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Into the Wasteland – Deep Insider #3

When last we left this intrepid journalist, he had finally set figurative foot into the mysterious domain known as the Elite section. Attempts were made to listen to one of their member’s only podcasts, only to be abandoned when two things were uncovered:

1. One of the hosts sand a Happy Days-esque parody song to open the show, and 2. the shows aren’t downloadable through iTunes podcast app or Downcast, making listening to the shows a major inconvenience. User-friendliness, again, would appear not to be among this site’s strong suits.

When feeling one’s way into any new territory, the first instinct is to poke around and get the lay of the land. It’s not so much in the news stories where we learn of a site’s true “personality,” but rather it is in the nooks and crannies of the site. My go-to area is the discussion forums. This is the quickest way to get a good idea of how things are run, what type of demeanor the place has. Do the proprietors engage with their paying members, are there healthy debates and discussion of current events and issues?

A little over a month back I took this same journey upon joining the PW Torch site, and was perplexed by the state of their forums. Untouched in months, lacking any sort of personality, threads months gone by, and very little in the way of interaction with site contributors like Mitchell, Caldwell and Keller.

Now, as I delved deeper into this Elite section, gaining access to their forum, I learned something similar.

The Message Board is a virtual wasteland. Very few active discussions on anything of note, with the only thread less than a month old being in the Raw discussion area.

I wonder, with so much noteworthy wrestling news taking place over the last several weeks, why activity seems so pitiful. And then, I stumble upon a clue…

At the top of the forum, in the Announcements thread, I note the latest active topic. It is over a year old, from March of 2014.

Reminder on cursing by mjohnson

Instantly my mind wanders back to the note atop the notice of a new audio show download, where the hosts duly warned the weary listener that a bit of mild swearing had taken place on the show, and to be cautious…

The PG Era, it would appear, had gotten a foothold at PWInsider.

I clicked Johnson’s thread so I might become better acquainted with this swearing rule they had in place.

PWInsider's Mike Johnson issues a stern warning to folks who curse
PWInsider’s Mike Johnson issues a stern warning to folks who curse

It read:

With the advent of the WWE Network, activity here has been on the rise, which is awesome.

What hasn’t been awesome is a few people have been dropping expletives.

Just a quick reminder that any cursing means a one month suspension. Using asterisk or other ways to get around them means a 2 week suspension.

I’ve seen the use of the s-word a lot in the last few weeks and didn’t call anyone on it because honestly, it’s been a lot of fun to see the board being so well spoken and conversive lately – but we had our first F-Bomb in 2 years posted this week.

fyi if you used one of those words, amnesty has been granted. However, going forward, the old rules will be in place.

So, keep it clean folks. Thank you!

My mind reeled a bit, and my vision narrowed… I blinked hard, trying to clear my head. I shook the cobwebs loose and read again. Was this real life? There was so much to take in, and I didn’t really know where to start. My eyes darted to several different places in the warning all at once. “S-word.” “month suspension” “amnesty.”

What the eff was happening?!

I focused in on the first sentence, the one where Johnson claimed “activity has been on the rise” since the debut of the WWE Network, and quickly clicked back out of the thread to see if I had previously mis-read dates on threads.

Nope. Most threads were still several months old, and even the post counts in the forum didn’t seem at all impressive compared to other, more well-populated and seasoned message boards.

With so little activity one would think stifling rules would relax a bit to foster a community. But no...
With so little activity one would think stifling rules would relax a bit to foster a community. But no…

I returned back to Johnson’s post for a closer look.

“any cursing means a one month suspension”

One. Month.

I was baffled.

“Using asterisk or other ways to get around them means a 2 week suspension”

Beyond baffling.

I thought back to the BOARD~! at F4W and the dreaded ToS Wars that had waged not too long ago, wherein members balked at the idea that transgendered genitalia would no longer be allowed.

It became clear right away that Johnson and Scherer were still in gulag-type mode with their message board. The tightly-fisted, iron hand of Order stood supreme to the point where they had likely stifled any legitimate, human conversation among its membership.

With Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit gaining so much traction in social interaction among wrestling fans, curating a thoughtful, fun and enthusiastic community is at a bigger premium than ever—and PWInsider, along with the Torch, appear to be failing miserably at this.

For all its faults, and there are some, the F4Wonline BOARD~! remains a robust, thriving community, with hundreds of members, of which dozens post daily on topics ranging from current wrestling news, podcast reactions and feedback, and live reaction threads to shows like Raw, NXT and PPV specials, to world news, pop culture, appraisals of nude women and, yes, even this very website.

The difference is so stark it is almost startling…

For years members of the BOARD~! have claimed that it was the main selling point of their membership to F4WOnline.com. Despite this, there have been several, even frequent, occasions in the past couple of years where the BOARD~!’s very existence had been threatened by Bryan Alvarez.

I reached out to Mr. Alvarez on this issue to get his take, and praise the community he had managed to cultivate even in the midst of such drama, chaos and turmoil.

He thanked me, and wrote, “Am well aware of the lack of community on other sites, which is why the Board continues to exist the way it does despite the issues that sometimes come up.”

I glanced back at my screen fleetingly, and scowled. Such a waste. Sadly, wistfully, I clicked out of the message board section of PWInsider Elite and looked elsewhere for something… anything… that would make me feel like this was a premium site.

Was it all just an ad-free bonus, or would there be that elusive premium content we all so desperately crave?

To be continued….

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The Author

Les Moore

Les Moore

Les Moore is a veteran ex-journalist, columnist and content marketing strategist. With more than 15 years spent subscribing to pay wrestling newsletters or websites, and at one time boasting a subscription to every reputable pay wrestling news service available, from Wrestling Observer, Pro Wrestling Torch, plus 1Wrestling.com and, later, PWInsider, Moore provides a unique perspective on how wrestling writers ply their trade.

4 Comments

  1. scole
    May 22, 2015 at 7:47 pm — Reply

    The whole chicks with dicks phase of the BOARD was… peculiar. Fantastic payoff, though, with Granny being asked on air via Facebook mailbag what her take on trannies was and Bryan going into meltdown and bringing the TOS in. I mean, it’s almost an unimaginable set of circumstances now I look back on it. But it happened, I witnessed it. Great times.

  2. Being Honest
    May 23, 2015 at 12:18 am — Reply

    Enjoying the Torch audio but their forum is really, really poor. TBF the BOARD is a much better message board. Easily.

  3. Peter
    May 23, 2015 at 3:09 pm — Reply

    Interesting article. It would be nice with a similar article listening the top 5 or 10 wrestling forums on the net. Not only on paysites. Hope you will consider this down the line.

  4. ifeellikeamark
    June 2, 2015 at 9:13 pm — Reply

    That was a fun read. I loved Les’s incredulity about the swearing.

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