Thursday 10 November 2011

The roles we play on forums

Have you ever posted a message on a public forum? Why did you post it? What did you want to say? What made you choose the particular forum - topic relevance, familiar people or urgent / desperate need for help?
Whenever we decide to make an appearance on a public site, we have two options - be invisible, i.e. anonymous or reveal our name. These are two totally different conditions which determine our online behaviour.

People who post intelligent, balanced and relevant comments are lifeblood to any successful forum discussion.
The worst type are anonymous discontented forum users who give vent to their anger or malice. I have seen thousands of comments posted by such people on national websites and it has always made me wonder about the true nature of anonymity. Does it automatically gives you freedom to abuse other people or is it a shield to protect you - from what?

If the forum is closed as in elearning environment, people coming to forums have a certain aim in mind, and usually it is posting for study purposes. They are never anonymous and it preconditions their sticking to the rules of netiquette. However, during a long time I have observed that there are as many patterns of behaviour on forums as there are participants. Active, coherent and responsive people are emoderators' joy. There are the brash ones and there are the considerate, there are the shy and the headstrong, the diligent and the idle. And there are lurkers. Reading, observing, watching, waiting, posting only when they cannot avoid it.

I have known the website Flame Warriors for years. It gives a huge list of roles people play on forums, each role supplied with a picture and definition created by an artist Mike Reed - Rebel Leader, Big Cat, Toxic Granny, Coffee KlatchBliss Ninny, Fanboy, Lonely Guy, God, Weenie etc.
Even if you don't agree with everything Mike Reed has written, it is worth taking a look at the site, especially if you have to deal with forums - either as a participant or a moderator.


Brad said...

Very funny characters on flame warriors. Oh stereotypes...

I think anonymity does allow us to vent more, and can bring out a 'darker' side (TROLLS). I've not run into too much of that on twitter which is rather public and not anonymous. The PLN actually has a tendency to be extra positive, no ?

Cheers, b

Baiba said...

You are right about PLN, Brad! No threat of an attack :-)
I love the characters of Flame Warriors because they are soooo lifelike, something for everyone...