Author Topic: confront or ignore ” inconsistent ” or ” exaggerating” posters in online forum?  (Read 6763 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

JoyinVirginia

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6074
I would like opinions and advice please. I  post on another online forum with very lax moderation. I an not going to name it, but let's say the purpose is to help posters with a common problem with gardening or plant issues. (not really)
People will post about problem plants, or if they need a professional to help maintain their yard, our some just have house plants with problems. Often posters also mention personal problems that affect this, for example someone has a death in family so they are too upset to garden, or they have chronic health issue that makes it hard to keep up watering plants. Many other posters will give sympathy and encouragement to the poster sharing personal problems.

The problem I notice is that once in a great while there will be a poster who is usually new, and ends up sharing about one personal problem after another, and then just piles on the bad things happening to them to the point it seems very exaggerated and inconsistent to the point that I wonder is this someone who is just desiring attention, or do they need mental health help, or are they for real, or are they posting mode and more outrageous things to see how far they can go?  A message to mods is usually ignored unless poster is posting incorrect gardening info.
Is it worth it to send pm to poster to ask about some inconsistencies, or is it best to simply ignore the poster and their threads? The poster is not asking for anything more from others than sympathy, so whether it is true or exaggerated, it is not really hurting anyone.
Here is a fictional example. Poster will say initially they have problem being a widow, and were sick, and couldn't tend their yard, so now they get visit from officials. Poster will get suggestions on what to do, and encouragement. Then quickly they share that cat died, and neighbors are mean, and their houseplants have mildew, and they have horticulture degree but got fired when they were sick, and then discover they have poisonous vines in the backyard, you get the idea. The poster responds to practical gardening suggestions with a litany of fresh disaster, then disappear for a while with posters who encouraged them wondering what happened.
I have so far ignored when the inconsistency became obvious. But I have been wondering, is their any value in sending a pm or otherwise confronting someone about obvious inconsistencies or exaggerations? Would anyone ever confess if they had been embellishing their tale of woe?
Advice and opinions would be appreciated.

Queen of Clubs

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1827
Do these posters start their own threads?  If so, I'd just give them a mental eyeroll and skip reading that thread.  If they're hijacking other people's threads, you could just scroll straight past them.  People who thrive on internet attention for their long, long (usually unlikely) list of catastrophes aren't likely to stop of their own accord, so confronting them is useless.  Your only recourse, IMO, is to contact the mods, but if the mods won't step in, then there's really nothing you can do.

Yes, it's annoying when you see other posters wasting their sympathy on someone who you believe is lying, but (with any luck) sooner or later they'll notice the inconsistancies too and the sympathy will dry up.  If it doesn't, save yourself the stress and put that poster on your mental 'ignore' list.

squeakers

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1775
Those are the kind of people you just ignore.  If the forum you are on has the capability of blocking posters you use that.  If it doesn't you use your mental block and just never click on a thread said poster started.

Some people like to get attention, some people like to give attention.  And while it is a shame to get duped.. the person giving attention felt good while doing it and can easily shrug off being duped. (No one should ever get so invested in a total stranger's life that finding out they were just a pack of lies should be treated as a learning experience and not a betrayal.  On the internet no one knows you are a cat, a wo/man or typing while naked.)

As far as pointing out the lies? What will it gain you?  If the lies have lead to pleas for money, then yes, I would point it out.  If the lies just get emotional payoffs for the poster, I wouldn't bother. Confronting the liar will get you nowhere.  If the mods don't care, they don't care.  And generally you will notice a slowing of responses as other people get tired of feeding the drama llama. 

