Achieving a Balance between Spam and Serious Posts
Author: Mazarin Ashinar
Submitted for raising to Youngling
In order to achieve a proper balance between spam and serious posts, we must first define what each is, and how each type affects the atmosphere of the forums. Then, once we have determined the type of post, we must ask ourselves, "Why am I posting this?" If you think (or even know) that your post will take the thread off of topic, then you should realize that it would not be in the best interests of the thread to continue on with posting. Even if you are just saying hi to a friend you haven't seen around in a long time and they happened to post in that thread, it is disrupting the thread, and you can always PM them instead.
Spamming can be good on occasion. It is fun, and gives us something to do to pass the time. But it is only good on "occasion." If forums are constantly being spammed, it makes it very hard to sift through and find important threads. In serious topics, like announcements, it is never a good idea to spam, because sometimes the announcement can be updated later in the thread, and it makes it very hard to catch the updates if there are ten pages of spam in it.
Again, not all spamming is bad. There are certain forums here that are usually open to spam-like topics, where you can just goof off and be silly. It is important to not get carried away in this, letting your spam spread out of the spam threads and into more serious threads. Also, even though it is fun to spam, it is not a good idea to do a whole lot of spamming in even one particular thread. If there are a number of different people who routinely post in a thread, and you are on at a time they are not, it is hard for them to catch up with four-five pages of spam before jumping right back in. It is important to be courteous to other posters.
Again, it is best to keep spamming confined to just a handful of threads, and not turn almost every thread that is created into a spam thread. If there are a few dedicated spam threads, then non-spammers can usually avoid them and search for more interesting topics to read, where they can actually add constructive replies. It is highly annoying to wake up in the morning to find that there are ten new topics, but they all already have two-four pages of posts in them! It discourages people from even attempting to look into them when a new topic has already progressed so far so fast (or digressed into something completely different from the beginning topic). Now, to further define spam, there is "good spam" and there is "bad spam." "Bad spam" can be defined as a reply with just a bunch of random letters, a single emoticon (or a great number of them), or just one, maybe two words. Even from a spammer's point of view, this is not very good as it makes it all but impossible to reply to. Even spam must have some sort of content to keep things going. "Good spam" would be something that actually keeps the topic on track (or hijacks it into a whole new topic, where things will stay on topic for a while), while still being silly and having fun. Usually even spam has some topic being spammed about, even if the topic is constantly changing.
Even this "good spam" can be frowned upon on, however. It's all well and good to be silly and have fun, but people often wish to just sit down and have a serious discussion on various issues. If you want people to respect you at all, you should not just show your silly side. You also need to post things that require you to stretch your mind and imagination to its fullest extent, providing insights and thoughts to further a conversation or discussion. Spamming helps you get to know other people, but really only other spammers. However, there will also be other non-spammers that will get to know you (while you are oblivious to them noticing you), but they would know you for your spam and would not have much incentive to get to know you. If you are actively trying to add constructive and intellectual posts, people can then discover what you really are like. It is much more pleasant to get to know someone who you can have serious discussions with and actually get to know "them" rather than just observing them on the outside with their spam and silliness.
It also makes it very difficult for new people to figure things out if there is a lot of spam. When they're just getting started here, they have no way of knowing how things work here, and just seeing a lot of spam can be very confusing and make it just that much harder for them to find the important threads to help get them oriented. It also makes it harder for them to get to know people because with everyone posting so much, they might feel like they're butting in because they don't know you. We all need to make sure to be considerate of everyone.
Of course, serious posts should not just be confined to discussion or debate threads. Even in the regular forums you can practice responsible posting, posting your own experiences related to topic titles and helping keep the thread on track, being constructive and helping people.
This constructive posting is the majority of what our posts should consist of. Every once in a while, it is ok to be silly and spam a bit, only so long as it is good spam and you don't go overboard with it. We all have our times where we don't want to be serious at all, and that's ok. But we should push ourselves to make sure that the majority of our posts have a reason to be posted, namely to give the next person to post to have something to reply to in order to keep the thread moving in the direction the topic indicates. The less you do actually spam, and the more constructive your posts are, the more respected you will be in the community, and the more pleasant your experiences will be.