Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Love It or Leave It

I often start my posts with, "I was in a discussion recently, in which..." This one's hardly any different.

I was in a discussion recently, in which people complained about other people complaining about message boards. As ironic as that is, that's not today's main topic. No. What really surprises me is the suggestion that those who express disagreement with the forum rules ought to just leave the forum. I agree with those who say that anyone who spends the vast majority of his or her posting time criticizing the forum, probably ought to move on. But what I see are people who have a problem with THIS rule or THAT one - and happen to have the balls to say so. Those critical comments, for some reason, stand out more than the very positive ones from the same people.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not denying the fact that some people go overboard and complain too much. I may even be guilty of this from time to time. But there are also a ton of people who don't speak up ENOUGH - those who let others do the talking for them, whether they agree or disagree with the message.

Unfortunately, that silence is like darkness. It becomes whatever people imaginations will it to be. In this case, those I disagree with interpret that silence as a sign that these people are happy enough. They probably are. "Happy enough," does not mean, however, that they don't see anything worth criticizing.

That's ONE reason why speaking up is often important, even if it doesn't result in policy changes. It makes people aware that the perception is out there and how widespread it is.

I compared a message board community to a country. Some found this to be an invalid comparison. I agree that there are differences but the parallels are substantial. People connect with a place (and the people who inhabit it) so much that they'd rather stay than leave. I don't think, however that their choices are so binary as "stay and shut up" or "bitch and leave."

As I said in that discussion, criticizing the part needn't result in abandonment of the whole. That applies to communities and friendships, electronic or otherwise.

What do YOU think?


Scott said...

Not to get the whole debate started again here, West, but I don't necessarily agree with the sentiment "love it or leave it." Then again, I don't think that was exactly what most people on that discussion meant either. We're all going to have our pet peeves about this or that on CBR and, you're right, we should feel free to bring them up and talk about them, within the bounds of decorum.

I think what people who made the "Why don't you just leave if you're so unhappy" comments were addressing was the obvious venom displayed by one poster in particular who has addressed this topic ad nauseum. This was not the first thread to address this particular issue, but the poster in question never seems to be satisfied, no matter how many times or in how many ways the quesiton is discussed.

At some point, as I said in one of my posts, it's not productive for him or the other posters. Just look at that thread: 1000+ posts and are we any closer to any resolution or understanding? I don't think so, and it's due in no small part IMO to the fact that the poster in question is continually moving the goalposts re: his complaints.

In other words, I don't think any amount of explanation is going to mollify that individual one iota and, if that's true and if he's that damned unhappy, it stands to reason that one starts to wonder why he bothers sticking around in the first place.

Personally, as I said in our exchange, I really have not yet seen the basis for the complaints. No one yet has either on that thread or in PMs shown me just how anyone who was banned was treated so unfairly as to justify this level of outrage. Maybe it's because I haven't been around as long as the rest of you. But, whatever the case, wouldn't you think it's time for that individual to let it go?

Art Williams said...

I'm reminded of a quote by Abby Hoffman whenever I hear stuff like this: "You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists."

West said...

I like that.