Internet forums are interesting places, both in a good and bad way.
No doubt they are handy places to discuss mutual hobbies or interests with like-minded people – for me over the years it’s been Dundee United, Scottish Football, Gaming and TV mainly – or to seek out advice on subjects you might not be entirely familiar with.
As someone who has been active on social media of various forms since the 1990s, going back to mailing lists and even IRC chats, where I was actually offered my job with Sports Interactive way back in the day, I’ve seen all sorts of people come and go.
Mostly people are normal, but I was having a think about the different categories of weirdos that you’ll come across from time to time, and decided to make a list.
The chances are if you fit into one of these categories, you don’t really know it – or at the very least can’t accept it – but I’m sure if you’ve ever posted on a web forum, on Twitter or in a Facebook group, you’ll know a lot of people who these apply to.
I imagine I might be persona non grata on some of the forums I post on after this….
1. The Nazi Admin/Mod/Owner
Internet forums attract all sorts of people, but generally speaking, the sort who wants to be an administrator or moderator is the type of person who craves power.
In their real lives they are probably bullied at work, hen-pecked by their wives or have an extensive collection of military memorabilia that they have set up in their bedrooms while they play Ride of the Valkyries on a loop.
Without question the worst type of forum I’ve seen for this are ones relating to TV. Doctor Who ones are terrible for it and in particular there’s one Facebook group I’m a part of that has a list of rules so long and extensive, it’s like a political party’s manifesto.
Here’s the response I got from the admin of one place relating to a post of mine that they deleted…
“Dear Stuart, If you check Rule 6 you will see that your post is in violation of that rule. Using the word “hypothetically” does not remove the intent of this denigration. This would lead on to Rule 5, baiting of forum members, which is also in violation. Finally, Rule 16 on not bringing up moderation in thread, but asking a member of the team via PM. The latter on no fewer than three occasions! Given the above the admins feel any further violations will result a 24 hour timeout from the group. Please note, all decisions of the admin team are final and no further discussion will be entered into. Regards ____ on behalf of the admin team.”
How can you not read that and think “What a prick”. It’s the internet you sad bastard.
2. The Prick
Speaking of pricks, every forum seems to have one.
You know the sort; the one who everyone clearly dislikes because he’s such a…well…such an objectionable prick.
He’s rude, he’s aggressive, he’s got views that most people find utterly reprehensible; essentially he’s a sociopath.
And yet he either doesn’t realise it, or he doesn’t care.
Despite how much everyone would love him never to post on the forum again, he remains there, like a fixed point in time.
3. The Guy Who’s Never Off The Forum
No matter what time of day it is, this guy is on the forum and will always reply to comments instantly, and then get a bit upset if nobody has replied to his point within 30 seconds. He’s only been a member for a year, but he’s already got 35,000 posts to his name.
Mate, step away from the PC.
4. The Guy Who Tries To Get Along With Everyone
If everyone had the same opinion, what would be the point of discussion forums?
But there’s always that one guy who never wants to ruffle any feathers. He sits on the fence the whole time and agrees with everyone about everything.
You might think that’s nice, but after a while you just think “Oh have an opinion for crying out fucking loud!!!”
5. The Guy Who Only Posts To Tell People They Are Wrong
On a similar note there’s the guy who only posts to tell people they are wrong; usually because he’s set himself up as the resident expert, the Superfan or the guy with ‘Insider Contacts’. Ask him to expand on any points or to enter into a reasonable discussion and he won’t do it.
Probably because he can’t.
He lives only to hold the ‘I Know Something You Don’t’ card over people for all of time.
6. The Rival Fan (aka The Troll)
Usually found on Football forums, there’s always the guy who spends more time posting on the rival team’s forum/thread than anywhere else. It’s rife everywhere, whether it’s a specialised forum for a specific club or a thread on a general football site.
As an example of this, there’s a Dundee United thread on a general Scottish Football forum that I occasionally post on where in the last 5 pages the amount of posts from Utd fans are outnumbered by a ratio of probably 10:1 by fans of other clubs trying in vain to ‘wind us up’.
What’s the point?
It’s not just football related though. On gaming forums you’ll get people who post in threads of ‘rival’ consoles and slag it off, or on TV threads in the off topic section of forums it’ll be full of the sort of person who feels it’s their job to come in and post about how the subject matter is shit. Over the years I’ve noticed this is especially true of wrestling and Big Brother. Instead of the topics actually being about them, it’s crammed with people who need to remind others that they don’t like it and that only morons watch such things.
That’s fine mate, but my attitude is that if I’ve no interest in a subject, I’m not going to post about it online.
Trolling is something I’ve never understood.
7. The Guy Who Takes Everything Personally
You know the sort; they post an opinion, someone disagrees and then it’s ——->MELTDOWN TIME<———.
I’ll be honest and say that I’ve been annoyed/stressed by forum arguments in the past, but never to the degree where I’ll throw the toys out of the pram just because someone has dared to disagree with me.
8. The Forum Resignation Letter Guy
Every forum has had that moment where a guy has had enough and decides to stop posting. But there’s that extra special moment – the moment to savour – where someone decides that they must announce their intention to stop posting with a heartfelt resignation letter that will bring a tear to a glass eye.
Presumably the intention is really for people to reply to the post demanding that they stay because they are too valued to leave.
But without fail, whenever someone does this, the reaction amounts to “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out you fucking drama queen”.
Again, it’s just the internet folks, stop being so fucking precious.
Oh, but those guys always return a week later anyway.
9. The Unofficial Technical Expert
There’s always a guy who takes up residency as the technical expert. If you’ve got a problem with any piece of kit, whether it’s a tablet or a toilet, he’s the man who has all the answers. This can happen on any forum, but my particular favourite are the ones who post on the official forums of mobile phone or electronics firms. They’ll answer questions, unpaid, at any time of the day in the hope of being offered a job.
I wonder if that’s ever worked?
10. The Guy Who Never Posts On The Subject Matter
He’s a regular poster and he’s been there for years, but does he actually contribute anything on the actual subject matter?
It’s like he’s hidden in plain sight.
Why’s he there?
11. The Guy Who Writes In His Local Dialect
I’ve got no problem with someone speaking in a local dialect, but why write in it? Surely that requires additional thought?
Or if I was to write that in Dundonian…
Ehve git nae prawblum we someone speakin in thir local tongue, ken.
Perhaps this is at its worst in Scotland, but you’ll inevitably get it all over the world.
I imagine forums in the Southern States of the USA will be full of people referring to each other as y’all.
12. The Resident Joker
Ah the Joker.
He’s liked by everyone and he’s able to defuse a heated debate with a witty bon mot.
Then there’s the 20 other guys who think that describes them.
But it really doesn’t.
13. The Creepy Guy
In the off-topic section of every forum there’s always a thread run by a guy who exists solely to post pictures of naked women and/or offensive jokes.
The very best (or worst) is example of this is a boy on a football forum I frequent who posts around 100 times a day with pictures and gifs of nothing but nudity.
Why he does it, I couldn’t tell you, but I imagine a psychologist would love to find out.
14. The Woman
Finally there’s that rarity; the one woman who shares a common interest with the guys and posts about it.
She’s instantly treated slightly differently by blokes who probably think “I might be in with a shot if we ever have a forum night out”.
It’s a long shot, but it’s as close as some might get.
Have I missed any categories out?
Let me know on twitter @sgmilne or leave a comment on here,
I’ve already had a suggestion for ‘Statistics Guy’ – the one who thinks he’s an expert because he’s looked up Wikipedia.
A great shout.