WACCOE: What to do When a Good Leeds United Forum Goes Bad? – by Rob Atkinson


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WACCOE – used to be good

For Leeds United fans of an enquiring bent, anxious to keep up to date with what’s being discussed about our great club, keen to be in the know as regards the latest rumour, scandal or joke – the internet forum is frequently the resource of choice.  Football fans of the last couple of generations are lucky like this.   It’s not always been so easy to communicate your point of view, or to take counsel of others.  Every football fan everywhere is more or less in touch with every other football fan these days; nobody who wants to be informed has to remain in the dark.  It’s all out there for the finding, and some pretty knockabout “banter” into the bargain.

Naturally, this plethora of information and opinion has its downside.  It’s quite easy for any football forum, fansite, call it what you will, to become dominated by “banter” to the detriment of information or serious discussion.  If you think about it, there’s a place for banter as there is a place for pepper on the dinner-table.  It’s a useful and piquant seasoning to the main course – but you wouldn’t want to just take the cover off the pepperpot and swallow the whole lot on its own.  It would be unpleasant and unseemly.

In some corners of the internet, some sites are falling prey to just this syndrome, and any attempts at moderation are proving inadequate to stem the prevalence of pepper over good wholesome fare.  The banter is taking over and – more and more – you find yourself having to dig deep for anything of any content or value.  Even items – “threads” – that start off by highlighting some real issue, or by asking some highly pertinent question – even these are swiftly pounced upon by a clutch of self-appointed wits, scrambling over each other to post some fantastically funny reply, busting guts to out-do everybody else in showing just how awfully pithy they can be.

The WACCOE forum is a tragic example of just this sort of problem.  Time was – and not so long ago at that – WACCOE was virtually indispensable as Leeds United fans tried to keep themselves up-to-date with the unfolding saga of the takeover.  A legendary thread called TOMA (Takeover, My Arse) extended to an incredible length over months and months, documenting each twist and turn of the epic battle for Leeds United.  Initially anonymous buyers were struggling to wrest control from the evil grasp of Uncle Ken, and TOMA readers followed the story for what turned out to be significant portions of their lives.

There was some banter, sure – but it served just to season the staple diet of information and debate.  Refresh buttons were worn out, sleep was dispensed with, coffee was imbibed by the vat full, jobs were lost, as fanatics out here in fan-land gave themselves body and soul to the outcome of this elemental battle.  Where would we have been without WACCOE and TOMA?  The mainstream press had nothing, the club was tight-lipped.  We relied on those allegedly in the know – the ITK-ers – and we rode a seemingly endless roller-coaster, elevated by the highs and cast down, crushed by the lows, time and time again.  It was a hell of a trip.

Before that – a few years back, we had a comparable event with the whole Minus 15 thing. WACCOE was seen at its best then, too – people with some knowledge and expertise in the complex issues behind the Leeds United administration and the subsequent actions of the Football League and rival clubs, were able to shed some much-needed light.  Again, our interest was captured, for weeks, months on end.

Despite the gravity and possibly disastrous consequences of those issues, they were great days for any forum, and particularly auspicious for WACCOE as it facilitated some quality work by the people who troubled to find out what was going on and to communicate this to the rest of us.  But oh dear me, what has happened since?

WACCOE now is merely somewhere to go if you have some masochistic need to grind your teeth to powder, or to have your blood pressure raised to unhealthy levels.  It’s a showcase for the yappy student type which used to infest – and for all I know still does infest – the BBC 606 site and its various spin-offs.  You get elderly idiots reminding themselves, each other and the poor bloody rest of us how tough they used to be and how hard they still are.  You get young, attention-starved look-at-me types, striving desperately to jump on some admired bandwagon in the hope of getting a “lol” or a “like” from some nobody who doesn’t deserve their tragic hero-worship.  The standard of repartee – never all that high – is plummeting downhill like a greased pig.  Egos abound, nobody feels able to let anything go without adding their own two penn’orth, and threads worth maybe two or three comments stretch out to page after agonising page.   It’s dreadful to behold and an awful indictment of the mindset we – the collective of online Leeds fans – seem to have sunk into now there is no more Minus 15, no more TOMA.

Maybe it will take another major issue to restore WACCOE to its former glory (a strictly relative term).  Maybe – because you just never know with Leeds – such a major issue is just around the corner.  It could be.  It usually is.  I have some hopes for the forthcoming January transfer window, which should be good for some debate, some sort of relevant, on-message chat.  I’ll have my fingers crossed and – if I’ve not been booted off the site by then, I’ll be ready to have my say, for what it’s worth.  But I have this horrible suspicion that, for far too many contributors, WACCOE is now some sort of cabaret arena for them to show off their own little party piece, or maybe try desperately to gain the approval of some other nonentity who has somehow managed to attract a following.  Then, it’s like watching some lurid re-enactment of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, as the yappy classes yap loud and long enough to be noticed, and the few dissenters find themselves savaged, Geoffrey Howe-like, by dead sheep.

