Message boards abound on the Internet and it's no suprise that, for the bride-to-be looking for answers to her biggest question, there are a number of sites that offer women a place to share advice. One such site, The Knot might just be the largest of its kind in the world. Despite its large size, however, a recent search of the site yielded few posts by men.
Part of the reason for this might be that The Knot seems too big for the uninitiated. Perhaps the question is not whether people have that many questions about weddings, but rather whether their questions are that much different from any of the hundreds or thousands that have been posted before. It's hard to tell. On The Knot, posts whiz by at such a rapid clip that something you read in the morning could easily be buried beneath thousands of newer questions by lunch.
The Knot is a veritable alphabet soup of acronyms, practically warranting a Wedding-To-English dictionary before any attempt to read the site. Apparently, Knotties - as regular users call themselves - in the middle of wedding planning are so busy that they need to abbreviate everything. Instead of typing "Is your future husband sending save-the-dates to your out of town guests," try "Is your FH sending STDs to your OOT guests" instead. With enough abbreviations, you'll have more time to devote to charity and learning that instrument you've been meaning to pick up since grade school.
There is even a whole category of posts on The Knot that are "NWR": Not Wedding Related. A random sampling of today's NWR topics found people who just had to ask, "How much is gas where you live," and "What color shutters go well with light brown bricks?" Talk about sorting the wheat from the chaff. Where is someone supposed to go if they just want a quick and easy answer to real questions about getting married?
My visit to The Knot reminded me of a passage in the 2001 book Emergence, by Steven Johnson. In an incredible book on emerging intelligence, online hierarchies and virtual communities, Johnson writes this about the types of people who tend to have a disproportionate influence over online conversations.
If the cranks and obsessive-compulsives flourish in a small-scale online community of several thousand members, imagine the anarchy and noise generated by a million community members. Surely there is a "climax stage" on that scale where the online growth turns cancerous, where the knowable community becomes a nightmare of overdevelopment.
I doubt Johnson spent much time on The Knot, but it was hard to read that paragraph and not think about the chaotic discussions one finds on most wedding-related message boards. It's not surprising that posts by men were few and far between. What man in his right mind would willingly enter such chaos? You could risk losing an eye or a finger just by trying to keep up with it all.
Thankfully, there is at least one site I've found that injects some sanity into asking questions about weddings. The message boards at IndieBride are neatly organized and feature one of the only grooms-specific message boards I've found. Don't let the "IndieBride" name scare you as there are plenty of "IndieGrooms" who post questions and comments. The atmosphere is polite, respectful and calm and a far cry from the cacophony of The Knot. While sites for grooms, especially ones for the progressive-minded male, are still few and far between, you won't be disappointed if you take your questions to IndieBride.
Post any questions you might have below. I'll answer them in future posts.
Read more about The Knot in Jamie Levy's excellent article in the Charlotte Observer.Posted by The Groom at March 8, 2004 11:13 AM