LICHESS FORUMS: AnswerMan vs Your Neighborhood Saloon

"Sometimes you want to go...where everybody knows your username!" :D

Once upon a time I counted myself a member of the YahooAnswers community. I even made it to the Seventh Level (the equivalent of a black belt or something!).

Of course, that site no longer exists. The same as with AllExperts...where I was at one time the resident chess guru (and ponderer of such recurrent posers as: "Can a king eat another king?").

My feeling has always been that Y!A perished because it was not really in touch with what its constituents truly wanted. It was not some sort of Oracle From On High...but (in effect) a great big glorified Chat Room. Only with things being much more interesting and involving than that (at least, back in the early days) because, since it didn't take place in real time, there weren't all those er's and uh's to contend with. It became, as Hitchcock was wont to say about his films: "Life with the boring bits cut out."

Now, anybody who seriously depended on YahooAnswers to solve life's many perplexing questions for them should've considered selling their head for scrap. And--as I soon discovered from working for AllExperts--there didn't seem to be a whole lot of truly perplexing questions being asked out there either. Certainly nothing that the inquirer couldn't have solved just by typing their question into Google (and without having to sign up for an account!).

Yep, in this era--when the answer is often just a searchbar away--there doesn't seem to be much reason to take an Oracle approach to these matters. After all, in chess the question most often asked boils down to: "How do I improve?" Where the answer is generally as terse as it is likely to be disappointing: "By playing and studying and playing some more--and not by asking somebody else to give you a magic formula or do it all for you."

The forums on presented a different sort of problem. For during the time I was there, it became clear that those who ran the site really didn't much care for the whole bloody business, and so the people who used it got precious little (if any) respect. Thus the frequent kneejerk bans and all those auto-censors; it was as though Mr Vernon (of The Breakfast Club) had been given charge of a roomful of rowdy kindergarteners.

But what Y!A was at its best (and that went for as well) was fun. A lot of fun. And that had nothing to do with offering up Authoritative Solutions to questions or anything of the sort. It was all about having a good time. Just like some evening spent at the proverbial corner saloon. Where there is no such thing as going "off topic." For how can you go off-topic at a bar? And what sort of dork would bring something like that up anyway? (definitely a teacher's pet!).

I must say that I've really had quite an abundant amount of fun on online forums through the years. In fact, among the most entertaining and enjoyable times of my life. And that in spite of those many edifying souls who have proclaimed that to do so is ample indication that one should "get a life" (though apparently it wouldn't be a particularly creative life, to judge from their example). Or the dire pronouncements of those peculiar folk who periodically come on line (and onto forums) to tell us all what a dreadful waste of time being online (and on forums) is.

Indeed, there have actually been a number of moments that I would not hesitate to call Algonquian...and of course all of us have the added advantage of being able to post pictures! (not to mention being able to take care of our laundry and so forth while we're in the midst of our activities). And during those rare moments that the resident Dorothy Parker or Franklin P Adams happens to be a bit under the weather and somewhat less than coruscating, one can always go off and do something else, then log back on when they will hopefully be in better spirits (or perhaps have ingested a few more).

Naturally all of this applies to the forums here as well. And hopefully they will long remain the sort of place where one can have a few laughs and talk to some old (and new) friends...and spend a few more enjoyable hours (and without having a morning hangover to contend with!).

[Oh yes, and a footnote for you British folk: I'm talking about a bar here, not some car.] :)