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  • The subculture of Message Boards..

    Hi all,

    I am writing a paper for a class on popular culture about message boards and their subculture. I am doing an anaylsis in respect to the actual text (message boards) their audience (users) and the production of it. Does anyone have any insight into this? Any interesting ideas? I also need some sources so if anyone knows where this has been written about, please tell me. I need an academic source (meaning something that he been written professionally, citing sources, etc) so any help find that would be great too. I just want to hear everoynes opinions and I figured this would be the best place to start!

  • #2
    anybody? I figured this would be of interest here! I will post the first 6 pages of my rough draft so you can see what I am talking about. Again - its a ROUGH draft! No ending yet either.



    The advent of the internet has created a new form of text, the message board. Websites are unlike any other modern text, with new rules for who the audience is and what they can do. Production is also handled in a way unique only the message board. In most texts the audience either observes, as in film and television, or participates, like in a computer game. On a message board, however, the audience is a major player in the production of the text and dictates its survival and popularity. These message boards are communities that adopt a way of living online, with a special dialect and board specific rules.
    The message board depends upon the audience to create its content. This opportunity to exert individual control over the medium encourages repeat visits to the site. The website “Maine-Street.com“ is a message board for car enthusiasts from the State of Maine. The site originally consisted of two kinds of written content: a monthly magazine written by the administrator, and the message board, which was the heart of the site. A year after the launch, Maine-Street.com discontinued the magazine and became solely a message board. The switch in content resulted in an average new user registration increase of 32% (Maine-Street.com Board Statistics). Many other websites have also taken this approach, finding that the most motivating element of interactive websites seems to be the discussion of the topic at hand.

    Users generally find the site via word of mouth or a search engine. Web logs show 18% of initial traffic arrives via a search engine, leaving the remaining 82% to arrive via links from other sites or word of mouth. This means, for the most part, users on the site are not accustomed to the way of life on a message board. Online etiquette (often referred to as netiquette) must be learned through observation for these new users. For new users, 68% do not post within the first 3 months of registering. The reason is that they “lurk” on the site, viewing but not posting, to learn the ways of the site. Even the savvy message board user will lurk for a few days as every board has specific ways of doing things.
    The users of a message board are its greatest asset. Without its audience, a message board would not exist. The more interaction on a message board (calculated in numbers of messages posted), the more the popular the site is deemed to be. Many people are eager to join a message board because of the flexibility it allows. In a film, viewers can be transported to a different land or time for an hour or two. On a message board, one can become a contrived persona all day long with little fear of having this deception uncovered. Unlike high school, in the world of cyber space and message boards, athletic ability and physical appearance do not dictate popularity. Only the number of posts that one has accumulated confers status. A member who only observes on the site, without posting to the board, may earn the negative label of a “lurker”. It is important to the board as a whole that all members participate, because the numbers of posts generated are a measure of the popularity of the site. This popularity, visible in “posting numbers” to be found on the site, encourages new visitors. The ultimate level of respect is being a moderator. This position is given out by the sites administrator, or owner, to users he deems worthy of helping run the site. These moderators have the power to delete people’s posts and even completely remove users from the site. Moderators are an integral part of production as they regulate what is created.
    Moderators follow the stereotypical “good cop, bad cop” method. For the most part, you want the users to be happy and respect the moderators. If they do not there is total chaos and most users will simply abandon the message board. If there is no moderation then the same will happen. A happy medium must be found. One common approach is to have one moderator do the dirty work of handling the hard situations. One Maine-Street one moderator does just that. The majority of the moderators (often called Mods for short) simply move posts into appropriate categories and warn users using foul and inappropriate language. When a major problem arises, however, the bad cop steps in and handles the situation. This causes him to gain a large following of enemies but is necessary in keeping the site running properly. Some Administrators actually create what is known as an Alter Ego to be this person. The “bad cop” is the administrator in disguise using a different user name. There is no way for the users to actually know the real identity.
    Besides moderators, the regular users are the other important part of the production message board. There are many different things that can bring a group of people together on a message board to initiate good conversation. A more popular one, of course, is automobiles. Because all users share a common interest, the chances that they will get along are much better than just throwing random people together.
    The final part of production is the actual software used. The most common piece of message board software is called vBulletin. This $120.00 software has all the standard features that the audience has grown accustom to, and demands on their message board. Simply using the incorrect software can cause a message board to fail. Such features that the users look for are how the board is laid out (is it easy to navigate, etc), does it include Private Messaging features (a special email system for use with only the boards users) and does it have Smiles. Smiles are small graphics of a smile face showing different emotions such as being sad, happy, crying, or laughing. These are important for communication on the Internet where you do not know how the users is stating their opinion.
    With the proper board software in use, users will start visiting the site. Slowly the site will take shape and evolve into an online world. Each message board creates its own sub-culture and has different standards for popularity. On a car message board like Maine-Street, members with “status” cars are instantly popular. As the site grows and diversifies, different groups form and people with less esteemed cars unite. On Maine-Street, as on some other car message boards, attempts to anticipate the divisiveness generated between owners of different types of cars resulted in the creation of sub-boards within the site.

