UPDATE — It looks like IMDb themselves agree with my overall assessment of the state of these boards and have decided to shut them down completely. While it’s a little sad to see them go, it’s probably for the best. The negativity was really just too much.
That said, it does create a bit of a void. I’m not sure what will pop up to replace these boards. IMDb notes that a lot of engagement now mostly takes place over social media; we’ve noticed the same trend with Halloween Love and other sites, so that’s definitely true. However, social media is not a complete replacement for traditional forums, especially for the structure and organization that they can offer for conversation.
I can’t put this off any longer; we need to have a discussion about the madness that is the IMDb boards.
IMDb itself, I love. I find it a very useful tool that I use each and every single day. But, the ratings and discussion boards (not at the fault of the IMDb admins themselves) leave something to be desired. I’ve always loved the saying “Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one and they all stink.” Although that quite succinctly sums it up, I think the issue requires a little more analysis.
No matter what movie, TV show, no matter how great and classic, no matter how well-received by the masses and critics alike… in fact, think of your favorite movie and visit its IMDb board now and you’ll without a doubt find it overwhelmingly littered with negativity. How does this happen? Why does this happen?
Let’s start with the 80-20 rule. Basically, what this means is that 80% of the complaints are coming from only 20% of those browsing the IMDb boards. It is very true that those who are yelling the loudest are often the ones heard most. In my experience, the psychology follows a fairly basic and easy to follow path. Those who are happy generally lack the enthusiasm of those that are not.
Generally speaking, if you’re happy, you’re onto the next thing because you already feel good, you have no cause. But, if you’re angry about something, you want an outlet, you want to rant and rave (as I’m doing here because my annoyance for this particular issue has peaked), you want people to agree with you, you want validation. Often times, this festering, combined with perhaps those that aren’t the sharpest tool in the shed, leads to quick attacks of vitriol and hyperbole in the form of basically shouting and throwing feces like an animal for anyone in range that will listen.
The internet has certainly provided a great way for people to vent, only most people that wish to vent do not have very good self-discipline in order to compose themselves and make a thoughtful and credible case for what it is they wish to say. The most common hyperbole you’ll see takes place over and over and over again in the IMDb forums and something you’ll find at least one of in every board, is the ever cliché and almost copied verbatim, statement of:
“Worst movie I have ever seen.”
Yes, until the next time you see a movie you dislike. This is fundamentally the same reason that ratings are unreliable. If someone doesn’t like a movie: 1 star. If they like a movie: 10 stars. It’s probably a very small percentage of people that put any real thought and care into the opinions they share publicly, let alone rating something privately with little thought or accountability. This is also the same reason that most people make awful witnesses when a crime is committed. They cannot remain objective and are usually overly confident in their own opinion.
I always like to check out the IMDb boards of a particular movie after just viewing it to see what other people thought, if they noticed the same things I did, trivia, crazy theories, for intellectual reviews, and other insights. While you can usually find something of worth or create a worthwhile thread yourself if you can’t, you’ll mostly be presented with a loud ball pit of screaming children spouting off:
“This movie sucks. You’re stupid if you like it.”
“This movie is great. Stop whining just because it went over your head.”
And similar back and forth inspiring images of humans devolving into apes and bashing each other over the head with sticks. I really must be a glutton for punishment though, because I’m always disappointed by what I find, yet I keep coming back for more. Also, I recently found out when one of my threads (one that actually had a lot of interesting and pleasant discussion) went missing, that IMDb has an auto-expiring feature for threads.
Sad to lose the in-depth write-up I created that I didn’t bother to save a copy of locally, but perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise, that eventually all the garbage will be deleted out. Yes, it’s just making way for new garbage, but at least it’s fresh garbage and we can hope that somehow, some day, the attitudes on IMDb will improve and we can have healthy, mature, intelligent conversation with like-minded people, even when we disagree.
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