And doing a public showdown could lead to you being scapegoated.  "Betty, you said you had 2 kids 3 years ago now you are saying you have 1, how does that work?" Poster replies "My baby died/child moved out/don't want to be traceable so changed some details" and suddenly you have a pack of zoo keepers on your case for being so heartless.

http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=100997.0  for this site's take on trolls and what to do.  #3 is very good advice to follow.
"I feel sarcasm is the lowest form of wit." "It is so low, in fact, that Miss Manners feels sure you would not want to resort to it yourself, even in your own defense. We do not believe in retaliatory rudeness." Judith Martin

Luci

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6043
I usually ignore. The only things I report here are offensive language, TMI, and sometimes a topic that can only get into the fobidden politics, legal advice, and medical advice, and even then only if they've been on for awhile without anyone reporting them. Maybe 5 times. I don't report anything on my other two forums.

When the posts are inconsistent or exaggerated, I either quit reading them or quietly stay tuned for a train wreck. (The waiting for a train wreck is probably rude in itself, but I don't say anything.) I don't think anything good from confrontation. It seems to lead the poster's defending and justifying too much and other posters getting kind of mean. Hard feelings all around.

JoyinVirginia

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6074
Thanks everyone. Squeakers, I had not seen the thread you referred me to, that was perfect advice for my situation. I will just ignore, and wait for train wreck. either this poster will continue to have fresh disasters, or they will stop posting and move on. they start their own threads, and have not asked for anything other than sympathy. And it may all be true, even if incredibly coincidental

artk2002

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12989
    • The Delian's Commonwealth
The question is, what do you want to accomplish with a PM or public confrontation? Get them to be more consistent? Not a chance of that happening. Although you're tap-dancing around the notion, what I'm reading in your post is that you think these people are lying. That may, or may not, be the case, but confronting them and (implicitly) accusing them of lying will get you absolutely nowhere.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

lollylegs

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 596
Those are the kind of people you just ignore.  If the forum you are on has the capability of blocking posters you use that.  If it doesn't you use your mental block and just never click on a thread said poster started.

Some people like to get attention, some people like to give attention.  And while it is a shame to get duped.. the person giving attention felt good while doing it and can easily shrug off being duped. (No one should ever get so invested in a total stranger's life that finding out they were just a pack of lies should be treated as a learning experience and not a betrayal.  On the internet no one knows you are a cat, a wo/man or typing while naked.)

As far as pointing out the lies? What will it gain you?  If the lies have lead to pleas for money, then yes, I would point it out.  If the lies just get emotional payoffs for the poster, I wouldn't bother. Confronting the liar will get you nowhere.  If the mods don't care, they don't care.  And generally you will notice a slowing of responses as other people get tired of feeding the drama llama. 

And doing a public showdown could lead to you being scapegoated.  "Betty, you said you had 2 kids 3 years ago now you are saying you have 1, how does that work?" Poster replies "My baby died/child moved out/don't want to be traceable so changed some details" and suddenly you have a pack of zoo keepers on your case for being so heartless.

http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=100997.0  for this site's take on trolls and what to do.  #3 is very good advice to follow.

I agree with all this, and I also think that Ehell's advice for dealing with trolls is one of the best I've seen on any forum.

LEMon

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1601
There was a thread on here where a good poster made two points that I always use to balance out the drama stories and the contradictions.
She describe a situation she knew well where if anyone had described it to her, she would have called it a tall tale.  It was that dramatic and kept growing.
She then commented that she often changed details in her stories to prevent folks from being able to identify her, and couldn't keep track of all the past details she had used so there might be a contradiction or two in her stories.

So if they are lying, ignore.  If you confront, it will do nothing to stop a liar and could deeply hurt someone who is telling the truth.

JoyinVirginia

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6074
Just an update. Poster has not posted anything new in over a week, when she shared a new looming crisis. However she has logged on daily. Interesting. Her last post about upcoming disaster did not get many replies

TootsNYC

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 30848
Just an update. Poster has not posted anything new in over a week, when she shared a new looming crisis. However she has logged on daily. Interesting. Her last post about upcoming disaster did not get many replies

This also often happens. Either a lot of people get suspicious, or they just get fatigued and decide not to reward the person with more attention.

lollylegs

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 596
What say y'all about PMing other posters who seem to be getting emotionally involved in an obviously fake story?  To use an example, when I was a teenager I posted on a forum for *ahem* fans of a certain boy band  :-[ There was one poster who was pregnant, and it was twins!, but then she lost them, and oh noes she has cancer!  You know the type.  There were so many factual errors that it was obvious to me that she was lying, but not so much to other posters.

