® Forum Politics

Many want you to think this: that, just as the writers and producers of iconoclastic books and films famously assert, that their slimy work simply reflects the culture (itself a dubious claim), that similarly, user forums are, they would say, simply microcosms of powersports ownership culture; essentially egalitarian, democratic, grass-roots. This seems an intelligent, comfortably reasonable, ultimately simple defense, but it is actually a very simplistic one and quite false. For even if a user forum has 5,000 members, it's only a very small number-- in many cases fewer than twenty-- who actually drive the ethic of that forum, determine its mores, values and culture, what is acceptable and what isn't. Thus forums are not democratic but totalitarian in nature. Though forums differ, to one degree or another, in almost all of them dissent is not sanctioned. Might becomes right.

Consequently, more than a few forums demonstrably exhibit a culture that is incestuous and self-serving, self-promoting; eventually becoming entities that are toxic, airtight enclosures teeming with ignorance and rank with the odor of never being exposed to the light of day.

I despise motorcycle user forums because a huge amount of the grief I get trying to help people is forum-driven. Thus forums are the bane of my profession. Not a doubt. I just got off the phone with a guy who is trying to solve a performance issue and this is now the fourth conversation in which he has demonstrated that the advice I have taken the time to share with him, the fruit of amost five decades, he values less than what he is reading on user forums. Maybe it sounds arrogant --it seems so to him--for me to say he is over-valuing online advice. Here I want to ask rhetorically, "do you go to YouTube for medical advice?" But I am afraid people must; every indication is crowd funding isn't limited to money, it's also the way people get knowledge. If the most people believe a thing, it must be true. The Internet has sucked all the brains out of society.

Rallying around a falsehood, celebrating it, codifying it, reapeating it incessantly, in no way makes it true. Yet this is the way of forums. Opinion unmoored in objective, qualified fact takes on value simply by its echo. If this is not so, why are forums completely silent on so many issues vital to powersports consumers? I've never even read on a forum the correct way to lube a drive chain.


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