I absolutely love Internet pipe forums. I joined my first one back in 1999 with the old ASP forum (you are dating yourself if you remember that one), and have been going strong ever since. It is a great way to connect with fellow pipe and tobacco enthusiasts, especially if you live in an area where there is little opportunity to become a member of a local pipe club – the subject of a future blog – and be involved in something that is not only interesting to you as a hobbyist, but also allows you the opportunity to interact with like minded individuals and learn a lot about your own pipe smoking journey and ways to enhance it.
I am presently a member of six or seven forums and while I do not have the time to be a “regular” on most of them, I do try to be involved to some extent and always love the interaction with my fellow hobbyists. I participate mainly to get a feel for what pipe and tobacco collectors are focused on so that I can better serve their needs since I sell on both eBay and this private website. I learn a lot by being involved with the forums and over the years have figured out how to cull the silly stuff from the sincere. If you do decide to join a forum, you will encounter all kinds of people in the hobby and I find many of the members who do post to be fascinating. But, did you know that most of the people who join forums seldom post? I’ve spoken with administrators of many forums over the years and was shocked to discover that only 20%, of a forum’s membership, on average, ever post. It seems most members just enjoy reading what others are saying and have their own methods of sifting through the garbage while picking up meaningful information from those that they have either come to trust through buying or selling transactions, or, who they believe have solid reputations in the hobby.
While many forums have come and gone over the years, the ones that seem to stick around the longest are the ones that are moderated to the point where if some clown continues to post “thread killers,” he or she finally gets the boot. Nobody likes reading posts from people who are so miserable with their own lives that they feel the only way that they can justify themselves is to be negative and try to shoot down everyone else’s reputation or thoughts. What they don’t understand is that the majority of the members are rolling their eyes and thanking their lucky stars that those “trolls” are not actually members of their own pipe club… or worse, their own family!
For this blog, I have chosen not to name specific forums. But I certainly will offer kudos to the forums who have administrators who keep a firm hand on the posting to ensure that the majority of the fine folks who are in our hobby are not offended, or worse yet, leave because the resident troll has been left loose to run amok and kill just about any thread he/she decides to take over.
So, for whatever it is worth, outside of the majority of the normal people who are members of Internet forums, here are the kinds of people I have found to be most annoying – and sometimes, frankly, most amusing:
This is the guy who runs to every thread he can find on a forum that begins with a question. He has the perfect answer for every question asked and is wont to write long and boring responses that would quickly put an insomniac to sleep. And, of course, his answer is always right and anyone who disagrees is always wrong. My advice, don’t even waste your time challenging this guy. His reasoning may be – and usually is – so far out in left field that you won’t see it even with a pair of high powered binoculars.
THE KNOW IT ALL!
Similar to the genius, but this person will Google search just about any question asked on a forum and repeat just about anything he has read on the subject and claim it as his own. Most of these forum members are very specific about what their area of expertise is and get particularly puffed up when you praise them for their vast knowledge of pipes and tobaccos – never mind that they’ve been in the hobby for less than a year, have never been to a pipe club meeting or a pipe show, and wouldn’t know an S. Bang from a Dr. Grabow if you put one of each brand in front of them and asked them to tell you which was which.
One of the funniest movies that I have ever watched was Liar Liar, staring Jim Carrey. If I could wave a magic wand that made a habitual Internet pipe forum liar tell the truth for one day, I can assure you that I would lose a day’s work reading that person’s posts. Hey, they have the shield of anonymity and can make up anything they want. I’ll never forget a guy on one pipe and tobacco forum who started a thread on Veteran’s day supposedly to salute all veterans. He then went on to say that as a former Medal of Honor winner himself, he wanted all of us to know how important it is for Veterans to know that their service to our country was appreciated. He was certainly right about the latter, but as we later found out, the guy never spent a day of his life in the military. Another forum member had posted a link to an official government website that listed all Medal of Honor winners and asked the guy why his name wasn’t on the list. We never heard from that guy again. Go figure.
I think we’ve all met the showoff. You know, the guy who is constantly bragging about his pipe collection of 50 Bo Nordh pipes or 10,000 pounds of old Balkan Sobranie pipe tobacco. I know members of several forums who truly help others enjoy the hobby by showing pictures of expensive pipes that they have purchased and perhaps giving us a little history about them. But, the true showoff can be spotted quickly. He’s the one who readily tells you how much he paid for a particular expensive pipe or expensive tin of old tobacco but adds no value to his supposed purchases. He just wants to, well, show off.
We’ve all met this guy. He’s the one who jumps into every thread to say something brilliantly funny whether what he is saying has anything to do with the subject of the thread or not. He just wants to show everyone how clever he is. The sad thing is that the only person he’s amusing is himself. Unfortunately, this guy is somewhat dangerous because he often sucks in another like minded individual and while the two of them are busy trying to out funny each other, what otherwise had been an informative and fun thread has been taken off topic and dies a quick death.
The Post Racer!
Those of you who enjoy being a member of a pipe & tobacco forum sure know the post racer. He posts at least once on every thread that has been started on the forum by other people. Because most forums keep a public track of post counts, the post racer wants to be at the top of the list and thinks that his high post count means he’ll get more respect. He never has anything positive to contribute but that doesn’t stop him. Example; someone starts a thread by asking for information about Castello pipes and how they smoke. Our post racer immediately jumps in and says, “I can’t answer that question because I’ve never owned or smoked a Castello pipe.” Gee, thanks for that insight!
Trolls actually amuse me. They are also very predictable. If you see someone with an out of the ordinary, off the wall avatar, and has a goofy handle (forum term for their name (i.e. my handle is Pipestud, and yes, that’s a little goofy), then that may be a troll. I think trolls are probably people who are living less than happy lives, have low self esteem and in some warped way, think that by attempting to put down someone else they are elevating themselves. If you are a member of a forum and have a troll after you, just ignore him. I’ve been on Internet P&T forums for a lot of years, and trust me, these trolls eventually get banned or just go away. That’s supposed to be a good thing, but honestly, forums are more fun to participate in when you keep at least one troll on board. It’s sort of like having a pet skunk that’s had it’s stink glands removed; harmless, and at times amusing.