Task 2: Online Forums

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What is the topic of the forum and why did you chose it?

I have changed my choice of forum from the first idea that I had because I was unable to get the forum to work, so instead I joined a forum called My German Shepherd because it was giving information about the dogs, and I recently got one and my mum wanted some information about them. So I thought this was a good way because the people on this website own/ have owned that breed of dog and so they know what they are doing and will know the answer to most of your questions.

I also chose it because it is something that I am interested in at the moment as I like the breed of dog, and I want to know more about how to look after her because she is going to be one of my responsibilities.

Topics/Thread Discussions

  • Dogs Health
  • Dog training information
  • Dog food advice and information
  • FAQ/New dog owner information
  • Introduce yourself
  • Memorial Tributes
  • Lost dogs
  • Dog advice

This is a list of the topics that are being discussed, but inside these topics there are people asking different questions and wanting various different little bits of information that will go into more detail. As there are different things that different people want to know, but once it has been answered once, then people that go on there that might want to know that same thing will then be able to read the already created thread without having to wait for people to reply to them if they make one themselves.

Rules and Regulations

The rules and regulations of the forum are as follows:

“Registration to this forum is free! We do insist that you abide by the rules and policies detailed below. If you agree to the terms, please check the ‘I agree’ checkbox and press the ‘Register’ button below. If you would like to cancel the registration, click here to return to the forums index. Although the administrators and moderators of My German Shepherd Forum will attempt to keep all objectionable messages off this forum, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the author, and neither the owners of My German Shepherd Forum, 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 violative of any laws. The owners of My German Shepherd Forum reserve the right to remove, edit, move or close any thread for any reason.”

The main rule for this forum is not to post anything;

  • obscene
  • vulgar
  • sexually oriented
  • hateful threatening
  • violative of any laws

These rules are important because people need to treat others with respect and even more so because they are on the internet and you can be done for libelist behaviour.

Who are the moderators?

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This is the list of moderators on the MGS (My German Shepherd) forum. They watch over what is being posted on the topics and the threads to make sure that no one is saying something that is breaking the rules of the forum.

Topic that interests me

Under the pictures forum there are posts that people are making with pictures of there dogs doing things that might be cute or interesting to other users of the forum to get them talking about their dogs. Some of the threads that people are making are of their puppies how they have changed as they have gotten older, or their dogs in their first snow, or even how they have covered themselves in mud. This interests me because I like to look at other peoples dogs because I think that some of the pictures that are put on there are really cute. foruminfo

My Forum Posts

Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 15.47.41These are the two threads that I started myself, I did this because I was told that you are supposed to introduce yourself when you join a forum, and as you can see people have replied to both of my posts and people have viewed it too.

I have also commented on other peoples threads.

One the ‘big softie’ thread that I made, I posted a picture of my dad playing with our German Shepherd puppy and said how he would say he didn’t do it because I thought that it was funny. So people have been commenting say how cute and that the dog is because of how she is looking at my dad, etc.

Also on the ‘Hello’ thread people wer saying hello to me and welcoming me to the forum, these people could be from all over the world, and I don’t know any of them, but they were all welcoming me and trying to let me know that it is okay to talk to them.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 21.47.31 This is a comment that I replied to from someone that posted on my thread. They haven’t come back with another message, but they did start the conversation with me.

forum thingforum thin

Again these are more comments that I posted and other people replied to because I had created my own thread. I don’t know any of them apart from my dad that was on there.

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Task 1: Digital Communications Using Forums.

What is a forum?

An internet message board where people from all over the world can engage in digital conversations with anyone. Each forum will specialise in a different interests, and it depends on what you are a fan of and what you enjoy as to what forum you would become a member of. It is a part of web 2.0 because it is user generated, and social websites like this wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the demand from the audience, and the their creation on digital communications.

An example of a online forum is this music forum. Unsigned Band Web is a forum where people that have an interest in music and what is going on in the industry can talk about these topics with other people. In the forum there are a range of different discussions going on that are split into separate groups.

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As you can see from this screen grab, all of the different threads that are posted are split into different parts of the music discussion. So there is going to be discussions on this forum about song reviews, and people giving their opinion on a song and then someone else might get involved with it to say if they agree/disagree with their opinion. Also people are using this forum as a way to get feedback on their own original music, which could be good because they might get more feedback on a forum like this that specialises in music than anywhere else.

When you go further into forums you find that people start to talk about different things. On the Kerrang forum, there was lots of different threads that were made, and there was lots of different things being talked about by different people all over the internet.

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As you can see this is how people communicate with each other about different topics. This forum and every other forum will consist of someone going into the group link that they are interested in and getting involved in a conversation that is already made or try and  start their own conversation by starting a thread themselves.

What do you think people gain from using a forum as a mode of digital communication?

I think that people feel that they might be making friends with people and actually having their minds opened a bit to what other people think. As because of web 2.0 we have the opportunity to talk to people from all over the world, right in our living rooms. I think that their minds are being opened because they might be getting opinions from people that are different to their own, so they might see it from someone else’s point of view instead of just seeing only what they believe.

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Also as they might not have friends that they talk to in person that likes the same things as they do, so if they go onto a forum like this then they are going to be able to have a conversation with people that like the same things as they do. Giving them a sense that they are part of a community of people that can all talk about different things concerning one main topic/band/sport, etc.

What discussions are going on in a forum I’m interested in?

I have talked about the discussions that are going on in my other post on forums in my next blog post. I have chosen to do the my german shepherd forum because I have recently got a new puppy, and I am going to have the responsibility of looking after her so I wanted to make sure that i knew everything about them as I have never owned a german shepherd before. Also my mum wanted me to join because there might be little things along the way that we don’t know and we might be able to find something about it on the forum or ask someone on there about anything that we might be worried about because the people on there have obviously owned in the past or still own this breed of dog so they are going to have the experience and knowledge when it comes to other people having problems.

