Basics of Internet Gear Forums
Imagine a world where people talked about things that you were interested in. A meeting place where people were proud of dissecting the very thing you love into the smallest parts, dissecting, rearranging, and debating the subject long after our real-life friends’ and significant others’ eyes have glazed over. Yes, this is your place. I am talking about internet forums. Before them, it was almost impossible to meet up with people that love gear as much as you do. Sure, there was the Saturday afternoons at the local music store, but that was limited to the people in your area. Internet gear forums allow us to access collective information, form lifelong friendships, and realize there are people in this world as crazy about guitars as we are. However, as with any large group of people from multiple backgrounds, skill levels, and cultural diversities, there are bound to be misunderstandings & arguments mixed in with all of those good vibes. Don’t worry though, the benefits of the information and sense of community found in a forum outweigh a few bad apples. Some of the topics here will apply to any internet forum, and if you’ve never been on an internet forum before, this article is just for you!
Forums 101: What is this crazy thing?
An internet forum is essentially a chat room, although not in real time. People post topics or questions and check back later to see if anyone has responded. Of course, you can respond to other people’s topics too, and just like IRL (in real life, for those acronimically-challanged), there are people generous with their knowledge, as well as those that are snarky (and everything in between). My examples below are from the forum that I am most familiar with, the Seymour Duncan User Group Forum.
Every forum I have been on requires you to register to post. This means you need a real email address, and will have to pick a forum name* and password to log in. You can set your preferences on the color scheme of the forum, and how you want to be notified of new posts, or replies to your posts. The picture on the top of the forum is how I like it to look, as it is easier on my mole eyes.
*My forum name on the Seymour Duncan User Group Forum is Mincer, after a cat I owned…that was named after a King Crimson song.
OK, I registered. Now what?
Most people who go so far as registering usually have a question. First thing to do is look for the appropriate sub-forum, and use the search function. Many times, someone else has the same question you do, and they have the answer already provided. So, search and read. Read a lot. If you are satisfied that no one has answered your specific question, go ahead and post. Be very specific. If you are looking for a specific pickup recommendation, make sure you list what kind of guitar you have, what it is made of, what you don’t like about the current pickups, and the style of music you play. Be patient, and check back later that day. You can also set your preferences so you get an email when you get replies.
Remember, people with high post counts are not always the most experienced players, or the ones with the most knowledge- it just means they spend more time there. Every forum has the same archetypes: snarky but in a nice way, the drunk poster who says stupid things then apologizes, the sarcastic one, the one that posts in all CAPS ALL THE TIME, and the generally helpful types. Going into a forum is like walking into a party. Get the lay of the land, lurk (read but don’t post) and sort out the generalities of who’s who. Sometimes big name guitarists even drop in. Everyone doesn’t like the same bands or play the same music. Diversity is what makes the forum cool.
Personally, I have gotten great advice about wiring from many forum members, and when someone asks a question about something I am familiar with, I try to help. I realize by talking to other guitarists that I have a pretty unique knowledge base, so I generally get called on to answer questions about things like looping, guitar synth, progressive music and music theory. I have also learned a lot from people over the years, and met some people who live in my area IRL that have turned out to be great friends. Being on the forum allowed me to start writing these articles too. I have been exposed to new music, and learned a lot about guitar electronics and repair. Most of all, I have heard music from fellow forum members that I might never have been exposed to elsewhere.
What’s the big deal? I just post what I want, right?
Hold on there, tiger. The first stop on any forum should be reading the rules. On the Seymour Duncan User Group Forum, there are some basic ones:
Although the administrators and moderators of Seymour Duncan User Group Forums will attempt to keep all objectionable messages off this site, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the author, and neither the owners of Seymour Duncan User Group Forums, nor vBulletin Solutions, Inc. (developers of vBulletin) will be held responsible for the content of any message.
By agreeing to these rules, you warrant that you will not post any messages that are obscene, vulgar, sexually-oriented, hateful, threatening, or otherwise violate of any laws.
The owners of Seymour Duncan User Group Forums reserve the right to remove, edit, move or close any content item for any reason.
Of course, there are a few other things to remember: When posting to the forum, respect the fact that you are in Seymour’s living room. Don’t bash other companies or members. Don’t spam, and no inflammatory topics like religion or politics. Think before you post- would you say that to a person’s face? Do you even have to think if it is appropriate? Above all else, don’t be a jerk. Be helpful and have fun discussing all things guitar and bass- and especially pickups.
The Seymour Duncan User Group Forum is moderated, which means that the moderators browse the forum daily and clean up spam, nudity, political topics and general jerkiness. However, the Seymour Duncan company does not have a wing dedicated to moderating the forum, and in fact, mods are not always employees. Many are dedicated Seymour Duncan pickup users that just want to make your visit to the forum a pleasant one.
If you notice something on the forum that is offensive, you can report it too. Just make sure it is worth reporting- don’t report statements like “The Black Album is the worst ever!”, but you can report topics like “I work from home and make $5000 a day- you can too!”.
Benefits of a Forum
Back in my day (pre-internet), we had to depend on going to the music store or reading a guitar magazine to get information about all things guitar. We were limited to talking to people we had access to. This was good and bad, but it certainly wasn’t fast. At a store, you’d know that the answer usually means you’d be talked into buying something by someone who may or may not have ever used what you are asking about. Forums are fun, and can be a great source of knowledge and friendship. (Mostly) everyone there wants the same thing- to keep it a cool, safe place to talk about gear, bands, and a whole host of stuff in the off-topic room. Even sell your gear in The Trading Post. Give the forum a visit sometime, introduce yourself, and share what you know!
Do you actively belong to any forums? Which are your favorites?