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Mid-July 2006
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Discussion Boards, Newsgroups, & Online Chat
The Internet's Wild Wild West.
Article By Steven R. Rochlin
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Online Discussion Board Image  Recently here in the United States there has been quite a bit of press and television coverage about the pitfalls of online activity. Personal Web pages and online chat software have played their role in allowing less than honorable people to behave in a manner not accepted by the general public. The Internet landscape has grown over the years into a place to meet audiophile friends online, share experiences, and learn about both new and vintage equipment. Add to that the many DIY projects and various tweaks discussed online and it is easy to see how much great information there is to be enjoyed! The speed at which information is shared, and the worldwide access available to millions, has allowed high-end audio to flourish and grow. But there are also naysayers... and a darker side to be found.

My previous editorial in April 2005 discusses much of this plus various scams, though felt a basic revisit was in order as warnings of online activity have been taking much of the limelight in the past month or so in mainstream media. Like many Americans, July is my month for holiday and pleasure. As such, my workload is time-shifted to being between consecutive days of relaxation interrupted by frantic hours of playing workload catch up. During this time i also enjoy meeting new audiophiles online and participation within various discussion board and chartrooms. The difference between moderated and non-moderated boards/groups is easy to discover.


Non-Moderated Boards

These are places where anything goes. Think of it as the Wild Wild West, with gunslingers, bullies, and where you find the good guys in White Hats battling the Black Hat Barts. Heated debates can become personal attacks that have no bearing on the original post's signal as the noise factor takes control. Over the years many audiophiles have migrated to moderated boards as the noise level on many non-moderated boards has eclipsed the signal. Adding insult to injury, the usual sock puppets and forged posts (as discussed in my previous article) make their presence felt and many of us have chosen to quickly find more enjoyable places to hang out online.


Moderated Boards

Moderated discussion boards are those that have members who are trusted to ensure civility. Their job is to not only remove the usual spam posts, but also to reduce the noise and personal attacks. These boards can be a great resource to meet friends, learn about new equipment, and aid in troubleshooting a problem you may have with a piece of gear. Over the years i have met many people all around the world who i first 'met' on these boards. Some boards have get-togethers at shows so everyone can finally meet one another. Writers from Enjoy the Music.com participate within various boards, with one being a moderator of a board's section.

A benefit from these boards also includes learning about new tweaks. The handball footers, using Dynamat sheets on a component's chassis, small ball bearings on a cup, etc. are but two of the many anti-resonant tweaks. Most online discussion of tweaks come from DIY'ers and guys who find great ways to enhance their gear for little to no money. Better still, these tweaks are easy to try and if they do not work as desired, you can simply remove them with no harm done.


A Few Suggestions

For security reasons, do not divulge too much personal information.
It is no secret there are some very bad people that view online discussion boards. This is especially true for boards that deal with very expensive luxury good such as audiophile gear.

Use the same moniker for all boards.
Choose a unique moniker, a personal nickname, that is the same for all boards your participate within. This allows other online members to remember who you are in the cyber world. (Please remember the first rule seen above before choosing a moniker!)

Use the discussion boards search function.
If you are new to a board and have a question, many times that same question has already been asked and answered. If you use the search function before posting a new topic you may find the answer to your question.

Stay on topic.
Discussion boards have many threads, post heading with replies, and it is best to stay on the subject at hand. You can always start a new thread to discuss a different topic, though remember to use the search function first as mentioned above.

Avoid personal attacks.
There are times when adults have a difference of opinion. These differences can include the use of audiophile cables, vacuum tube types, etc. Sometimes in the audiophile hobby there are no 'right' or 'wrong' answers and that leaves us with opinions. If we factor in that audiophile System A might like X and System B likes Y, you can see that one person likes X over Y while the other enjoys the opposite. Discussing these differences should never lead to personal insults, as it is off-topic (see above suggested guideline) and has no bearing on the topic at hand.

Avoid rumors and gossip.
Posting rumors, pieces of unverified information of uncertain origin, are to be avoided. It is easy to verify most rumors/gossip with a simple phone call. Before posting on a discussion board concerning what X said to Y about Z, call Z first and become a fact finder and not a rumor/gossip spreader.

Have fun, listen, and learn.
Each week i scan over 20 message boards; yet participate rarely in only a small handful of them. For me, learning is best when listening to others first. The combination of a board's search function, and then reading the current ongoing threads, allows the discovery of some great information.

Meeting people you encounter online.
This is true for audiophiles as it is for any online encounter... be very careful! Inviting a stranger into your home, no matter what they may say online, is perhaps not the wisest thing. In many major cities around the world there are some excellent audiophile societies or groups. These societies usually also have an online discussion board. You may want to meet people from these groups at one of their (usually monthly) meetings. You can then also meet your newfound online friend(s) at these meetings to get better acquainted. Audiophile shows are another good place to meet online personalities. Please remember to be careful about divulging too much personal information. My apologies if i am very cautious concerning this matter of meeting others, yet an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


A Salute To The Many Great Online Friends!

Many thanks to everyone who i have met online and/or in person at shows. My life is that much more enjoyable and enlightened. Together we have been able to further enhance our musical pleasures and find new ways to have fun. As we always say, in the end what really matters to me is that we all....


Enjoy the Music (Beatles "With A Little Help From My Friends" right now),

Steven R. Rochlin

"What would you think if I sang out of tune 
Would you stand up and walk out on me 
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song 
And I'll try not to sing out of key

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends 
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends 
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends

What do I do when my love is away 
Does it worry you to be alone? 
How do I feel by the end of the day 
Are you sad because you're on your own

No, I get by with a little help from my friends 
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends 
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends..."






































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