The Interwebs are a wonderful place...full of mystery, danger and addictive information. Some of that addictive information comes from message boards. You can find message boards that promote discussion on pretty much any subject, from writing to relationships, games, cars...and crime.
There are several large forums in the crime category, the best-known of which is probably Websleuths. I am not a member there, having been banned several years ago. Re-joining would be a hassle, as they don't accept web-based email addresses. It's too easy to have an unlimited number of them, and register with several nicknames at the same time. Don't ask me why people would do that, but it happens. So, I would have to use Outlook, which I have never set up.
I am a member of a couple of others...InSessions and Scared Monkeys, as well as several smaller boards set up to discuss specific crimes.
Scared Monkeys was begun in response to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, and has vastly expanded from there. For some reason, I don't seem to be a good fit there, as there is a lot more social interaction going on than on other boards. Sparkly avatars and Walton-style "good nights," etc. No offense intended to y'all, but I don't have time for that.
So, here I am at InSessions, the first board I ever joined, back in the days of the Laci Peterson investigation. I got banned from there several times during those days, and used the nickname "Caryatid," followed by a series of numbers, as I got banned over and over. I don't even remember why, but it was in the middle of the Blog Wars, and Scott Peterson was already convicted and sentenced, so I quit going there. A few years later, in response to the murder of Michelle Young, I re-registered, using "Jane Truth" for a nickname. I am "Jane Truth" on a lot of smaller boards and news sites, but, alas, no longer at InSessions (who knew "penile" was a bad word!), where I now post as "Doorbell." And post rarely, at that!
There is a thing that happens at InSessions. Searches are done online by members, news stories read and analyzed, body language of those involved in a particular case picked apart. For some, it's a game, to see if the armchair sleuths can beat the police to a suspect. Others find the board searching for information on a crime that happens to someone they know, or in their community. There are those, such as myself, who follow certain types of crimes, looking for similarities and threads that tie them all together. As well, there is a well-organized cadre of what I call IUPG members. IUPG stands for Innocent Until Proven Guilty, and these people post with the sole purpose of defending the obvious suspects in all such cases. No problem there, right? They promote discussion and lubricate everyone's little grey cells, enlivening the debate. Until the point where they begin to cast around for other suspects, to take the heat off the obvious one. That leads to rabid and baseless trashing of innocent people. In the Michelle Young case, Michelle's sister and mother took an awful beating...a chance response to a questionnaire on MySpace was stretched to give Michelle's sister a drug habit...a childhood picture of the two girls promoted the idea of lifelong jealousy. Outright lies are still being passed off as truth. Frustration at the vilification of grieving family members leads to heated exchanges between members, and banning. The banning is not always perceived as fair, but then, what in life ever is "fair?"
Some people just register and post to promote acrimony and bannings (it's a fine line between these and the IUPG crowd). These people are referred to as "trolls." Last night, the Kyron Horman board at InSessions fell victim to one such. Here is a favourite tactic, known as "bait and switch." A comment was found on another site referring to a possible sighting of the missing child, in the company of some people who appeared to be homeless and "living rough." A "what would you do" discussion ensued, with most people saying that snatching the child and taking off with him, to the police station, or wherever, would be a bad idea. The troll kept adding "what ifs" to the scenario (switching), until the scenario became a lone child in the woods, and those people who were against taking him away were accused of being stupid and heartless.
There was no logic to the discussion, and the frustration level mounted, with people firing off myriad reports to the moderator. Moderators hate to get up in the morning to find their inboxes full of complaints, so now the thread is locked.
No discussion. No information. Nothing. And, a press conference called in half an hour that would actually give us something to actually discuss.