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Stupid Forum Tricks

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Posted 12th October 2008 at 02:43 AM by Paul Myers

There are lots of dumbass things people do on lots of forums, but posting about those here is pointless. (See Stupid Forum Trick #4.)

If you want to make this place even better (hard as that may be to imagine), don't do dumb things.

Here's a list of what I see as the Top 10.

10. "Thank you, thank you. A thousand times, thank you."

Clicking the "Thank you" button and then posting a thank you in the thread, with nothing else added. It's silly, but at least it's an error made in an attempt at courtesy.

If you must thank someone twice for the same thing, why not make the second one a PM? That keeps it off the main board and shows more real appreciation at the same time.

Suggested response: Ignore it. But try not to do it yourself.

9. "Buy My Crap!"

Spamming forums is stupid. Still, the garden variety "drive by" spam is pretty harmless here since the switch to member moderation.

More annoying are the idiots who create several accounts to use to generate discussion, just so they can point it to someone's product or WSO.

This is only a low priority on the list because so few people actually do it.

Suggested response: When they're caught, fire up the printers and give them a product enema.

8. "Why Johnny Can't Search"

Asking the same question that 10,000 people have asked here before just wastes people's time and clogs up the board. On the flip side, it may bring important questions to the attention of people who hadn't thought of them. All in all, probably a wash.

Suggested response: Point them to the search function.

7. "The Bureau of Repetitive Redundancies Department"

Quoting an entire long post in order to respond to it. This is especially annoying when done in conjunction with #10.

Quoting 50 or 100 lines to add three sentences is just silly. It adds load to the database, makes people scroll more, makes it harder for scanners and skimmers to follow the thread, and makes you look like a clueless newbie.

It's easy to isolate the parts to which you want to respond. Just put quote tags around each section. That looks (almost) like this:

{quote}Quoted text to which you're responding.{/quote}

Replace the curly brackets with square brackets and you get this:

Quoted text to which you're responding.
Enclose each section from the original you're responding to in separate sets of brackets, leaving out the extraneous content. Makes it much easier to follow the discussion.

Suggested response: Point them to this blog post. Or just explain it to them.

6. "Only 3,000 More to Go!"

Those were all pretty minor. Now we get into the really annoying stuff.

Posting a ton of one-liners, often saying exactly the same thing, is an obvious gambit. It's a ploy to increase your post count, usually with the idea of getting enough to post a WSO.

Don't bother. All you'll do is get your account nuked and have to start all over. Say something useful, or shut up until you can. Or ask an intelligent question and discuss the responses like an adult. At least then someone might benefit from your activity.

Suggested response: Look at their recent posts to make sure that's what they're doing. If it is, use the report button (the little yellow triangle with the exclamation point, below your name on the left side of the forum) to alert the admin folks. Tell them exactly what the person is doing.

5. "1 Out of 1 Dentists Surveyed Recommend..."

This one can be actively dangerous.

Clue Time: You are not the market.

The fact that you have a preference does not mean that everyone else has the same preference. The fact that something makes you leave a site doesn't mean it's a bad marketing technique overall.

The fact that you don't like something doesn't mean it's bad.

Saying "I hate pop-ups" is fine. Saying "I hate pop-ups. Using them is just a good way to annoy your visitors and lose money" is NOT fine.

You are not the market. Get over it.

Clue Two: The fact that 12 other people pop-up in the thread agreeing with you does not mean you're right. It means that 12 other people with a predisposition to complain saw what you said and jumped on the bandwagon.

People who dislike something are far more likely to talk about it publicly than people who like it or who just don't care. That's why negative opinions in forums are so often 100% opposite of what works in the real world.

Suggested response: Remind them that testing is more meaningful than random complaints. Then ignore their pronouncements until they grow up.

4. "Mommy, Johnny Next Door is Picking On Me!" is bouncing your crap... err... "quality content." GetResponse won't let you import your list of 200,000 subscribers, even though the company you bought them from guarantees they're "100% Double Opt-In." Aweber switched your list to confirmed opt-in because you got too many complaints, and now you're "losing subscribers."

What do you expect anyone here to do about it? If you don't like their policies, go somewhere else.

Yes, these are important companies in the business. Yes, they're big players.

Maybe that should be a Clue, eh? Do you think they might have gotten that way because they know something you don't?

Nah. Couldn't be. You have An Opinion. (See Stupid Forum Trick #5.)

