The last few weeks I've done some thinking which in and of itself is a dangerous thing, but my thinking was about the influence of internet forums and websites such as our beloved steeleraddicts.com. It would be easy to include things like talk radio and the 'worldwide leader' in this discussion, but I think those have been discussed at length in the past. At issue is the power these specific sites for specific fans have on their followers and while some of these things are negative, I have found some real positivity in them. Now, I know this will look like some serious ***-kissing, but I really don't care because it's how I feel so here goes...
When the evolution of team-based forums began, it seemed that most forums were used more for just bitching and complaining rather than actually discussing and dissecting their favorite team(s). The former forum over at the Trib's website was a prime example of this. Seemed almost anyone who offered an opinion or even a general thought was going to be slammed, bombarded and even personally attacked on that board. While there were several other sites popping up like crazy, it appeared to me that the Trib forum was the hub. It eventually died out and gave way to other sites which shall remain nameless due to my concern that they may sue me for libel or something. Following the demise of that forum, I looked around and joined some of these unnamed sites and found them to be hit or miss depending upon the topics and amount of people involved. And then I came here.
Steeleraddicts.com is more than just a forum and more than just a 'Steelers Website.' At the risk of sounding cheesy, it's a tight-knit community of people who share one specific passion of loving the Steelers. There is risk involved however, just because we are fans of the Steelers, doesn't mean we will have similar political ideologies, religions, ethnicities or even world views and that can create a lot of animosity which can then lead to some ugly comments. Make no mistake, SA is not completely void of certain individuals who will attack and accuse from time to time, but from what I can see, those comments are fewer and less venomous than at other sites. I honestly believe that just as a teacher can set the tone for a classroom, the owners and moderators of this site have set a positive, enthusiastic tone for everyone here. Many members may visit only during the season or maybe once or twice in the off-season, but I have found that a great deal of the membership is here everyday and keeps things moving and enjoyable. Some come to play in the arcade or share some cooking secrets while others come simply to continue talking football. The bottomline is that for me personally anyway, I have found the definitive Steelers' fan website and it has as more to do with the people involved than anything else. Well done SA!