I posted this on Ultimate Roller Coaster, a fine and long-running coaster site. The guy who runs it, Eric, and I have been in touch for years. He's a talented designer and a good guy. We share a lot of pain running popular coaster sites... the post follows.
Some jerk posted some crap on CoasterBuzz about how much he disliked URC or whatever, and I promptly removed it (because it shows a lack of class) and came over to see what the problem was.
While I haven't seen a ton of it, it strikes me as a little ridiculous that anyone would criticize Eric for any kind of moderation. He's more than patient if you ask me.
After running message boards for five years or so now, and lurking on others (including this one), I've come to some interesting conclusions that I thought I'd share, in no particular order.
1. Generally speaking, it's easy for people to be jerks online. There are a lot of civil people, and it depends on the content or subject matter (coaster enthusiasts are tame compared to gamers), but when you mix people who are of varying ages, experiences, etc., people get off on being more [your adjective here].
2. People don't like control. That's a real bummer too, because point one pretty much requires you have a little control or you end up with the chaos and endless nonsense found on RRC.
3. There's always an "in" crowd. Yeah, they'd stuff you in your locker if you were in high school. We call them coaster snobs, and we used to have a ton of them on Guide to The Point, where probably hundreds of people started down the road to be enthusiasts. Just because Cedar Point was the center of their universe they weren't as good as the people with triple-digit track records. It's what I hated about RRC in my early days. Only a few years later they've traveled, knocked out dozens of new rides, and many of them to this day make up the CoasterBuzz membership. They're not too good for the youngin's and newbies, and would sooner ride with them than slam them in a public forum.
4. Kids have no manners. OK, that's not a fair statement. I love working with teens, but there are always a few, a minority if you will, that have no people skills online. My policy is to boot them right away.
5. People don't give an upstop wheel about what the person running the sites or forum feels or thinks. In the last year or two the fact that ad dollars are in the crapper makes this worse. I can't speak for Eric, but I sure as hell know that it irritates me when some ungrateful little snot can't follow the rules for our FREE service that we're providing. Bandwidth ain't free, folks, and if we're gonna pay for it, we're going to run things the way we see fit (even if you think it's wrong). If I were a bigger jerk (or perhaps really drunk one night), I'd rewrite my rules to look like this.
There you have it. What do you do about all that? I dunno... take it as it comes. We're talking about discussion forums about roller coasters here, not Middle East peace talks. Give everyone a break, especially us Webjockeys, and go with the flow. We've all got lives to lead. Spending much time thinking about this kind of stuff is probably not the best use of our time.