If you've ever participated in an online forum before, you're probably aware that disagreements happen from time to time—OK, that's an understatement. Most forum disagreements happen like rain happens in Seattle, like fog in San Francisco and like traffic in Los Angeles.
They're inevitable realities of the ongoing conversations that compose forum threads. The most adversarial examples occur when politics is involved. Or religion. Or sports team allegiances. Or when any of those other "taboo" hot-button subjects are broached.
I would be lying if I said that disagreements never occur on Self-Storage Talk because they do. Within the self-storage industry, there are always differing and sometimes competing philosophies on how to conduct business, and those opinions are often voiced on the forum.
That said, the users of Self-Storage Talk do a much better job of keeping it civil than I have witnessed on many, many other message boards. You see much more in the way of "Thank you for your advice," "That's a big help," or "I respect your opinion" than you do "You're an idiot." (In fact, calling someone an idiot or other blatantly derision violates site rules, so anyone who resorts to namecalling is warned or removed.)
However, many SST users are not afraid to express their views, and they do it regularly. It's possible someone's opinion might rile you into a heated response. If you find yourself on the brink of a forum spat, refer to these common-sense reminders:
1.) Step away from the screen and take a few deep breaths. Thinking before typing is just like thinking before speaking.
2.) Use the edit and/or delete function. The good news is that if you vent a little too much and realize it later, you can always go back to make changes. Isn't the always editable nature of the Web grand?
3.) Do not always bite your tongue ... err ... fingers. If you want to respond to a point you don't agree with, there's usually a calm, cogent way to articulate yourself, even if it takes a few extra minutes of thought to compose the response. Though I concede there are times when it's best just not to say anything at all, most often weighing in on a discussion and making a point—if done correctly—establishes a lot of respect and credibility within the community.
4.) Take your discussion offline if it's too much to handle on the open forum. Though I usually encourage people to post as much as possible, I also know that there are times when the best venue for a discussion is in private. Use the e-mail and private-message functions if you get too involved in the topic—that's what they're there for!
It makes my job as community manager easier that people on Self-Storage Talk seem to converse with the same general respect for one another that they would as if the conversation were happening in person—and that's rare in an environment where most are anonymous.
So, if you're worried about wasting your time scrolling through a screen filled with users bickering with each other, don't worry, it's a seldom occurance. When it does happen, the moderator team is usually there in short order to put a stop to it.
Don't let the spirited discussions of SST scare you off. Sure, we're a passionate bunch, but we're welcoming, too. If you're not a participant yet, you can join by registering for free here. We hope to see you online.