Suggested response: Tell them they have the wrong number. Customer Service for Company XYZ can be found at

3. "I'll Fix That Bastich!"

Related closely to Stupid Forum Trick #4, this is when people come in here blasting away at some person or company, often claiming they couldn't get a refund or they weren't getting replies to multiple emails, and accusing them of running a scam.

Even if it's true, this isn't the place for it.

Most of the time, it's not true. It's usually someone attempting to use the leverage of this forum as a way to blackmail someone into doing things the way they want them done. When the details can be verified, they rarely look anything like what was originally posted.

Or, nearly as often, it's a complete lie, told with the intent of hurting someone the poster has a pointless grudge against.

No, you are NOT "protecting" the rest of the members by alerting them to "problem companies." Even if you were, the preponderance of slanted reports and outright lies makes it bad policy to allow this sort of post.

Suggested response: Tell them they have the wrong number. Customer Service for Company XYZ can be found at

Then click the little yellow triangle to report the post.

2. "I'm a Spiteful Loser. How Can I Prove It?"

Answer: Click the "Report post" icon, just because you don't like the poster.

Lame-ass punk loser.

Suggested response: Not much any of us can do about it, since we don't know when it happens. If the admins see this, they ought to nuke the creeps and out them to the rest of the members. Then we can shun the sorry slimeballs anywhere else we see them.

On second thought, outing them is probably a good way to get sued, so don't expect it. But it would be nice, eh?

1. "I Stayed at a Holiday Inn Express Last Night"

Clue Time: There is no such thing as an overnight expert.

Talking like you know something to be true because "it looks like it from something I did" or "you read it in a book" or "you're suffering from a bout of Stupid Forum Trick #5" is Really Bad.

Problem: The guy who wrote the book you read it in might not have had any more clue than you. Or, the technique may have worked when he wrote it, but be ineffective any more. Or you may have misunderstood the reasoning behind his application of it. Or you may have identified the wrong thing that yielded the result you got yourself. Or you may be making entirely wrong assumptions based on your own preferences.

Or. Or. Or.

Many people, both new and experienced, don't know how to properly identify the reason something worked, or didn't.

These types of posts are most often made by newbies, and done with the best of intentions. Because they sound sensible enough, other people could pick up on them and use the advice, often losing money and motivation if that advice turns out to be wrong.

When you give advice on making money, you ought to have some sensible reason to believe it's correct, and some experience at knowing the difference.

No-one will get it right all the time. Not even the most expert people in a field. Even if they get it right, the reader could interpret or implement it incorrectly.

Experts will be less dangerously wrong, far less often. And there's not much you can do about someone using good advice in a bad way. What you can do is be careful about the advice you give others.

Suggested responses: Provide proper context for your comments. "I did the following things, and got this result. It may be something you want to test." Or, "I read this in a book by X. Y. Zed. Is this consistent with your experience?"

If you see something you know is wrong, or that depends on the market or implementation, say so. You may be saving someone a world-class headache.

Don't take advice in forums at face value. Ask questions, do your research, and remember: Testing is your business's best friend.


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Posted in Uncategorized
Views 22774 Comments 37
Total Comments 37


  1. New Comment
    Jeffery's Avatar
    YeahYa! You definately said all the right things. "Will" refer back to this when I see those things in threads and quote you.
    Posted 12th October 2008 at 05:15 AM by Jeffery Jeffery is offline
  2. New Comment

    Thanks. Glad you liked it. I just hope the people who need it, which you don't, end up getting the message.

    Posted 12th October 2008 at 05:35 AM by Paul Myers Paul Myers is offline
  3. New Comment
    dbarnum's Avatar
    Awesome list, Paul! #8 is a big one. So many people jump on and ask the exact same question you can find pages and pages of threads on.

    Here's to a better place someday, if possible (you're right - -this forum is already a great place to be!)

    Rootbeer held high, Cheers!
    Posted 12th October 2008 at 05:54 AM by dbarnum dbarnum is offline
  4. New Comment
    Peter Bestel's Avatar
    Great points Paul,

    But be honest, would you have posted this in the main forum prior to Allen's post?

    A blog post sticks around though doesn't it. It's just a shame that not as many people will see it. Required reading IMO.

    Posted 12th October 2008 at 06:22 AM by Peter Bestel Peter Bestel is offline
  5. New Comment
    John Rogers's Avatar
    Hmm, maybe we can get Allen to link to required reading blog posts in the forum rules sticky. This one should be at the top of the list.

