What do you personally get out of the internet? Does it offer you a source of entertainment? Perhaps it is just an informational resource for yourself. I personally use the internet for a vast variety of things – from connecting to others to giving my opinion on various matters. However, the best thing I use the internet for is to communicate with others and get their opinions. This leads me to my first point: forums.
Internet forums are one of the best ways to communicate on the internet. There are an infinite number of forums out there on every topic imaginable. Forums for new moms, forums for audio engineers, forums for writers. The lists and possibilities are endless. The cultures of each of these forums is relatively similar, but many have their own unique spin on the forum culture. However, the format of the forum necessarily calls for a similar culture based on the “rules” that forums have. Most forums are similar in construction, leading to similar thought processes and similar modes of morality within the forum. “Trolling” is a forum wide word for people who use the forums to bait people into arguments. Basically they are time wasters. Certain forums may play along with Trolls while others are much more strict. Think of a forum of surfers vs. a forum of librarians; the culture of the users bleeds into the culture of the forum itself. Other forums are much more heavy on the usage of animated .gifs as well as other images. Some forums do not even allow the usage of “avatars” for users. It just depends on the forum moderators and the tone of the forum in general. Users will “mold” themselves to the overarching forum culture. Ask Metafilter, for example, has a certain verbiage that seems to pervade the forum, as well as certain terminology that is used widely throughout (some that make no sense, including “snowflakes” and “beanplating”). Users fall right into step usually, and long-time users are strict on usage of the pervading vernacular. It is interesting how certain forums can inspire one to follow the culture, while others allow a more free-formed discussion and varying styles of writing and verbiage.
The thing is, you cannot choose the culture as you must first choose the forum. Certain people may fall in step easier with the particular forum culture, while others may dislike it and eventually leave the forum entirely. It just depends on the particular user’s desires and needs.