22 August 2007

Anatomy Of A Message Board Poster

The interwebs have been around for a while now, and while its impact is debatable (see: Snakes On A Plane, unjustified hype of), there is one thing that it offers that cannot be debated- the message board.

Today, I write not of just any message board, but the car message board. The car message board isn't something that can easily be pinned down. You can have a general message board... you can have a brand message board... you can have a model message board... you can have an anti-brand/model message board... you can have a message board based on country of origin... you can have an engine message board... and so on. It really is an endless loop, rivaled only by the music message board and its variants.

With that being said, the types of posters who inhabit these message boards are finite. I present to you a smattering of them. As always, this list is by no means complete, but I tried.

  • The Brand Humper
Pretty self-explanatory. In years past, the lines were pretty clear. Followers of the Big 3 hated everything else, especially their Big 3 counterparts. German car fans were in the same boat, with BMW and Mercedes fans loathing eachother equally. The one constant was that everyone hated the Japanese brands and the Korean brands. Today however, the lines aren't so clear anymore- many GM fans are rooting for Ford... Chrysler used to be owned by Mercedes... BMW owns Mini. Globalization has flipped everything on its head. The common thread of course, is that they all still hate the Japanese and Korean makes. Not to fear however, as rampant brand favoritism still exists out there. Things to look out for- the Brand Humper will usually plaster their entire garage in their signature, and it will always be one brand of vehicle. Be on the lookout for model or company names in their message board name- MUSTANGFREEK1986 is a good example. They'll also interject with their favorite brand into any and every thread- even when it has nothing to do with anything. And lastly, and most deviously, they'll enter threads that are about direct competitors to their favorite brands, and will either show their true colours out in the open, or compliment the competitor in a backhanded manner.

  • The Chassis Nerd (Also: Engine Nerd, Model Nerd)
The easiest way to spot the Chassis Nerd is by the way they refer to vehicles. Instead of starting a thread about a 2007 BMW 3 Series sedan, they'll start a thread about an E90 (E92 if they're talking about the coupe). Instead of responding to a Honda engine swap question by suggesting a 2.0 liter Civic motor, they'll blithely throw out a K20A2 reference. And don't get me started on Volkswagens. You're not buying a used 1987 Jetta- you're buying a Mk2. And you're sure as hell an idiot if you refer to a mid 90's RX-7 as anything but an FD (bonus points if you have a JDM FD3s). The Nerd revels in acronyms. They bathe in nomenclature. They shower in useless abbreviations. They are to be approached with caution - if you see one of their threads, click on a Google AdWord instead. If you still accidentally click, slowly and carefully hit your back button.

  • Hacksaw Jim Duggan (Also: Ze German, Goku)
Sometimes very easy to spot, sometimes very stealthy, the nationalistic poster is quite possibly my favorite type of poster for a number of reasons- they are blindly loyal to whatever they're spewing about (regardless of facts), they are very easy to rile up, and lastly, they tend to reinforce every single stereotype that you could possibly imagine when you initiate contact with them. Really, if you think about it, they're like the message board answer to a Creationist. The weak point of a Hacksaw Jim Duggan is questioning the superiority of American trucks. The weak point of Ze German is questioning German quality. The weak point of Goku is questioning the passion of Japanese vehicles. Touch on any of these weak points and be prepared for vicious rebuttals ranging from randoming misspellings of your/you're/yer, to assaults on the car you drive yourself, to proclamations on the superiority of VTEC!!!OMG!!!111!!!. Want to get on their good side? American patriots love reminiscing about the old days. German patriots will swoon if you mention driving on the Nurburgring or call it an S-Klasse. Japanese patriots will fall head over heels in love with you if you think Bluetooth, navi, self parking mechanisms and portable cappuccino machines should be in every car sold today.