It’s a pity, it’s even a bit of a loss.  But there are other forums out there and some excellent fans sites – these tend to be rather better moderated than the once half-decent WACCOE.  So, what DO you do?  Well, if you don’t want to grit your teeth down to gum level, if you don’t want to feel your head creaking as hypertension threatens to blow the top of your skull off – why, simply browse elsewhere, for the sweet voice of reason still speaks in certain quarters. Leave WACCOE to stew in its own self-adoring juices, let the yappers yap to each other, let the various bandwagons trundle on into an uninspiring sunset.  Give it a break, and maybe go back when lack of attention has starved the attention-seekers as the shortage of oxygen will extinguish any flame.

Whatever they might seem to think, it’s not all about WACCOE and its covey of self-regarding wits.  It’s still about Leeds United and those who want to talk about football – yes, and have a laugh, but not be too juvenile about it.  That’s how WACCOE used to be. I do hope it gets better one day.

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34 responses to “WACCOE: What to do When a Good Leeds United Forum Goes Bad? – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Nicky Clark

    ‘Yappy student types’? That’s almost as sweeping a generalisation as ‘Tory-leaning financial sector suits exercising their compensatory “masculinity” in their eternal quest to discover who of their number possess multiple accounts and the earth-shatteringly important identity of “Cowling”‘…

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  2. Well it will not get better, it has never been good, the management and webmaster were always ratbags who would not take criticism of even the mildest type, so anybody with more than a single brain cell was banned.
    Good riddance to really bad rubbish.

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  3. White not red

    Having a laugh is not breaking the rules and so can not be moderated out, there are too many readers who may have great opinions but just sit and read. This is the frustrating thing about waccoe, the people who throw there two penneth in behind an LUFC topic the better, yes it does degenerate when certain numb-nuts tell a fellow member to F off or call them a C*** and then in descends into one long argument and goes off topic thus spoiling it for the rest of us.

    I find the mods pretty helpful and lenient, I think if I was a moderator I would be closing lame tangentified posts left right and centre.

    Those that are perennial cretins should be dealt with and thrown off the board to leave the puritans to post sensible scribes about the club we love.

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  4. Simon Johnson

    Wow!

    Talk about taking stuff too seriously!

    Like it or not it represents Leeds fans more than any other message board or collective supporters’ group. If you don’t like what you see then perhaps you just don’t like Leeds fans.

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    • I think you’re taking yourself too seriously, Simon.

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      • Simon Johnson

        How anyone who managed to string out a few hundred words on what is just an internet forum can say someone else is taking themselves seriously is beyond me.

        It’s like doing a blog piece analysing rainfall rates and then calling someone who talks about snow fall rates as anal. A tad hypocritical.

        It’s your blog, but if you don’t want people to read and comment on it why have it at all?

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      • But I do want comments, and I get them. But the Button is there for a reason and it helps me maintain the standards that I want to have in place.

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  5. Totally agree.
    still some decent posters on there but the majority are complete cretins.
    panda chops, integral, n/monkey, se_lufc are the main tossers who spring to mind.
    all supposed Leeds fans, who never go, but seems to know everything about the club!
    I think not.

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  6. just to say the above post is not me
    pag

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  7. Why didn’t you post my comment Robbie?

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  8. Jester Hat Wearing Non Fanatic

    What’s great about WACCOE is that it’s not a Leeds United forum per se, but a general discussion forum for Leeds United fans. There are loads of topics on there that have nothing to do with LUFC, and I think that’s great, that it’s a place where you can engage in discussions about anything. You get a good range of people on there, from the normal types who partake in serious discussion, to the characters who always manage to wind one or two people up. I agree that there are one or two idiots on there, but it’s a hugely populated forum, with thousands of visitors per day, so the law of averages states that there’s gonna be a couple of nuisances.

    I’ve also found that WACCOE is fairly moderated. The mods tend to have a hands-off approach, unless something very offensive is posted in which case they step in. I think that’s a good attitude really and gives the users the freedom to have great discussions.

    Fair enough, the place might not be for everyone, and there are a few LUFC forums that are a bit more laid back and have less “characters”, but to each their own. I personally think it’s a brilliant place.

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  9. Waccoe’s okay it doesn’t have the closed shop feel that you get with a lot of forums, the biggest problem is the site itself, its seemingly not optimisec for any device, there’s no SEO or sub headers, it needs to be managed by someone who has a basic grasp of forum management and can resolve these issues. Poley in my opinion is out of his depth or doesn’t have the time

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  10. Interesting stuff and some valid points, I find WACCOE a forum I occasionally go on to read posts, its not a place I would want to post.
    To add some balance, are you going to review any other LUFC forums in similar detail? I think it would make interesting reading to hear about the other popular LUFC forums.

