Most of us subscribe to discussion boards, whether they are called groups, forums, wikis, or social media networks.  We may be active on those boards or we could be stealth, also known as lurkers.  Lurking simply means that we rarely, if ever, participate on the boards. Some lurkers consistently read what is posted or sent to them from the boards via e-mail or RSS feeds.

Often, individuals will discuss the board content off-line, meaning not publicly on the board but through chats, private e-mail, or voice conversation. There is no way to capture the number of lurkers who actually read the messages unless they sign onto the web site to read them.  There is no way to capture lurkers or others who have discussions off-line. We can only follow the threads of conversations on the boards to determine who has chosen to be heard in writing.

Perhaps it is the fact that the posters are comfortable in having their postings read in a public forum often becoming part of a search engine’s history, or being read for comments as simple as a “thank you” or long diatribes which appear to simply be attempts to “be right.” Two things come to mind as contributing to stealing of readers’ time–etiquette and rehashing.

The first is the yet-to-be-established board etiquette. For example, is it really necessary for six or seven people perhaps to simply post comments, such as “thank-you” or “will check the site out you suggested.” Why do some people feel it necessary to send a comment to a board to potentially thousands of people who subscribe through an RSS feed or choose to read each message?  Cannot we just agree that each person who posts a substantive message will recognize that we appreciate that posting, whether we agree or disagree with the content of that posting? If someone wants to check out a recommended site, just check it out. If we wanted to know what he or she was doing every minute, we could sign up for Twitter. If you want the poster to know that you will check it out, write to them off-line. If we do not post such trivial comments it does not mean that the rest of us are unappreciative, etc.  

The second is the apparent need for some individuals to have the final word or to keep posting the same comment using different wording in an attempt to be right. The boards sometimes deteriorate into positional bargaining or outright arguments instead of simply permitting variances in opinions to co-exist. Most have us have seen examples where all etiquette is tossed out and it seems that we are watching a grown-up version of a school yard fight between a couple of bullies, including name calling, with a few soft hearted “ can’t we all just get along” people on the sidelines chirping in on occasion.

Sometimes I just want to leave a board for these time-sapping reasons but I rarely do. Instead, I just wait it out until they take their verbal toys and go home. It is a good thing that humans need sleep. It seems that only that need sometimes stops the barrage or the trivia. Do you find your mind buzzing unnecessarily also?

What is your buzz about?