  • The Tree Hugger (Also: The Oil Burner)
It used to be that the Tree Hugger was easily identifiable- they would squeal like Ned Beatty in Deliverance at the sight of any SUV related thread. The Prius has changed this dynamic however. Yes, they'll still infiltrate anything truck and SUV related- but now they'll also set their sites on such wonderful acronyms as ULEV, SULEV, PZEV, and of course, the Holy Grail- ZEV. My advice? Stay far far far away from them. Dare to question them and be prepared to face the wrath of a thousand spreadsheets extolling the virtues of their vehicles. A fun pastime however, is to mention the presence of diesel alternatives. You can then sit back, relax, and enjoy the view as The Oil Burner sect descend upon the thread for entertaining battle.

  • The Noob (Also: Your Mom/Dad/Grandma/Grandpa)
Some poor sap who typed in 'Chevy Uplander breaking down' into Google, stumbled upon the message board, took the time to register and post a question about their poor Chevy Uplander (which is breaking down), and promptly gets lambasted for not knowing the answer to their own question.

  • The Mechanic
Generally a pretty good poster- limited to what they service, but can be a fountain of knowledge if you're looking for model specific information. I've got nothing bad to say here. Beware the similar but very different species The (Fake) Mechanic, identifiable by a wealth of anecdotal experiences but very little in the way of actual knowledge.

  • The Yeller (Also: The 14 Year Old Poster)

  • The Unbiased (Also: The Contrarian)
Luckily for those of us living in democratic societies, we have measures in place to protect our freedom, justice and equality. No, I'm not talking about the law or the police. I'm talking about The Unbiased. 99.9% of the time found in brand/nation/model specific forums, where their sole goal is to ensure that everyone is being UNBIASED. They will proclaim this loudly and clearly. Multiple times. Bias is anathema to these people. But look at it this way- they're helping you not get attached to inanimate objects! Of course, what The Unbiased will never admit to is that in order to be truly unbiased, they'd have to not own a vehicle at all, read anything about cars (including message boards), or form an opinion about anything. Bring this up and wait for the stock answer- "I thoroughly tested each and every vehicle in my price range before picking the one that best suited my needs, budget and social status". It's like talking to a cardboard cutout of a Consumer Reports reader. The Contrarian is related to The Unbiased, but is different because they don't care about bias- they just love going contrary to whatever everyone else says. To them, a Corvette has 6 wheels, and an S-Class is a BMW.

  • The CEO
Criticizes anything and everything about the business. New model coming out? There's something wrong with it. Mid-cycle refresh? They didn't address all the shortcomings. Making a profit? They should have made more. Will generally supplement their posting on a message board with a blog to satisfy their ego and rampant Napoleonic tendencies (hmmmmm).

  • The Insider
Dark and mysterious. Sort of like a Caramilk bar, but even sweeter because they have all the tidbits of information that you crave like a Star Wars fan does a 3rd trilogy. They almost always either work on the line (where secrets are apparently shared like Halloween candy) or have a friend in the company who likes sabotaging the efforts of the employer who provides their living. They're to be trusted 50% of the time- the other half is to be copied for future pastings in order to showcase their lack of knowledge.

  • The Moderator
Friendless. Cold and lonely. Live in the basement of their parents house. Best to ignore completely.

  • The One Worder (Also: Emoticonner)
Yup. ;)


Like I said...just a sprinkling of what you'll find out there- I'm sure there are many more I've passed over.


Anonymous said...

You forgot attention whore girls with names like

CRX Babe or NismoCutie

69Firebird400 said...

Funny stuff - as I read the definitions, I could think of a few examples of each from GMI.

I guess I'm right up there with MUSTANGFREEK1986, though. :)

Anonymous said...

Mags, you finally drew me in.

That was an excellent article! More of the same please. :D

Mags said...

I wonder who it is that was 'drawn in'... someone from GMI?

Olddood said...

I have no clue who was DRAWN IN.

I don't understand why people are anonymous either. What are they afraid of? I don;t know why you can't post about this blog on GMi either...more fear? TN will allow you.

As for the topic...this is a good one. Fantastic pic of Billo BTW.

69Firebird400 said...

Except for the semi-pasty pale face, the tree hugger chick was kind of hot.

OldDood said...

This is one of the best explanations of People on forums I think I have ever read.

I guess I do not fall in any of these catagories though...hehe!