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    • It’s an interesting idea – I was moved to write the WACCOE piece by one particular thread, but I’d noticed for a while an increase in the frivolous and the attention-seeking competitiveness of self-styled, ponderously “zany” contributors.

      None of the other internet sources have struck me quite that way; with WACCOE as well there was the frustration of remembering how indispensable I’d found it in times past. I suppose the most likely alternative subject would be the Service Crew forum, a lot of whose members lament loud and often its descent into farce. It’s never really struck me all that much though.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

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  11. Barry Valder

    I stumbled upon your post by accident, but It certainly rings true. A fan of another Championship team, I’ve experienced our own main message board’s fall from, (relative) grace in a manner apparently so similar you could have been writing about it.

    I seems a recurring problem of any major, open message board these days.

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    • Thanks for that, it was an article that many found unpalatable. Wish I knew who you followed and was able to check out the board you’re thinking of.

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      • Barry Valder

        Evening Rob,

        I’m a Brighton fan and the message board is North Stand Chat. Starting with the troubles in the 90s it was instrumental in organising fans’ efforts in saving the club, but these days I hardly ever read it. It does still have a place and I know how hard the admins work, but like you say about WACCOE, it’s just feels way too bloated. Comedians, self appointed authorities, and people arguing over trivial rubbish is a far cry from the glory days. That was ironically the Albion’s darkest hour, so I suppose it takes times of struggle for the best to come out.

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      • I guess that’s it – adversity spawns the best of debate and comment. By which reasoning, WACCOE and the other Leeds forums should be entering a vintage era, but it’s not happening yet as far as I can see…

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  12. Pingback: The Case for a Grown-up, Well-Moderated Leeds United Forum – by Rob Atkinson | La Vita, Leeds United, l'Universo e Tutto

  13. Louise Heshton

    MAMF gets a lot of criticism but works his balls off (trying) to keep the board afloat above the masses of parochial proclivity for those that like an argument and talk rubbish.

    The mods and admin get a lot of stick that is uncalled for, the diatribe of lunacy should be given the push and let the Leeds fans talk Leeds.

    Lou.

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  14. What does WACCOE stand for? yes I know I’m simple. I like some of the banter sites but I agree most people want credible information about their particular club in an informal setting. As long as there is a consistency with the moderation then everybody’s more or less happy. When fans of other clubs start getting petty it can spoil it but you do need other fans point of view for perspective- it’s a fine balance. This is the only other site I actually have any interest in- with me it’s a bit of a morbid curiosity. It makes me feel strangely satisfied that my club isn’t the only one who’s fans must feel constantly incredibly frustrated but yet so compelled to continue to support their club in any way they can. I can honestly identify with the strength of support on here- I’ve gone through some of the earlier discussions debates and it’s fuckin riveting to be brutally honest. great crack lads. What does WACCOE stand for again? NUFC.

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    • Now then Grem, how are you? WACCOE stands for We Are Champions, Champions Of Europe, and it has its roots in the 1975 European Cup Final in which, as you may know, we wuz robbed. I’m glad you’re still reading the site and contributing to the discussions and feedback, fella. Good luck for the season ahead.

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  15. Apologies, didn’t mean “crack” meant “informed topical discussion” lol Thanks for clearing the WACCOE thing up. Aye, without pressing google I seem to remember that was the Bayern Munich game- 2-1? although I don’t remember watching it live. My first big footballing memory is Liverpool v B.Munchengladbach in 1977? Fuckin hell if you’d have won that I wouldn’t be coming back as the stick would be unbearable- it maintains a bit of parity as far as i’m concerned. This way we can wallow in our unluckyness/shiteness/greatness together. Howay The Lads.

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  16. The makem Filth, lol The same makems who conveniently forget that it took them over twenty years to beat us at whatever shithole they were playing at at the time. I’m one of the few who’s not overly obsessed with them as I’ve been brainwashed to know that we are superior to them in every conceivable way!! Don’t get me started on them bastards as it’ll go on longer than the Millwall/ Dewsbury – Leeds lad dicussion/war!! I haven’t had time to read through any Makem stuff but will do in good time as I like to know what other club’s supporters think of the bastards. Like I say i’m not overly obsessed. NUFC

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  17. P.S Is there any “topical discussion” on the bastards? I can’t find any- is that because they don’t warrant a mention/topic of discussion? If so it’s completely understandable!! keep up the good work. NUFC.

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  18. Unfortunately the Mods have made matters a lot worse on WACCOE they have allowed a nasty gang of posters free reign to abuse anyone who doesn’t agree with their views and when anyone takes them on, they blame them for the trouble, which makes it clear they are protecting the gang.

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    • Precisely my experience. They’re happy competing to see which of the gang can wee highest up the wall, and they don’t want grown-ups sticking their noses in. It’s like an anarchic infants’ playground.

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