One reason why I kept coming back to the forums in addition to that search for information, was that they helped fill the “down time” in between my trips. Not being able to live or spend as much time as I would have liked in Thailand, for me the forums were a way to live out my own daydreams through reading the experiences of others. Over time and with further trips, my interest in Thailand increased. As I continued to learn, not only through the forums, but from my own experiences, I found that I could contribute more and offer opinions and answers of my own rather than simply relying on the knowledge of others. The more I contribute and interact with other members of certain sites, the more time I seem to spend browsing the threads.
I am now a member of at least six or seven Thailand based forums, but of those I would say I am a regular contributor on maybe only two of them. In recent years the stand-out forum for me has been thailand-uk.com. As its mostly aimed at UK members with Thai wives or partners, thailand-uk has been of particular help to me. Above all else, for me it offers a common ground, something which all of its members can relate to. Overall, I think this helps create a much more friendly and accepting atmosphere that just can't be found on any other forum. Not only did the members of thailand-uk help me when my wife and I went through her spouse visa process last year. But they have been a constant source of support in other area's, and not always necessarily anything specific to Thailand. I would go as far to say that I consider some members as friends. Albeit “virtual” friends. One post recently described the members as a kind of family, and I have to agree. One of the benefits of a forum is that we can maintain a relative level of anonymity. We can pick and choose which information we choose to share or keep to ourselves. That level of anonymity can often make it easier to discuss matters which we would not be able to talk about our own close family members.
Those are the positives. However, as with all forums there are times when members do not agree with certain posts, opinions, or attitudes of other members. Nothing new there. After all, it's only to be expected given the broad range of characters that make up a forum membership. More recently, for whatever reason the atmosphere on the forum has been a little strained, some threads have become heated and the mods have had to step in and remove offensive posts. I usually choose to avoid these types of thread and I have found myself taking a step back from the forum over the past few days and weeks. As a result I found myself looking to bridge the gap and joined a couple of additional forums which I'd previously not bothered with.
What an eye opener it has been, and not in a good way. One common criticism of thailand-uk is that its often too heavily moderated. But after spending time on these other forums, it is obvious just how important that moderation is to the success of a forum and what a good job the mods on thailand-uk do on a daily basis. I have been amazed, not only at the lack of respect for fellow members on these other forums. But by some comments which border on racism toward their own wives or partners. These posts seem to go either unnoticed, which I find hard to believe, or the mods simply don't care what others write about. The members of these sites seems mostly to be made up of bitter ex-pats living in Thailand. The unfortunate thing, is that they give the rest of us with Thai partners a bad name.
When I started this post the last thing I wanted to do was make it sound like some kind of love letter to any one specific forum. If thats how it comes across, well thats not how I intended it to be. But I certainly have a new found respect for thailand-uk.com
This has given me a chance to evaluate how I choose to spend my spare time. There have been occasions when my wife has commented on how much time I spend on the computer. I hadn't really given it a second thought until now. When I think about it, she's absolutely right. If there is such a thing as a forum addict, then I probably fall into that category. Maybe this has been a bit of a wakeup call for me. As useful and friendly as the majority of these forums are. I think its about time I spent more time talking and discussing issues with my wife rather than tapping away at a computer screen. At least for a little while anyway ;)
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