Don’t be a Fisker!
The title of this post might sound like a Bill O’Reilly sound bite, but it’s not. As a long-time community guy I suppose I should have known what a “fisker” was before reading Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki. I didn’t. “Fisking” is responding to another individual’s email or forum post by quoting it extensively and responding to it line by line.
Guy didn’t invent this f-word, which I verified by checking (of course) Google.
Even if you couldn’t have defined “fisking” if Regis Philbin was offering you a briefcase full of cash, you have almost certainly run across the behavior in forum communities. While occasionally such extensive quoting is good-natured and advances the discussion with its specificity, most of the time it is nit-picking and argumentative.
Get Rid of Auto-Quote! One of the first things I do when I set up a new forum is disable the auto-quote feature. If someone is going to be a fisker, at least he’ll have to work for it by doing some copy and paste work. (In addition, killing the auto-quote function prevents huge amounts of redundant content when a poster mindlessly quotes six paragraphs of text and adds only, “Yeah, I agree completely.”)
Moderation. Any one post with lots of quotes in it isn’t necessarily a problem. Fiskers are usually consistent, though, and their pattern of dissecting the posts of others becomes apparent. Often, a quiet word from a moderator can correct the behavior. Most fiskers are oblivious to the fact that their behavior is annoying or worse. Some, of course, will prove to be incorrigible.
You are now armed with an new word. When someone dissects your forum post line by line, instead of coming back with an even more detailed line-by-line rebuttal, just post, “Fisker! Fisker!”