I am a huge fan of discussing things on forums. Whether it is game design, shopping for a new gadget, learning to make tripple chocolate brownies or getting dating advice... Forums rock! Or at the least they do if people are actually allowed to write in them. Unfortunately there is a phenominon that plagues the forum writing community. "This already exists!". There is nothing that pisses me off on forums more then this. If you wanted to run an FAQ site you should have made one. Its really that simple.
Now don't get me wrong... If something is being repeated again and again that is causing "flame wars" I can understand this. But that sort of topic should only be had on a debate forum anyway. Topics that I see get this issue a lot that do not generally deserve it are polls "Is game A or game B better?" and "Should I buy...?" threads. I get it: some people work their behinds off writing excellent guides on making certain purchases. And its great that they do. But that does not, and should not, give those people the right to feel that they are the sole authority on said subject henceforth through eternity.
There are three very interesting topics I have been following on forums this month: advice for my upcoming PS3 purchase, research on Sims 2 vs.s Sims 3, and comparisons between InFAMOUS and Prototype. In my reading I have come across two "This already exists!" retorts. One was actually on my own PS3 advice thread on GameSpot.com and the other was on a Prototype v.s. InFAMOUS poll on IGN. It was nice of the gentlemen who commented on my thread to link me to his advice column -- it had some good video links that were quite handy -- but I was rather shocked at his insistance that I post nothing more about the topic without first consulting his thread first. Get. Over. Yourself. !!!
There are reasons that certain topics are going to be repeated a thousand times over on certain types of forums. There are always going to be "I am buying XYZ system -- Advice?" threads on a gaming forum. Its as certain as the sun rising in the east. I think that the poster on GameSpot did have a good idea having a guide for mundane things like system types, necessary v.s. unnecessary accessories, history of the console in question, getting started, etc. I do not think telling me not to post again was a wise move in increasing his (or her, I am asuming its a guy since I was on a gaming forum. Ironic since I am a woman, I know.) reputation or that of his guide.
The problem with autocratic and static guides being the only permitted method of getting information on something is that you lose the human aspect and are unable to ask questions you might want to get answered in contexts that are specific as an individual. I do not need some game-guru wannabe using a mass discussion platform to try and pretend they know everything. If I want a singular opinion on something from a professional reviewer I will go look up a review of whatever I want on IGN.com, GameSpot.com or I will just hop onto YouTube.
So, how could we fix the problem? First off, if there are good guides that a forum has on something like this that they want people to refer to those should be stickied at the top of the board, they should be clearly labelled and they should be well written. Second, if such a guide is going to be a manditory source of information then it needs to be updated accurately and quickly when changes happen and it needs a Last Updated specification. Lastly, while encouraging users to use the guide should be important, paying attention to what they write and its specifics should never be pushed to the wayside. It is annoying to have 100 topics on the same thing. But if everything on a forum becomes a "check this guide" reference then we no longer have a forum.
Thank you for reading. How do you feel about repeated topics on forums? Do you have a solution? Discuss!