Is dogster welcoming enough to newbies?

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Ginger- M.I.A.

my first and- finest
Barked: Thu Dec 2, '10 3:14pm PST 
I LOVE LOVE LOVE dogster forums- I am here every day to read and post stuff. It's the cat's meow, pardon the expression.

But I worry if we are being open and welcoming enough to newbies. I don't want this forum to slowly die off if new people aren't coming in. People who were very active posters a year ago have quit, or rarely post anymore, and I wonder who is replacing them.

And then on top of it, I see people come in an post for the first time, if they say something in ignorance that most dogsters disagree with, I worry they are being treated too harshly. I know there is no actual name calling and flame wars on dogster (THANK YOU mods!) it can get a little chilly in some threads. And then there are the long-standing disagreements between forum members, if you know the whole story, it's not a big deal, but I worry that new people may be put off when stuff like that comes up. (And I'm not absolving myself, I've been involved in some of it too, and may have been too harsh with people I thought needed correction.)

I want to hear from people who have never posted before but are lurking, or people who post but are pretty new to the site (like within the last couple months) to see what you think. Is dogster welcoming and friendly, or do you think you need a thick skin until you've figured out the culture here?

Got food? I- can be bought ya- know....
Barked: Sat Dec 4, '10 11:06pm PST 
Not so much...eek

I think certain subjects need to be 'red flagged' for scrappy dogsters only!silenced

Heaven help a newb who mentions Cesar Millan, Prong collars, flexi leads, spay/ neuter, or BSL. Or, (gulp) vaccines....Things get ugly.

I'm your new- best friend! Pet- me!
Barked: Sun Dec 5, '10 7:40am PST 
I think people sometimes assume if you are on Dogster you are "doggy enough" to know those things. I've often thought about everything you posted and I think sometimes people need to realize that when people come on for advice, just please try to give it in the friendliest way possible. They won't come back if they feel they were thought of as a bad pet parent.


Here\'s my Wubba- - now play with- me!!
Barked: Sun Dec 5, '10 8:42am PST 
When I joined Dogster a year ago I did almost quit more than once because of how self-righteous many posters seemed. In one thread I remember very clearly a new Dogster posted a question about his pit bull puppy doing a play bow and barking - people jumped all over him until they finally realized that it was a young kid who had never had a dog before...really nasty things were said, along the lines of "if you don't know what a play bow is you shouldn't even have a dog." silenced

Those of us who are older and those who are experienced dog owners (I am not claiming to be an expert on anything) need to remember that for younger generations blogging and online forums are a very common form of communicating and getting information - so it's very possible that the person you're responding to is under 20 years old and may have zero experience with animals.

So much for "there's no such thing as a dumb question" right?

I didn't quit mostly because I just didn't feel like it, and I did for a long time stay off the forums completely. I just recently started coming back around, about 2 weeks ago.

Member Since
Barked: Sun Dec 5, '10 3:04pm PST 
As a "Guest", I'm a total Dogster newbie. I don't even have a dog yet -- but I will hopefully soon. And, I'm 24. But, as I have no experience with dogs but wanted to share my life with one, I joined this site in order to get information and advice on various dog-related topics. In the short time I've been here, I've learned quite a bit from reading the various posts and quite a few Dogsters are quite knowledgeable about various aspects. I feel rather comfortable here as a complete newbie and my experience thus far has been pretty good. In concerns to the chilliness of certain topics, I just stay clear of the issues I don't know much about. In concerns to the self-righteousness, I think we have to remember that we were all dog newbies at some point and maybe go easy on those, like myself, who have just discovered the world of dogs. smile
Bruno CGC

Honorary Kelpie
Barked: Sun Dec 5, '10 6:35pm PST 
(This is Ginger's mom again, posting as Bruno)

I guess I try to walk the line between "nice" and "honest." I don't know if I'm actually good at it yet-but I know other dogsters are worse! laugh out loud

So far as I see, people who start out posting as guests until they know the rules and culture seems to be doing it right. I think it's too easy to make judgements about someone once they have a profile, (based on stuff like their dog's name, breed, quality of photos, etc) and heaven help anyone who brings up a controversial topic before they are well-known on here!

