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Player Perspectives: How to Write a Forum Post

By Isabelle Parsley on July 01, 2011 | Columns | Comments

How to Write a Forum Post

At some point or another any gamer who actually frequents game sites will be moved to post, so I thought I’d put together this handy-dandy guide so you can be sure you’ll be listened to next time you do.

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The Subject Line

This is vitally important if you want people to click though to your frothing rant carefully thought-out post. First off, you need to make sure you use caps, and as many exclamation marks as will fill out the subject line.  If it doesn’t say “URGENT! DEVS PLZ READ!” nobody will care, so do not forget those. Alternately you can keep it simple: “I quit!” or “This sux!” will also guarantee that your post will grab attention.

The Post Itself

When it comes to the actual post, there are several rules to observe in order to ensure that the entire development team for the game will read your words with awe.

Preparatory work:

Since nobody is anyone in the forum world unless they have eleventy-zillion posts to their name, and since nobody online ever listens to nobodies even if they just split the MMO atom, it helps if you spend some time each day starting threads or responding to others. It really doesn’t matter what you say, as long as you say something; content is entirely optional when the only thing that really matters is for your post count to be as high as possible. Everyone respects a high post count: it’s a guarantee of gravitas and weight in the community.

Paragraphs and punctuation:

These are irrelevant, so don’t let petty details like form and syntax bog down your prose. Ideally you want a single, rambling stream-of-consciousness sentence that beautifully expresses your true feelings and will make compulsive reading. If you think your pearls of wisdom need to be broken up for visual appeal, feel free to pepper your text with random commas and full stops once it’s done; there’s no need to bother with them while you’re composing, however.

Express your rage!

After all, if you didn’t feel strongly about whatever it is, you wouldn’t be posting in the first place, so it’s important to convey your rage, contempt or utter despair (or all three if applicable). The more time you take to describe exactly how the issue makes you feel, the better.  No forum post is truly complete without at least one example of how the issue in question ruined your life and how you’ll be forever scarred by the uncaring malevolence of the developers.

Examples are for the weak:

Whatever you do, don’t provide concrete examples of what bothers you; nobody wants to read those, least of all the developers. You may occasionally ignore this rule if any examples you provide are couched in a greater rhetoric and difficult to follow: if people don’t understand them it just proves your point. Another exception to this rule allows you to point out how all this has been done to hurt you specifically, so you can use examples to illustrate how everyone involved in the game has it in for you; with a bit of luck and some enlightened readers, you’ll generate a flood of sympathetic responses which will be very helpful to keep your post alive.

Solutions are also for the weak:

Hell, it’s not your job to offer resolutions to issues, that’s what those overpaid, underworked fat-cat developers are for. Make the buggers earn their keep; after all, your post will tell them everything they need to know to make the game exactly as it should be. If you do feel moved to offer those slacking bastards a few gems of advice, it helps to be as grandiose and unrealistic as possible; it’ll give them something to work towards, though it’s a wonder how they ever got the game out the door considering how sorely they lack vision.

Final touches:

If you don’t threaten to quit and take all your friends, their friends and everyone else with you, you’re not serious. The really good forum posters threaten to quit at least once every three posts, which will also help to raise your post count and make sure everyone knows you’re worth listening to. It’s equally important to predict doom, gloom and utter failure for whatever game it is and its publisher, though having read your post that much should be obvious to everyone by now.

Last but not least:

Once you’ve posted, it’s important to keep bumping your post ever six seconds to make sure it stays near the top of the list. Nobody looks beyond the first few posts, especially in busy forums, so a little bumping effort will go a long way. If you get moderated, that’s great! Those craven developer-lackey moderators are only giving you a soapbox from which to express how unfairly you’re being repressed.

And that’s it. It was hard work, but now you can sit back and reap the fruits of your efforts. The thing to remember is to ignore – or better yet, lay into, because it will raise your holy-grail post count – anyone who lacks the brains to agree with you. It’s a well-known fact that developers positively comb the forums to find the posts with the most flames, because those are the most valuable.

Tips and Tricks

Anyone who doesn’t agree with your post is either deluded and/or trying to raise their post count, both of which are unacceptable. Feel free to respond to all of those as often as needed and at great length. You don’t need to add any information: just quote your original post to ensure they finally see the light. Liberal use of bolded passages will also help. If all else fails, lambast them for typos and spelling mistakes; no matter how good their argument might be, a single typo is enough for you to discount it – and the poster – entirely.

Anyone who does agree with you bears watching, because sycophants can’t be trusted and ultimately they’re just trying to jump on your bandwagon and claim your ideas for their own. On the other hand, a few will prove useful because you can jump on each other’s post-bandwagons and thereby gain not only support, but a healthy increase to your post count.

Forum posting isn’t for the faint of heart, but in the end it’ll be worth it. With a bit of luck you’ll enlighten the devs and the rest of the community, and with a little more effort you’ll be able to drive out all those other deluded noobs who think reason and concrete suggestions are actually useful. The MMO world is a PvP shark tank, and you’ll be doing them a favor by letting them know that courtesy and calm debate just doesn’t work.

PS – And now for the obligatory disclaimer. This post is satirical. If a game is properly run then its developers won’t have time to trawl through forum posts and besides, they’ll have community staff to do it for them. Feedback matters more than most gamers think or give game teams credit for, but it also matters less in terms of each individual post than the poster believes. We are not beautiful and unique snowflakes in the MMO community: we’re “the players”, and our navel-gazing rants, shockingly, aren’t something the devs spend much time on. If you’re going to post in forums, do it with reason and be polite; if nothing else, you’ll at least still respect yourself in the morning. Not that any of this, of course, applies to my wise and eloquent readers.

Isabelle Parsley / http://stylishcorpse.wordpress.com