After Hours

The two-edged sword of TR's forums

In the last few days, I have been forced to suppress this thread from TechRepublic's main discussion doors and promotional lists because our trusted forum regulars have gone loco on a rude member. Member WildmanDan69 asked for help on cracking a laptop BIOS password—a dubious but not necesarily illegal action—and member TiggerTwo implied that no one at TR would help him hack into stolen property. From there, the conversation devolved into a name-calling, stereotypical flame war that showcased pretty much all the worst elements of our local online community.

Now, I like TiggerTwo. She's a regular member, very active, and it was she who organized our recent avatar-centric show of support for Breast Cancer Awareness. It was a no-brainer that all the forum regulars would have Tig's back in this one, especially when WildmanDan threatened to rat her "unprofessional" implications out to management. (Usually, that would be me, and I make it a point not to get involved in our usual flame wars, so it was safe to assume nothing would come of the threat.)

So here's where everybody crossed the line: "I signed up for TR last

month because a colleague recommended it to me. Now that I've

discovered the caliber of the would-be helpers, I'll add this site to

my black list
."

That's from a new user, Corsucant, who posted to the thread hoping to learn something from the talented IT pros that I know hang out here. Instead, we nearly lost him as a forum user, and possibly a site user, because of the childish behavior of the local clique. Now, some of those same locals made a point of extending this vocal dissenter an olive branch—I like to see that—but I'm certain there were more forum users that didn't speak up and were lost because of this little temper tantrum.

This thread is currently the most active on TR, and I can't show it to anybody because it's turning casual users off.
The administration here at TR all look the other way when the Miscellaneous goes off the deep end over politics and religion, or when an obvious troll gets busted over a fake tech issue designed to goad responses. We suppress embarrassing threads, rather than deleting them.

This, however, was a case of a technical question morphing into a flame war because everyone involved was acting like smug four-year-olds. That I won't stand for. Everyone involved was wrong. Everyone acted childishly. Everyone made TechRepublic look bad. It's my job to make TR look good, and if that means I've got to be a little more brutal in my forum admin duties, I will be. I really hope everyone got there hissy fits out of their system already, because nobody wants it to come to that.

About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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