General Etiquette > Techno-quette

When a thread goes wrong

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Ehell is a wonderful, supportive forum, I think it's just important to remember that it's hard to get full context from a post.   So it's best to keep it to the bare bones of what the actual etiquette issue is or the waters can get muddied.   We all respond to the information in front of us, so unless a poster is willing to discuss a specific topic or delve into it then it's best to avoid dropping in pieces of information that can be misconstrued.

What do you do about the deliberately contrary poster? 

I post in a forum for visitors to my city (Washington, DC) on a travel board.  There is one poster who frequently posts responses that are contrary to what the OP is asking.  For example, if a poster asks about a great place to have brunch/breakfast near the hotel they'll be saying at, the contrary poster will respond that breakfast and brunch menus are over-priced and over-rated and that travelers would be better off grabbing a bagel at a coffee shop and using the time saved to go sightseeing.  If a poster asks for hotel recommendations, the contrary poster will respond and say that visitors get a better feel for a city by staying in someone's home by using Air BnB or VRBO (she recommends VRBO so often that I sometimes wonder if she's got a rental on their for which she's trying to drum up customers).  Recently, someone posted asking if a traditional Christmas display of a large model railroad would be available this year (it's not, due to construction at the site where it's housed every year), and her response was that model railroads aren't that interesting and that the OP shouldn't bother.  If someone asks about visiting the major tourist sites (i.e., the Smithsonian museums, the White House), she'll respond that they are over-crowded and over-rated and that the OP shouldn't consider wasting their time there and should consider more off-the-beaten path attractions.

None of what she's posting is against the rules of the site, but to take her responses in order:
1.  Many tourists (DH and myself included) like to have a big breakfast and then skip lunch/have a very light lunch, thereby allowing more time to sightsee that way.
2.  Not everyone is comfortable using Air BnB or VRBO for a variety of reasons, and many people prefer the full-service nature of a good hotel.
3.  Model railroads may not be everyone's cup of tea, but there are thousands of railroad enthusiasts out there who love them. Maybe the OP in that case has fond memories of being taken to visit it every year by his parents/grandparents and wants to share the experience with his children/grandchildren.
4.  There are many interesting out-of-the-way places to see in DC and the surrounding area, but people may have a finite amount of time to sightsee and may want to concentrate their time downtown to pack in as much as possible, particularly if traveling by public transportation.

What happens is that she'll respond, for example, and the OP will say "Thanks for the suggestion, but I'd prefer a full breakfast/staying in a full-service hotel/whatever.  Does anyone else have any recommendations?" and she can be a little snippy in the rest of the thread when others post the recommendations that the OP asked for.  I post there so often that I tend to just tune her out, but I don't know if visitors do the same.


--- Quote from: DCGirl on January 01, 2013, 10:28:09 AM ---What do you do about the deliberately contrary poster? 

--- End quote ---

This particular person sounds rather annoying, especially if she gets snippy or is condescending in her replies. I think ignoring her is the best response, and if possible, posting something that does answer the OP's question, so the OP doesn't feel like this one contrary person is the only voice out there.

In general, though, I think sometimes people who post things the OP wasn't expecting can provide useful insight. The whole reason the OP is posting is because they need advice solving a problem, and maybe they think that the solution is along the lines of A, but someone else will be like, "Hey, have you ever considered B instead? It's not rude to do B."

To take an example that might be found on this site, a poster might say, "Help! I'm expected to host a big family gathering and there's so many different dietary restrictions and preferences, what are some dishes I can make that meet XYZ requirements?" So some people will post with recipes, but someone else might say, "You know, have you considered going to a restaurant/having it catered/turning it into a potluck? That could make things a lot easier for you." And the OP might say, "Oh, but isn't it rude/tacky to not cook every single dish myself?" And then people will jump in and say, "No, not at all! As long as you provide plenty of food that your guests can eat, there's no rule that you had to cook it yourself. And if anyone tries to make you feel bad for not cooking, they're the rude ones."

Sometimes the OP comes in with assumptions that are holding them back, and if they're politely challenged, the OP might see a whole new way of doing things. Of course, the assumptions have to be challenged politely; and if the OP says, "No, I really, really want to cook everything myself," other people should respect that and stop suggesting the restaurant etc. as alternatives.

Sign Of The Times:
If I'm not the OP? None of my business where the thread goes. I can certainly respond directly to the OP but it may get lost in the weeds. I can also private message the OP if it's really important.

If I *am* the OP, I respond to (read: dignify) only the germane replies.

I will say however, my experience is that some sidetracks are well-earned.
Thread title: "Ice Cream Flavors!"
OP: What's your favorite ice cream? Mine's always been Rocky Road. The creamy marshmallow, smoky chocolate and vanilla all rolling together, it's just so perfect. I love it so much, the way Ralph loved to threaten Alice. It's just all kinds of awesome and reminds me of better days. So anyway what's your favorite flavor?

Edit to add: Yeah ---- that one's getting sidetracked.


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