Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Internet Forums: Too many rules spoil the fun

One of the great things about the internet is that it's allowed so many opinions to be voiced. There are many public forums out there, for just about any subject matter one can imagine. I've found that for many forums, people behave themselves, and despite sometimes wildly differing opinions, everybody gets along just fine. Every forum to which I am a member has some general rules of conduct. With the exception of the ocassional spammer or "troll", I've rarely seen anyone get kicked out.

Which brings me to one of the most annoying forums on the internet, "Television Without Pity" (often abbreviated as TwoP). On their website, their motto is "spare the snark, spoil the network". It seems that they are inviting dialog and critical commentary on television shows, but don't be fooled. They are probably THE most pretentious and restrictive forum on the internet. I checked their rules page today (it was last revised July 5, 2007) and it contained 10 "dos" and 16 "don'ts". This means there are, at minimum, 26 different reasons that they can - and will - warn you, and then eventually ban you. (Yes, you can be warned if you don't "do a do" correctly.)

An example of one of the rules: "DON'T post in a thread until you've read at least the last fifteen pages or days of content." So, by the time you finish reading all that content, it's likely that you will forget who said what, or what was even said for that matter. As a result, it's very easy to accidentally repeat an opinion mentioned earlier. I was once warned for a post where I stated my opinion about a specific episode of a TV show, and because one other person 2 pages back made a similar comment, I was given a warning. For a forum who says to "spare the snark, spoil the network", only one person/posting is allowed per snark, I guess.

So now I avoid this forum like the plague. It used to be a great place where one felt an honest opinion about what we see on network TV could be voiced. Now, it's a forum where opinion and commentary is stifled. And with so many other forums out there, I'd rather take my comments, and my eyes on the website ads, to another site (something advertisers hate to hear).

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Rosemary said...

Hi FC, I know you as LOJ from another forum.

I totally agree on TWOP though I still go there sometimes I admit. I was posting there on a tennis group until right around the time of the US Open final when there was a mass defection because - we were not allowed to talk about the matches - only the broadcasts!!

So a bunch of people formed an alternative forum. Too bad that had to happen.

- Rosemary (roseha)

The Frequent Critic said...

Hi Rosemary! Yes, you bring up another annoyance I have with TwoP. Nothing can get a person warned or banned faster than if one DARES to talk about a show while it's airing. I'm not quite sure why that is, but my guess is that they don't want all the increased site traffic that may ensue if people comment while a show is airing. Maybe members SHOULD have the ability to "chat" while a show is on, or open chat rooms occasionally right after a show airs. For a web site who seems to want to draw out a show's fans, they sure don't make it easy for them to come out and play! And I would think that an advertiser could be interested in sponsoring some chat time and related web site expense if somehow their ad could show while a chat is in progress. I don't know if it's doable but it's a thought.

You mention a mass defection - I also think that when TwoP shut down The View discussion board during the time that Rosie was at her worst, they drove a lot of people away from their site. I think they forget that one purpose for people to come to the site is for the advertisers. If I were an advertiser, I'm not sure if I'd want my ads on a web site that drives people away! :)

By the way - is the alternative forum open to the public? I'd like to check it out!

Rosemary said...

Hi FC,

Actually the mass defectors just created a new tennis board, it's at http://tennisheaven.proboards67.com/
I'm not aware of any other defections but they may well be out there!
Apparently commenting during the matches was only part of it, the mods at TWOP didn't want to hear which players you liked/didn't like, or anything other than the broadcast, including the match and the players' abilities. What??
But you might find it amusing that the new board has as one thread title "Rules? We don't need no stinkin' rules!" LOL