What you need to know about forums

Internet forums are created to allow like-minded individuals to interact

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Curtis Pawliuk William Chitty Ron Willert and Murray McKay holding a cheque that snowandmud is presenting to VARDA.

Snowandmud.com forum members donate to the community. L-R: Curtis Pawliuk, William Chitty, Ron Willert and Murray McKay with a cheque for the Valemount and Area Recreation Development Association. — photo courtesy of Curtis Uffelman

Participating in online forums such as Snowandmud.com is a growing trend for many powersports enthusiasts. With almost two million posts on Snowandmud.com and over 47,000 users this forum is one of the largest Canadian based powersports forums in the country. Technical advice, planned group rides, safety outreach, information on specific riding areas and friendships developed with like-minded individuals are many of the perks that invite users into forum participation. There are many sides to online participation. 

Sifting through the knowledge

You read it on the Internet so it must be true, right? Forum participants can be industry professionals, backyard mechanics, mechanic wannabes or Internet trolls. So how do you sift through the knowledge to find what you need?

Keep an open mind. Not all of the information should be taken as gospel. Many individuals are brand loyal and will take every opportunity to help their brand shine against competing brands. Check the source, then check again. Often you’ll see vendor sponsors who are industry professionals. These participants have years of experience and are willing to share knowledge and wisdom. Some individuals are not so skilled, but full of advice. Be wary and always check with professionals before embarking on an Internet inspired repair or modification.

Moderators help keep it clean 

Especially for the family friendly Snowandmud.com site, moderators are there to keep the forum on track. They help keep the site rated PG, mitigate troll interference and ensure the integrity of the information posted. Once in a while a user will form an alternative account, commonly referred to as an alter, whose purpose is solely to cause disruption. Moderators are quick on the draw and often catch these alters before any damage is done. It can be a challenge.

Besides watching for lewd content and profanity, moderators often find themselves in the middle of heated disputes. Moderator Tyler Geddes said staying neutral in disputes between users, especially when paying vendors are involved, can be a challenge.

Some vendors see forums as potential vast marketing, but don’t want to pay to promote their business or product. This is a big no-no for forum participation. Businesses must pay to play. With tens of thousands of potential customers, many businesses are opting for vendor status, giving them direct contact with their customer base. 

Why would Geddes volunteer time to babysit powersports enthusiasts? 

“What keeps me moderating? There are days I feel like throwing in the metaphorical towel, but at the end of the day it’s seeing the positive friendships and all the good info being made available to the public."

The perks

Friendships and forum rides are a perk of forum participation. It is simply more fun to ride with like-minded individuals. Forums provide an excellent platform to meet new riding buddies in your own area. Many rides are now an annual event, such as the Snow and Mud Jamboree held west of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, at Out West Campground.

Land issue information and safety advice is also at your fingertips when participating in a forum. You will learn appropriate, environmentally friendly practices and tips to potentially save your or a loved one’s life. Many industry safety specialists participate in these forums. And when potential land closures or restrictions arise, it is a great place to rally the troops into action. 

How to get involved

The greatest way to wade into forum waters is to ask questions. Participate in existing threads and don’t take it to heart if someone disagrees with your opinion. Forum introduction areas are the place to introduce yourself and share where you are from. Search out threads and get the overall feel for the people. There are many inside jokes, some of which you won’t initially understand. It’s like learning a new culture. Online forums have a culture of their own, with certain rock star individuals who will stand out. 

It takes time to get the feel for online forums, but for many it is time well spent. Some relationships are long lasting—even everlasting in the case of my husband and me. We met in an online forum and developed a great friendship, which turned into a marriage. Meeting someone with exactly the same passion for horsepower and the outdoors was a gift to both of us. 

While you may not meet your happily ever after, I guarantee you will make some lasting friendships with riders who share the same thirst for backcountry adventure that you have. 

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