This is something I’ve wanted to talk about for some time now. When I woke up this morning and went to read a forum post I had contributed to the other day. I finally found the last straw that would make me actually write my thoughts on this. Many readers here know I started years ago helping out in a few different online forums. Expressing my opinion and having many heated debates. Along the way I learned many things. Although my opinion on most subjects has changed very little. Over the years I’ve had many reasons to want to stop offering help in online forums. Especially on one very popular site that I have been a member of for many years. It has been ok for me to endure personal attacks time and again. Yet I have not been allowed to fully defend myself against those attacks. This along with favoritism for certain members. Meaning the rules don’t apply to them as strictly as they do others. Has made me almost completely stop being active within that sites community.
One of the main reasons I started this website is because my opinion was being censored within online forums. Things got to the point where I just didn’t feel I was allowed to say what I wanted without fear of moderation. It’s not that I don’t want to provide help to others. In many cases I would be more than able to do that. Of course there are more than enough times where I am not qualified or don’t have the answer to help. Yet in some of those cases I can provide some guidance without telling the person to go Google it. This has become a very common way for people to provide help to others. Forum members will just come into a thread and basically say sometimes not so politely – go Google it you idiot. Or didn’t your ignorant self go look at the FAQ or use the site search. While these tools are all more than helpful at times. I have seen plenty of instances where they don’t provide the help a person needs.
I’m of the opinion that no user needing help should have to spend hours beating their head against a wall trying to find the help they need. Whether this is do to sitting on the phone waiting for a useless in many cases customer service representative, an email reply or doing their own hunting for a solution. When someone is asking for help or information in an online forum. They are normally very frustrated and needing help right then. In some cases they have looked at different search engines, they have looked at the FAQ’s available and they have done a basic search. Over the years I’ve seen all of those options either add to the problem or not provide results that cover the problem being seen. This is where online forum members should be able to be at their best and shine. Unfortunately what we see day in and day out are personal disputes, egos and tons of chest beating. What we also see is the morons ( no I don’t use that word lightly ) that say oh see here – if you would have just Googled it you idiot your answer is right there.
Well if a search engine is all we need. Why is it that your even trying to contribute to the online help forum? We should just have a big sign in the forum that says this help forum is closed. If your to stupid to find your help on Google then you shouldn’t own a computer. The sad fact is that many people feel exactly this way. This is exactly why people are turned off by technology on a daily basis. Because in many cases the good people of the internet have given up or been sent away. We have a very large majority of jerks that have no real need or want to actually take the time to help others. Yes I’ve seen many of the more well known people who swear they are about helping others. Funny how I’ve never seen a certain one of them ever offer to help me with issues I’ve seen over the years. Guess I have to go begging for help or offer them money. The point being that a good majority of people who state they are about helping others. Do nothing but personally attack others and many times don’t offer any actual help.
One of the main reasons I’ve stayed out of the Zone Labs ZoneAlarm help forum is do to rules they have implemented. It was funny how I had a forum reply actually moderated even though I am one of the original Team Z members. This is a group of individuals chosen by Zone Labs to help their customers in online forums. But because I was critical of Zone Labs in regards to their dragging their feet in regards to getting a Vista compatible build out I was moderated. I will not be an active member in a community that will censor me for speaking my mind. I’m more than aware that these sites have the right to enforce the rules as they want. I do that on this site to a point. What I can’t understand is doing that when your routinely losing helpful forum members who provide quality results time and time again.