Friday, May 18, 2012

Online Company Forums: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

I bet Clint Eastwood never expected the movie, "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly" to be the most used cliche of all-time when describing a range of aspects concerning a topic.

I'm using it today to describe something that irks me: online forums

Online forums are good places to find information, if you're so lazy that you can't find the information yourself by doing a little research. Really, most people visit the strange land of online forums to get other people -- i.e. those good Samaritans who like to help, or those egotistical sociopaths who believe that all their information is ACCURATE, CORRECT, AND GODSENT -- to do the work for you in finding the information that you want.

Before I go on, I'm not referring to social media sites. Sure, they are types of forums also. But they are so much prettier with sparkly ads that try to coax you to try a free product so long as you pay $59.99 for shipping and handling (regular product price - $14.99). This rant post is strictly concerning online forums, especially online company forums.

Seriously, online company forums are like rogue cops. They question the authority of the company while hiding behind the big shiny armed Amendment right of "free speech." Half the stuff you read at an online company forum would never be posted on a bulletin board in the office's break room. The rogue cop would never walk down the rat maze of cubicle offices, loudly proclaiming what they don't like about the company right in front of the boss and still expect to work there the next day.

But this is exactly what online company forums do.

I've been a part of two different company forums. I won't mention names because I still work for them. But I wanted to dissect a recent comment made on one. The name of the poster won't be included. I only want this to be a "What not to post on a forum board and expect people to like you," type of post rant.

(The poster's comments will be in italics. My dissertation will be in regular formatting)

Dissertation 1: At the risk of being "blacklisted" by ...

This is the dare to the company. You know what is going to follow is going to be bad. But a person posts this anyway as a dare to the company to remove the comment and PROVE they are a bad company because they are engaging in the no-no censorship of the comment by breaking the amendment right of free speech.

"What are you afraid of, company? You want to know the truth? You can't handle the TRUTH. So go ahead and delete my comment now because you know if I said these things face-to-face to you I would deserve to be fired by creating a scene in your business environment that might effect company moral and disrupt productivity... um... yeah..."

Dissertation 2:  I must say that the demands placed [enter your profession] are completely unreasonable.

But, you knew what was required of the company before you applied for the job. That's how bosses determine if you are qualified for the job by listing all the job duties as a screening process so that potential employees know what will be expected of them. If they can't meet the supposed demands of the company, then they can seek a different job.

Dissertation 3: We are not talking about a professional [enter type of company] where all [enter job description] can earn $1,000 per week.

Um, I'll say this. The job that I work for pays you for the amount of work that you do. It's contract work. You don't receive a baseline salary. So you can, in fact, earn that much if you get enough work assignments. But you can only get assignments if you do professional work and treat clients with respect. So this may be a personal problem, not a company problem, if you are not earning what you want.

Dissertation 4...the owners... are trying to make their [company]... better than other similar [companies] to attract higher paying clients, but that only seems to result in fewer [work assignments.]

Because, yanno, the purpose of the company is to lose money and fold under/declare bankruptcy rather than to grow in its business operations. [insert eye-roll here] So they are deliberately giving less work to their employees as a way to screw their employees over in making a living. [insert incredulous sigh]


Dissertation 5:  Is anyone out there bold enough to criticize [company] when they deserve it. I can't believe how many people are so meek and almost apologize for failing to please the [company]. 

This usually happens when the disgruntled person finds an employee who actually says good things about the company.They are so astonished that they are actually offended by this other person. Nobody can actually be happy? How dare they?!?!?! What's wrong with them!?!?!?

Comments like this can go in a different direction. Like product reviews, most people will believe it's the boss who is spinning positive publicity to get people to buy into the Kool-aid. So they will entirely dismiss such comments as not being sincere. They will even go so far as name-call people (meek?) for having an opposite opinion from them.

Dissertation 6:  Maybe I am out of place saying what I think, but, I always speak up when I feel I am not being treated fairly.

Lone crusader mantra. Martyr who is looking for disciples. That moment in a speech where the room goes quiet, as people are suppose to absorb what was said, realize the BIG TRUTH and begin to rally toward the cause... until the person does a cope out...
Dissertation 7:  Maybe someone will start another topic [insert forum]- "[Type of Employees] Who Have a Problem with [Company Name] Policies?"

The cope out. Instead of creating this forum thread yourself, you try to intimidate other people to do it for you by calling them meek and not standing up for their rights when treated unfairly... even when they never said they were treated unfairly. Then THAT person can be blacklisted as you sit back, wiggling your thumbs and nodding at the company's actions as being bad, bad, BAD!

I have to say, this company is very open to suggestions if an employee is having a problem. In fact, they are so open that the CEO sent an email to all employees with his phone number to take personal calls so that he could address the problems and make things better in the company. When a person doesn't utilize the resources they are given to be happy with the company, then it's best to leave the company.

Trying to rally happy people to the cause is a fruitless endeavor.


  1. Truth, truth, and more TRUTH. I've always had a problem with people who bite the hand that feeds them. Obviously, there will be some folks with legitimate beefs, but I've found, over the course of my already-too-long life, that many folks who complain about being treated unfairly are basing that complaint on a comparison with other people's conditions which they really shouldn't have brought into the discussion in the first place.

    What I mean is, say you're being paid $250 for a job. You're happy getting $250, and you agreed to those terms with a smile. You continue being happy until you find out someone else is getting $300 for a similar job. Then you decide that you are being treated unfairly and you become disgruntled.

    Sorry, Ace. Mind your own damn business and work your own damn deals. What someone else is getting should in no way inform your happiness or lack of same. And the problem is, folks who make comparisons with others, to decide whether they should be happy or not, will NEVER remain happy for more than a few moments because there will ALWAYS be somebody, somewhere, who has it better than they do. They're the chronic, bitchy, sourpussed bastards who make this world...

    Uh, I think I made whatever point I was going for. Sorry to go on and on. Nice piece!

  2. Whoa! Methinks I hit a nerve. ;-)

    Really, it gets bad on some forums. One almost feels like a frat house and you have to joke along with people who are supposedly "higher up" or get lambasted (not the forum I'm referring to in the post.) And it is so negative. As for this forum, there have been so few complaints because the "managers" are so proactive to address an issue if you let them know about it.

    There's definitely hand-biting involved, or perhaps an inflated entitlement issue, especially when it comes to hired independent contractors of specified work. But a person can't assume that everyone should feel the same way as him.

    And I do mind the long comments :-)


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