My perspective on message boards…

Thought I would share a reply I sent to a forumite and friend on the EL message boards. I won’t use his name here, or point to any single forum disagreement or anything, but I will post this to just put out there what I have learned about message boards over time, and what my general feeling is toward them now. Do with it what you will. In response to whether or not I had seen a particular thread or not…

Yep…seen it all. And I come to the same conclusion I always do: not worth it. Its just smoke and trash…it’s never been any different. I have run my own forums since 1998. That is 11 years by my count. I quit worrying or caring about board drama and fallout circa 2003. Why? A few reasons:

1. Nothing I can do about it. People will always have differing opinions and motives about a thousand different topics. What I think about it is irrelevant. If people are going to fight, they’ll do it with or without me. (EDIT: This includes moderators.)

2. Nothing about it matters. It’s just talk, from people with varying differences in lifestyle, upbringing, perspective, character, etc. And none of it effects my life in any way shape or form. And not only that, it’s talk that would change on all sides if people really knew each other, or had to have the conversation face to face. I have way too many other things that I am required to be concerned with…like my wife, my children, my career, my small contribution to the world, walking the dog, etc. In the larger scheme of things, the boards are not even a tangible blip on my radar screen.

3. “Hamburger or Hot Dogs.” What does that mean? It’s like this. The super bowl is a huge deal, full of great amounts of money, support, fan participation, food, rivalries, endorsements, and more. A great big “picture” of what the end game of football is meant to be. Now, lets say, at the game, in the stands, there are two people who have some sort of disagreement. Like, how one thinks hotdogs are better than burgers, and the other guy likes a good hamburger over a dog anytime.

This tiff goes on for 45 minutes, and by the end, both are thoroughly offended and even more unwilling to see anything from the opposing side of the issue. While they both have it in them to come to some sort of friendly end to this war, the chances are nearly 100% that they won’t.

Yet, the game goes on, teams are scoring touchdowns, kickers are making extra points, owners are enjoying their box seats, fans are thrilled by the action, viewers at home are enjoying family and friends, millions are watching from all over the world, sportscasters are comparing stats, and refs are making calls. What I am trying to say is that the hotdog / hamburger guys ARE the forums in this scenario. They are of infinitesimal consequence to the larger world happening around them. The game goes on, the teams play on, the fans watch on, the commercials play on…life goes on…caring not at about the two squabblers who could not find a way to make their peace.

That is precisely how I see message boards. They are provided for people to communicate as they see fit. To build community, or divide themselves. I can’t let them dictate anything, or delay anything, or even interrupt anything. Anymore than the NFL will stop the game so they can help hotdog and hamburger work out their differences.

I hope that helps clarify my stance on issues like this. For me, it is simple perspective.


So yeah, my general take.