Saturday, 17 November 2012

Removal of site from links


This is an abridged version of an original post which has been amended solely because I am concerned about the quality and standards of this site and do not wish to see it cluttered with a 'tit-for-tat' response, the catalyst for which was the antics of one particular 'official' on an internet forum.  Some points however do still need to be made.

Historically I had been a very active member, and indeed strong supporter and promoter, of an entirely unofficial MM2H visa forum website.  Recently however the site has lost its attraction for me, largely because when I have directed readers there to obtain information, I have often had them contact me subsequently saying that information is very, VERY hard to find there, given that the answers are often spread across multiple threads and that there is often a need to wade through pages and pages of 'discussion' (which at times gets decidedly off-topic) in order to find the parts of the puzzle that are of interest to you.  There have also been instances where some of the information posted members has been speculative, misleading and or just plain wrong.   In addition, many of the posts made these days seem to be of questionable (at best) relevance to MM2H and the forum has become very 'cliquey' in nature IMO.  There have also been two recent admin changes; the removal of private messaging between members and dispensing with the facility to post 'reciprocal links', where members could post links to their own site (such as the one here) provided a reciprocal links to that forum was posted.  A few other more specific issues have also concerned me of late.

Users of forums fall into many 'categories' and you often get those who see such forums as 'theirs', their own personal chat channel, then there are those who are mischievous and meddlesome with regard to what other members do and others who seem to be on a mission to up their post count.  As can happen with any forum, personalities get involved and people can clash.  There's also at times a somewhat childish attitude towards initiatives that do not emanate from that forum.  One example is the somewhat sarcastic comment from a member towards the title of the social meetings (and very successful they are too!!!!) organised by The Expat Group.  Known as 'Mingles' the title attracted a snide dig, but is it any more absurd as a title for a social meet and greet than the forum's own 'Makan Meet-Ups'?  It's just a name, it doesn't matter, but it's the mentality that surrounds the vilification of things like this that increasingly grates on you after time, an attitude that is frankly somewhat pathetic.  The regularity of posts where the forum is seemingly being used as a substitute for a web search engine, with the posting of inane questions about all manner of topics (not related to the visa) for others to respond to (and where a simple search on Google would turn up the result in a few seconds), is also tiring.  Lazy, upping the post post count?  Who knows?  But it all adds to the detritus you need to sift through to find what you need.

The Site Admins (SA) there often make reference to the fact that the views of all members are to be respected.  That's fine and all very honourable.  In my experience though that 'respect' seems to be somewhat selectively applied.  Criticise SA though (or have it viewed that you might be by having the temerity to answer them back) and their 'respect' can promptly take second place to what I can only describe as temper-tantrum fuelled responses which get very personal, very quickly.

In a recent incident involving this 'user', following an entirely civil and respectful response to one SA, in a very bizarre turn, another SA quickly became quite obnoxious and confrontational, using (or is it abusing?) member information, to selectively spew a bunch of statistics, rather patronisingly seeming to imply that information helpfully post to their site in the past had required little typing on their site as it was a 'cut and paste' from here (where of course the articles write themselves!).  You would have thought a forum like this would be encouraging member contribution, especially that which provides information that might be of use to others.  Not so it seems.  It's all well and good promoting 'respect' but people need to practice what they preach!!

My main concern with this incident is the whole principle of the thing.  In my view this, and I stress I do consider it an abuse, of member information to which only SAs are privy was wholly uncalled for and entirely inappropriate. Should SAs wish to post such information, members should be asked BEFORE posting it.  Offering to to remove the information AFTER it has been posted is too late.  That the quoting of the stream of stats in this case actually proved nothing (given that the stats were not used in a comparative way against benchmark inputs from the general membership) is actually irrelevant, albeit at the time somewhat frustrating.  But then expecting that everyone who quotes stats has the brains to do so intelligently is probably asking too much.  Interestingly, three other members of that forum who I know personally also expressed concern at what they consider to be such an inappropriate use of member information.  Indeed, had the SA not behaved in such an appalling manner I would have likely simply ceased to be an active member of the forum, as it is the SA chose to become somewhat objectionable, getting all personal, and when that happens it should be expected that people might take exception to it and air their concerns in a manner and through a channel which is not subject to their censorship.

