I’m not a fan of Internet forums. I’ve joined some here and there, but most of my experiences have been unpleasant. For me, they’re not the happy, free-for-all places they’re advertised to be. Blogs are better places for people to express their opinions.
I’ll give you three reasons why I believe this:
(1) On a blog, you can say whatever you want
Forums have moderators who control what the people talk about. These police officers determine the meaningfulness and relevancy of each topic and post. If a topic is determined to be unpopular, off-topic, or pointless, it is locked, moved, and/or deleted. The person who brought it up might be warned or banned.
In other words, there’s no freedom to just say what’s on your mind (unless you’re a moderator yourself, but I’ll get to that in a moment). On a blog, however, you can talk about anything, and there’s no moderator asking what the point is. It means something to you, and that’s enough. Plus, you can mix things up, instead of being confined to the structure of the forum (on-topic stuff here, off-topic stuff there, etc.).
(2) Forums have hierarchies
Forums claim to be “communities,” but there’s no equality. The “little people” kiss the feet of the higher-ups. And you can tell who’s who – it’s all in the way they treat you. It’s also clear from the ranking systems a lot of forums have (you know – titles, stars, stages of evolution, etc.).
Let’s examine this pyramid.
At the top, of course, are the admins and mods, the guys who control the content. They’re the emperors and empresses of the forum, the glorified, the elite – after all, they’re the ones who pass judgment on everyone else. If they like you, you can stay; if they don’t like, they’ll ban you soon enough.
Then, there are the members who post a lot – and I mean, a lot! Often, they show so much interest in the forum that they are made moderators. Just hope they remember their roots…
Then, there are the people who post occasionally but enough that everyone recognizes their “names.” I would think most people fit in this category.
Then, there are the “returners,” the members who join the forum, go on a posting frenzy, “leave,” and then “come back” months later with a cheerful “guess-who’s-back” post. They may think they’ve been missed, but the truth is no one has even thought about them and if they have, it was because their names came up in the list of people’s profiles to delete to make some space.
Finally, there are the newbies (or noobs), the newly-registered members. In some forums, they’re welcomed with open arms; in others, they’re belittled for a few months, then viewed as true members of the forum; and in still others, there’s a collective effort to scare them away and only the ones who survive are taken in.
Where there’s a hierarchy, there’s also favoritism. The higher up the ladder you are, the more you can get away with. A mod can say things that would get a noob permanently banned. Why? Because most mods have been there long enough that everyone knows “how they talk” and “when they’re kidding” (classic excuses).
Why go through that? Why not assign yourself your own worth? Write when you feel like it. Say what you want. Talk however you want. Don’t worry about the judgment of the elite. That’s the freedom of a blog.
(3) On a blog, you can be yourself
Release your randomness! Obsess over that cute elf from your favorite book and write a million posts about him/her! Post pictures of your pet iguana! Talk about how pretty the sky looks after a rainstorm! Whatever you like, post it! Show us who you are!
Do this on a forum, and your topics would likely be locked/deleted and you might be banned. No one cares about your inner madness! Stick to the point!
Well, on a blog, you can be as crazy as you really are. And you decide when to delete your posts.
Now, that’s my opinion. Don’t take it as fact. If you’ve found the perfect forum and you love it, by all means, stay! I don’t hate you. In fact, I congratulate you. As for me, I won’t be joining anymore forums anytime soon.