Since the first creation of the social platform known as a ‘forum,’ there have been problems. God-modding, trolling, attention whoring, vote manipulation, and rigged competitions are just a few of the many annoyances that have driven members from the many pages of the networking forum. Today I will discuss a select few of these forum ‘diseases’ and their repercussions on the forum and its members as a whole.
1. God-Modding: No matter what the forum was created for, it is going to need someone to watch over it and help keep the members in line and make certain the rules get followed. The more members and activity that the forum sees, the more moderators it is going to need. To quote Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.” In the 21st century, however, ‘power’ has become the drug of choice for many. Becoming a forum moderator is often a great way for a person to gain instant power and respect. Unfortunately, that power is often misused and abused, creating the ever unpopular “god-mod.”
A “god-mod” is someone who not only likes the power that has been given them, but also gets intense enjoyment out of using that power to hurt some members while protecting others. Examples would be some members getting banned for breaking some unmentioned rule, or get banned without warning for breaking a rule while other members, often ‘friends’ of the mod or members of the elite ‘click’ group on the forum, will either not get banned for breaking that unmentioned rule or will get repeated warnings when they do break a rule rather than actually getting banned for it. Sometimes a member will be told that they don’t ban a member for breaking rule X but will actually ban another member for breaking rule X after a ‘friend’ of the moderator complains. Other examples include rigged competitions, removing threads or posts to remove evidence of their biased behavior, railroading members into voting a specific way in a contest or asking ‘friends’ to vote a certain way in contests or in order to manipulate ratings on the forum, railroad or threaten ‘friends’ if they do not do what is asked, and make requests to the administrators for rules or regulations based on what he/she wants rather than what the majority want.
God-modding can potentially cost a forum hundreds of active members. A networking site is only good if people feel comfortable, accepted, and welcome. If a god-mod is abusing their power and making biased decisions, it can create the opposite atmosphere in a forum. If members feel that they maybe openly attacked, belittled, threatened, or even banned from a forum for voicing their opinions, many members will either stop participating or even leave the forum completely. A god-mod often sets the tone of a forum, and oftentimes members will attack other members out of fear of being attacked or banned themselves. Worse-case scenario is that an otherwise active forum dies slowly with members leaving for forums that do not tolerate biased behavior from abusers of power.
2. Attention-whoring and Trolling: Attention whores and trolls come in all shapes and forms. Attention whores can be trolls and vice versa, or they can be a pure attention whore or a pure troll. Attention whores just want someone to pay attention to them and usually do this by giving some sob story. They often create useless threads about nothing, or make some sob announcement, or any variety of other threads. The sole purpose is to get as many people commenting on the thread as possible. The difference between a pure attention whore and a pure troll is that trolls are attention whores whose motives are often malevolent in nature.
While a pure attention whore often gets attention by otherwise benign means, a troll gains attention by posting conflicting and oftentimes unpopular ideas. They get attention by stirring in the proverbial pot of shit, creating conflict among forum members to get them to argue with each other. It often leads to some extremely volatile arguments and can cause threats to be made by members, lost tempers, and an otherwise unwelcome feeling amongst the members. Their purpose is to create discord amongst the members, to create conflict, and have a normally functioning forum erupt into a large mass of bickering members. Such fights can break apart on-line friendships, can create a pack mentality against certain members who then may decide to leave the forum after being verbally attacked.
3. Vote manipulation, rating manipulation, and rigged contests: These types of biased actions can be the result of god-mod interventions and/or sock accounts. Anytime it is suspected that members are manipulating contests, ratings, and votes, it can often result in declined forum participation, activity, and, in some cases, members will become so disgusted by the constant biased actions that they leave the forum completely. Such problems with outcome manipulation can lead to members railroading against those who have spoken out against the unfair act, lead to public attacks on said members, and, if there is a god-mod involved, can lead to said member being banned, ostracized from the forum and, in extreme cases, can lead to the member(s) not being allowed to participate in any additional contests. When dealing with ratings, some members will become discouraged by the constant negativity to the point where they will no longer frequent the forum, sometimes taking their activity to another site.
In the event of these diseases, members that leave the unwelcoming and unfair forum will often tell their tales of woe to the members of the new forum, encouraging members to not visit the forum that has fallen out of favor. In this way, the disliked forum can lose even more members and potential members through word of mouth. Allowing such diseases to continue to plague a forum can greatly impact its popularity, its activity, and its member population.