March 08, 2004

Too Many Questions

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
Comments

I have long lurked on the Knot, much to my fiancee's amusement. I find it a great source of info. I usually post questions (and answers) in a gender-neutral way so I don't alert the gals to my Y-chromsome status. I stick to a local board (Washington DC) which tends to reduce the mass of messages one must scan.

Posted by: john at March 8, 2004 12:45 PM

I am a curretb Knottie and the information that other brides to be give is very helpful especially when you have worn your bridesmaids and maid of honor out on questions and complaints. A man could never understand how complicated and overwhelming weddings can be especially on the bride to be....

Posted by: Susan at March 8, 2004 05:53 PM

It's because I know how complicated and overwhelming weddings can be that I am an active part of our wedding plans. My fiancee has different stress, but I wouldn't say she has more stress than I do. I go to IndieBride (and PlanetGordon, btw) because I don't like the attitude of people on other sites who think that "a man could never understand" the feelings of a bride. That's a little insulting.

Posted by: Steve at March 8, 2004 11:20 PM

Rock on planetgordon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Paul at March 9, 2004 08:35 AM

No doubt! I'm a Knottie mostly because I need a group of anonnymous individuals to take out my wedding stress on ; ) - and no, I am not nor have ever been a troll. But the whole "it's her day" attitude so prominantly touted by girls who are upset because daddy is paying for the whole thing and has the audacity to request that he have a say in who is invited really reminds me that there are no intellegence or maturity prerequisites to marriage.....

I'll have to check out IndieBride - you know, for my less hostile desires for discussion.

Posted by: Malinda (trevor.net's bride) at March 9, 2004 10:45 AM

i must admit that i'm torn by my own addiction to theknot.com's message boards and my usual (internal) reaction to the many, many inane posts: i.e., "get over yourselves ladies--who cares if he wears white shirt next to your ivory gown?!?!" thumbs up for bravely discussing this very dangerous wedding planning tool.

Posted by: angela at March 9, 2004 11:14 AM

read your site everyday. my wedding is in june and its very helpful. keep up the good work

Posted by: alex at March 9, 2004 04:12 PM

I'm a Knottie - my addiction to the message boards is actually alarming. Mainly I just lurk to silently mock the ridiculous questions asked by people that probably shouldn't be getting married. I mean, if you're asking a group of anonymous people on a public message board if your (and I swear this is not made up) off-white wedding gown will look "dirty" against the white tablecloths - should you really be getting married? I think you might actually lack the necessary brain cells to sign the marriage license.

I am also a fan of Indiebride and PlanetGordon - have to be balanced!

Posted by: Alison at March 10, 2004 10:23 AM

The Knot stinks.

Posted by: Wendy at March 11, 2004 12:06 PM

I too have a horrible knot addiction. Well, it's more like I am drawn to the train wreck every morning when I get to work. I must know the stupid things that were said and asked overnight.

The silly one's who get married and move on don't bug me nearly as much as the one's who get married and never leave.

Posted by: Gloria at March 11, 2004 05:28 PM

In all fairness to The Knot, I was alerted to this exchange on their "relationships" message board that led to the resolution of a domestic violence situation. I certainly don't mean to impugn the entire Knot community as sometimes it can come together for the greater good.

Read about it at:

http://www.theknot.com/co_mbmaink2kpost.htm?folder=C2001002&Object=1079232225234187
and
http://www.theknot.com/co_mbmaink2kpost.htm?folder=C2001002&Object=1079239731057797

Thanks to Sarah for alerting me to this.

Posted by: The Groom at March 15, 2004 11:56 AM

Yes, I too am a guilty Knottie. I can't quite understand my continuing obsession with the place, (besides entertainment value) as I found the information I was looking for fairly quickly and really have no reason to continue to browse. It may be a psychological crutch- before the engagement, I never considered myself a wedding-obsessed woman, but post-engagement, I sometimes feel the Bridezilla emerge. I think I use theknot to remind me that I'm not as wedding crazed as many women out there....

Posted by: Kourtney at March 31, 2004 10:50 AM