I’ve written before about the eHam policy of protecting the raving insane posts of a click of forum trolls.
Moderation can be part of the solution – but it is largely absent at eHam, which is a mistake by not using the moderator’s position to trim out the disingenuous, false, and slanderous.
It is the PC trend in customer relations to treat all customers as if they were the same. It is the same PC ethos we see permeating throughout society.
In the long run it is unsupportable – economic laws of function require discernment and differentiation.
Marketers talk of it in terms of “Customer Segmentation” where hard evaluations are made in how a company responds to differing classes of customers. They will tell you to divide them into Bronze, Silver and Gold, and then whisper that perhaps the most important part is to identify those who are Lead and should be pushed out.
It is much like making soup – we can argue, plan, test, adjust and do about anything with our good ingredients – the ones that are like our Bronze, Silver and Gold customers in the business segmentation. While some combinations work better, they all work. Whether carrots, onions or potatoes, they all work well in the soup.
But add the Lead Customer – the toxic customer, as if you allowed something like brake cleaner or floor wax to be added to the soup, the Lead Customer ruins the soup.
Fortunately in business and in forums the caustic effect of treating the septic the same as the health is incremental rather than instantly catastrophic.
Nonetheless allowing the soup to be poisoned isn’t a good thing.
Other forums risk joining eHam’s forum, perhaps out of kindness to all customers whether they play well in a forum or not, by heading down the path which has made personal attack posts the norm – someone there comments they like something the forum’s pet trolls don’t like and the same click will post “ignorant appliance operator Hams like W9….”
Special high risk of going down the eHam path is when they allow repeated “I’m a software engineer and I know the Vendor XYZ is lying when they say Product QWERTY will launch by such a date” posts.
They are allowing the brake cleaner or floor wax to be put in the soup.
Of course the dialogue quickly gets personal on the continuum to “Ad Hitlerian” argumention – personal slanging matches.
Unless a brave forum participant posts a “piss off wanker” response (which unlike eHam who revels in the massive number of hits the latest 14.313 style brawl will bring their website, a few forums will close down a thread quickly when it descends to Ad Hitlerian slanging) it just doesn’t stop.
But that leaves still a huge casualty – truth.
Inaccurate, spurious and outright false claims remain in the community forums, searchable of course.
This is where moderation is needed.
If someone says that the XYZ team are liars for projecting a product launch by a certain date, that unless they KNOW – that they have FACTS that the public statement is wrong, that their post should die under the moderator’s keyboard & mouse. Not doing so will make it impossible for any vendor to offer product projections without risking the adverse marketing trolls being allowed to post with equal project can bring.
I as a community read want to hear what is projected – whether in product features or timeline. Learning what is planned can save me money and helps formulate my future station plans.
Allowing troll comments makes the community and unlikely place to pick up any real information.
And I really don’t want to hear what some armchair quarterback has to say – if I wanted to hear that sort of crap I could go on 14.313 or select 40 & 75m voice nets.
The online community of forums allows those interested unprecedented access to the people who are actually doing it. And I for one do not want to see this access further damaged by the bad combination of timid moderation and pet forum trolls.