Sunday, March 28, 2010

Airsoft Forum Etiquette & Behavior

Airsoft forums have helped make me the man I am today.  They have provided me with a wealth of knowledge I could never have dreamed of otherwise.  Knowledge like how to spend your entire workday browsing the Arnies gun picture threads and not get caught by the boss or how to take a perfectly working $300 Airsoft gun with stock internals and make it so that it has close to a thousand dollars in aftermarket parts inside of it and subsequently shoot worse than it did when it was stock.  Here are a few little treats to help keep you on the straight and narrow.  Hopefully they will help you avoid some of the lessons that I had to learn the hard way when I first got started with forum participation.

The Do's and Don'ts of participating on Airsoft forums.

DO: Read the "Read Here Before Posting" threads usually posted at the top of each section or in the New Member section.  These threads all have different subject lines, but it'll be pretty obvious when you see it.  Each forum has their own variation of the rules of what you can and cannot do but generally speaking, one rule that is sort of universal is to read first, ask questions later.  Following this rule will save you quite a bit of embarrassment so that you don't fall victim to public ridicule for having your head in dark places and quite possibly getting in trouble with the forum moderators (aka the Mods). Reading and understanding each forum’s rules thread before posting in that particular forum will help you avoid most issues you could run into. However, I’d like to highlight a few areas that may or may not be specifically listed in any of the rules threads.

DON'T: Do NOT claim to be someone you are not.  I have seen a number of instances over the years where new guys get on the forums and create a forum account name that gives the indication that they are somehow involved in the United States Military because they think it's cool or they just don't know any better.  This is bad.  Federally bad.  You make a false claim about simply being in the military when you were never apart of it or if you were, in fact, a part of it but you say that you were involved in certain missions or operations that you were not, and you are flirting with a world of trouble.  And you definitely don't say that you've earned medals that you haven't actually earned in the service.  Check out the Stolen Valor Act (Google it) for more details there.  Other members WILL expose you for the phony you are if you try this and the outcome is never pretty.

DO: Contribute.  If there is a discussion going on regarding a subject that you have first-hand knowledge of, share it with the community.  That is what makes the forums so beneficial is the members' willingness to contribute their knowledge and experience in all the different areas that make up Airsoft.

DON'T: get involved in "flame wars."  Flaming is basically the act of verbally attacking others on the forums, with or without cause.  Pissing contests often fall into this category.  Everybody’s a toughguy on the internet.  A good “rule of thumb” here (Google that phrase for fun and excitement) is that if you wouldn’t say something to another guy’s face (like, face to face/in person), then don’t say it on the forums either.  If you've got beef with someone, take it to the Personal/Private Message (PM) side of things.  Don't hash it out in public.  I am not aware of any major forums that allow flaming to go on before the Mods start breaking out their proverbial "ban hammers."  Ban hammers are the metaphorical instrument used by forum moderators when someone "acts a fool" on the boards, symbolizing the end of a forum user's existence as a member of that forum because the moderator bans their IP address from accessing the boards or at least becoming a member again.

DO: Try to use decent grammar.  I know that asking everyone to use proper English would be impossible because there are very few people that actually know what proper English grammar is (myself included, although I have a better idea than some), but using "ebonics" or "txt msg splng" where you intentionally misspell words like what (wat) or know (no) will not be well received.  Most people on the boards find it annoying and will therefore find YOU annoying if you use it.

In case you’re brand new to Airsoft forums, please take the following advice to heart:

Start on your local forum.  However, “local” is relative.  Some areas of the globe don’t have a forum community in their immediate area or within a 10-mile radius, but if there’s one in a city an hour away or so, that’ll do.  Don’t make your first post ever on a large forum like Arnies.  Get your forum legs developed on a smaller board and work your way up to the larger stuff.  If you’re not sure where or how to find your local forums because your “GoogleFu” fails, call up the nearest Airsoft shop.  They’ll probably be able to point you in the right direction.

If you're just too unsure about whether a post would be appropriate or not, feel free to send it my direction and I'll let you know if it's a bad idea or an absolutely terrible one without hesitation.  Just kidding.  But seriously.  Think before you post.

Also.  Don't spend so much time on the forums that you forget what life is all about:  Airsoft (playing it in person against other human beings).  Don't become a chairsofter (one who chairsofts).

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