Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Techno-quette => Topic started by: Jaelle on July 18, 2012, 09:47:20 PM

Title: Forum fandom drama
Post by: Jaelle on July 18, 2012, 09:47:20 PM
I often read a forum in which people talk about a certain very specific entertainment series. It's not a big one. Lots of debate about where the story is going, characters, etc., etc. It's the sort of medium/forum that the actual series creators may look in on from time to time.

People may occasionally venture opinions that are not the norm or that are mildly negative about the series ("Argh, I hope they get away from that plotline soon ... it's getting boring!") but it rarely goes beyond that.

However. There is one particular frequent poster who loathes a certain plotline in the series. Any mention of it in the series is bound to bring on a forum rant that is often quite offensive ... not in language, but in declaring the creators "traitors" and often using claims and terminology many on the forum find quite offensive.  There was recently quite a blowup, and the thread tonight was honestly quite painful to read. Aforementioned poster goes off about how the creators are betraying the fans and their vision and are awful, awful people ... other posters telling him that if he doesn't like it, he can darned well leave/stop reading.

I didn't take part. But it started me thinking: In a forum dedicated to a certain series/fandom, how much negativity is, well, constructive? And when does it cross the line into "Well, if you don't like, leave!" And are the other posters rude for saying so?

I've always wondered why people who feel so strongly that something is awful hang around in a gathering spot for those who love it, but I don't think censorship is good either. What do you think? What's the proper forum etiquette for something like this?

Rereading this, it looks fairly vague. I can provide clarification if necessary. :)
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: WillyNilly on July 18, 2012, 10:07:36 PM
Since you are being vague, I'll just use a different series as an example.  i was a HUGE fan of the X-Files.  i watched it all the time, repeats, etc.  If I had had the internet I might have been on a fan page.

To this day I can't even remember the series without getting PO'ed over the smoking man conspiracy they ran with towards the end.  Straight up, they killed a great series.  And while some people liked it, I know many agreed with me.  And whether it just ran its course as a show or whether it was the smoking man, the reality is the series is no more... so I think if something really is coming in from left field and taking over and changing the series, it is important for people to be vocal about not liking it.

I mean, can't people just choose to not read the rants if they don't want to?  There are a few posters on this site who's responses I routinely don't read (for various reasons).  I just read the rest of the posts and perhaps skim the posts from posters I don't care for, or skip them entirely.  Its always an option.
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: RavenousEdenFleur on July 18, 2012, 10:28:32 PM
I pod WillNilly, I was a fan of Heroes and frequented forums at times. A lot of debate about stories, time travel, character interactions and there is a lot of passion. It's best to pick the battles I would say and stay away from undue drama.
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: baglady on July 18, 2012, 10:29:15 PM
This sounds like a job for the "don't feed the trolls" rule.

What's the moderation like on this forum? If you have decent mods, then eventually Mr. McRantypants will be warned, gagged and banned if he doesn't curb his behavior. It's one thing to have a dissenting opinion. It's another to be obnoxious, antagonistic and insulting about it. You are under no obligation to respond to those posts -- and you're better off ignoring them.

I've only participated in one fandom online ("House"), and I've been lucky. I know that elsewhere on the Net there have been some pretty nasty "shipper wars" in my fandom, but I've avoided the worst of it. I mainly post in a generic fan forum that is extremely tolerant (and well moderated), and in one devoted to my "ship" that opponents of that pairing wouldn't even bother to visit.

Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: TheVapors on July 18, 2012, 11:00:52 PM
WillyNilly makes some good points, and I thank her for using X-files as an example, because it's a really good one.

Elephantschild, a lot of your post actually brings to mind the age old question about how much does a creator of a series "owe" to their fans. Say, Star Wars. But, I know those things are a little bit to the side of what you were actually asking. Which is about how to deal with the forum fallout.

As a personal rule, if I'm on a forum dedicated to a show or comic, I feel it's fine to go into a thread or create a thread that constructively criticizes a plot line. For example, "I really disliked that Character kissed her ex-boyfriend. That was absolutely against what they said just 5 minutes before. I think they could fix it if they did XYZ. Or, here's why that doesn't fit Character so far." Things of that nature.

