Sunday, December 30, 2018

The thing that anoyed me the most this year...

I'm thinking I might scratchbuild an Argentinian Garratt in N gauge. Can you guys tell me everything I need to know to do this?

Can you tell me what colour a Black 5 should be? 

I watch a lot of Facebook groups relating to model railways. It's a good way to keep the mass market audience in view so I aim my writing at real people who make up the majority of the hobby. It's easy to sit on forums where more committed modellers are found and forget that for many people, a layout that works is the dream. They don't worry about prototype fidelity as much as simply having fun. USA "Big Boy" next to a Blue Pullman? Who cares!

But, very vocal in these groups are people who appear, often using one of Facebook's annoying bright backgrounds with big text, and ask either desperately basic question, or a really complex one but in a way that makes you think they don't really understand what they are writing.

I have a feeling that both types don't actually want to know the answer to their query, what they are really saying is, "Look at Me. Look at Me!" In their ideal world, lots of people will scurry around finding the answers, something they could often do with Google in 20 seconds, and then spend more time entertaining them with the answers.

This annoys me because there are plenty of people out there with real questions who will act on the results, but they are drowned out in the noise of the attention seekers who prefer a scattergun approach to information seeking.

The real experts at this will sign up for a group and immediate post a dozen unrelated questions, or post along the lines of, "I fancy building a XXXX, show me yours.". Maybe I'm cynical, but I don't think the actual building part will ever happen, they just like other people digging out photos for them to look at.

Another pet hate is the phrase, "Admins, please delete if not allowed, but..."

This is sometimes followed by a post with limited relevance to the group, but more often than not, something that fits the topic. It's just another "Look at Me" post.

Now, I get that people like to be the centre of attention sometimes, but there are a growing number of attention seekers out there and if this continues, all these groups will just disappear as all the posts will be increasingly shrill cries and what information is there will be lost. Forcing the posters back to Google, which I suppose solves the problem in a way...


Anonymous said...

This sounds a bit like "Help Vampires", a well known problem in tech forums ( The suggestions on the page seem effective, and a strong moderator presence seems to help, although I'm not sure how that would work for facebook groups.

Nick Brad said...

I agree with all of this post....I especially love the "Admins, please delete" one, if the admins/moderators are any good, then they'll determine the validity of your post and act accordingly. When you sign up to these groups/forums, you consent to the admins acting in such a way and so there is no need for you to consent to them doing their job at the head of your post. If the poster was truely concerned though, they could just contact said admin first and ask if their post would be relevant and acceptable.

I do miss a lot of interesting content on fb groups simply because of attention seekers, this is why I'm grateful for forums which generally are more structured and easy to find interesting posts.

matt scrutton said...

My favourite solution (because I can be a git to such people), is to use the website "let me google that for you". Give it a try, you won't be disappointed!

Huw Griffiths said...

To some extent, it's possible to understand people saying stuff along the lines of "please delete this if it's not allowed / if you've got a problem with it".

OK - I would say that … but I think I might have a point. Sometimes, posters (including me) might feel the need to say something which could be interpreted as controversial - but might unsure just how far out the boat can be pushed.

As for people joining sites - then immediately filling them up with questions - I suspect that a lot of us have had more than enough of them. A number of these "comedians" have also, quite reasonably, got themselves banned from sites (sometimes more than one) through this unreasonable behaviour.

Sometimes they are "sent packing" straight away. Sometimes other site members who would normally go to some lengths to be helpful (people like me) attempt to gently "re-educate" some of these individuals in site etiquette.

Whatever the score, eventually even our patience evaporates. Let's face it - nobody likes being jerked about - nobody likes feeling "used" … .

I hope you don't mind too much if I mention another pet hate - the scum who point their malware bots at legitimate sites. To me, it doesn't matter too much if the "target" sites are about stuff that interests me - or run by people I have a lot to do with. To be honest, I doubt if the spiteful wasters behind this rubbish are too worried either - all they want is to cause the maximum annoyance / disruption / unnecessary costs, with the minimum effort.

Somehow, I suspect that the vast majority of people who read this blog share my utter contempt for these scum - and would really like to see them put out of business. Unfortunately, actually achieving this is almost certainly much easier said than done.

(Rant mode over … .)

Phil Parker said...

"Help Vampires" is just brilliant!

Colin said...

Pretty much my experience with Facebook groups for creative writing. Half of the questions could be answered by Google and most of the rest answered by actually reading novels. The interesting stuff got drowned out in the nonsense.

So I started my own group for "Writers Who Know Stuff But Don't KNow Everything" BUT made it invitation only so there's some kind of check on whether someone is able to benefit and contribute. Run it for a year now and while membership is a modest 320 it's ticking along nicely.

Paul B. said...

'Help vampires' - like it!
As far as Facebook goes I generally ignore anyone who posts a question on a bright background, which is I feel the equivalent of SHOUTING. There's no need.
On the forum that I'm on there's an 'ignored user' function which is a good way of blocking out posts from idiots. And there's a lot of idiots online...