Why I prefer blogging to forum postingPosted: September 16, 2012
|Perhaps if they fling enough poo, it will create ‘MacBeth.’|
The question of whether posting on online forums is better or worse than blogging seems to get raised on forums that I visit every few months or so. At this point, I can almost predict how they will play out. Someone will post some question like, “Is posting on forums better than blogging?” and people will chime in with their different opinions — which is fine (isn’t that what the internet is for?), but at this point, if it’s the right forum, I feel like I can almost predict which regular poster will say exactly what.
What bothers me is that it is usually presented as an ‘either/or’ proposition — either you are a forum person or a blogger — and a large number of members of the loose online community of people interested in ‘old timey D&D’ seem to be of the opinion that you can’t do both. I think that’s just stupid.
A few years ago I used to visit online forums a lot more than I do now. At the time of my greatest level of forum participation, I was working a job where I had frequent periods of ‘nothing to do’ and a boss who was an asshole who once reamed one of my fellow employees for reading a book when he had nothing to do. Looking at a screen and typing on a keyboard was, in comparison, pretty safe, and better than what some of my fellow coworkers did (which was to wander around and annoy one another). When I had a spare 15 minutes, I would hit Dragonsfoot or a similar site, click ‘see active posts’ and read and comment. As I was able to do that five or six times a day (or sometimes more!), my post count really added up. I was a forum ninja!
Fortunately, I finally managed to leave that job. This meant that I had less time to visit forums and less need to distract myself from job dissatisfaction with forum visits. I still enjoyed to write little essays on topic that interested me. At some point I had started a blog, mostly just to keep track of my ideas and write my little essays on whatever had gotten up my snoot that week, whether it be the price of lamp oil in fantasyland or who should win the next election. A tiny number of people seemed to read my musings, which was fun, but not really the point (at least not for me). For me, writing about something is a good way of thinking about it… I can try to put words to thoughts and therefore make judgements about whatever thought happens to whistle through my skull that day. I often find my opinion on some matters may change as I try to write about them, which is good because I feel like I might be actually making myself smarter while I do something I enjoy. The ‘blogger’ system is good because I don’t have to post it when I write it — I can just save it in draft form and come back to it another day — and I can work on the draft that I started the night before at home during my lunch break at work the next day. The fact that people read it and post responses is just gravy.
Forums just aren’t very good for how I want to write these days. I used to think that the forum culture had changed… and I still think that is at least partially true — years ago, when I first started posting at Dragonsfoot, my fellow forum dwellers seemed much less jaded and just totally geeked that they had found a place where they could talk about ‘umber hulks, vorpral swords and sleep spells’ without getting “WTF are you talking about?” responses from the other forumites. Four or five years ago when I began to get disenchanted with the DF culture, there seemed to be a lot more people on DF with an axe to grind. Maybe that’s just my faulty memory or maybe that’s just the natural evolution of online communities — people who enjoy posting in forums as a bloodsport might eventually just take over.
Plus there were people who just posted in the DF forums because, well, they wanted to post a lot. So someone might post a question like, “If werewolves are harmed by silver, are they harmed by non magical mithril?” and some people might post “yes” or “no” or “all mithril is magical” and make their arguments, but others would post what I call bullshit posts like “pants” and “cheese” and “LOLcats” and “I like boobies.” They were (or are) irritating in the same way that someone who busts into an interesting conversation to talk about themselves or tell an off topic joke is irritating — rather than participating in the existing conversation, they seem to want to use the fact that a conversation is happening online to promote their online personality like a marketing organization wants to promote a brand of perfume or a political candidate — through blunt force and repetition. When I started visiting forums less, I realized I didn’t miss the “HEY, LOOKIT ME” people at all.
The thing I like about blogging is I can write fairly long musings on a subject that I perhaps only I care about, and, since you are not compelled to read it unless you visit my blog, you are free from exposure to my brilliance (or stupidity) if you want to be. I feel that writing really long and self indulgent posts in an online forum is bad form, especially if you write it in response to someone elses’ query… but doing that on a blog is actually what ‘blogging’ is for. Yes, it is self indulgent. Yes, it is more one-sided than a forum. Yes, it is a chance for me to editorialize and stand on my soap box and squeak my stupid opinions at the void. The forums are still there and I don’t think they are harmed by the fact that I participate in them less.
For more on how people suck, read this: http://en.paperblog.com/bbc-confronts-notorious-internet-rip-troll-is-humanity-really-this-bad-140281/