Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened... Again... At The Forum

I have mixed feelings on Forums. Both using them as an individual, and facilitating their use on

First the down side. Yet again, I have just left a Forum after a flame war started escalating into a global conflagration, with the original protagonists long forgotten as opposing camps launched ever more vitriolic assaults against each others' views and then, leaving even the original topic or anything remotely of relevance behind, each other. There were a few pleas for moderation in there, but it was just... nasty.

And the irony was that it was started by a a fairly innocuous post about some eco-issue, that somehow got hijacked by those with more pressing agendas and louder keyboards.

I really intend to stay on top of this with's Forums, as I truly believe that this minority drive away the majority who can use a Forum as a tool to do a lot of good in sharing information, offering advice, etc. Not sure how we do this, but I think we need some serious rules, very effective moderation and ruthless interception of abuse. And perhaps we also need to have a 'Smoking Room', where those who do wish to debate with passion can go to debate, but those simply wanting to play nice and interact in more factual matters can enjoy posting in peace without risking a sarky or nasty reply.

It's a vain hope in many ways. I recently tapped into a Mac forum to find out if anyone could help with why my Mini had suddenly started going to sleep and the first reply demanded why I hadn't referred to a similar post (and answer, which didn't help) some several months, and a couple of hundred posts, earlier. There is nothing wrong with being a newbie, dude!

Sadly such people create cliques and assume the rest of us should live by their lifestyles, which would appear to mean one is plugged into an online connection 24/7. I have better things to do. And while we can have frustrating repeats of questions already addressed on our FAQs, we will always reply with patience and good humour. Often it is something worth revisiting.

So let me end on an upbeat note. As a result of my participation in a recent Forum, ironically inspired by a Telegraph correspondent's frustration with some Greenpeace activities, instead of a major flame war I ended up as part of a very civilised discussion and exchange of views. Better yet, I am now in touch with Greenpeace in India, and looking forward to developing a relationship where we may be of help to each other in pushing forward new, positive, ethical initiatives between our two countries.