"Forum Poster Types"
1. The FIRST! Guy
Maybe we should have saved this character for last, but our first offender is the FIRST! Guy--the mental marsupial whose contribution to the great discussions of our online times is to post the first response to any given topic, consisting of the comment "FIRST!" Clever? No. Original? No. Ironically self-mocking in a postmodern deconstructionist kind of way? Uh, no. Puerile? Now you're getting close. And yet there seem to be multiple FIRST! Guy clones lurking around every forum, ready to share a very important message. Here's hoping that all of these Net nuisances find another source of personal pride by their 15th birthday.
The Self-Promoter is a message board classic: This bore meanders across the Web, leaving thinly disguised comments designed to pimp his own project. Sometimes, he'll take a stab at making the promotion look incidental: "Man, that new iPhone softwaredoes look rad! You should check out my blog about Windows Mobile here!" But just as often, he'll ditch the preamble and launch straight into the link without even trying to tie it to the subject at hand.
Shameless self-promotion really is the worst--especially when the shill has to stretch like Elastic Girl to come up with a semi-plausible segue into the promo reference. The only thing that irks me more is behavioral ad targeting, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago here.
A close relative to the Self-Promoter, the Sermonator trolls various comment forums to find some way to divert the conversation to his favorite subject--most often something related to morals, religion, or a particular political view. No discussion is too interesting and no community too engaged for the Sermonator to subvert into a tedious homily on his topic of choice.
4. Mr. Credentials
"As someone who has managed Windows-based systems for 15 years," Mr. Credentials weighs in with a predictable approach. First he encourages everyone to focus on his superior CV, rather than on the objective reasonableness of his views. Then he'll launch into a 500-word essay designed to show just how well-versed he is on the subject at hand (or whatever subject he wants to talk about), overwhelming all resistance with the sheer force and volume of his hot air.
Comment forums are made for divergent viewpoints and intelligent, spirited debate. The Antagonizer, though, takes things to another, more primitive level, resorting to personal attacks and insults in what may be a nostalgic flashback to carefree bygone days as a third-grade bully.
"Do I even have to explain how stupid of a name Stefan is for a man?" one such person wrote on a popular tech blog's story about Apple's touchscreens. He went on to close his remarks with this jab: "I bet you shave your armpits." That's about as clever as the repartee gets in Antagonizer Land; more often the insights run along the lines of "You bleep!" "Bleep you!" "Bleep bleep bleep bleep bleep!" Proof positive that, online, it isn't difficult for a person to be both loud and boring
6. The Moderator
He maintains an air of superiority as he bunkers down each day on a particular site's comment section or message board for another 16-hour stint as archivist-in-residence. He's the cool kid--the site vet who's been around for a long time and knows what's what. Leave a message that repeats something someone else said 16 months ago, and he'll let you know about it within minutes.
"Um, yeah, Newbie0314, we talked about that back when NeverTouchedAWoman24 brought the subject up last May. But thanks for contributing, lol."
Treating the forum as his own private gated community, the (self-appointed) Moderator seems to have adopted as his personal philosophy the Pythonesque commandment "Every thread is precious." To keep each discussion safe and pure, he will treat any commenter who has fewer than 200 messages to his name as an undocumented invader who doesn't deserve a spot on his beloved forum. All of this, we assume, from the comfort of his parents' basement.
Another long-standing character common to forums is the Peacekeeper. This guy has been a regular at a particular site as long as the proprietor, but his goal as a participant has somehow devolved from saying something interesting to keeping the peace--and he has no problem peppering every thread with his efforts to intervene as Mr. Manners.
"Hey now, that's not appropriate," he may say. Or, "Let's watch the language, okay?"
Though the Peacekeeper's intentions are good, his actions end up clogging the forum with pages of useless and often long-winded discussions of propriety that are every bit as annoying as the attacks themselves. Worse, unlike the Antagonizer's antics, the Peacekeeper's contributions can be virtually impossible to silence, even if you're the site's moderator. After all, how do you tactfully tell a guy to stop pacifying?
If the Peacekeeper is on a search-and-destroy mission against offensive content, the Smarty Pants' goal is to find and expose inaccuracies--no matter how insignificant--solely as a means to demonstrate his intellectual superiority. A Smarty Pants constantly runs a fine-toothed comb through both a site's original articles and its comments in search of nits to pick: factual errors, grammatical errors, typos--it doesn't matter. The instant he finds one, he pounces on the offending poster, thrashing him with the wet capellini of his erudition.
Some of these hair-splitters will spend their days doing the spadework necessary to prove a minor mistake in someone else's words. The most obnoxious--and yet most grimly satisfying--kind of Smarty Pants, though, is the one who bases his corrections on his own "infallible" knowledge base.
The Fanboy defends a particular product under any circumstances, no matter what the scenario. He is fervently aware that the Ford Pinto was an excellent car as long you avoided rear-end collisions in it. He also assumes that anyone who fails to praise said product to the skies must be engaged in an irrational vendetta against it--in effect, he sees everyone who isn't a Fanboy as an Anti-Fanboy.
The most common Fanboy tendency is to worship either something (or everything) Apple-related or something (or everything) Microsoft-related. One unmistakable sign that you're dealing with a Fanboy of this kind--and not with just an enthusiast--is that, even though the object of his veneration is ultimately a product for sale, he somehow manages to subordinate technological and monetary considerations to moral imperatives.
This edgy fellow detects conspiracies (or the shadows of conspiracies) in everything he reads, and he has no compunction about publicly sharing his off-kilter suspicions. The Conspiracy Theorist is often convinced that he's under constant surveillance by the government--for some reason they've singled him out (and even more mysteriously, they haven't bothered to terminate him yet, despite his constant blabbing)--and he sees signs of schemes in the strangest places. A story about iPhones might inspire him to share how Apple is using "Q-waves" to trace his thought patterns. A blog on the best browsers could trigger a rant about the time he opened Internet Explorer and saw a toxic waste symbol on his home page.
I don't pretend to understand how this quirky character's brain works. I can only hope that the tin-foil hat he presumably wears most of the time (though not shown here) helps prevent all those weird waves from escaping his head as well as from entering it.
11. The Signature Dork
The Signature Dork appends a 14-line signature to the bottom of each of his posts to the forum or comments section. The boilerplate often consists of the dork's name and titles, followed by a (lengthy) quotable quote, system specs, possibly a grocery list, more quotes (usually from Einstein or Isaac Asimov), followed by a straggling line of crappy-looking, home-made animated GIFs.
This makes a brisk back-and-forth dialogue of Twitter-length comments between the Signature Dork and anyone else look like a series of fortune-cookie fortunes interspersed with a series of fortune-cookie fortunes attached to bricks.
This character seems to hate everything about the publication whose forum he frequents, and yet he seemingly never misses a chance to read and comment on a story. (He gets his name because of his tendency to express his dismay in comments of a single word: "Lame." "Whatever." "Wrong." "Fail.")
It's sad, really: Here's Johnny One-Word trapped by his own loneliness and real-world social ineptitude in an online community dedicated to reviewing and discussing content that he consistently despises. It's like a guy who hates water but spends all his time fishing because it's the only place where he knows he can find other people.
Ahhhh....the morning smile. Thanks, RBF.
Get 'em, Pregamers!
This is great!
"EVERY DOG HAS HIS DAY"
Nice, cashed on that over in the usc game last night by the way, you got any leans for tonight?
Hard not to pay attention to you- very entertaining my friend. Thank you RBF.
Too Funny Razor.. .Hilarious
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So funny Razor!