® The problem with powersports user forums

User forums are, some would say, simply microcosms of powersports ownership community. That they are essentially egalitarian, democratic, even grass-roots in nature. This seems an intelligent, comfortably reasonable, powerfully simple defense, but it is actually a very simplistic one and dead wrong; quite false in fact. First, microcosms they are not. No rational user of powersports products is active on user forums; they're smarter than that. Second, the claim of democracy is a sham. Even if a user forum has 5,000 members, fewer than a handful drive its ethic, determine its mores, values and culture, what is acceptable and what isn't. Thus forums are not democratic but totalitarian in nature. Dissent is not sanctioned. Might is right, even if ill-informed and intransigent, as it inevitably is. Forum culture is in fact incestuous, toxic. Motorcycle forums are airtight enclosures teeming with ignorance and rank with the odor of never being exposed to the bright light of day. Forums are destroying the industry through the missinfomation that ensures that new powersports consumers are ignorant. Their members over-value online advice. People really are going to YouTube for medical advice, and every indication is that crowd funding isn't limited to money--it's also the way people get "knowledge". If a large number of 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 despite having none, simply by its echo. If this is not so, why are forums completely silent on literally hundreds of issues vital to powersports consumers? Every day I hear from folks who believe in honing cylinders, sanding brake pads, lapping valves, crimping wires, incorrectly measuring compression, and thousands of other bad practices that if they did not learn them from forums they were confirmed in their error by forums, while I have yet to read on a forum even the correct way to lube a drive chain. And that is just the mere beginning, just a bare hint of the technical vacuum. There are innumerable powersports maintenance issues forums should be advocating on. Yet they are silent, opening their mouths only to bare their fangs when their vacuuous paradigm is threatened.

Forum leaders think their discoveries and observations exhaustive, definitive, despite their actually being very limited. It's like someone reading a book on the subject of war and from then on lashing out at every decorated military veteran whose real experience questions their superficially informed view. Those who absorb Internet information on a subject invariably make adversaries of persons who dare pose obviously more qualified views. And the more authoritative the questioner, the more vitrolic and confrontational the attack. In point of fact, it is instructive to observe that authorities are almost universally absent from these forums. So conspicuous is their absence that it constitutes a resounding alarm for any thinking person.


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