However, let's say the plotline continues on and that Character ends up having a new relationship with ex, and there are threads springing up discussing NOT what they think about that, but rather where they see the plotline going, then sure I can mention that I'd like to see the plotline concluding with Character breaking up, but I don't get to sit there and call the creators traitors or anyone who likes the plotline a traitor, or make fun of people for liking the plotline.

Really, if I'm that angry about a plot choice, then I'm probably going to be handled better by a creator if I write a polite letter detailing points than calling them names on a forum and hijacking every thread dedicated to that one specific plotpoint.

But, forum etiquette is largely dictated by "how much can I get away with". The moderators are the final line. If they choose to let something go after it's been reported, then they are saying that "these are the rules on this forum, that person is allowed to do what they are doing". If they choose to arbitrarily follow rules based on who posted or even what mood they're in, then that, too, is saying, "Sometimes the rules are followed, sometimes not. That's the way it is on this forum."

PS - I'm curious what entertainment series you're talking about, but I don't think it would change my mind, as it's eye-rollingly juvenile to call a creator a traitor to a series.

Adding a bit: If the moderators are allowing the rants or whatever they are, then a person can either choose to put up with it by (as WillyNilly mentioned) not reading certain people's posts/blocking them, or by finding a different forum that more suits their needs as a participant.
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: Jaelle on July 19, 2012, 11:47:04 AM
It's tough to clarify in many ways because it's not a greater forum in particular, but rather just a way to comment on the day's installment of the series. So no threads to just avoid. (May have given something away there ... ;))

The person in question seems to have identified with a particular character and is horrified about any plot development he construes as "betraying" that character or, you know, putting obstacles in said character's way like any good author would do. It's baffling. And then people jump on him and ... whoa, downhilll from there.

I actually loved "The X-Files" and agree with you about that! I pretend the end didn't happen.  :P
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on July 20, 2012, 05:01:25 PM
Once upon a time I used to visit a POTC forum, and I think it was around the time of Dead Man's Chest (the second film) that I just backed away from it all because I got so tired of the shipping wars.   I mean, if someone really is of the opinion that Jack and Elizabeth belong together, well fine, but some folks would get downright argumentative as to WHY they thought their shipping was the only valid one.  ::)

Or people would gripe about how much they hated one of the characters.  If it was Jack they hated, a part of me was thinking "But he's most of the movie, how can you like these movies if you hate him?"
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: LifeOnPluto on July 21, 2012, 03:27:01 AM
I guess people can get really passionate about fiction, and feel personally betrayed when something happens that (they perceive) to take the show in a whole new direction.

(For example, I was a "Sliders" fan back in the 1990s and remember feeling really disappointed when they replaced the awesome Professor Arturo with the belligerent Mary-Sue that was Maggie.  :) Then I stopped watching altogether when the show became all about fighting the Cro-Mags, rather than the gang trying to find their way home).

I think that so long as the poster isn't swearing, or personally insulting other posters (eg "Anyone who likes this plot-line must be a complete moron!" etc) it's not technically rude, and you should just ignore posts from that person.
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: AngelBarchild on July 23, 2012, 09:01:18 AM
I think this really depends on the rules of the forum. The etiquette of the forum is set down in what is allowed and what is not. For example when I visit Television without pity, I would never dream of asking someone not to snark about the show. I also frequent a political board where creative insults are in rewarded, that's the etiquette of the board so that's the rules I play by when I'm there. Basically if it's against the rules report it, if it just annoys you, then ignore it or reply, whatever would be the social norm for that board.
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: FlyingBaconMouse on July 24, 2012, 08:01:08 AM
I actually tried to reply to this yesterday, but stopped because I was starting to digress into a complaint about Parkman's character arc on Heroes—that would be one of my middling-favorite characters on a show I felt was pretty flawed and that ended a few years ago.  :-[ So unless a mod is willing to step in on the OP's forum, I don't see what can be done other than ignoring. It's quite possible to be passionate about a show you perceive as deeply messed up*... apparently.  :)

*My coping strategy when I'm an active viewer is to pretend everything was plotted out nicely, but that some hapless intern/maintenance person erased the whiteboard, leaving the show's creators to invent madly at the last second. So far I've applied the "missing whiteboard" theory to Carnivale, Heroes, Smallville, and Eureka.
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: RavenousEdenFleur on July 30, 2012, 09:03:03 PM
FlyingBaconMouse(whose name I love!) I will listen to your Parkman story complaint because I do have quite a few!

