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Elitism, and the Decline in Proper Spelling and Grammar (Thread)

Something that I have noticed, over the years, is that many people make a correlation between the decline in 4chan's /b/ board, as well as the GD, as time went on. They then went on to draw parallels between their respective userbases, and how interbreeding of some of each's inhabitants could be the cause of it all.

My theory, as time has gone on, is that people are inherently lazy. When confronted with a forum, IRC channel, or other form of publishing text media to the public that is new to them, they may not attempt to post according the the perceived 'rules' of normalcy. On a site in which correct spelling and proper grammar is the norm, this can lead to the user being flamed for their lack of netiquette. If this does not happen, and the user in question is not reprimanded in any such way, they will continue to act as they had prior, until they've had their fill of the site.

Now, along comes another user, very much like the first. He goes through a very similar process, and, too, degrades the overall quality of the site. One can assume that this continues on. As later users come by, the notice that the forum is quite lax on it's spelling/grammar rules. They, in turn, hold themselves to an even lesser standard, and allow themselves to type even worse, if they see fit.

As it carries on, the site declines in quality, exponentially. This has been a problem with the internet as a whole, seen as early as 1993, when AOL gave it's users Usenet access, opening the Usenet network to everybody and their mother. New users, overrunning the place, ruined the quality discussions, with a total disregard to netiquette.

Now, how does this tie into 4chan, Gaia's General Discussion forum, and the internet as a whole? Well, it has to deal with elitism, and man's tendency to be lazy. Smaller groups, shortly following their inception, have a strong feeling of "family". As more members join, they feel that the original users are of higher caliber. This is usually also visible, looking at posts. For small groups, for niche interests, having knowledge of the subject at hand can be hard to come by, only accessible to those that have toiled for it, and care very much about it. As such, these people are more likely to be mature and knowledgeable. Assumptions, but it is the overarching norm.

Now, as the small community grows, and becomes more popular, you are likely to get less-than-desirable people. Left unhindered, the group will follow a course similar to that which I have laid out, before, at a rapid pace. Now, here's where elitism comes in. If the original group hold up it's standards, tells users to type properly or get the fuck out, in this example, then they can sustain their quality, at the cost of such rapidly growing popularity.

On sites such as Gaia and 4chan, this can hold out for a while, but almost always fails. Even among those that conform to the elitism, they may not reciprocate when the next user comes along, leading to the cascade that was laid out, prior. This is easily seen in the fall of /v/, and /a/'s terrible state in the summer, when most users give up on the newbies, and retreat to "Nightime /a/". Conversely, the less-popular boards, such as /jp/ stay great all year,thanks to not being as popular yet, and not reaching their breaking point. They can keep the elitism going, with little worries.

Gaia was in a similar situation, but embraced the idiocy. The old users were quickly washed out, as the admins "sold out", and capitalized on the new, braindead fools. In the end, it worked out well for them, and I commend them, as a businessman. As such, the elitism that this site once carried has fled to the darkest reaches of the Guilds, hidden from the rest of the world.


I would say that in the case of Gaia, a major reason why there is a decline in quality of the site is generally because of the fact that allot of the users are really young and don't know how/want to act properly when they should. I honestly joined Gaia when I was around ten and didn't even know that some people wanted you to talk with proper grammar and spelling online, and you know what i did not get any backlash at all for talking like a dumb ass.

I actually cross-posted this from Gaia, which I have taken a greatly revived interest in in the past couple months after having found a couple internet friends that still frequent my old hangouts.


You sir, really are an incredible person. +1 to you and please keep posting threads like this once in a while.


this Paragraph is very true.

Now, along comes another user, very much like the first. He goes through a very similar process, and, too, degrades the overall quality of the site. One can assume that this continues on. As later users come by, the notice that the forum is quite lax on it's spelling/grammar rules. They, in turn, hold themselves to an even lesser standard, and allow themselves to type even worse, if they see fit.

It's like the second user was influenced to type like that because he saw everyone doing it, probably to fit in, or to be cool. that is bad in my eyes. users that go on about and see how other users type/interact with others users and using those "Skills" for them selves shows no originality.


That can be a good thing for sites like, for example, TheColorless, because if people did what they did here, they'll likely learn how to type correctly and reading certain threads like the ones @Lumiex made, will also make them be like: "Oh, i don't wanna be a noob and type like that so lemme listen to her and write correctly". That is a Definite win there and if that DOES happen, we will have a lot of well typist . So thats kinda a win/win there.

I really like this idea, and one thing sprung into my mind immediately.