    Devotees of import cars, who traditionally hold little respect or appreciation for domestic cars and trucks, are able to post within their own area on the board. The same is true of the American car, truck, and motorcycle owners. Separate sub-boards also exist to discuss off-topic matters, to buy and sell cars and parts, to discuss racing, and to administrate the site. These sub-boards evolved as methods to “manage” both the audience and the disruptions which can flare up and engulf a message board. When an audience member chooses to post on a sub-board which best matches his individual interests, personal attacks and disagreements over vehicles are minimized. The message board is the only medium that sets its own standards in this way.
    Once groups form they will occasionally stage attacks to different subsections of the board. A group of users who drive import cars may get together and post messages in the domestic section. These often erupt into flame wars. A common ending to such a war is the banning of the main instigators. Every site handles these situations differently, but often a first offensive will leave a user banned a for just a few days, while the third time can leave them permanently banned. These users gain the status of a political prisoner. The users followers and admirers will frequently make posts asking to “Free” the user from exile and allow them back to the site. Usually this banner user will create an alter ego, like the administrator does to help moderate, and return to the board as a different person. It is easy to get away with this if you act differently, but often they will resort to their old methods and quickly get banned again.
    Owning a status car guarantees a visitor to a car website a warm welcome and many new friends. An enthusiast who enjoys talking about prized cars without owning one will generate instant ridicule with the first post and be called names like “newb”, which is short for newbie or person new to the site. On Maine-Street, the user SuperSpyder attempted to gain instant respect with his first post by stating he owned an Acura NSX, a rare super car. Speculation mounted. In a rare turn of events on a message board, SuperSpyder was ultimately uncovered as not even holding a driver’s license, let alone an exotic sports car. Such attempts to gain popularity are not necessarily doomed to failure. A more knowledgeable person may have been able to pull off this deception. This possibility creates a great deal of speculation on message boards. As the audience, identified by chosen screen names, posts on the board, individuals come to “know” each other. Sometimes there are attempts to “prove” an audience member’s claim of ownership, by posting “sightings. This most often occurs if claims seem outrageous given the history and context of the member’s postings. Members sometimes post times and days when certain vehicles, identified on the site by photos of cars associated with a screen name, have been spotted. These attempts to match a face and vehicle in real life with a screen name and picture on line serve a double purpose. Matching online photos with an actual viewing quells the general attitude of disbelief that is always present in cyberspace. Sightings, and the excitement they generate, also serve to promote affiliation of the audience with the board. The message board audience, unlike television, movie, or print audiences, develops a loyalty and culture that can change instantly, dependent upon the behavior of the audience itself.
    Message boards have rules for what the audience is allowed to do and a different set of rules about how the audience should create the text. Correct grammar, accurate spelling, and well-written messages are not admired. On each board, new words are created and existing words take on whole new meanings. If a user is not up to date on the latest happenings on the message board, he will be “flamed”, made fun of, and called a “newb” even if he has been a member for years. This practice ensures that an audience member will stay current with other members and the site by visiting and posting messages often.
    The message board audience, like audiences of all mediums, ultimately determines its success or failure. Online audiences of a message board do not demonstrate approval of the medium by buying a product, nor is there a charge to the audience to observe or participate. There is not necessarily any monetary gain for the administrators of the site. Although a successful site may generate interest from retail advertisers, success of the site is determined by its audience and the frequency and content of its interaction. In the case of message boards, the audience is the medium.

    Comment


    • #3
      I like it .. I haven't finished reading it but read quite a bit of it.

      Originally posted by NJRDesign
      anybody? I figured this would be of interest here! I will post the first 6 pages of my rough draft so you can see what I am talking about. Again - its a ROUGH draft! No ending yet either.



