What exactly makes a forum work? I suppose even more basic is what is a forum. My cheapo dictionary says, "A public meeting or assembly for open discussion." Well an internet forum meets that definition. Most of the forums on the net are interest specific. In other words this one is photography specific, others might be skateboard specific, or even paint ball specific. But it most likely is possible that you can get too specific, i.e. guys named Charile forum. I post at some forums that have very little discussion of anything except the nuts and bolts of the craft. It's a great place to go to pick a dozen brains, but not very diverse. So whose forum is it anyway? The owners of course, The moderators in a day to day sense of guiding the discussion sure, but ultimately the people invested are those who show up whether they participate or not. That said, if only a hand full participate, you get a single viewpoint and the lurkers leave. Just like any other entity, the ultimate purpose of the forum is to survive and even thrive. It's almost a biological imperative. If you doubt that diverse viewpoints create interest, look at the number of viewers on a thread that has it, versus an atta boy thread. By it's nature a forum needs diverse opinions. If everyone agrees on white walls, you won't have much of a committee meeting. So there have to be differing opinions to have a meaningful discussion. It doesn't have to be mean or vicious, but there have to be those differing opinions. There has to be a far left, and a far right with a lot of people spread out in differing positions between them. Now that's just for a discussion of a point that isn't based in fact. When it is a point of fact, somewhere along the line people have to conceded, i.e. is a lens sharper at the smallest possible aperture? Unfortunately there aren't a lot of those discussions left. What is left is, how do you feel about xxxxxxxxx. Everyone should have, and voice, an opinion, even those who currently just lurk. If your opinion isn't popular, it doesn't matter as long as you can defend it. example of a defensible opinion.. I think the bride needs to have more light on her face because........................ You can agree or disagree but you have to see that there is some basis for the opinion. I think all people who have a digital camera anywhere in their house are terrorist. That is totally indefensible..... Obviously the link between digital photography and terrorism has not been made yet. NOW THAT WAS A JOKE. The weight of an opinion should rest in it's validity not the personality of the person making it. That said, I am as guilty as anyone else of wanting to believe my friends right or wrong. And to not believe those I don't like, also right or wrong. The forum as a teaching tool. Obviously if the forum's most basic interest is in surviving and prospering, then it has to keep the members coming back. How do you do that?. You appeal to their ego of course, and you try to help them in the information age. A person who gets his boost and a bit of useful information won't begrudge the fifteen minutes he spends on the board. The forum should, and none that I know of do, invoke no more than order keeping editing. People post images, if they get a comment at all, it is mostly 'atta boy'. Ego stroked so we return and do it again. It is only human nature. If I post an image and someone tells me I should have done something differently, I look at the comment and then ask myself two questions. Is the comment valid. Is it something I didn't see or something I chose to do intentionally. Now examples I use are mine so don't anyone take offense. The whites are all blown out and are distracting. Is it a valid point? Yes it is... did I see it and did I choose to ignore it... In most cases I did. Or your shot would have been better if you toned down the dancing bear in the background. I look at it and say to myself it is a valid point, and yes the bear is distracting. So I correct it and have a better photograph in the end. That is when I learn from the posts I make. I post to learn, so feel free to tell me what is wrong. Since I get few responses I assume I am perfect. (Another joke) Even in the first case, the one I chose to ignore, I learned what people see first. As a learning experience you come, you ask a questions and you get a lot of answers. More than one of them will most likely work, because photography is one of the few crafts left where several roads will lead to the same place. I fully expect that ten people, who don't need this advice, will read this. Most likely this is yet another exercise in futility. I chose this category for no real reason, If you want to delete or move it I have no problem with that at all. As always this is just my opinion and has little to no value in the modern world, or any other I imagine.