In a situation like this, would you PM another poster who is getting caught up in the story and point out the errors, or just leave it?

squeakers

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1775
I would just leave it unless you have already been pm'ing with the people getting caught up(1).  Otherwise a flamewar can erupt: Poster A doesn't believe you, posts your PM for all to see, Posters B and C chime in "we got pm'd too", Poster D and E take offense on behalf of Poster T (for Troll), if you are lucky Posters F, G and H post saying "we think she is right, Poster T does seem to have a lot of misery going on" and from there all heck breaks out.

It is always better to alert a mod/admin and just step back.


(1) getting a pm from someone I have only ever posted with is a bit forward.  It's one thing if you have chatted quite a bit together via posts and another when it is out of the blue.  It helps if I agree with the info presented in the pm  ;)
"I feel sarcasm is the lowest form of wit." "It is so low, in fact, that Miss Manners feels sure you would not want to resort to it yourself, even in your own defense. We do not believe in retaliatory rudeness." Judith Martin

artk2002

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 12989
    • The Delian's Commonwealth
What say y'all about PMing other posters who seem to be getting emotionally involved in an obviously fake story?  To use an example, when I was a teenager I posted on a forum for *ahem* fans of a certain boy band  :-[ There was one poster who was pregnant, and it was twins!, but then she lost them, and oh noes she has cancer!  You know the type.  There were so many factual errors that it was obvious to me that she was lying, but not so much to other posters.

In a situation like this, would you PM another poster who is getting caught up in the story and point out the errors, or just leave it?

I think it's a really bad idea. One of the easiest ways to get someone seriously angry with you is to tell them that some cherished myth is false. If someone is emotionally involved with the life story of a (possibly) fraudulent poster, they're not going to react well to being told that they're  doing something wrong.

At best, they'll just ignore you. More likely you'll get "how can you possibly say something like that about someone who's going through so much?" At worst, they'll turn all of their anger and frustration towards you. Saying "You know, Missy-catastrophe is probably lying" is the equivalent of saying "Aim your flamethrowers here!"
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Allyson

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2021
I have a really hard time with this. I have a pretty good radar for this kind of thing--comes from having been on the internet regularly since I was in junior high, and on all kinds of different forums and chat groups. (Who, me? No life in high school? :D) There are just certain...tells, and it's not just the constant crises. Sometimes it's not even about calling them out, just a niggling bad part of me that wants to know someone else sees what I do, you know? So I would actually not mind getting a PM that was basically like 'hey, do you think this person is sketchy too?' But I don't think I'd ever *send* one...too worried about causing offense.

So now I generally just don't reply at all to threads I find suspect. But it's hard. ;) Especially when there are a lot of those threads, and they all seem to the poster trying to make a particular point.

lollylegs

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 596
I have a really hard time with this. I have a pretty good radar for this kind of thing--comes from having been on the internet regularly since I was in junior high, and on all kinds of different forums and chat groups. (Who, me? No life in high school? :D) There are just certain...tells, and it's not just the constant crises. Sometimes it's not even about calling them out, just a niggling bad part of me that wants to know someone else sees what I do, you know? So I would actually not mind getting a PM that was basically like 'hey, do you think this person is sketchy too?' But I don't think I'd ever *send* one...too worried about causing offense.

So now I generally just don't reply at all to threads I find suspect. But it's hard. ;) Especially when there are a lot of those threads, and they all seem to the poster trying to make a particular point.

Actually, this is where I'm at. Wouldn't mind receiving one, but I'd never send one. Fortunately for me, I haven't encountered a lot of trolls.