Sunday, November 29, 2009

Replying to Posts on Firearm Forums: What's the Real Motivation?

Hello. I doubt that I am alone in noticing that it is not unusual to see some poor soul, new to shooting or not, ask a legitimate question on a firearm forum only to be pummelled with worthless responses, be ridiculed or made the butt of jokes. Thankfully, some people genuinely attempt to provide a relevant answer or at least something tangentially-related to the original poster's topic. I truly appreciate those who provide meaningful responses. On the other hand, my contempt for the seemingly-increasing number of smart alecks is growing exponentially.

"Smart aleck" seems appropriate when we look at the definition as provided by the "Merriam Webster Dictionary":

"an obnoxiously conceited and self-assertive person with pretensions to smartness or cleverness"

Some reading these words are folks who have made long-term efforts to help others within the shooting community, provide information believed to be of interest and therefore enhance the quality of that firearm site (or sites). Kudos to these fine folks.

Sadly, others have selfish motivations such as:

1. trying to make themselves appear clever with some snide remark of exactly zero value to the original post, or

2. inserting their own opinion or belief regardless of the OP's original parameters.

Example: "I only own a XYZ caliber handgun and cannot afford another at the present time. It is my sole option for self-protection. What would be the best ammunition or load?" Some will offer different answers pertaining to specific loads in that caliber that they believe to be best in XYZ caliber and answers will probably be differ; in my view, that is fine. Hopefully, with the information presented, the original poster can read and maybe make a better decision than before. However, there will be some "genius" posting tripe like, "XYZ sucks. Get ABC caliber. 'nuff said.", or

3. trying to stimulate "spirited debate" which is actually an easily-spotted lie. It is clear that they are really only trying to ignite an "e-fight" and they usually succeed when rather than ignoring these trolls, people engage them in a "battle" that quickly becomes little more than "verbal masturbation". Intended or not, they help the troll hijack the OP's thread. In the vernacular of younger folks, "That sucks." I reckon that means people doing it suck as well, doesn't it? "Spirited debate" usually turns out to be nothing more than an infantile fight in which correct answers are no longer relevant, only winning. We see the carcasses of such threads bearing the little padlock symbol indicating that the thread has been locked. Think about it for a minute; supposedly mature men (and women) with a common love of firearms posting in such an infantile manner that they caused someone else's thread to be locked...if not their own?

I have pretty much given up on trying to communicate with the smart alecks, as are previously defined, but hope that maybe I might encourage others to:

1. not "feed" the trolls. (How can I put this? Hmmmmm? Ignore the arrogant, tasteless bastards.) I suggest that engaging in this behavior not only lowers the quality of the site, but possibly plays into the hands of the anti-gun tripe browsing gun forums not from any interest in firearms...other than to separate honest Americans from them,

2. and keep trying to provide helpful information and encouragement for folks legitmately asking a question, sharing a new prized firearm or revealing their latest "epiphany"...even if it is "old news" or has been known for decades.

There will always be differences of opinion and legitimate mistakes of fact but we should be able to consider the merits of differing opinions and either accept or reject them after doing so. Factual mistakes can be courteously corrected and the right information provided in my opinion.

If we can ignore the trolls and individually try to be helpful instead of hateful in answering firearm/ammunition-related queries, I bet we would see the gun forums become more interesting and useful than cess pools for "spirited debate" in which the participants too frequently appear to be finalists in a hydrophobia contest.