Hey guys, Tyler here... I've been on the boards for a terribly long time. Years. There have been times when I post five times a day, other times when I've been completely separated from the boards.
But... Years. I've seen a lot of posters, posts, and threads come and go, and though they may deal with different issues, there are some patterns to posting that seem all too consistent. If you haven't read the Penguin Rules, then you really need to do that now. But why I've decided to write this short piece is to give you a list of five recommendations and ask for a committment. We'll get to the latter in a bit, but for now, here are the 5 simple recommendations...
On Spam... Let's stop with the irrelevant topics. There's a lot of posting on here that is blatant spamming, stupid, totally irrelevant posts that bother everyone. I think the moderators are pretty good at handling it. But there is another type of spamming that is not so moderated and much more abundant.
I call this elusive spamming, and, believe it or not, YOU may be an elusive spammer. Elusive Spammers talk about things that people don't care about. Sure, it's not against the rules, but that doesn't make it any less annoying. It clutters the boards. So here's my recommendation... If you wouldn't have a conversation with someone else about it, don't post it. Have you ever been in a conversation that you didn't wanna have? Eyes glaze over, breaking eye contact, short answers, looking for outs. That is the response you will trigger by Elusive Spamming.
That brings me to my last type of spamming, probably one of the most common, the Response Spammer. You have probably been a Response Spammer at one point or another if you've been on these boards a while. This very often goes unmoderated. These are the people who read a spam post, Blatant or Elusive, and it drives them so crazy they write back with "Stop Spamming!!!" or another favorite, "Can we get a moderator here?" I can't blame you for that reaction, but keep it to yourself. Cause guess what? You're contributing to the spam! You've just moved the post up to the top of the board again and we have to wait for it to go back down but then.... another Response Spammer! Let the moderators do their job, and even if they don't just wait it out.
So recommendation #1 is stop Blatantly, Elusively, and Responsively Spamming. Catch yourself in the act.... and stop it.
On Searching… One of the leading causes for controversy on these boards is also one of the dumbest. It’s a twofold problem in my opinion: those who don’t use the search function, and those who complain about those who don’t use the search function. I’ll start with the latter. If you’ve ever posted in response to somebody’s question, “Use the search function!” or any variation there of, you are a Response Spammer. When you take a step back and think about it, your post is absolutely useless.
Still, that doesn’t make not searching a topic before posting any more acceptable. Although not using the search function is annoying because it clutters the boards, I have a better reason to search. It’s so YOU can get the best response possible. For example, there are a lot of posts on these boards about attracting girls with magic. The topic itself is an interesting, debatable, and fun discussion. But the fact is, there are dozens and dozens of threads that deal with the same thing. What does this mean for the next guy that wants to know about attracting girls with magic? It means that I’ve already given my best, most thorough answer months ago. After taking the time to write that thorough of an answer, my next answer is going to be shorter. And shorter and shorter and shorter until now I’m at the point where I don’t reply to ANY attracting-girls-with-magic threads.
So if you don’t care whether you clutter the boards or not, annoy people or not, etc. fine. But you should STILL use the search engine for YOUR OWN GOOD. Your best answers will be found in threads of the past, because (1) there’s so many of them that collectively you’ll get more information than your own thread ever will, and (2) people have taken time to write thoughtful responses and they never will do so again.
So recommendation #2, whether you want to do it to keep from cluttering the boards or to get the best answer possible, is to search before posting a question.
On Post Count… It’s probably the biggest mistake the Penguin boys ever made when creating these boards – to assign labels to members based on post count. The problem is, people aim to get the best label they can by nature, and the way to get the best label is to make the most posts. The problem is Penguin is “rewarding” based on quantity instead of quality.
But for those of you who are going for the highest label possible, I’ve got news for you… people are not going to look up to you or down on you based on the number of your posts. You’re going to receive those judgments on the posts themselves. Frijid_Pink is one of two “Emperor Penguins.” And although I’m personal buddies with him, he pisses a lot of people off. And none of the people he annoys thinks to themselves, “darn, if this guy wasn’t Emperor Penguin I would have so much to say to him!”
On the other side of the same coin, if somebody’s first post is a great essay, are you going to say to yourself, “Man, I would really compliment this guy on his work… if only he had some more posts under his belt!” That’s just not the thought process. So if you want people on the boards to like you, your game-plan is going to have to change! Add value to the lives of your fellow posters, and they will like you. Dude, if you write 15 amazing essays and they are the ONLY posts you EVER make, you will get a ton of private messages from people who say they really appreciate your posts.
Recommendation #3: Post for quality instead of quantity, and you’ll get much better feedback from everyone.
On Flaming… I can’t believe it. Topics coming up and people insulting each other in fifteen pages of thread. It’s ridiculous. Dudes, you’re not accomplishing anything here! These forums are an opportunity that magicians of old never ever had. They are an opportunity to learn, exchange ideas, and improve as a magician. And if you are wasting your time attacking another individual, or even defending an individual who has attacked you, it is short-term thinking. It is very short-sighted. Every minute you spend in an argument with a guy who you’re probably never going to meet in your entire life, is a minute you lose to learn something new.
So I have three recommendations in one here… First of all, stop insulting and instigating fights with members of the board. There’s no reason for it. It gets nothing done.
Second, if somebody attacks you, be the bigger man and ignore them. If you defend yourself or attack them back, people will look at the thread, shake their heads and say, “Flame War.” If you ignore them and continue with the thread, people will still shake their heads, but this time say, “Flamer.” It’s not a war if you don’t get involved.
Finally, when you’re posting start being as positive as you possibly can. That means complimenting people on their posts, encouraging newbies who ask “stupid questions,” arguing people’s ideas not with an insult but with a better solution. Pump each other up, get excited about magic. If you’re fighting, you’re LOSING that opportunity.Get positive and you’ll receive the same kind of attitude.
On Posting… In my opinion there are only two types of posts that really accomplish what the board is set out to do. Posts that directly ask for advice and posts that directly deliver advice. Anything else is useless.
Every time you hit the “Post” button, ask yourself, “Am I giving good advice or asking for advice here?” And if you aren’t, don’t make the post. It’s that simple. If you want to post an irrelevant yet interesting topic once and a while, fine, but at least do so in the Off Topic Section.
So my fifth and final recommendation is to have your posts add value to people’s lives as magicians. You can do that either directly by giving advice or indirectly by asking something that will get good advice.
So here are the five recommendations:
1) Stop spamming blatantly, elusively, or responsively.
2) For your own good, search something you have questions about.
3) Stop paying attention to post count, start paying attention to post value.
4) Don’t start or get involved in fights – make all positive posts.
5) Post to add value to the boards, other magicians, and yourself.
Now, I’ve come up with a plan that I think is going to improve the quality of the boards immensely. It’s not some master plan or anything, it’s simple. Just commit to following the five recommendations. I’m going to. I’m committing to those five things today and following through on it forever. I guarantee if we can get even 50% of the posters on these boards to follow that commitment, we’ll start seeing some amazing changes.
So do me a favor. Reply to this post with something like, “I commit” and your own thoughts if you have any. And let’s work to make the Penguin Boards the best in the world of magic. Thanks.
- Daniel Tyler