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6. Some users expressed their willingness to pay an annual fee to be a member of a well-moderated board. When people are paying a fee, forum owners and moderators will feel more obligated to control its atmosphere. A forum should provide a true value to justify fee, though. If I had to choose, I would probably pick two such forums out of 20 that I visit weekly. 7. Another way to control a forum is to have strict banning rules. After all, if you post an advertisement of your company, post will be immediately removed and you could lose privileges to post there ever again. Yet when you are attacked, attacker is not banned. May be if everyone knew penalty for attacking or starting a flame war is harsh, there would be less abuse. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ If you have been attacked... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
While personal attacks can be painful, especially suffer those business owners who have been wrongfully attacked and are worried about their business success. This means they have suffered a business defamation.
To determine if a defamation occurred, go through following checklist taken from "Online Business Defamation: How to Respond to Cybersmearing" article:
- The statement was published; - The statement referred to plaintiff; - The statement was defamatory; - The statement was false; - And either: (a) defendant was negligent in publishing statement and caused actual damage to plaintiff's reputation in doing so; or (b) defendant published statement either knowing it was false or with reckless disregard for its truth or falsity.
A "Guide to Flaming" (http://www.heenan.net/flame) outlines over 50 ways to start or aggravate a flame war. Some that were listed are patronizing, sarcasm, threats, cross roasting, generalizations and more. It gives suggestions as to how NOT to get into a flame war or how to deal with someone else attacking you, your credibility or your business.
1. Ask for evidence. If someone frames you publicly, ask what proof they have to support their point. Be sure they have NO proof before you challenge them, though :-)
2. Your self control will enhance your reputation. Before posting a response, wait a few hours. May be someone else will jump in and will help you out in this situation. May be a satisfied customer, or someone who actually knows you and your work. Do not respond to a simple abuse (i.e. where there is no facts or information, but plain insulting comments).
3. Turn flame wars into sales. If your business or your product has been attacked on a public forum, and you feel it is out of control and moderators are not doing anything to stop it, here is what you could do. Calm down - your business will not be destroyed because of it. Now turn tables to your advantage: this is an opportunity for you to talk about your business, products and services.
Explain why you think these attacks are false and unfounded. Talk about your company, its integrity and your efforts to make your customers happy.
Those who are in your target market could be so impressed with your presentation that they will go out and order your product! Bad publicity is good for business because it gives you a chance to talk about it. If you can't fight it, take advantage of it.
If your business has suffered loss due to such an episode of defamation, refer to "Online Business Defamation: How to Respond to cybersmearing" article for legal steps to take outlined in "Checklist for Online Business Defamation Matters" section (http://www.faegre.com/articles/article_414.asp)
No, there are no laws that can fine board owners and moderators for allowing flame wars full of insults and humiliation towards other forum users, in US or UK, or any other country so far... But clearly, search for solutions is on go.
Milana Nastetskaya is a full-time web developer and the author of 3 books: "Create Your First Business Web Site in 10 days!", "65 Instant Web Answers!" and "How To Install and Troubleshoot CGI scripts". http://www.firstbusinesswebsite.com http://www.instantwebanswers.com http://www.installcgi.com