I think Asher said this once- or something like it, I'm paraphasing, too lazy to figure out when and where she said it- "Sometimes it looks snarly and mean on here, but really we dogsters do respect each other. I know that Trigger's mom ((who often posts opposite opinions from Asher)) is a very conscientious and caring person, and very knowledgeable. We have conversation via p-mail that the rest of you never see, so the forums can look biased." P-mails are a big part of conversations here, and that doesn't show in the forums of course.

And like any forum, it has it's own culture, it's own slang and unofficial "rules." That can be frustrating. I know I go against the grain sometimes and get criticized. But I think if you stick to your guns and back up what you say with outside evidence, even if it doesn't change people's minds, they will stop being so hard on you.

And of course, if someone is giving you a bad time, DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. That's the number one mistake I see- often the heckling is coming from only a few militants, not the general Dogster community, but the newbie doesn't realize that, they get offended and leave. For every poster who is over critical, there are probably ten lurkers who are thinking, "That was mean! I'm not going to dive into that thread and get my butt handed back to me, no thank you!" so they stay out of it.

Some people really thrive on heckling, and seek it out. I don't like to call anyone "trolls", because I think that applies only to people who do not actually believe what they post, and do it only to get a reaction. Dogsters aren't like that- some just like to air some very controversial opinions. Eventually you will learn to recognize these people, and take what they write with a grain of salt- it's like the boy who cried wolf- how many times can you get a rise out of people before they quit caring? Newbies often fall for it, though.

So, if anyone is still reading this monster of a post, PLEASE don't leave, new people! We need you! And veterans, don't leave either! We need your experience and continuity, no matter how mean or stupid it seems like dogster forums are getting- we need people like you to keep it on track.

Momma is the- center of the- universe...
Barked: Sun Dec 5, '10 8:28pm PST 
As the old saying goes, one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch...
Some of the threads, recently closed by HQ, had really gone down hill.
All attempts to bring things back to civility fell flat.

As you said, taking things personally...in one case...paranoid?

New members are chewed up and spit out.

I don't know how to fix it other than report it and bow out of the thread...??
Budrow RIP buddy

I am handsome - deal with it
Barked: Sun Dec 5, '10 9:08pm PST 
I think dogster as a whole is very welcoming to new folks.big grin There are plenty of hot and controversial topics though and it can get a bit intimidating at times. But, on the flip side, there are even more topics that provide invaluable advice and insight into the world of dogs, and that is why I keep coming back to dogster.

There have been times when I've spouted off in anger on a subject and have gotten scolded for it and I have gotten offended when people scold me for voicing my opinion. There were a few times when I just quit looking at dogster for awhile because I got offended. Hopefully I'm getting thicker skinwink and will be able to take constructive critisism when it's given, I've been working on my attitude towards giving and taking advice.

I think dogster is an invaluable tool for new dog owners as well as experienced dog owners. I've learned more in the one year I've been a part of dogster than I've learned through several years of dog ownership before finding dogster. blue dog

Edited by author Sun Dec 5, '10 9:09pm PST


st. francis of- asses
Barked: Mon Dec 6, '10 7:23am PST 
Snickers, one of the things I have noticed about threads closing.... When I first started on dogster, the moderators would come in after only 2 or 3 posts to warn people about the rules if things were getting out of hand. For the most part, we don't have that anymore, there are pages of rude comments, then HQ comes in and shuts it down with no warnings. If they went back to the moderators coming in like before, things wouldn't get so out of hand.
Savannah Blue Belle

A Heart of Gold!
Barked: Mon Dec 6, '10 7:24am PST 
You know, I have blundered hugely in some of the forums, but I am thick skinned enough to ignore irrelevant comments and take the good advice. The thing that bugs me is the few posters who do seem primed to attack, even when a relatively unoffensive topic is presented. For example: I once described a dog as small which disturbed a person who felt that breed was medium sized. You would have thought I had suggested eating puppies. Really.

I wish I could always practice it myself, but it seems to me that if we could all just assume good will and not attack we would be better off. If you must correct, do it kindly. Most of us train dogs - use the same principles.

And on the other hand, those who ask questions should be prepared that the answer might not be the one they want to hear...if you ask for advice, you ought to be willing to accept it.
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