Equally disturbing to me of late was what I consider to be the 'hounding' of one member from the forums, a member who has contributed much to the site.  The 'incident' sparked off when one thread degenerated into to rather unpleasant exchanges between members about US foreign policy. What on EARTH has that got to do with MM2H?  One member, a US citizen, perhaps understandably, took some exception to this and voiced his arguments accordingly.  The result was some rather heated exchanges and as a result the US member has made it clear he no longer feels welcome at the site or inclined to post there.  I must admit I found this episode particularly distasteful (I have been told some other details about it that are even more distasteful) and another member that I have met up with socially since voiced the precise same concerns. This particular incident actually marked a significant turning point in my view of the site some time back.

So, the cards started to stack up.  To me, the respect that the SAs on that forum allude to is VERY selectively applied at times and I find the attitude and treatment some that people receive to be quite distasteful.  I would stress that many of the members there are in fact decent folks, helpful people (some of whom I know personally) who have provided a wealth of useful information, as I hope I have done in return. It's also clear that a sizeable part of the membership post very rarely to the site  - I couldn't help wondering why?  It's clearer now!  The somewhat cliquey nature of the forum also doesn't help.

As a topic, the visa and associated matters have a shelf life in terms of interest.  Once you have it there's little point in researching or discussing it further IMO.  Beyond the visa itself the forum is not a particularly useful site about life in Malaysia either, particularly with some of the drivel that some members seem happy to spout off about (vociferous and opinionated does not equal expert!!). It has spawned all manner of 'child-boards' and it IS now clearly about more than the visa but quite what that 'more' is remains unclear, there is a lack of direction and clarity, and for information about life in Malaysia there are sites that are far, far better. Most of the non-visa topics discussed on the forum (a lot of which do not even pertain to Malaysia) are of no interest to me at all and I have got nothing of use from the site for a long time.  I also have no interest in, or a need for, the social meetings or a recently started support group.

All of the above, the recent changes to the forum, the level of difficulty encountered when trying to find information, the wandering direction of it all and of course SA attitude and their particular brand of 'respect' has caused me to review my membership of the site and in doing so I concluded that it's a site with which I am no longer happy to be associated with and I feel that the advantages of membership are now greatly outweighed by the disadvantages.  As such I no longer feel happy to promote the site and it has been removed from my links.  As a 'Q&A' style of MM2H information source the site is there to use but I will leave it to readers to find the site themselves if they so wish.

There are other forums out there that also cover Malaysia / Far East / SE Asia and previously I was happy to maintain links to those sites and even refer people to their sites in articles.  Problem is it's not reciprocal.  The vast majority of sites and blogs that I come across are more than happy to contain links to other informative sites and promote them, providing as much assistance to readers as possible.  Not so with forums it seems and these sites are without doubt the most defensive of their 'turf'.  Is it revenue based?  Is it because the sites get so little activity that they are petrified that readers might be directed towards other informative sites and lose interest in theirs?  Who knows.  For site /blog owners with a significant readership the referrals from forums have a zero impact on site traffic, 1-2 hits a week versus 2-3,000 per day from other sources, so the reason to post on forums is certainly not to generate traffic, just to help others.  Forum admins / owners seem to favour protecting their turf over helping others though.  Thus, while I'd been happy to promote these sites it needs to work both ways but it doesn't.  So I took the decision to delete the links to these sites.  Fair's fair :)  However, I remain happy to maintain links to the sites that seem to operate an a more altruistic basis.

3 comments:

  1. Excellent post and right to the point. It is unfortunate when a site is created to assist expats in their move to Malaysia and is then hijacked by a clique of people who have become self proclaimed experts on MM2H and Malaysia. People like this should stay home and further their own parochial interests, amongst their exclusive little communtiry.

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  2. Hi

    Yes it's sad when cliques start to dominate boards, almost inevitable though, that's why I tend to avoid forums. Life's too short.

    The primary concern for me though was the incident involving the US forum member and the recent choice of an SA there to start quoting information held on members (stats) in public, selectively using the information held to support whatever argument (the actual argument was never made clear). Totally inappropriate IMO and this alone was enough for me to decide I wanted nothing more to do with the site.

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  3. Fortunately there are other sites, such as yours, where information regarding MM2H is readily available. Yours and other sites, pertaining to life in Penang or life in Malaysia, offer more of a realistic look at being an expat, without being judgemental in references to one's nationaality or lifestyle.

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