I was on a message board for years, where the people there did a 180. It is still going. Some guy posts so much, it almost seems like a job for him. Like who could or would spend 8 hours a day or more on message boards? People used to tell me I was nuts, when I could discern message boards full of phonies, the same writing styles and the same tactics used over and over as if people were WORKING THEM instead of people seeking after sincere discussions and fellowship. I wrote this article in response.
The Problems with Christian Message Boards
Sure there are many sincere folks on messages boards but many are NOT. I guess that is why I found this link of interest, because I saw so many games and so many influences, that were very odd. I was on message boards for years except not on for the hours some of these people were, I had a life to lead too.. Many people told me I was nuts, to believe that there were some on there playing games and doing things in a purposeful matter. What is scary, is sometimes I pop back on rare occasion to these old grounds and see the same names YEARS later spouting the same stuff to newcomers!
Many of the "personas" when pressed did not act like "NORMAL" people that is the best way I can describe it. I understand people disagreeing and that is normal stuff, but much of the antics I saw moved far beyond that. If we think about the amount of energy poured into the "networks" exposed on this blog and other ones, why wouldn't they pour energy into the Christian or other message board world and website world, to INFLUENCE, with "change agents" and the like meant to influence consensus on message boards to a certain direction? Hey it was no mystery to me why one very large and well known Christian message board had one of it's founders going to ecumenical "apologist" meetings. [I do not endorse everything at this website, just posting for information:
The Gentleperson's Guide To Forum Spies
"Eight Traits of the Disinformationalist
1) Avoidance. They never actually discuss issues head-on or provide constructive input, generally avoiding citation of references or credentials. Rather, they merely imply this, that, and the other. Virtually everything about their presentation implies their authority and expert knowledge in the matter without any further justification for credibility.
2) Selectivity. They tend to pick and choose opponents carefully, either applying the hit-and-run approach against mere commentators supportive of opponents, or focusing heavier attacks on key opponents who are known to directly address issues. Should a commentator become argumentative with any success, the focus will shift to include the commentator as well.
3) Coincidental. They tend to surface suddenly and somewhat coincidentally with a new controversial topic with no clear prior record of participation in general discussions in the particular public arena involved. They likewise tend to vanish once the topic is no longer of general concern. They were likely directed or elected to be there for a reason, and vanish with the reason.
4) Teamwork. They tend to operate in self-congratulatory and complementary packs or teams. Of course, this can happen naturally in any public forum, but there will likely be an ongoing pattern of frequent exchanges of this sort where professionals are involved. Sometimes one of the players will infiltrate the opponent camp to become a source for straw man or other tactics designed to dilute opponent presentation strength.
5) Anti-conspiratorial. They almost always have disdain for 'conspiracy theorists' and, usually, for those who in any way believe JFK was not killed by LHO. Ask yourself why, if they hold such disdain for conspiracy theorists, do they focus on defending a single topic discussed in a NG focusing on conspiracies? One might think they would either be trying to make fools of everyone on every topic, or simply ignore the group they hold in such disdain.Or, one might more rightly conclude they have an ulterior motive for their actions in going out of their way to focus as they do.
6) Artificial Emotions. An odd kind of 'artificial' emotionalism and an unusually thick skin -- an ability to persevere and persist even in the face of overwhelming criticism and unacceptance. This likely stems from intelligence community training that, no matter how condemning the evidence, deny everything, and never become emotionally involved or reactive. The net result for a disinfo artist is that emotions can seem artificial.
Most people, if responding in anger, for instance, will express their animosity throughout their rebuttal. But disinfo types usually have trouble maintaining the 'image' and are hot and cold with respect to pretended emotions and their usually more calm or unemotional communications style. It's just a job, and they often seem unable to 'act their role in character' as well in a communications medium as they might be able in a real face-to-face conversation/confrontation. You might have outright rage and indignation one moment, ho-hum the next, and more anger later -- an emotional yo-yo.
With respect to being thick-skinned, no amount of criticism will deter them from doing their job, and they will generally continue their old disinfo patterns without any adjustments to criticisms of how obvious it is that they play that game -- where a more rational individual who truly cares what others think might seek to improve their communications style, substance, and so forth, or simply give up.
