|Annoying Foo Specialists|
Quite a few topical forums have an off-topic forum, like Foo at WebmasterWorld, for the purpose of allowing members to discuss items that aren't relevant to the other forums. A great idea.
In one forum I've created a monster, though, in that the OT topic is very successful and has developed regular posters. Remember the Annoying Forum Member [webmasterworld.com] thread? I've got a few of these annoying members who post almost exclusively in the OT forum. This is sort of the worst of all worlds - these people annoy other members (though not with blatant TOS violations) and at the same time contribute little of substance to the main purpose of the community.
Anyone else have these types on their forum?
You mean when you're not one yourself? (I'm pretty sure a number of people consider me "one of the above"....)
Sure. The only fora I don't have at least one of those on are a couple of teensy boards I maintain for a few total outcasts like me....
Y'know, as long as these folks spend most of their time in the "garbage can" forum, I don't worry about it. I've never lost anyone because of them since I started running my own fora. The only time I can actually remember losing a member over a sand-flea was way back when we had a group of more-or-less long time game-friends in one Delphi forum. Said member took VIOLENT exception to something the flea said (in the nature of an incontrovertible truth/direct attack sort of way), and even though we (the board's owner and I as the admin/prime mod) immediately popped the flea between our fingernails, the member still stormed away in high dudgeon - but he did return eventually somewhat shamefaced and apologizing for overreacting....
Res ipsa loquitur.
Webwork: translation? Never got to Latin....
[Nev' mind: google to the rescue again, but I'm not sure to what this applies? "RES IPSA LOQUITUR - Lat. "the thing speaks for itself." Refers to situations when it's assumed that a person's injury was caused by the negligent action of another party because the accident was the sort that wouldn't occur unless someone was negligent."]
Interesting comment, Webwork, but I'm not sure it's on target. On my busiest forum, I've had some complaints about posters who spend all their time in the "foo equivalent" topic and annoy otherm members. It's easy to say don't worry about it, it's all OT anyway, but it CAN be harmful to the sense of community.
Verba volant, scripta manent...
I can only answer uidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur... Users love the Foo sections, but if they only post there and not elsewhere, they are not participating in the community, they are just using the facilities.
If the forum is a "professional" (in the largest possible sense) one, foo exists simply to siphon off the off-topic stuff out of the main areas - not to take on a life of its own.
Depending on the technical complexity, you can do certain things - move foo down to the bottom of the page, remove post counts for that forum only, limit posting in Foo to members with a sufficient post-count in the main forums, or - if things have really gotten out of hand - split off the foo completely and charge 'em for using it!
I launched a new forum just two days ago (which is already expanding rapidly) taking over a small gang of posters from another site. It is specifically is more foo-like than the original board, which dealt with a more limited subject matter. It was the volume and the subject matter of the foo posts on that board made it clear than an offshoot would be worthwhile. Where the posts on the old board could be considered off-topic, they fit nicely in their new environment - so it sometimes may be an opportunity, not just a problem.
I see 2 broad classes of 'contributors', or, should I say posters, referring generally to those who post in response to a thread someone else started.
There are those who post in the interest of filling a need of someone else - for knowledge, insight, an answer, for confirmation.
Then there are those whose "responsive posts" are more often than not about fulfilling some need in themselves, from a need to connect to cope with loneliness or depression ("me too" posters, etc.) to the other extreme of lashing out at others as an expression of their own self loathing or sense of inadequacy, etc. It's this latter category that tends to yank people's chains.
I'm all over the place, myself, functioning mostly in accordance with the level of sleep I've enjoyed - or not - during the preceding days.
I think you are right about that, Webwork, and in off-topic conversations the need is probably mostly internal to the poster - the desire to make a political point, refute another poster, etc.
Some people like to hear themselves talk...