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Why the “community” makes me want to poke my eyes out

I have to confess something: I don’t like asking for help. I like to figure things out for myself. Plus asking for help means making yourself vulnerable. You have to say “I am ignorant in some way”. I’m not a big fan of broadcasting my ignorance (at least not in so direct a manner.)

I. Really. Hate. It.

But on occasion I will use the magic of the internets to ask a question. Last week I posted a question on a popular freelancing forum. Before I posted my question, I searched for the answer both on Google and within that forum. I was basically looking for recommendations for software with a certain specific set of features.

The first responder basically pointed me to a search of that forum. The search results did not in any way address my specific requirements. They weren’t rude exactly, but the implications were clear: Don’t bother us with questions about stuff we’ve already discussed.

I’ve seen this a lot on forums. The regulars get cranky when people ask similar questions over and over again. In some cases these regulars can get combative and downright nasty.

What I found annoying was that I tried very hard to express my specific requirements (which the responder ignored in favor of pointing me at generic options), and also that I had clearly stated that I had already done some preliminary searches. My goal was just to see if anyone had any suggestions of products I had missed. But obviously to him my request said “newbie”, and decided to respond using his standard “do a search” response.

So when people talk about the value of participating in the “community”, I want to gouge my eyes out. While I’m sure there are places that are warm and fuzzy, there are also just as many places that are snotty and rude.  All you need are a couple of regulars (trolls or otherwise) to make everyone else feel unwelcome.

I’m not suggesting that everyone has to be all cuddly. In fact, I find cuddly (or “me too-ism”) just as pointless. And I’ve got a thick skin, so it isn’t like I’ve been huddled in a fetal position this week trying to get over it. No biggie, really.

I just think that occasionally the “community” could try not to be such complete jerks. M’kay?

Posted by Avonelle on Wednesday, September 09, 2009.

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