7) Inconsistent. There is also a tendency to make mistakes which betray their true self/motives. This may stem from not really knowing their topic, or it may be somewhat 'freudian', so to speak, in that perhaps they really root for the side of truth deep within.
I have noted that often, they will simply cite contradictory information which neutralizes itself and the author. For instance, one such player claimed to be a Navy pilot, but blamed his poor communicating skills (spelling, grammar, incoherent style) on having only a grade-school education. I'm not aware of too many Navy pilots who don't have a college degree. Another claimed no knowledge of a particular topic/situation but later claimed first-hand knowledge of it.
8) Time Constant. Recently discovered, with respect to News Groups, is the response time factor. There are three ways this can be seen to work, especially when the government or other empowered player is involved in a cover up operation:..."
I know the web is full of disinformationists. During my days when I was only warning about the Catholic and interfaith world and knew very little about the evangelical world, but was learning, they sent a few. One guy acted like he was against the new world order for years. I still remember the day of having been told by this guy he believed the Grahams were ecumenical deceivers and seeing him do a 180 the day I came out against Calvary Chapel on a very large message board. He is still working that message board, warning people about Rome, but advancing false teachers. His shouts and personal insults told me I was not dealing with someone NORMAL. The lack of emotions and endless emphasis on propaganda techniques told me chances were this was not a sincere person.
This may sound odd, but another disinformation technique I believe is when some try to do OUTDO you. What do I mean? Well I saw this on message boards, and well guess it could happen on blogs too, you post and research stuff, but then they seem to know far more, and you start asking yourself HOW DID THEY FIND ALL THAT OUT IN SUCH A SHORT TIME? You know yourself you are just this ordinary person, reading and learning and they seem to know year's worth within a few months? I'll keep my blog going even if 20 "better and more knowledgeable researchers" show up. Hey if their blogs can get some info out even if the motives are different then that can be only for the good. This is not a competition. If they are sincere folks, then I am glad for every person who knows what is going on and if they can inform us of more things. One technique is some will change the focus purposefully or narrow it down, to a very narrow focus to influence and change the direction of the group. I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt at first which I believe is the best policy unless otherwise warned, because I am only human and don't want to be wrong but definitely in the message board world I had that happen over and over.
#7 is a biggie. Inconsistency. I see endless inconsistencies even with the false teachers exposed on this blog. This is one thing where you can pick up on a false teacher. In other words their stories don't add up. Like why warn about one false religion but then take up with a guy who advances another like Mormonism? Why do we see some teachers who know so much about one topic--Rick Warren and Emergents but they can't get it through their skulls that when Billy Graham hobnobs with the Pope, he is teaching false things too?
I gave up on Christian message boards, I may still post on a few if I feel like exploring a topic or getting even links to my writings out but I myself observed enough of the doings over the years to understand what was going on. There ARE sincere people on message boards, blogs and elsewhere but don't forget there are many invested in INFLUENCING for other causes. I used to think "Oh they would not bother with two-bit message boards and even blogs" but they do. Even the hate mail I get for this blog is insane and a couple months ago I started having really horrible spam sent to me [dozens a day and even from foreign countries], but blogger is good at weeding it out. Well God warned us of these things, so I can handle that. That's for sure. If you do participate on Christian message boards or other websites, don't ignore some of those feelings you may have about the other posters or what is going on. Pray to God to show you the truth.
Also don't make mistake I made letting time be wasted. Some of them will simply try to waste your time or tell you when you want to research or expose one teacher that you are being presumptuous and judgmental to try and steer you in the opposite direction. This happened with Roger Oakland. I discussed what I was finding out and how bothered I was. Maybe they were a sincere person who really was for Roger Oakland but sometimes I wonder about that. They got very angry when I wrote the article questioning why Oakland was still working with Calvary Chapel preachers.
Anyhow the Internet can be tough. Be discerning when dealing with it. Most huge Christian message boards are a bad deal. Even other Internet message board networks, where the service is large but they have multiple small message boards you need to be careful.
Dangers of Christian Message Boards.