I have done a lot of research and put a lot of work into producing this article. Everything in it is purely my opinion and should not be taken as fact. Also that opinion will change over time, so this is just a snapshot. Do your own research and find what suits you, your opinion may well differ. Forums have the potential to be a useful way of trading information, they are also excellent for trading shaving kit, in fact this latter are what they are mostly suited for. However often they are, largely, nasty places and here’s why:
- People are mostly anonymous and often behave in genuinely nasty ways that they would never do if their name was attached. There is some truly sociopathic behaviour out there that people should be ashamed of. If they walked into a bar or pub and behaved like this they would be in trouble very quickly.
- The forum moderators can have serious power complexes. Rather than encouraging a community to work they are often over officious bullies who wield their power badly. Banning people who they disagree with is often the norm.
- Inevitably cliques form and then go to war on non members of their little fraternity. They really do behave like troupes of monkeys. To make things worse the moderators are often clique members.
- Forums have a very poor signal to noise ratio. You often have to read a lot of rubbish to get anything of value.
- Huge discrepancy in knowledge levels. Nearly every week, for instance, some newbie starts a thread about the numbers 1-4 on a double edged razor blade without first searching the archive. This sort of inane behaviour can really clutter a place up.
The history of these forums is just like the history of Christianity, schism is rife. People get banned or get fed up with the forum they are on and so set up one of their own. There is a lot of history and bad feeling here. But it does mean that there are quite a few forums and that they have different characteristics. I will divide them into two kinds, those that I think are badly flawed and that should in my opinion be avoided and those that are good and worth spending some time on.
Firstly the ones I think that you should avoid:
- Badger & Blade. Probably busier than all the other forums put together. Very aggressively moderated, a lot of the key people in the industry are banned which devalues the content. I don’t like the way they take money off some vendors and ban others, it amazes me that they can accuse others of shilling (usually falsely in my opinion) when they do this. And I don’t like the way that some of the most important things in traditional shaving are censored out, iKon razors for instance. And I personally wouldn’t believe anything that a moderator there says.
- Shave my Face. Just like B&B but 95% quieter. There is no reason to visit here.
- The Shaving Room. The nastiest of the forums. Lots of off topic banter within the clique. Moderators allow appalling, shameful behaviour. If you are a genuinely objectionable person join here.
Now the good ones:
- Damn Fine Shave. Liberal, minimal and intelligent moderation makes this a real community and a nice place. One slight downside is that threads can ramble off topic a bit at times, but that is the price for the ethos here. It could do with more activity and I am sure that this will come.
- The Shave Den. Perhaps the most authoritative forum of them all, there are huge amounts of great information here.
- Straight Razor Place. Whilst they have double edged razor discussion this is primarily targeted at an eponymous niche. However it is very well informed and well worth a visit. If you use a cut throat then obviously this place is perfect.
If you want knowledge then the shaving blogs are probably far better than the forums and I have listed some of these in a separate article. They have a far, far better signal to noise ratio and don’t suffer from bad behaviour. If you are using blogs and forums then please use the search function within them to find what you are looking for, there are many thousands of articles and hundreds of thousands of posts out there which contain just about the total sum of knowledge of traditional shaving.
Once again this is all in my humble opinion and your opinion may well differ, this is a fundamental aspect of the human condition.