I've Been Shot! -- The Deadly Battlefield of Internet Forums
© 2000, by Harmony Major

The online marketplace has become a super-charged minefield of opinionated "professionals" and heartless know-it-alls. Playing their game is deadly, and if you don't watch yourself, you could lose a leg.

Although all of online business is suffering, from customer service to how customers treat YOU, I think the worst of it all are discussion forums. Since when is it a commonly-accepted practice to toss around insults and criticism like rice at an American wedding?

It's agonizingly difficult to get your problems solved on discussion forums when these insult-slinging predators are poised and ready to pounce, seemingly at every turn. It amazes me. It upsets me. It down-right ticks me off.

But I'm not whining about the way people are treating me. I'm protesting against the way people are treating YOU and the rest of the public at large.

Here ... let me give you a "for instance."

On one popular discussion forum, a seemingly respectable marketer sent a polite query to the regular contributors of this board, asking what he should do about an offer to sell his current domain name. Simple enough to answer. Surely not too much to ask.

Even so, the very first response to that post was, I thought, more than a little bit unreasonable. Part of that response read:

"Your site right now is BS. A useless site redirected to another junk site."
O UCH! If that was *your* site, you might be feeling hurt. In disbelief. Smaller than small. You'd likely be asking yourself, "Is my site really this bad? IS it truly useless?"

But, beating yourself up about the poor quality of your site ISN'T helping you to IMPROVE the site. It isn't teaching you what you SHOULD be doing to master the creation of top-notch websites. The only thing it's doing is making you feel like a schmuck, and telling you that, despite all of your hard work and long hours, you're just not good enough.

Now, you tell me ... what good is that?

And let's not forget what this says about the POSTERS of responses like these. What can be their main goal? To generate a silent "laugh" from onlookers? To publicly ridicule a colleague? To let people know that they know their stuff -- indisputably? Maybe so.

But, I ask you ... what good is THAT?

Come on, folks. THINK before you speak. Take people's feelings into account when gracing them with your oh-so-valuable advice. Realize that they've probably worked hard to get where they are, no matter how unlikely that may seem to you. But if nothing else, have a bit of common sense and realize that THE MASSES ARE WATCHING. An enormous LOT of them. And, they're watching you.

Let's also not forget how to conduct ourselves when we're unfortunate enough to get ensnared by these online predators -- because it doesn't take much. Request a website review, and you could be asking for public ridicule. Post a tip to the board, and you could be openly bashed. And why ... for sport??

In any case, don't let yourself get riled up. Realize that there are going to be some people lying in wait for an innocent victim like you or I, to bare our virtual throats to their sharp claws of relentless ridicule. Don't allow yourself to get caught up. Be polite, or simply don't respond to the verbal assault. Remember, the masses ARE watching, and they'll be watching YOU make as big a fool of yourself as the person who initially started the mess.

Now, let me leave you with this.

What about us, the onlookers? Should we intervene when we see a fellow marketer getting slayed on a forum? Or, should we bite our tongues and lay low so as not to get sucker-punched ourselves? That's a tough call to make. What would YOU do?


Harmony Major is the author of Yahoo! Secrets, where she reveals how YOU can drive HUNDREDS more visitors to your site each day, by getting a #1 listing on Yahoo. Don't just settle for "getting listed." Use her instantly-effective tactics to boost your site traffic with a TOP Yahoo listing! Visit: http://YahooSecrets.com

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