Monitoring a Forum Can Take Its Toll By Angela Hoy

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I am a firm believer in Internet forums and discussion lists, which are public places where people can easily and instantly post their opinions, complaints and more online. Unfortunately, not everybody with a computer was taught manners by their parents and there are more people than I ever realized in this world who are crooks.

Since launching WritersWeekly Whispers and Warnings, I have had the unfortunate opportunity to be introduced to some of the true dregs of society. From the editors who are “prima donnas” and are just plain nasty when dealing with “lowly” writers, to people who have made a living out of ripping people off on a daily basis, there really is some nasty scum out there! I’ve met so-called publishers who publish books and then stop responding to authors (including never sending royalty statements or payments), and a marketer who not only spreads lies about others under false aliases online, but also claims to get authors’ books into bookstores and then phones in fake orders to those bookstores (we’re in talks with the FBI about him now). I’ve met one woman publisher who threatened to beat me up (she was a bodybuilder) and a man who hired dozens of people over the years, didn’t pay them, and threatened to “take care of” my family after we exposed him.

The most recent nitwit is a so-called POD Publisher in the UK who says he’s going to sue us and personally watch the government haul away our “station wagon” after he wins. I didn’t bother telling him we don’t own a station wagon. One of his victims says he was previously declared a vexacious litigator in California and then left the country.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spent more and more time monitoring the forums and approving and banning various members. We’ve also paid our attorneys thousands to deal with threats from all the criminals who think that they’re above the law. What’s interesting is that similar discussions about the same companies are going on at other forums. So, we’ve spent endless hours and thousands of dollars fighting to allow posts to remain on our site, and even sustained numerous threats directed to us and our children…when many of these posts appear on many other websites, too. After realizing this, we’re kind of kicking ourselves for letting these ridiculous circumstances continue for so long.

For all of the reasons above, and after several months of discussion, we have decided to alter our Whispers and Warnings format. We are switching from a forum format to a news search format. Each week, we’ll be providing a list of news stories and forum postings from a variety of websites that deal with these firms on a daily basis. I’ve been wanting to offer this search service for a long time in addition to our forum, but haven’t had time because of the hours I spend policing the forums and new forum users each week. Please understand that this is the best decision for us at this time and we’ll try to make the new format a great deal more inclusive than the Whispers and Warnings have been in the past.

The General Freelance Writing Forum will remain the same. It’s a very lively, informative and fun place to visit. See: http://forums.writersweekly.com