This is an old article that I first read a few years ago. It describes some of the most common types that you often see posting on message forums. It's kinda funny, but also fairly accurate, IMO. --- START: The Ignorant Leading The Hopeful I was reading a discussion board the other day and I saw something that got me thinking. This isn't a new line of thought for me. In fact, I have written newsletters about this in the past, but this is so prevalent I decided it was worth another issue. What I saw was ignorance on display. Helpful people who don't know what they're talking about, but they're advising others. Basically, the ignorant misleading the hopeful. This got me thinking about the different kinds of people who give bad advice so I made a list of some common types of discussion board participants. THE KNOW-IT-ALL: This person answers every question posted. She usually doesn't know what she's talking about, but she posts so often she is accepted as knowledgeable. You can spot her by looking at her range of topics. Few people are experts on many topics. THE ADVERTISER: This poster's only goal is to advertise his website. Usually his posts are short and sometimes don't even relate to the topic. He's really easy to spot, and usually he's not misleading because he doesn't write very much. THE ONE DAY GURU: This gentleman manages to complete something then immediately claims expert status. He can be hard to spot because of his veil of guru hood. Look for arrogance and self quoting. THE REGURGITATOR: An entertaining variant of THE ONE DAY GURU is the woman who asks questions as a newcomer on Monday and releases an ebook on Thursday. She can be really difficult to spot especially if you weren't around before she donned her guru robes, but a quick clue is the way others respond to her. THE OLD TIMER: This is someone who has been a participant for a long time and confuses years of experience with actual knowledge. Some Old Timers have great knowledge and you should pay attention to them. Others are just ignorant, and should be ignored. An easy way to tell the difference is a knowledgeable old timer rarely mentions his years of service. THE FAKER: Aka the KNOW-NOTHING-DO-NOTHING. These people are just plain evil. They amuse themselves by claiming expertise they don't have. Sometimes the Faker is a child. Sometimes he's an adult. For some reason fakers are almost always men. Whatever drives them to make their false claims they can usually be exposed by looking for details. Many fakers also link to amateurish sites. THE FREQUENT POSTER: Some of the newer discussion boards show how many posts each participant has made. This allows people to build credibility by posting frequently. I recently saw someone who had posted 3,200 times in six weeks. That leaves very little time for him do much else. Ignore these windbags. MRS. ME TOO: This woman posts shot simple statements like "I agree." Because she never really has much to say, I think she just wants to post a link to her site. She is easy to spot, and even easier to ignore. THE PASSIVE/AGGRESSIVE: These posters are usually men, but when it's a woman watch out. These people have terrible miserable lives, and in order to blow off some steam they attack others on discussion boards. The good news is they are quickly driven off by other participants. The bad news is there seems to be an endless supply of them. Personally, I like to call them on the phone and scream at them, but I recommend if you find yourself being attacked by one of these terrors, just walk away. THE MOTHER: This woman wants everyone to get along and is constantly trying to settle rivalries between posters. Of course she also needs the chaos to feel included, so she sends personal messages that seem to be conciliatory, but are actually attempts to cause problems. She never really posts information so she's easily ignored. THE FATHER: Aka THE BOARD OWNER. Sometimes quite knowledgeable, sometime just a FAKER hiding behind ownership of the website. If he's a faker, his board usually won't attract posts by many knowledgeable people. THE NINNY: This woman is always suggesting changes to the forum. Her advice is designed to ingratiate herself with THE BOARD OWNER, but impressing you isn't important to her so she'll just ignore you. The SHILL Aka THE SCHIZOPHRENIC: This guy - and it usually is a male, posts under two or more different names. Sometimes he uses the extra names to defend his main character, sometimes he just has discussions with himself. He can be hard to spot for all but the board administrators. THE WANDERER: This poster will wander into a forum and post widely off topic comments and questions. She never really provides information, and she quickly wanders away making her harmless. THE NAY-SAYER: These people will shoot down anything that comes near them. The nay-sayer makes himself feel important by picking apart other people's ideas. WARNING: he can be very convincing. This is the type who told Pepsi it won't work to sell bottled water because the cost of transporting the bottled water to the stores would make the water too expensive giving Coke the market for bottled water. THE LAWYER: Closely related to the NAY-SAYER. The Lawyer likes to quote - maybe I should say misquote? - rules. If someone asks how to build a newsletter list on eBay this guy will say it violates eBay's rules. That's a big clue in spotting this character - the emphasis on rules. THE SUMMARIZER: This guy will read a long thread with lots of back and forth discussion and write an involved post outlining everything that has already been said. He suffers from a need to organize everything, but can be really helpful. THE TOPIC KILLER: This woman who comes in and ends the discussion by posting the correct answer. She's a rare animal, and usually rarely posts. Don't assume everything she says is factual, but it usually is. THE BUMPER: This guy posts responses to his own questions in order to get more exposure for his question. He's harmless. The Anonymizer: this person comes in, post all sorts of things both useful and not, and uses really creative names instead of their real one. The Proud Mod: most mods don't like people to know that they are. They simply come in, do the do, and leave without letting the world know who cleaned things up. The Defender: this poster comes in and defends others without really knowing what was going on. They just have to get their two cents worth in. My Two Cents: like the Defender, this person comes in and posts on just about everything. With a minimal amount of knowledge and expertise they spout off attacks, information, replies, and more all in the name of offering up their two cents worth. Remember people change roles. The good news is once you spot a character you can ignore him in the future because usually when someone fits into one of the characters above, he'll never say anything worth listening to. --- END.