Sunday, 6 February 2011

Sandra's Guide to the Flora and Fauna of Forums

As you know I'm no stranger to writers' forums and have belonged to many of them in the past few years. They're a good way to make friends with like minded individuals - writing is a lonely business and it doesn't hurt to have a support group you can rely on for advice and sympathy. But there are some who join these groups for other reasons.

Trolls and flamers get their kicks by causing trouble. They're a bit like the internet version of arsonists. They stir things up, cause a huge conflagration then step back to enjoy the show. They're usually easy to spot. Someone new joins the forum and immediately starts making contentious remarks or insulting the members. Some are more intelligent about it than others, and some are so subtle you may not realise at first you are being manipulated. But subtle or not these people are not interested in joining in or contributing anything so they are best ignored however provocative their behaviour. Arguing only encourages them.

The Time Waster is a watered down version of the Troll & Flamer. He doesn't want to actually do harm but he's bored and wants company and to that end he'll derail discussions any way he can to get your attention. So every serious topic gets derailed with silliness. If you're unlucky enough to have a few of them they can successfully kill off every serious attempt at discussion to gossip about soap operas or what their neighbour did.

The Self-Appointed Expert likes to drop in and put everyone straight but doesn't get their hands dirty (they're far too busy with real work anyway) taking part or bothering to get to know anyone on the board. They get their kicks by boasting about their achievements, using what little knowledge (it's usually not as much as they think, and often just opinions) they have to bludgeon the "inferior" members into submission. They patronise and bully, make unsubstantiated claims about their contacts in the industry, and if anyone challenges them flounce off calling the entire membership of the board "clueless amateurs". Thankfully they don't last long because their arrogant attitude guarantees they will be shunned sooner or later by all but the most brainless sycophants.

The Tireless Promoter will do anything, go anywhere, to pimp their blog/book/manuscript appraisal service, whatever. They derail every thread to get in a shameless plug, regardless of the topic. Every comment they make has an agenda of steering members toward whatever they are trying to promote. It really gets boring after quite a short time.


Lexi said...

Good; but you've missed one.

The Prefect (self-appointed) knows what is right, and attempts to make everyone behave exactly the way she does. She starts threads criticizing behaviour she does not approve of, usually with veiled references to those who break her rules, trying to get the majority on side and shame others into toeing the line. She is quite humourless, and a mammoth bore.

Lyndsey Davis said...

Excellent definitions and descriptions.

Too bad these people have no life.

Sandra Patterson said...

Good one, Lexi! Sounds like you've encountered a few!

Thanks, Lyn. Shame indeed.

Emma B said...

Thanks Sandra that is an excellent post and it made me smile.
Thankfully I like to think TB is usually lucky at having few of these said individuals but then maybe I am too nice to notice or (heaven forbid) I just don't notice because I myself am one...