Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Not So Funny Thing Happened To Me In a Forum

          A Rant.

I've been involved in various Internet fora for years, starting with the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree and going on to Mexconnect.com, then others, such as Any Port In a Storm.

Obviously, different fora have different purposes and personalities. Thorn Tree is huge, and different branches have distinct personalities.

Although it's not perfect, (I wouldn't expect that.) I am still a frequent visitor.

What I have realized in the last years or so is that as sources for reliable information, some fora are nearly worthless. It may sound ageist, but the older the general membership of the forum, the less accurate is the info and the higher the noise to sound ratio.

I started to see this on Mexconnect, where a lot of time and text is spent discussing Inmigracíon and Aduana topics. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, many of the replies are inaccurate, off target, outdated and incomplete. I question how anyone reading the responses can sort out the few grains of gold from the flow of dross.

It's one thing to ask for info on goods and services, but in the area of immigration matters and health, it's best to seek authoritative expertise.

Last week, a question arose on a local Michoacán Yahoo Group about how much it costs to renew an FM 3 visa. There were about 8 responses, one of which was wildly inaccurate while maybe one was close and one other was spot on. Who could tell which was right?

I suggested to the OP (Original Poster) that they go to the Migracíon office, ask in person, and get the official word. Or try to navigate the INM website for an answer. The whole fee chart is on that website.

Similarly, the Expat Forum-Mexico, which I joined about 2 months ago, has been very disappointing to me in that that there are regular posters who might have something useful to contribute but spend much time in rambling, off topic chit chat. I want to scream when I read these waylaid threads.*

In defense, I learned how to turn of the email notifications that came to my in-box when anyone added their nugget of trivia to an already totally wasted topic. Some members seem to be compelled to post a comment to nearly everything, whether or not their response is relevant to the OP.

Others don't seem to understand the difference between a forum and a blog, even when it's explained to them, and write long accounts of trivial events of their day, complete with personal minutiae which don't interest me in the least.

*There is one poster on the Expat Forum Mexico who totally sends me off the edge. Not only is he inclined to be extremely verbose, but rambling and somewhat incoherent. Yesterday he not only posted one of his streams of semi-consciousness blathers, but then wrote two responses to himself, commenting to himself!

A serious example of cluelessness.
The other day, in the Expat Mexico Forum, came a serious request from a woman with citizenship questions. She had decided to hire an attorney to help her make the transition to naturalized Mexican citizen. Fine. But, she had some doubts about being able to leave Mexico for a European trip while her citizenship application was in process.

So she asked the Forum. That set me off. I think it the height of folly to ask a group of inexpert amateurs questions of such a serious nature. I told her to ask at the Mexican Foreign Office (SRE) or perhaps her hired attorney could give better advice. It turned out that she was leaving in a few days on her trip, so that her question was essentially pointless and a waste of other posters' time!

I can only conclude that many expat questions are posed to the group in order to confirm the OP's preconceived "Reality Bubble".

This, just in! 
Another harmless but inherently unanswerable question appeared yesterday on our local Michoacán Yahoo Group. A couple was looking at renting a lovely house in Pátzcuaro. She asked the Group what typical utility costs, heating, etc were.

I attempted to give an answer that sketched out some of the variables involved, but in the end, the answer is, "It all depends.".

That's all I have to say about this now. I can only conclude that I am either socially maladapted, or too damned cranky to put up with the charla babosa (drooling chitchat) on some of those fora.

Below are a few fun questions from my vast collection.
Q:"Is the party still on the 16th?"
A: Your guess is as good as mine.

Q: "How do I get to Santa Juana Fulana to —name of famous artesanías shop— I don't have a car."
A: "Take a combi, a bus or a taxi. Details below."

Q: "Where can I send a fax in Pátzcuaro?"
A: " Walk down any street or two in Centro, until you see a sign that says FAX

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