I also agree, if things get out of hand I would say the coke rule or moderator. There will always be dissension but there is a fine line between friendly banter about a story and intelligent debate about a plot and arguing and insults.
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: Cami on August 09, 2012, 09:58:49 AM
I've been involved in online fandoms on any number of entertainment options since about 2000. In all of those years and in all of those fandoms, I've yet to see one that:

1. Does not have trolls -- people who post solely to stir people up.
2. Does not have people who are "right" fighers. Often, when you get to know them, they will complain about how they lack real life social interaction. They tend to have too much time, energy and emotion invested in the entertainment and in being "right" about their opinions.
3. Does not have people who cannot handle any sort of conflict.
4. Does not have people who cannot handle negative opinions on anything about their beloved entertainment option and who quickly play the, "If you don't like it, then leave!" card.
5. does not have Chicken Little types who look for the slightest bobble or problem and inflate that into wholesale destruction of the entertainment.

So I think you need to expect to see these types of people show up. The question is how to handle them either in terms of moderating the forum or in terms of participating in the forums.

As a participant, I've generally found it's best to avoid letting yourself get emotionally reactive to comments from others. I've really had to work on that myself because the comments can be so provocative. And then, they can just get tiresome and ruin your enjoyment of the entertainment, especially when it gets to being accused of being a "bad" fan because you dare to make one negative comment. It's often best to, as they say, "use the scroll button" because often times what people want is attention and/or an argument. When you fail to provide either, those people often go away. Now I say "often" because sometimes they won't go away and in fact, will escalate in ever more desperate attempts to get what they want and that is when a moderator needs to step in.

I will say that moderation is a tricky business because finding that middle ground between Pollyanna and Darth Maul is a tricky thing. I've seen moderators allow some of the most heinous insults (and on one occasion, actual threats and internet stalking) to stand. (And I mean, seriously -- if someone is escalating to threats or internet stalking over a tv show, there IS a real problem).  I've seen moderators so afraid of any negativity that they ban anyone who dares to make even the slightest constructive criticism. What I've seen most often is that when there is a plethora of negative people and/or criticism of the entertainment, a separate thread is constructed called something like, "The Dark Side" or "Gin and Bitterness".  There are advantages and disadvantages to creating such separate threads, of course.
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: FlyingBaconMouse on August 09, 2012, 10:29:54 AM
FlyingBaconMouse(whose name I love!) I will listen to your Parkman story complaint because I do have quite a few!

I also agree, if things get out of hand I would say the coke rule or moderator. There will always be dissension but there is a fine line between friendly banter about a story and intelligent debate about a plot and arguing and insults.

Oh, I just noticed this! Thanks for the compliment!  :)

And the short version is that toward the end I called him "Thomas Hardy's Matt of the Parkmanvilles," because most of the nice things that happened to Parkman seemed to happen offscreen, over the summer hiatus, while they piled ever more miseries on him for the audience. I know you can't have an interesting plot without conflict, but it was excessive to the point that my friends and I wondered if one of the writers had ever been dumped by an SO for a policeman named Matt.
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: squeakers on August 09, 2012, 11:10:52 AM
An oldie but a goodie describing the types of people who frequent forums (normal people have a little bit of each type): (click "begin" on the far right top corner)
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: Twik on August 10, 2012, 10:53:00 AM
The trouble is, with a fandom forum for something like a tv show or book, it's hard to consider criticism "constructive". What's already been published or filmed is done. They can't change it. And as bad as today's scriptwriters can get sometimes, the very worst writing is done by writers who are paying too much attention to fans going, "I want more of Character X! And Y and Z should SO be a couple!"

So, it's unlikely that any criticism is going to be really constructive (as in, bringing about change for the better). However, it doesn't have to be vicious, or unpleasant. One can say, "I liked the show up to this point, but that plot line seemed boring and the hero started behaving very differently than his original character would suggest," without being obnoxious to the rest of the viewers, or sounding as if it's more than a personal preference.
Title: Re: Forum fandom drama
Post by: SPuck on August 10, 2012, 07:15:45 PM
I think there is nothing you can do about trolls expect have good moderators. I love Avatar the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, but there are fans in the series on forums who hate the second series. The moderators do an excellent jobs of deleting posts and blocking threads when people bring up their hate for the second series, their hate for certain voice actors and their characters in the series, or their new found hate of the creators of the  series.