A Public Plea About Forum Behaviour

Don’t know if it’s the time of year, or it’s something in the water, but a number of small prog bands’ web forums have turned rather toxic lately, and worse still, the discord has spilled from one forum to another.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve read some quite spiteful and mean-spirited attacks against one or two bands, followed up by complaints that the band’s fans are unable to handle criticism. And of course you find some of the very same people will be up in arms if anyone says a word against their band. Too much of it has got very unpleasantly personal.

I am really sick of these “My band is better than your band” pissing contests. Why is it that some people seem incapable of praising one band without simultaneously bad-mouthing another band who are perceived to be competitors? I’m thinking here particularly of a scene of interrelated bands where many of the regular forum posters know band members personally, and have a natural instinct to be defensive when they’re subject to what can easily be seen as unfair criticism.

I recognise that it should it’s perfectly OK to say you didn’t enjoy a particular album or gig, and to explain why. But I really wish people would at least try to be a little bit more gracious about it. I don’t think it’s on to imply that if someone else did enjoy a gig that their judgement must have been impaired. All these bands put their heart and soul their music. If you don’t care for a particular band, just leave them to people who do like them, and don’t keep carping on about how much you think they suck.

And I don’t think it’s OK to post jibes at other forum members who saw things differently, then claim it was only “witty banter between friends” when you find that they take offence. If you don’t know someone well enough to know what you can get away with saying, then don’t say it! And if they do take offence, then it can’t have been just ‘witty banter’. Is that really that difficult to understand?

And before people accuse me of hypocrisy because of some of the things I say about overrated indie bands on places like The Guardian Music Blog, I think completely different rules apply when it comes to big corporate rock acts or currently fashionable bands who have been ridiculously hyped by certain sections of the media – think of it as putting the boot into the hype as much as the act themselves.

Is a little bit more civility and mutual respect too much to ask for?

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6 Responses to A Public Plea About Forum Behaviour

  1. Well said Tim…

    It’s exactly why I’m an active member of zero band forums anymore – I got fed up with the hassle, the arguments, the spitefulness, the childishness etc etc…

    Since when has music (especially that which we love, ie not something vying for chart position) been a competition? So you like one band and not another – simple, say something nice about the band you like…and don’t waste your pixels and keystrokes on the one you don’t!


  2. Adrian says:

    Hi Tim

    i have come to the conclusion that many fans no longer contribute to the MA
    website because information is incorrect or not updated – I find myself checking other websites for simple things like gig details ! The delay in posts being checked and the heavy handed attitude of the moderator to the slightest criticism of the bands performance live or recorded doesn’t help encourage debate .I would really like Bryan to enter the discussions from time to time as this might help clear up misunderstandings regarding the progress of the band. However , the impression that I get from his failure
    to do so is that he has a lack of interest in his own website

    The Panic Room and Breathing Space websites do not suffer from these problems.


  3. Tim Hall says:


    Do notice that Suzie (Bryan’s sister) is now a sysop and now seems to be the person posting updates and information.

    Entire website does need to be rebuilt from scratch, though.

  4. dan says:

    Funnily enough I am listening to IQ at the moment, they had a fantastically enjoyable spat with Marillion via fanzine interviews back when they both came out.
    Plus ca change…

    I think that it’s precisely when you have a small scene that you get these rivalries that are mistakenly picked up by fans.
    Life’s too short…

  5. Tim Hall says:

    I remember the Marillion-Twelfth Night spat in the letters pages of Sounds many years ago to. What gets me, and what prompted this post in the first place, was a small minority of fans trying to draw battle lines were no dispute exists between the bands.

  6. dan says:

    The funny thing about IQ vs Marillion was that it was the bands themselves who were doing it, always wondered if it was a deal between them for some publicity, Martin Orford and Steve Rothery met at Jadis gigs and didnt seem to have a problem.

    Couple of examples from memory, this is probably around 83/84.
    Fish ; “IQ are so derivative, their guitarist is just trying to sound exactly like Steve Hackett” (my note – pot and kettle after grendel !)
    Mike Holmes ; “We are a big catch for Chappell Publishing, which is more than can be said for Fish” (my note, that’s quite funny if not proved correct !)