Discussions happening on this forum are things like the following:

  • Dogs Health
  • Dog training information
  • Dog food advice and information
  • FAQ/New dog owner information and advice
  • Introduce yourself
  • Memoria; Tributes
  • Lost Dogs
  • Dog advice
  • Stuff for sale
  • Dogs looking for homes
  • Stop puppy farms

Don’t blame Facebook!

What are the dangers of social media?

There are many dangers that come with you becoming part of a social media websites, and there are various different ones that you can sign up to. From things like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, there are so many things that you need to be careful of and make sure that you watch out for yourself and others when you are writing and posting things to these websites without thinking it through first. It could jeopardise your future.

One of the dangers that was shown in the documentary is that you do really need to be careful what you write on these sites because you never really know who is looking at what you are writing and what you are saying. As there was a pair in the documentary, a guy and his friend (who was a girl) that were going on holiday to the USA. She dealt with all the bookings and the tickets, when he was just really, posting regular tweets to Twitter. One tweet got him into trouble. He joked in his tweet that he was going to “destroy America” and “dig up Marilyn Monroe”, but when they got into the USA they weren’t aware that his tweets were being monitored and American security thought that they were terrorists. After in depth interrogations and questions about what their intentions were, they were eventually deported from the US back to England, losing the £2K that they had spent on the holiday!

Another one of the dangers in the things that you upload is through video evidence and using YouTube are the two stories that were talked about in the documentary. One of a man who was videoing and uploading all of the 90+ videos of the crimes that he had been committing with his friends, as a ‘joke’. At this point the police had everything they needed to charge him with the offences that he had committed. He received an ASBO and was banned from uploading anything to YouTube for 2 years. The other story was of a woman and her husband that were driving in their car, and a group of children were sanding at the side of the road in the rain by a puddle, telling them to drive through it and splash them with the water. So they did and because they thought that it was funny and entertaining for both them and the children she decided to upload it to YouTube and before they knew it, it had gone viral. But she not only got 3 points on her driving license and a fine, she was refused a job by companies because of her posting this video online, as people didn’t see the same funny side to it as she did at the time. 

Another one of the dangers that people have learnt about the hard way is setting things to private instead of making it public for the whole of Facebook to see and share with one another. There was young guy from the UK that was having a party and expected only the 80 friends that he had sent invites to privately though inbox to turn up to his house. But what he didn’t realise was that his friends didn’t have the same sort of respect and they made the invites that he sent to them public for their friends, and their friends friends to see! And when the time came for the party over 300 people turned up at his house. The riot police had to get involved, and even some of his friends were bitten by the dogs that they brought in. He didn’t realise these implications before he sent these invites to people online instead of telling them in person. A similar story is one of a girl in Germany that was having a sweet 16 party and when she announced the date, time and place on Facebook to her friends, she decided to make it public, so everyone was able to see the information and more than 15,000 people RSVPed to the invite. 

A big no, would be something that parents have always told their children not to do when they join any social networking websites. Don’t talk to people that you don’t know, and don’t give out private information to people that you don’t know in real life. These are some of the mistakes that people made in the documentary. One a young guy that was seen as being viral on the internet that was giving out information to people as he didn’t think anything was going to happen and he ended up finding someone in his bed when he came back from a night out with friends after just moving into his new place. And another when a relationship fell apart and ex girlfriend of Mike Andre told an anonymous twitter user about some of the private and intimate details about herself and their relationship, whee they were being streamed to this persons Twitter account. 

Other incidents included that of a young mum that was cast out of a beauty pageant because images that had been taken of her in a photo shoot had been edited to look like she was nude, when she wasn’t so she had to pay the price. As well as a mum that thought her son was dead because his friends were playing a prank on him on Facebook and didn’t think of the consequences before they posted.

Slander and libel are very serious and closely watched things on social networks because it very easy to be annoyed at someone and make a mistake by saying something slanderous about someone. Like one of the soldiers that was supposed to be at the royal wedding found out when he made a rant about Kate Middleton online and it was seen by the Ministry of Defence and he was taken off to cover the wedding to do something else. So he had to pay for the things that he said about people.

In conclusion, we might think that what we are posting online is innocent and harmless laughs and fun but it might actually harm us. It could cost you the job that you want if the employers have been made aware of the things that you have been posting online, you could land yourself in prison or in serious trouble for things that you are doing if they are against the law. But you might be putting yourself in danger because it is easy for people to know things about you if you make it easy for them by telling them things without knowing who you are really talking to. 

What can we do to protect ourselves when using digital communication?

Some of the things that we can do to protect ourself against things like this are simple. You need to NOT tell people private things about your life, people that you are friends/in relationships with, or where your living. Especially if they are people that you don’t know – because like we found out in the Catfish film, you never really do know who you are talking to online, it could all be lies. 

Don’t post videos online if they could get you into trouble, and even lose you your job. As you never know who might come across the video, you might not think you are going to get caught out, but you can never be too sure of these things. 

Make sure that if you really must post pictures of yourself on Facebook, or want to use a social site to invite people to a party, make sure that you can not only trust the people you are inviting to not make it public to their friends, etc if that is what you are trying to avoid, but you make sure that you set invitations to private yourself as well, otherwise you could get into some of the trouble that some people have in the past. 

Also, really think about what you are posting before you do so, because it might not make a difference to you now, but it could in the future, and you don’t want a social network and the things you’ve posted on their in the past to define you in the future to the people that might be employing you in the future. 

Don’t slander or libel anyone, you need to be careful not only what you say in general but what you are saying about other people, because if that person sees it they might want to to take action against you because you are damaging their reputation to others.