"The Broken Window Theory"

It's states that crime ridden areas are self propogating. The name comes from the example that a broken window will lead to vandalism, because the criminal sees the potential for crime. If somebody can break a window, I can tag a building. If this building has broken windows and graffiti, it must not be watched very well. Another person sells drugs there, etc.

Humans are social creatures and learn by example. To determine the norms and rules of a region, they look for visual cues. What are the states of the buildings, are there many gangs, what level of poverty or wealth, etc.

So apply that to an internet forum. If there are "broken windows" (bad threads and posting) about, people will find that to be acceptable. If it's in excess, it will be the norm. The new users will learn how to use the site from the current users, even if they've been here for 1 year or 1 week.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel.

When the study was done, they were able to isolate a preventing factor. If there were cops cars patrolling or obvious surveillance was present, the building remained intact. However, if the building looked unwatched and like nobody cared about it, it got vandalized.

The police of an internet forum are specifically the mods. The mods should be kind, but not tolerant of poor posting habits. Only the mods can clean up posts, remove threads, etc. They need to keep the forums looking sharp and moderately controlled. The users need to keep up their quality as well, to be a good reference point and example. Similarly, we need to shun bad posting behavior (but without being grammar nazis)

And one last tid bit- I feel that stopping poor posting will lead to a lack of popularity simply because the primary internet demographic is poor posting behavior. Where as the internet used to be a very adult thing, now the main user base is 10-16. It simply follows that appealing to them will lead to popularity.

EDIT: Also, I'd love to do a study on this some time, see if I can record some data and find trends. If I ever go through with it or start, I'd like some access to site statistics. Information on how people use the internet could be incredibly valuable. Heck, I might even make a thread about it. =D

What kills an internet forum, any internet forum, eventually, is the lack of fresh content.

As long as there is a sustained influx of new people or new ideas, a forum can keep chugging along fine for years. When, for some reason, that stops - maybe because the more creative users leave due to a massive influx of rude people, or some peak capacity where the site is just barely useful is reached - it's over. You can tell by checking of a community talks more about itself than other things - when that happens, it's basically dead. Metadiscussion is the one thing that can stop new users from ever contributing anything, and as the current users slowly trickle away , the website is dead - at least until it is unused enough to start being useful again.

You could see it on 4chans /b/, you could see it on digg, you can watch it live on reddit (Though they're cleverly trying to contain it in /r/circlejerk, which seems to work, for now). Hell, you can see it in real life - political action groups discussing more about themselves and the relative merits of this or that mode of voting than the issues they should be adressing.

tl;dr: Meta is death.

To be honest, a lot of discussions on this forum are meta.

I can easily see how this is true. It's kind of like a chain reaction, if you see someone doing it then you do it, then others follow you and eventually everyone is doing it. If it goes unchecked then the whole community suffers and the people that were old members get turned off by it and end up leaving. Being on this site has actually taught me to watch my grammar more even though my grammar isn't bad and I never wrote with bad grammarand now I randomly look for grammar mistakes. Just yesterday I saw a mistake on one of my schools banners in the gym

And what point are you trying to make by pointing that out?

What people don't seem to get is that "Meta" is good for them. Without all the Meta threads on here, for example, where actual users can voice their opinions, raise suggestions and stuff like that, this very site wouldn't be around anymore, wouldn't have evolved and stagnated instead.
If there's a high participation by many different usergroups, you can consider the users as "caring" about the site as a whole, rather than just their personal fun.
We had moderators who never took part in Meta discussions unless directly called out, and users who just signed up but gave fresh views on difficult topics.

The "Meta" threads give all of CL a chance to participate in the site's future.

Aside from that, people don't even seem too eager to really "discuss" topics. They're more into self-presentation. A lot of them even fail to read the last three posts before their own, making fools of themselves when asking the same question as the people before them.

OH god, I hardly remember writing this. Cursed alcohol.

While meta is death, one must always have a route open for meta, to better themselves. Many users are too lazy to shoot an email to the staff, so a thread is a great way to combat that.

It's when a forum becomes 50%meta tat you have to worry.

@Acostoss @Gargron @AllThemMods


So, yeah. Apology?

I made a proper spelling and grammar thread awhile back. It was badly written... Other than that, I agree with you.

It's all about the perception the users have. If they feel the forum/community is dying, then they most likely will take less interest in the community. However, loyal members will still contribute or care about it, but newer members pick up on others saying if a community is dead/dying. That affects posting habits and activity. That's why members should think positively and not negatively on the activity of forums and communities.


Rereading my first post, i have seem to have noticed a correlation between how drunk I am and how many commas I use.

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