News hound, Jeremy Laird, on the pros and cons of fre­quent fo­rum use and abuse, brush­ing up on ad­vanced driv­ing tech­nique and the chal­lenge posed by Tesla to the­mis­sion E’s range and per­for­mance am­bi­tions

911 Porsche World - - Contents -

Jeremy Laird has his say


The idea of a pub­lic fo­rum dates back to at least Ro­man times. Per­haps it isn't sur­pris­ing, there­fore, to find the dis­course on mod­ern web fora can be, to put it po­litely, glad­i­a­to­rial. Bring a col­lec­tion of what you might think are sim­i­larly minded peo­ple to­gether on­line, let's say Porsche en­thu­si­asts, and a clash of per­son­al­i­ties will en­sue. That's a given on any web fo­rum.

Maybe that's why 911&PW'S very own head hon­cho says web fo­rums leave him 'stone cold dead'. What, ex­actly, is in it for fo­rum users? As it hap­pens, I'm in a pretty good po­si­tion to an­swer that ques­tion. Let's just say I'm a pro­lific poster on a cer­tain web fo­rum. Oh, al­right, it's Pis­ton­heads. I've been a mem­ber on PH for over 10 years and have notched up tens of thou­sands of posts in that time. I dab­ble lightly else­where. But if you want to find – or more likely, avoid! – the vast ma­jor­ity of my on­line fo­rum posts, PH is the place.

So why do I do it? Now that's a ques­tion. As with al­most any­thing in life, there are pros and cons. Like many forms of so­cial me­dia, fo­rums are im­me­di­ate, en­gag­ing and vi­brant. They're of­ten the best place to find out about stuff and to do so quickly. Ask a ques­tion. Get an an­swer. Pro­vided you know the etiquette, that is. Get it wrong and the ret­ri­bu­tion can be swift. But let's stick with the pos­i­tives for a lit­tle longer!

Web fo­rums put you in direct con­tact with a huge wealth of knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence. What­ever prob­lem you're hav­ing with your Porsche, some­body else has prob­a­bly had it be­fore. Web fora are par­tic­u­larly good at turn­ing what initially seems like a ma­jor catastrophe into a sim­ple so­lu­tion. Very handy if, like me, you're prone to suf­fer­ing from Porsche para­noia.

Sim­i­larly, web fora are su­per for keep­ing up to date with the lat­est news. Won­der­ing whether the next Cayman GT4 will have a flat six or a flat four? Your best bet for some­thing ap­proach­ing an an­swer is on a fo­rum. The same goes if you're won­der­ing whether you've got a shot at an al­lo­ca­tion for the lat­est Porsche spe­cial and aren't al­ready among the well-con­nected Porsche Cen­tre cognoscenti. Head on­line to find out.

Then there's the sim­ple craic of con­nect­ing. Where else but a web fo­rum can you find peo­ple to shoot the breeze about sub­jects as se­ri­ously es­o­teric as, say, brake feel on 981 ver­sus 987 Cay­mans or whether the 3.0-litre en­gine in an SC re­ally is sweeter than the 3.2 Car­rera's lump? For me, per­son­ally, par­tic­i­pat­ing on PH has also cre­ated op­por­tu­ni­ties for a wealth of re­al­world ex­pe­ri­ences. I've been lucky enough to be of­fered drives in a num­ber of fan­tas­tic Porsches by gen­er­ous own­ers purely as a con­se­quence of post­ing on PH.

For sure, ex­pe­ri­ence helps when it comes to get­ting the most out of a fo­rum. Old hands will of­ten give new­bies short shrift. When some­body pops along and asks the same ques­tion as the 607 pre­vi­ous new­bies, the en­su­ing smack down can be bru­tal. Just don't take it per­son­ally, be­cause it isn't.

There are, of course, real prob­lems. Most of them in­volve the same is­sues that af­flict all so­cial me­dia. So­cial norms that gov­ern face-to-face in­ter­ac­tion don't ap­ply. It's much eas­ier to be blunt, or worse, on­line than in the real world. Like­wise, the finer nu­ances of ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion are of­ten lost. The very same words spo­ken in a friendly tone of voice can seem un­for­giv­ing in raw text.

Per­haps the most in­tractable is­sue is the flip side of what makes on­line fora so use­ful in the first place, namely the sheer num­ber of users. It mas­sively mul­ti­plies the odds of caus­ing of­fence. On­line, al­most any neg­a­tive com­ment is at risk of be­ing read by some­body with an emo­tional at­tach­ment. De­clare that you don't think much of the 996's head­lights and, rest as­sured, you'll put some­body's nose out of joint.

Of course, for the so­cially and po­lit­i­cally as­tute there are ways of go­ing about it all that min­imise of­fence. Be­ing patho­log­i­cally opin­ion­ated like yours truly doesn't al­ways win friends, that's for sure. In short, the sheer numbers in­volved en­sure that chalk and cheese will in­evitably meet and it won't al­ways go well. In the end, then, you take the rough with the smooth and you get out pretty much what you put in.

Seek and you will find. Our man Laird has posted tens of thou­sands of times on Porsche fo­rums. If you’re a ‘user’ too, then you will un­doubt­edly have come across him, but we’re not go­ing to give his user­name away here...

JEREMYLAIRD 911&PW’S news hound and­porschep­hile

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