Web Forums

"Nikon will release a D700x in summer 2009. A Nikon rep told me and he's always right"
"The sensor in the D3X is just the same as in the Sony a900, the cost is just Nikon profiteering"
"All micro four thirds lenses are soft and mediocre at best"
"My Leica 50mm F/2 won't autofocus on a G1 - is it faulty?"

OK I made the last one up!
Web photographic forums - don't you just love them? Ignorance, prejudice, football supporter brand loyalty, they are all here. An ever increasing consumption of bandwidth on the irrelevant, the unimportant, the trivial and the just plain daft.

"Never buy used equipment from a Pro, they always trash their gear"
"I'm trekking through the Grand Canyon for a week, I've decided to take 2 D3's plus 14-24 F/2.8, 24-70 F/2.8 and 70-200 F/2.8. Should I take my D700 as backup?"
"The bias against Canon on this site is there for all to see"
"The bias against Nikon on this site is there for all to see"
"Why are you even considering a D3X. Only a few pro's need that many pixels"

Who are these people? What universe do they inhabit? What prompts their decision to post their opinions for all to see?
Why do people spend hours trashing equipment they have never even used? Why do they constantly tell camera manufacturers what they are doing wrong? Why do they predict (usually completely wrongly) what these manufacturers are doing to do in the future?
I find all of this entertaining, but completely bewildering. I am sometimes staggered by the rudeness. Its sometimes reminiscent of a pack of dogs ripping some injured animal to pieces.
They are often argumentative for the sake of it, belligerent, biased and arrogant.

I've learned a lot from forums. At their best they are informative & helpful. I've had good advice from many & always try to pass on anything that I feel might be informative and helpful to others. Sometimes I get sucked in, in response to a particularly crass thread. And yes I have been known, on occasions to resort to the odd sarcastic repost. But on the whole I stay polite.

I have also noticed that most of the "troublemakers" have inflated names. nikongenius, canonproshooter, digitalartist4. They usually never give a web address where you can actually see any of their pictures.
However my "favourite" is a photographer from the US, whose ploy is to come in just once on a thread and make some arrogant comment, basically saying that everyone else is a moron & he is the only one with all the answers, because he is a full-time professional who knows what he is talking about. This is usually accompanied by some incomprehensible techno babble, much of which he makes up. One day I followed his link to his (incredibly cheap and nasty) website. I immediately burst out laughing. He has a business photographing a particularly nasty breed of dog. The pictures are awful. In fact his website is full of awful pictures. The lead picture on his site is of a river boat with a sloping horizon. He also displays an image of a man playing a banjo, looking like someone from Deliverance. If this is him, he has my sympathy (well not actually) or if this is an example of his portraiture, his clients have my sympathy.
He has it all. Fanatical loyalty to one brand of camera, total intolerance of anyone who doesn't have his (self delusional) vast photographic knowledge. He's rude, arrogant and above all ignorant beyond belief. The classic web forum monster. I've stopped reading his posts, since my blood pressure usually goes through the roof.

I guess its too much to ask that we all respond to each other with politeness & sensitivity, as the argumentative threads are always the ones with the most posts. They obviously attract the largest audiences so I imagine they aren't going away anytime soon.