Message boards are a great resource for writers—you do a story about kumquats you look for a hobby group. Need to know about the effects of a disease or medical treatment? People are inexplicably eager to share. Amazing what grass roots research, a simple search in cyberspace, can do for you.
But I also come across messages that I suspect are placed by political plants. If an individual touts a candidate brazenly, especially if the board isn’t on a political site, I’d say that makes the person’s messages suspect. I came across an example of this at mediabistro.com today. An individual has plastered Mitt Romney all over the board, and all this does is alienate conservatives and of course liberals get all excited and next thing you know you are wading through the political sewer, getting an education in how many creative ways a person can use the ‘F’ bomb or insult someone’s mother. There's no way a politician would encourage this type of posting, but his opponent might.
Do people get paid to write these messages, I wonder? Maybe. Some of the grammar and/or spelling gets too funny to be accidental—spellings like Gullani are par for the course.
Political wags haven’t overlooked Oprah. After Oprah endorsed Barack Obama, the community at oprah.com has been having a chew fest. The title of one discussion: OPRAH IS A TRAITOR! Several threads take the talk show host to task. What’s mind-bending is the attitude of many that Oprah shouldn’t endorse anybody because she’s a journalist. I believe Oprah would agree that journalism isn’t her calling. For those dull of mind, write this down: Oprah is in the entertainment industry. She expresses her preferences on everything from cooking to sex to pop culture literature. So why shouldn’t she tell you who she’s voting for if she feels like it? Sean Penn doesn’t hold anything back. No difference.
The good thing about message boards, at least from a writer’s standpoint, is they present a wide range of opinions and sometimes, a great deal of expert information. Contact information is often included with a post. It's even possible to find sources for interviews.
When it comes to the politics, however, message boards present something really close to what my hound dog deposits in our back yard every morning. (Kay B. Day, 1-21-08)