takes the sting out of their criticism. Real Trolls contribute nothing of any consequence and are easily avoided.

The way to deal with Trolls is to ignore them. If you resist the bait they will slink back down into their Mom's basements and look for a place with victims willing to play. They are far too crafty to get themselves banned so a website with good moderation will in extreme cases eject a Troll in the interests of public tranquillity rather than have their productive posters go elsewhere to avoid an obnoxious Troll. BC Outdoors has very good moderators.

Moderators are the police of the internet. The BCO forums are a community and like all communities it has community standards. Sometimes a good discussion will get out of hand or somebody will make racist, sexist or insulting statements and that's when a moderator will step in.

Moderators don't make the rules, they may not even like all of them but they do try to ensure that everybody gets a level playing field. A good “Mod” will never let his or her personal opinions guide their moderating and will make every effort to keep the critical discussion focused on the subject material and not about the person doing the posting.

An internet forum is a collection of “threads” which consist of a collection of “posts”. Without posts there is no forum. It has been a couple of months since the re-launch of the BCO forums and new membership is way up. Unfortunately a lot of the new members are brand new to discussion boards and are a little shy about posting.

To those people I say, “just go for it”. Write about whatever on-topic subject interests you. Ask questions, have a rant, pass on a tip or just say hello. Tell us what you like about the magazines or the articles. Tell us what you don't like. All we ask is that you post early and often. There is nothing more tedious than a forum where nobody talks so take a chance and start a little chatter, we don't bite. Much.

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