Forums and jolly good fellows:

Posted: November 15, 2007 in Blogging, blogroll, Blogs I'm reading!, Community, Consumer Issues, Life, Other Sites, Other sites of Interest

Check out these sites mentioned in this post:



I have been accused, in the past, of having anger management issues. I never thought I did, but I will admit that it used to be pretty easy to piss me off. I was never a violent person, but in retrospect, I can see where my short fuse could have done serious damage to my health. Even though I am much older now, with all of the experience, patience, and whatnot that comes with age, I find that I am much more level-headed and calm than the years would suggest I would be. I think the biggest reason is that I now have outlets that just weren’t available to me back then. I go to the gym regularly to burn off some of the stress and frustration. I work on F4Y whenever possible, and the feeling of helping people allows me to step outside of whatever issues might be there. The biggest help I have received is in being able to talk to people about issues that might be too big for me to deal with alone.

There are many subjects where I am not only not an expert on, but have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about with. Sometimes, unfortunately, these issues intersect my life, so I have no choice but to deal with them as they arise. When this happens, I usually ask a friend to help, or even look for some sort of forum online where I can get the help I need. Sometimes, it might be about a subject where I really am knowledgeable, but I could use another perspective. I can’t tell you how much these forums have done to help me when I need it.

The best part about these forums is that you can get help from a variety of directions from some of the better forums. I’m a big fan of believing that its better to get answers from as many sources as feasible before making any decision about something difficult or important. Also, it’s good that you can be anonymous on these forums, especially if you are dealing with a sensitive or potentially embarrassing situation. Are there downsides to this? Of course, but nothing is perfect. There are trolls out there who have an internet connection that is firing faster than their tiny little brain can handle, who want to be insulting or distracting, but most moderators handle this pretty effectively.

Recently, I’ve been exposed to a couple of these forums that belong to a financial network. The network, OUR COMMUNITY NETWORK, is a good place to get answers to some specific problems that people might be experiencing. They have links to different “portals” for debt, mortgage, credit, and insurance. The moderators seem to be professionals in their respective fields.

Moderators from the debt and mortgage portals have contacted me and asked me to take a look at their sites. I’m going to go through the commonalities of both first, and then look at the individual sites in a little more detail.

Both of these portals express that their goal and mission is to help their community members in each of the specific fields. In looking through both portals, I can say that the moderators seem to practice this throughout the forums. I like that, because I don’t think there is any more room for frauds or hucksters out there. Finance can have such deep and long-lasting consequences for those who are unknowledgeable. Both of these portals run rich, easy to use forums with ample moderator presence. On the negative, and it really is just a pet peeve of mine, I despise poor grammar or spelling. When I do it I flog myself thoroughly—when I see someone else do it, especially on a professionally run forum or web space, I usually move on to the next site on my path. I know that some of this is due to the poster, some of it is due to someone trying to quickly communicate something (possibly while at work or school, during a stolen moment or two), but some of it is just plain lazy. That being said, overall, I’d say the network portals are both very well run.

Specifically, the DEBT CONSOLIDATION PORTAL is one that I believe would be of particular interest to the F4Y audience. I think that there are times when it really helps to see that others are going though something similar to what you are going through. I’ve seen it posted on several other blogs that readers like to read the stories of people who came back from the edge, who pulled themselves out of debt, and how they did it. I don’t have that story. Whether it’s luck, good planning, or something else entirely, I’ve never been in overwhelming debt, and I never pulled myself out of it. My focus here is to help young people avoid getting into that problem, but for those who enjoy hearing personal anecdotes about how to get out once you are in—I really like what is said here. From what I did read, I don’t exactly agree with everything on the forums, but there again, is the beauty. I don’t have to agree with a divergent point of view to make it any more valid. Sometimes, I get it wrong: I’m secure enough with my knowledge to admit that, so the information here is very good.

The community from the Debt portal also took the time to write a review for F4Y: The Blog, and while this review did not influence my review of their site, I do appreciate it, and welcome the opportunity to shamelessly plug what was said there. Check it out, and contribute to the conversation. Vote and make a comment about F4Y HERE.

The community at the MORTGAGE PORTAL has also approached me to look at that site. While I think mortgages should be out of reach for most of my audience, I’m glad this portal is out there. Again, I really like professional guidance. My concern is that the professionals who moderate the forums might have other agendas than just helping out. I have ABSOLUTELY NO PROOF of this, but just as I have a problem with “experts” in finance (bank employees) who go to schools to talk about personal finance as a pretext to selling the institution that pays their check, I am leery of the same thing here. I’m sure I would have a similar problem with an investment portal if they had one. Again, I’ve seen nothing to indicate this is a problem; in fact, I have seen no overt sales pitches going on, which is as it should be. They get multiple kudos here.

As I said earlier, sometimes it helps just to see that you aren’t alone in a situation. Whether its finance, family, school, or just life, there are resources out there if you want to find them. If you can’t talk to someone in person, at least find a forum that you can get on and start reading. You may even have an answer to someone else’s question to help them out with whatever they are going through.


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