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Discussion Forums Need to Get Better

My head hurts. There are few things that will cause brain-pain as easily as reading discussion forums on the internet. Grim determination is indispensable. With enough patience you can actually learn a few things. But most of the contributors seem to want to make you suffer first.

These days I read some of the pickup truck and tow vehicle forums. Let's hope the next generation is learning in school how to write on a discussion forum, the same way that my generation learned how to write a business letter or how to type. Until then, the forum reader will have to endure dumb jokes, habitual contradiction, sidetracking, ad hominem trollishness, misspellings, and the worst written English imaginable. Can any of those forum-mongers write two sentences without obtruding abbr. & acronyms? And don't even get me started on that LOL/IMHO crap ... because those people R the biggest PITA!!!! (LOL!!!!)

The frustrated comedians are even worse. For one thing, they are hardly ever funny. Secondly the reader is there to get some work done, while the relentless and tedious quips waste his time.

Let's say you have just learned of a new sports-utility-vehicle (SUV). The opening paragraph should quickly categorize it: is it front wheel drive or rear wheel drive? The former means that I probably don't want it for pulling a trailer. Is it a car-like unibody construction or a truck-like box-on-frame-rails? If the latter, it will weigh 6000 pounds, and the fuel economy will probably suck (pun intended).

But oh no, they can't be bothered to discuss anything like that. They are too busy discussing the CD player, the cup holders, and the bad experience they had with one car of that brand 40 years ago.

The vast majority of discussion participants don't have any kind of technical orientation. Even worse, their mindset is not that of an adult who is trying to optimize a set of tradeoffs. They seem to base their decisions on the emotional appeal of adjectives and slogans. (Maybe they should stick to voting.)  They avoid numerical estimates, probably because they sound technical and nerdish.

Hopefully those hypothetical school teachers are training the next generation to compare apples with apples on future discussion forums, and to resist attacking strawmen. So much of good decision-making is starting with a valid comparison.

Discussion "threads" always seem unraveled to me. That is what causes the brain-pain. The human brain wants to see a certain smooth flow in a discussion. It wants things to stay pertinent and make some progress. But instead you get the fractured half-thoughts of clowns and illiterates.


Comments

Actually your view of forums is rather optimistic in my opinion.
Ted said…
It helps if the forum software provides some way of weeding out the worst offenders. Even the infamous RV.NET became fairly pleasant and informative after I blocked fifty or so. ;)

For some reason most of the ones on my blocked list have the details of their souped-up pickup trucks in their signature.
TomInOrlando said…
I've joined several Yahoo Groups, and apparently am insane, as I continue to occasionally join a new group, somehow expecting I will learn something new, despite never having done so in the past.
Boonie said…
It is called 'the triumph of hope over experience', Tom.
Boonie said…
"forum software that provides a way of weeding out". Gee, I didn't know about that. Wish you would explain it more sometime.

I giggled at your dig at RV.net. I think I've given up on them. Sometimes the guy's opinion seems so odd. Then I look at his rig photo at the bottom, and see that his fifth wheel weighs 21,000 pounds. What a waste of time it is for me to read anything by him.
Boonie said…
U have 2 1der Y th. 4mmm moder8ters doan cut owt more.
Look on the bright side. You're getting what you paid for.
Tesaje said…
Yes and yes. Google is my friend but it does take a while to weed thru the drivel to find some info that is useful. I've learned to skim thru most of the replies and some forums are pointless. But then I remember the old days when every random male had to pretend he knew how to fix a car or any other thing even if he was all thumbs. I learned to take that stuff with a grain of salt because often, I knew more than he did. Even so, there are many many very useful things I have learned about in forums. If it weren't for the verbose regulars, the forums would die out so even they serve a purpose.
Ted said…
Sorry to be unclear. With RV.Net, for example, if you're logged in and you click on their name a menu will appear. The bottom item is "Block this member". I wish all the boards had that option. iRV2 is another where you can block idiots.
edlfrey said…
You got it exactly right Boonie. I was convinced that I wanted to buy a MINI Cooper when they were first released in the USA. I had read a lot about them in a Europe based forum and picked up mostly good information.
The cars were then released here in the States and a USA forum became very active with the #1 issue being the lack of enough cup holders and the small size of those that were in the car. The #2 issue was what color to buy. A question about wheel bolt pattern and offset would be met with total silence.
The "little lady" syndrome.
Boonie said…
I just can't see your dog, Patches, driving in a Mini Cooper.

The craziness has gotten worse with the new cars. They have touch screen displays and "information" centers. The car reviewers and forum blockheads can argue and complain about that kind of stuff now. Who cares about the powertrain?