Let me start by prefacing this post with the obligatory this is my personal opinion.
I am not Satisfied with the current forum offerings
Im a member of many seo / webmaster forums and none of them are providing me with what i feel i need at the moment. Possibly my needs could not be met, they're more than a little demanding of even the best of the bunch but, i can't help feeling a little let down by what's currently on offer for people like me that want to talk shop in a safe, pleasent environment. Follow the title link above for the full post.
The problem as I see it is not one thing but a combination of many. I'll try to outline some of the issues without going into to many specifics. This isnt a personal attack on any one forum and shouldn't really be taken as such, it's just my personal perspective on the webmaster forum circuit as it stands.
The main points
Too much foo and not enough discussion
Whilst out over the last few days scouring the boards for the good stuff i realized just how much crud their was on about 90% of the boards i visited. One board, at one point, had something like 70% of the recent posts lists consisting of introductions, jokes, silly polls and worthless gossip.
This is fine if all you want to do is engage in teen chatter but what about the real business of the day? Sometimes it seems like the entire webmaster community is using the boards as a mere social network rather than a learning network or discussion network.
I dont necessarily think that chatter posts dont have merit, they do. They can help bond a community, you can make good friends and valuable aquaintences by participating in the "what kind of potato are you" type silliness that we all like on occasion. I do feel however that when the vegetable soup that is chatter starts to outweigh the meat an potatoes of webmaster talk then it's a poor diet for folks that want to learn.
I dont feel "safe" in many places
Some forums have a very lax attitude to pointing fingers at websites. This just fills me with fear and makes me very nervous about posting or participating in any fashion.
Primarily im talking about the famous public spam report - where a new user comes in with either a blatent cry of "I found a cheater!" or worse, "is this spam?" and names the victim website in some manner. (you dont have to post a url to point the finger directly at your competitor).
Boards with lax to non-existent policies covering this ghastly phenomena just give me the fear - cold and real. When will my site be next? - what if my site, or yours, is so white it hurts the eye but some monkey has a problem with it and draws attention to your hard work? Man, the last people I'd want looking at a website of mine (apart from this one :-) is a whole bunch of seos!
Forum moderators and admins are human like the rest of us, and as part of the package come with all to human faults just like everyone else. They do however get their brief from the owner of the forum in question so ultimately moderation is set, enforced and taken responsibility for by that owner or group of owners.
When threads are allowed to run riot, or devolve into unsightly flame wars or spam reports are not acted upon either quickly enough or at all, it provides me with no confidence that my time would be well spent participating.
Likewise when rogue moderators start personal wars or throw their weight around unecessarily. I think there is a fine balance to moderation and it certainly isn't a perfect world so some leeway needs to be given for either inexperience, bad judgement or lapse of manners for any given mod but this needs to be handled from the top when it gets out of hand.
Much much more...
..of course there is. I could sit here an waffle on about every tiny aspect of forum groups, what i do and dont like, etc etc but it would take forever. Those are the main things i think are making me a bit pissed off with what's on offer at the moment though, you can take them, leave them, pull them apart or eat them. It matters not particulary as they're just my personal thoughts, for all i know i could well be one of only a handful of people that are unhappy with the seo forum circuit right now :) I think not though.
Perhaps as Andrew Goodman was keen to point out I should start my own forum if im unappy with the free ones?
At the end of the day, "if you don't like it, start your own forum" seems like a possible resolution in cases where one just cannot seem to derive the proper level of satisfaction from participation in a free forum.
Well, i did! :) although maybe its a blog or a blorum, or flog heh...
So, I've Bitched Enough - What Would I Like?
Well, in an ideal world i'd like someone to provide a forum where search marketers and webmasters can talk shop in a relaxed environment with no fear of spam outings or finger pointing.
I'd like a place that wasnt full of gmail invite posts, where every user was welcomed but didnt feel the need to post a seperate introduction for themselves and choke the recent posts list. I'd like a place where the number one rule was NO WHINING! and where like minded folks could talk shop with a minimal amount of chatter.
Does it exist? No, not from what I can see.
Could it exist? No, probably not, though i'd like to think it might...
Share Your Thoughts
Well, go on.. you can tell me to STFU if you like, i wont mind. Some constructive thoughts on the subject of what's out there would be cool though. Dont think im unaware that good boards exist, i do actually like more than a few, i just feel that the whole ciruit lacks a little and would enjoy some discussion on the subject..