      The advent of the internet has created a new form of text, the message board. Websites are unlike any other modern text, with new rules for who the audience is and what they can do. Production is also handled in a way unique only the message board. In most texts the audience either observes, as in film and television, or participates, like in a computer game. On a message board, however, the audience is a major player in the production of the text and dictates its survival and popularity. These message boards are communities that adopt a way of living online, with a special dialect and board specific rules.
      The message board depends upon the audience to create its content. This opportunity to exert individual control over the medium encourages repeat visits to the site. The website “Maine-Street.com“ is a message board for car enthusiasts from the State of Maine. The site originally consisted of two kinds of written content: a monthly magazine written by the administrator, and the message board, which was the heart of the site. A year after the launch, Maine-Street.com discontinued the magazine and became solely a message board. The switch in content resulted in an average new user registration increase of 32% (Maine-Street.com Board Statistics). Many other websites have also taken this approach, finding that the most motivating element of interactive websites seems to be the discussion of the topic at hand.

      Users generally find the site via word of mouth or a search engine. Web logs show 18% of initial traffic arrives via a search engine, leaving the remaining 82% to arrive via links from other sites or word of mouth. This means, for the most part, users on the site are not accustomed to the way of life on a message board. Online etiquette (often referred to as netiquette) must be learned through observation for these new users. For new users, 68% do not post within the first 3 months of registering. The reason is that they “lurk” on the site, viewing but not posting, to learn the ways of the site. Even the savvy message board user will lurk for a few days as every board has specific ways of doing things.
      The users of a message board are its greatest asset. Without its audience, a message board would not exist. The more interaction on a message board (calculated in numbers of messages posted), the more the popular the site is deemed to be. Many people are eager to join a message board because of the flexibility it allows. In a film, viewers can be transported to a different land or time for an hour or two. On a message board, one can become a contrived persona all day long with little fear of having this deception uncovered. Unlike high school, in the world of cyber space and message boards, athletic ability and physical appearance do not dictate popularity. Only the number of posts that one has accumulated confers status. A member who only observes on the site, without posting to the board, may earn the negative label of a “lurker”. It is important to the board as a whole that all members participate, because the numbers of posts generated are a measure of the popularity of the site. This popularity, visible in “posting numbers” to be found on the site, encourages new visitors. The ultimate level of respect is being a moderator. This position is given out by the sites administrator, or owner, to users he deems worthy of helping run the site. These moderators have the power to delete people’s posts and even completely remove users from the site. Moderators are an integral part of production as they regulate what is created.
      Moderators follow the stereotypical “good cop, bad cop” method. For the most part, you want the users to be happy and respect the moderators. If they do not there is total chaos and most users will simply abandon the message board. If there is no moderation then the same will happen. A happy medium must be found. One common approach is to have one moderator do the dirty work of handling the hard situations. One Maine-Street one moderator does just that. The majority of the moderators (often called Mods for short) simply move posts into appropriate categories and warn users using foul and inappropriate language. When a major problem arises, however, the bad cop steps in and handles the situation. This causes him to gain a large following of enemies but is necessary in keeping the site running properly. Some Administrators actually create what is known as an Alter Ego to be this person. The “bad cop” is the administrator in disguise using a different user name. There is no way for the users to actually know the real identity.
      Besides moderators, the regular users are the other important part of the production message board. There are many different things that can bring a group of people together on a message board to initiate good conversation. A more popular one, of course, is automobiles. Because all users share a common interest, the chances that they will get along are much better than just throwing random people together.
      The final part of production is the actual software used. The most common piece of message board software is called vBulletin. This $120.00 software has all the standard features that the audience has grown accustom to, and demands on their message board. Simply using the incorrect software can cause a message board to fail. Such features that the users look for are how the board is laid out (is it easy to navigate, etc), does it include Private Messaging features (a special email system for use with only the boards users) and does it have Smiles. Smiles are small graphics of a smile face showing different emotions such as being sad, happy, crying, or laughing. These are important for communication on the Internet where you do not know how the users is stating their opinion.
      With the proper board software in use, users will start visiting the site. Slowly the site will take shape and evolve into an online world. Each message board creates its own sub-culture and has different standards for popularity. On a car message board like Maine-Street, members with “status” cars are instantly popular. As the site grows and diversifies, different groups form and people with less esteemed cars unite. On Maine-Street, as on some other car message boards, attempts to anticipate the divisiveness generated between owners of different types of cars resulted in the creation of sub-boards within the site.