    Posted 12th October 2008 at 07:31 AM by John Rogers John Rogers is offline
  6. New Comment
    I've reported this blog post to the "Making Sense" department. We can't have that around here.
    Posted 12th October 2008 at 08:27 AM by admin admin is offline
  7. New Comment
    Ross Goldberg's Avatar
    I knew this was already here somewhere when I posted something similar in the main forum. Of course, Paul made it a lot more fun than I did...
    Posted 12th October 2008 at 08:50 AM by Ross Goldberg Ross Goldberg is offline
  8. New Comment
    deannatroupe's Avatar
    I absolutely loved reading this post. I really hate it when people do #8. That's why I always search before I ask a question to make sure it hasn't already been asked and answered.
    Posted 12th October 2008 at 09:19 AM by deannatroupe deannatroupe is offline
  9. New Comment
    Thanks, folks.

    Allen... That's why I hid it here. Sense is dangerous!

    Peter... Probably not. I've thought of doing this repeatedly, and never did. Allen's comments did give me the idea of doing it here, rather than leaving it out entirely.

    Posted 12th October 2008 at 12:20 PM by Paul Myers Paul Myers is offline
  10. New Comment
    WritingMadwoman's Avatar
    Thank you for the post, it really helped me.

    Thank you Paul.

    Kidding, someone just did that in one of my threads and I couldn't resist since you brought it up. This was a good post though, thank you. :-)

    Posted 13th October 2008 at 10:21 AM by WritingMadwoman WritingMadwoman is offline
  11. New Comment
    Wendy... Isn't annoying optimism presumed to preclude precocious irony? (Parse that, WriterWoman! HAH!)
    Posted 13th October 2008 at 10:42 AM by Paul Myers Paul Myers is offline
  12. New Comment
    GREAT post Paul, and very well written!

    (I'd have made a fool of myself trying to convey the same information!)
    Posted 13th October 2008 at 11:45 AM by Mark McWilliams Mark McWilliams is offline
  13. New Comment
    WritingMadwoman's Avatar
    LOL! You actually gave me a headache on that one Paul. :-)
    Posted 13th October 2008 at 01:46 PM by WritingMadwoman WritingMadwoman is offline
  14. New Comment
    Tina Golden's Avatar
    I just hope the people who need it, which you don't, end up getting the message.
    It really wouldn't matter if those people did read this post because they don't recognize these things in themselves, only in others. Great post but I didn't expect anything less.
    Posted 10th December 2008 at 10:39 PM by Tina Golden Tina Golden is offline
  15. New Comment
    Uhum ... Hey Paul?

    Remember that keyboard insident I wrote you about a couple of months back when you sent out that issue of your newsletter with the Southern Belle?

    Well, that's 2 new ones in 6 months! I'm going to have to get a plastic cover and put it over my keyboard and screen when I read your stuff!
    Posted 10th December 2008 at 10:55 PM by mmurtha mmurtha is offline
  16. New Comment

    Love it! If you were better looking (and female) I'd marry you - or at least attempt to have my way with you.

    No, wait, you're a Yankee fan, and I'm a Red Sox fan - it would never work out ...
    Posted 11th December 2008 at 03:59 AM by Mike McBride Mike McBride is offline
  17. New Comment
    Michael Oksa's Avatar

    Any suggestions on how I can convert a Word .doc to a PDF????

    Posted 11th December 2008 at 07:38 AM by Michael Oksa Michael Oksa is offline
  18. New Comment
    dbarnum's Avatar

    Use this free download:

    pdf 995: create PDF documents easily for free
    Posted 11th December 2008 at 07:47 AM by dbarnum dbarnum is offline
  19. New Comment
    DougBarger's Avatar

    Anything you write makes for excellent reading because you have a way for making it razor sharp relevant.

    You can almost "sense" the many years of your experience on discussion boards and many, many more in business coming through the computer monitor.

    Thanks for being you and all you've done and do.
    Posted 1st February 2009 at 07:44 PM by DougBarger DougBarger is offline
  20. New Comment
    InternetM39482's Avatar
    Great List Paul,

    Unfortunately, thats true for many many threads we see here on the Main Discussion forum.

    Posted 18th March 2009 at 01:36 PM by InternetM39482 InternetM39482 is offline

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