Types of forum users – which are you?

We’re currently involved in a major project in which we have to create a portal type of site, upgrade and import a forum, and create lots of content for the dedicated new site. It’s not an easy task but we’ll just have to tackle it in chunks. Most likely we’ll get the framework and some content in place first and then slot in the forum afterwards. In an attempt to keep things simple, the site will be powered by WordPress and the forum will be on phpBB again. WordPress and phpBB are our usual software platforms.

On the subject of forums, one of the team on the project came up with his ideas about types of forum members. I thought what he wrote was amusing and asked if he’d mind if I blogged about it. He said to go ahead! So here goes, with some added categories and thoughts of my own. This was conceived and written within the context of a forum which charges a subscription fee for premium membership.

1. Hoover – someone who reads almost everything but doesn’t contribute anything.

Freddie Mercury, in drag with a vacuum cleaner

A “hoover”, yesterday

This is a new term for me, but I can see the writer’s point. The hoovers’ activities are entirely based on what they can suck up for nothing. Once they’re plugged in, they’ll suck everything up but it’s kinda hard to have a conversation with a hoover. And I’ve yet to see a hoover stump up anything, such as paying the membership fee.

2. Lurker – one who registers on the forum but doesn’t post.

Well, you never know exactly what a lurker is doing. Some people are a bit shy about posting. Some lurkers are even generous about paying their membership fees but they don’t like to say a lot. That’s fine. It’s the lurker/touter we don’t like so much.

3. Touter – lurks until they see an opportunity to tout for business.

This one is a lurker who hides behind a bush peeping in the window watching what everyone is doing. Then, when someone mentions the touter’s area of expertise they leap in and give some vague advice, talk themselves up, and invite the person to contact them privately. These people are not what you might call community-spirited and they need to be watched unless you don’t mind having your place used by them solely as a vehicle to promote their business. People who sell insurance or forex services are usually the worst for doing this.

4. High Maintenance – needs constant attention and treats the place as though it was their own personal consultancy service.

This type makes loads of postings, but all are geared towards meeting their own personal needs. They post about all their thoughts, questions, help needed. And often they do it in the wrong place, which requires the mods to keep running after them moving and splitting their posts. This type also tends to post a lot of “What is…?”, “Where is…?”, “How do I…?” type of posts. Again this requires the mods to run after them to explain yet again that their question has already been answered in the forum FAQs. The one small saving grace of this type is that sometimes, just sometimes, you can persuade them to part with the cash to pay their membership fee.

5. Would-be royalty – posts everywhere and expects a response immediately, and for the mods to act as their personal consultants.

The type who expects to be treated like royalty thinks the whole point of the Internet is that everything is free and it’s other people’s job to respond to them. Also like royalty, they don’t carry cash, so when it comes to getting them to pay for the service, no chance. Funnily enough, would-be royalty members bear a lot of similarity to the hoovers in that they suck up everything they can get, although in some ways they’re also like very noisy, arrogant high maintenance types. These people not only demand that you wipe their bums for them, they also insist that you advise them about the best type and colour of bog paper. This is also the type who become very indignant if it’s ever suggested that they might pay for anything. Plus they tend to be rude to mods and admins if the whole place isn’t changed and run in a way to suit them.

6. Good citizen – these members ask questions but are clearly respectful and appreciative of others’ time.

These members are happy to pay for a good service, recognise the benefits of paying, and in many cases are often willing to contribute their time and knowledge to the sum of information available too. These are the ones that every community needs and wants!

Can you recognise yourself or anyone you know in the above categories? Do you have any more categories to suggest?


2 Responses to “Types of forum users – which are you?”

  1. crabfoot

    One more category – the vigilante. When a vigilante sees something he doesn’t like, he usually jumps in with both feet to attack his perceived adversary, often using a lot of profane language.

    Of course, the forum would be a better place if he reported the post and left the decision to the Administrators, but for some reason he left off reading the rules before he got to the bit about using the alert button.

  2. Kay

    Hi crabfoot

    Thanks for your comment. I’m sure that there are other categories I’ve missed. Ah well, gotta start somewhere. 🙂


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