I frequent a number of forums oriented toward different subjects, but I see the same behavior on all of them.  I don’t mean things like rudeness, profanity or vulgarity, or spam.  I mean mistakes that people make that they should be aware of.  Here are my Pet Forum Peeves:

  • YOU ARE THE GUEST!  Never forget that.  You do not own the forum, you do not have a “Right” to be there, you do not have a ”Right” to ignore the rules, and you are expected to do things the way the forum administrators expect them to be done.  You may not like them, you may not agree with them, but they are the rules, you aren’t paying the costs to keep the forum running, and you can take it or leave.  It’s hard sometimes, I know that from experience, but sometimes you just have to refrain from speaking your mind.
  • READ THE FORUM FAQ – Whatever it is called, “Forum Rules and Regulations”, “Forum FAQ”, is immaterial.  EVERY forum has one and reading it before using a forum is not optional.  READ IT!  Take note of the things that the forum administrators do and do not allow.  Some forums do not allow posting items for sale or trade, others do not allow posts that are “Off Topic”, some are just ruled by people with a superiority complex.  Regardless, the forum belongs to them, they write the rules, and you are expected to know what they are and adhere to them.  Posting responses such as, “Well, I didn’t know it was against the forum rules” is not acceptable.  You are EXPECTED to know the rules BEFORE you start to post.
  • DO YOUR OWN HOMEWORK!  One of the forums I frequent is plagued with people who are just too lazy to search a forum before posting a topic asking a question.  As an example, a person made a post a while back asking if anyone was familiar with brake shoes manufactured by Company XYZ (they weren’t really brake shoes but the situation is the same).  A few hours later another person posted a new topic asking if anyone was familiar with brake shoes manufactured by Company XYZ because he found a set on EBay.  Same product, same company.  The first post was TWO LINES below the new post when it was made.  All the person posting the second topic had to do was LOOK AT THE SCREEN and he would have seen virtually the exact same topic as the one he just made.

    On a similar note, one of the forums I frequent has the same questions asked over and over and over.  SEARCH THE FORUMS!  Take the time to see if your question has already been asked before you post it.  Things like “Which Airbrush Is Best” or “Which Thinner Should I Use” are asked on a weekly basis and all it takes is searching for the words Best Airbrush or Which Thinner to get all the answers a person could possibly want.  If you don’t get answers to a question you post that may well be the reason.  There are a lot of people with the patience of Job who will answer the same questions day in and day out.  I’m not one of them.  If I see a post that has been asked dozens of time I know it is from someone who is just too lazy to look for an answer themselves and I pass it right on my without even opening it.  The administrators of one forum I know of will lock topics that are duplicates.  They will put a reply in stating something along the lines of, “This is a common topic.  Search the forum for your answer.” and lock it down.

    On another similar note, simply putting the statement “I searched but couldn’t find an answer” in a post doesn’t cut it.  The people who spend time on a forum know what the repeat topics are.

  • DON’T ASK FOR ADVICE AND THEN ARGUE ABOUT THE ANSWER.  I have seen topics where someone asked a question and when they didn’t get the answer they wanted they proceeded to argue with the person answering.  If you already know the answer don’t ask the question!
  • DON’T HIJACK THREADS!  I know, I’m guilty of that myself but it is still rude.  If someone starts a topic about a particular subject don’t try and change it to a different subject in mid-stream.  Respect the topic-stater's subject, and if you want to post about something different start your own topic.
  • DON’T EXPECT IMMEDIATE ANSWERS.  It may take some time for someone with an answer to respond.  “Bumping” your topic back to the top of the list is considered rude.  I saw a topic a while back that I had no answer to.  About an hour later I noticed that the original poster, after not having any responses and seeing a couple of posts on top of his, had replied to his own topic with nothing but the word “Bump” to simply force it back to the top of the list.
  • KEEP TOPICS IN THE APPROPRIATE AREA.  Most forum have several different topic areas.  If you start a topic you should use judgement as to which topic area it should be started in, don't just start it wherever you want to.
  • YOU DON'T ALWAYS HAVE TO QUOTE THE ENTIRE TOPIC.  Quoting a previous post in a thread is frequently useful to keep the conversation on track.  In many cases quoting the entire previous post is not necessary at all since all someone has to do is look at the post above yours.  Quoting large sections of a topic seldom does anything but take up bandwidth, and bandwidth is a commodity that many forum owners do not have a lot of.  Use your judgement when quoting and keep it relevant.

Forums are an amazing source of information but people who use them are expected to do their part to keep them moving in the right direction.  The best advice I can give it so play by the rules or go somewhere else.

Keep in mind that these are my own personal opinions and peeves.  Other people may have others and I would be more than happy to add them to this list.  Drop me an EMail and I’ll be glad to add your comments.

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