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June 2, 2021

            Today, we’re flooded with forums on the internet, in particular Facebook. We can’t join them all, but as a writer, which this blog is all about, we still have to be choosy. Sometimes it’s a matter of just knowing the right question to ask to figure out how many of them are out there.

            Once in a while, if you’re out there long enough, you’ll come across one that seems legitimate enough. Maybe it’ll start with the best of intentions. However, after a while, it turns for one reason or another into nothing more than a bitch session.

            The posts start with legitimate questions about technical writing issues.

            Then the posts start delving into pet peeves.

            Before you know it, everyone and their brother is airing their grievances about this and that. Within the blink of an eye, you spend your time going from one arcane argument to another.


            Here’s the thing.

            If you’re an experienced writer, and are willing to stay with the back and forth from the frustrated, the antagonized, and the “experts,” you might just glean something useful from whatever the original question or bitch was about.

            Oftentimes the answer is obvious right at the start, but about half the participants in the argument don’t agree because “the rules are made to be broken.” Yeah, like I haven’t heard that one before!

            What about the new writer that doesn’t have the experience to figure out what’s what?

            This is where these type forums can be destructive, or at least will lead to even more confusion.

            With all the conflicting answers, who do you trust?


            The maturity of the crowd becomes quite evident as you see the arguments, especially when they start becoming personal. This also reflects on the moderator who often does little to censor this stuff. Sometimes though, the moderator DOES censor, just without fanfare and the next thing you know, you never hear from so and so again. It’s subtle, especially if the moderator never says anything about it.

            Then again, some participants may be passive aggressive just enough to get away with it. Others will have enough maturity not to react in the expected ways to a challenge or an insult.


            The questions can range from legitimate ones to veiled complaints. What may seem like a legitimate question at the outset will have an aside tacked on at the end. This spoils the intent of the question.

            Maybe the questioner will leave the aside off until they get the answers they were looking for. They’ll wait to see how many people agree with them before they give the big reveal.


            I’ll have to admit that all forums have bits of this stuff, to some degree, but what I’m talking about is a few that are targeted to be reactionary, specifically about writing. They’re designed to air grievances about what irritates people about writing.

            While they can be of some use, I also believe they best be left to experienced writers and not for beginners. This can lead them in the wrong directions, especially if they don’t have the experience to tell the good from the bad. It’s entirely up to the moderator to filter these people out but a lot of times, all the moderator wants is numbers, so they don’t care. I can’t speak for everyone, and know some are very discretionary, but when it comes to online, you get what you get, so be careful.


            It goes without saying that it’s a big world out there on the web, and it’s not only full of good info, but plenty of bad stuff as well. When you’re a writer, whether experienced or just starting out, you have to pick your sources well.

            Happy writing!

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