Are Your Ears Burning?

There’s no getting around it, women love to gossip. And the juicier the gossip the better, right? But what if you are the subject of the juicy rumor that’s going around? And what if that juicy tidbit just got broadcast to an audience of 1,000+, and others are jumping on board to add details? Hmmm…

So there’s this barrel racing association here in the Northwest. It’s a great association. They have some of the biggest and best races, the ground is typically stellar, and they have garnered a respected reputation for putting on quality races. They even have a fantastic website that offers a wealth of information about sanctioned races, race results, and a Free Classified section that thousands of people a year take advantage of to buy and sell horses, trailers, saddles, etc… It’s a good place to advertise your company as there is a good amount of traffic to the site, in fact, I’ve spent thousands of dollars over the years doing just that. In addition to these services, they have a Discussion Board where you can go to find out what people are talking about. It’s a handy place to find a place to stay on the way to Vegas, get recommendations on someone to start your colt, perhaps you want suggestions on a good bit to get more lift, or maybe to find out they added Time Only’s before the jackpot Saturday. This Discussion Board gets a lot of traffic, much more so than your average Barrel Club board, I would wager that there are probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000-2,000 visitors on an average day. I think it’s a great service provided by this Association and I have used it to garner a ton of information over the years.

But the fundamental problem with this Discussion Board is that it’s completely anonymous. Unlike other Chat Boards, such as the Barrel Talk forum on BarrelHorseWorld.com, where it’s necessary to create a User Name and Log In each time you want to post anything, thereby allowing others to identify the source of the information or opinion when posted, this particular Board allows it’s posters to be completely incognito.

So wrap your head around this for a moment. You’ve got an audience of thousands, the majority of which are women, and a format in which they can post anything they want without any accountability or fear of being recognized. Can you imagine the potential of this situation? I mean, it’s no mystery that it’s easier to talk BEHIND someone’s back, instead of confronting them to their face. And if you are one of those particularly smarmy people, bent on smearing someone else’s reputation, or divulging clandestine information, this is the perfect platform to get this out to thousands of people at once. We’re not talking about a couple of people chatting in the stands at a barrel race, we’re talking about real exposure here.

I’ve seen it done. I’m friends with people who have had some of their most private, personal information broadcast on this board for all to see.

Apparently the Board is “monitored” with rules that discourage people from making personal attacks on individuals, but lets be honest, it still happens. There are cowards out there who cannot help but take advantage of this opportunity.

And what is so disappointing to me is that despite numerous requests to the Association to change the format of their Discussion Board, requiring people to create an account to Log In to in order to be recognized, they have refused. And since I have seen the destruction this Discussion Board has caused first hand, and they are knowingly allowing this to continue, it’s not a situation that I can be a part of in good conscience. I’ve been divided about this for some time, as I do genuinely like the majority of the people running this association, and I have hope that some day they will step up and change this destructive format they have created. But until that day comes, my sponsorship money will not be going their direction, as it’s not something that I am willing to help perpetuate. Directly or indirectly.

Not to mention that I cannot help but wonder about the motivation behind not changing the format. I mean, what harm would come from adding some accountability? Or is there some advantage to having a forum which provides a platform for the spread of gossip… perhaps that’s what keeps them coming back… at the expense of who?

Anyhow, something to think about…

Until next time ~ Jess

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