      Devotees of import cars, who traditionally hold little respect or appreciation for domestic cars and trucks, are able to post within their own area on the board. The same is true of the American car, truck, and motorcycle owners. Separate sub-boards also exist to discuss off-topic matters, to buy and sell cars and parts, to discuss racing, and to administrate the site. These sub-boards evolved as methods to “manage” both the audience and the disruptions which can flare up and engulf a message board. When an audience member chooses to post on a sub-board which best matches his individual interests, personal attacks and disagreements over vehicles are minimized. The message board is the only medium that sets its own standards in this way.
      Once groups form they will occasionally stage attacks to different subsections of the board. A group of users who drive import cars may get together and post messages in the domestic section. These often erupt into flame wars. A common ending to such a war is the banning of the main instigators. Every site handles these situations differently, but often a first offensive will leave a user banned a for just a few days, while the third time can leave them permanently banned. These users gain the status of a political prisoner. The users followers and admirers will frequently make posts asking to “Free” the user from exile and allow them back to the site. Usually this banner user will create an alter ego, like the administrator does to help moderate, and return to the board as a different person. It is easy to get away with this if you act differently, but often they will resort to their old methods and quickly get banned again.
      Owning a status car guarantees a visitor to a car website a warm welcome and many new friends. An enthusiast who enjoys talking about prized cars without owning one will generate instant ridicule with the first post and be called names like “newb”, which is short for newbie or person new to the site. On Maine-Street, the user SuperSpyder attempted to gain instant respect with his first post by stating he owned an Acura NSX, a rare super car. Speculation mounted. In a rare turn of events on a message board, SuperSpyder was ultimately uncovered as not even holding a driver’s license, let alone an exotic sports car. Such attempts to gain popularity are not necessarily doomed to failure. A more knowledgeable person may have been able to pull off this deception. This possibility creates a great deal of speculation on message boards. As the audience, identified by chosen screen names, posts on the board, individuals come to “know” each other. Sometimes there are attempts to “prove” an audience member’s claim of ownership, by posting “sightings. This most often occurs if claims seem outrageous given the history and context of the member’s postings. Members sometimes post times and days when certain vehicles, identified on the site by photos of cars associated with a screen name, have been spotted. These attempts to match a face and vehicle in real life with a screen name and picture on line serve a double purpose. Matching online photos with an actual viewing quells the general attitude of disbelief that is always present in cyberspace. Sightings, and the excitement they generate, also serve to promote affiliation of the audience with the board. The message board audience, unlike television, movie, or print audiences, develops a loyalty and culture that can change instantly, dependent upon the behavior of the audience itself.
      Message boards have rules for what the audience is allowed to do and a different set of rules about how the audience should create the text. Correct grammar, accurate spelling, and well-written messages are not admired. On each board, new words are created and existing words take on whole new meanings. If a user is not up to date on the latest happenings on the message board, he will be “flamed”, made fun of, and called a “newb” even if he has been a member for years. This practice ensures that an audience member will stay current with other members and the site by visiting and posting messages often.
      The message board audience, like audiences of all mediums, ultimately determines its success or failure. Online audiences of a message board do not demonstrate approval of the medium by buying a product, nor is there a charge to the audience to observe or participate. There is not necessarily any monetary gain for the administrators of the site. Although a successful site may generate interest from retail advertisers, success of the site is determined by its audience and the frequency and content of its interaction. In the case of message boards, the audience is the medium.
      Jason Miller
      http://www.GMPerformanceTuning.com
      http://projecthillside.com
      http://weekendoasis.net
      http://jamz.net

      Comment


      • #4
        Well, I kinda posted an article/rant on my tech site two months ago that relates to message boards ... it may not exactly be what you're looking for, but read it and see if it contributes a tad to your paper...

        http://www.opentechsupport.net/forum...threadid=13576
        OPEN TECH SUPPORT
        "Tech is our middle name!"

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks guys.
          Its not due until March 5th so I have a while just trying to get a jump on it. I'll post revistions as I go along and would love to hear any ideas you may have.
          Im checking your site out now Tolitz.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by NJRDesign
            Thanks guys.
            Its not due until March 5th so I have a while just trying to get a jump on it. I'll post revistions as I go along and would love to hear any ideas you may have.
            Im checking your site out now Tolitz.
            March 5, next year?
            Jason Miller
            http://www.GMPerformanceTuning.com
            http://projecthillside.com
            http://weekendoasis.net
            http://jamz.net

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by jam583
              March 5, next year?
              And by March I of course mean May. Heheh

              Comment

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