A Newbie's Guide to Otherkin Forums
One of the first things I tell people when I join an otherkin forum is that I've been part of the online kin community for a long time; in Internet terms, that means about 15 years. This isn't just to stroke my ego; I want to make sure people know that I speak from experience. I've been in many positions on many forums, and certain things always remain the same. That's where this guide comes in; it's my way of helping to prepare you for what you'll encounter here. There are all sorts of guides out there to help newly awakened kin in general, so I wanted to do something a bit different and write a guide to specifically help those new to kin forums. The good news is that Kinmunity is one of the best kin forums I've ever seen, so you're off to a good start. With all of that said, these are some important things to know when you join.
1. We question because we care. For newly-awakened kin, there's always a drive to figure out your kin type, and we're here to help with that. For experienced kin, it's natural to describe what you are to the forum. Whether you consider what you're presenting to be a theory or a sure thing, we're going to ask you why you believe what you do. We may question your reasons, and we may suggest that maybe you aren't what you think you are. If you've come this far, I don't have to tell you that you shouldn't take it personally. But it's also worth noting that only you know what you are. It's up to you how much you want to listen to us. It can be discouraging when you're trying to figure things out, so make sure you don't let the answer pass you by because other people disagree. It's a fine balancing act, which you'll find to be a pattern here.
2. The battle against fluff is difficult and will have casualties. Let's be honest, people: our beliefs can be kind of ridiculous from an outside perspective. Talking about not being fully human and the like has earned us some understandable mockery. What becomes a real problem for us, though, is when we have to deal with trolls. On any Otherkin forum, you'll encounter members who make outrageous claims. These range from people claiming to know exactly what they are without any significant soul searching, to people claiming to have ridiculous kin types, to people claiming to physically shift. The last one is obviously from trolls only, but the first two present a challenge: is this person a troll, or just severely misguided? Only the person knows for sure, so it's up to the community and the staff to tell the difference. This is difficult, because you'll have some people who immediately condemn anyone who makes bizarre claims, and on the other side you have people who are way too forgiving (that's usually where I fall.) The best thing that you, a member, can do? If you aren't sure how genuine someone is, ask them questions. The answers will hopefully make it more clear, as discussed above. If you do think they're trolling, tell the staff. But if you think they're legitimate, don't be ashamed to help the person out. We were all new once, and we've all jumped to extreme conclusions at some point or another. You might be the one person who keeps this new member on the right path.
3. We often don't share each other's beliefs. The kin label is so wide that you're going to find as wide a variety of beliefs and opinions as you will kintypes. This can lead to conflict, and far too often it does, so it's helpful to know some of these ahead of time. The "legitimacy" of (at least certain types of) fiction kin is a big one; there are a lot of debates here alone about that topic. Similarly, there's debate about whether mythical creature otherkin like myself fall into the fiction kin category. Outside of that, we may have different beliefs about the effectiveness of some activities, such as tarot reading. The bottom line is this: as long as you're keeping an eye out for fluff, you should respect the beliefs of your fellow members. After all, like I said up in number 2, by definition we all have some pretty crazy beliefs.
4. We are all human. This is another topic that's going to come up, and it's going to cause some level of controversy. Just remember: no matter what your kin type is, and no matter what other unusual traits you might have, every single one of us is human. I'm making a point of this because far too often we see people on forums saying things like "I hate humans" or "I hate human society." In extreme cases we might even see someone saying "I think all humans should drop dead" or something like that. Not only is this kind of thing offensive, it virtually never leads to any sort of positive conversation. I'll admit that this is a tip not everyone will agree with me about, but I think it's important to remember.
5. Only you know what you are. We've discussed the questions other people will ask about your identity, and we've discussed the questions you'll ask other people about their identities. Now, let's talk about the questions you'll ask others about your identity. Obviously it's difficult to figure out your kin type, or even whether you're kin at all. Even some veterans of the forums aren't 100% sure. That's a large part of why we're here: to bounce ideas off each other and work together to interpret the signs. However, as we will always remind people, only you can ultimately figure out what you are. Believe me, I know how much that sucks. The search for identity is long and difficult, and it would be nice if there was some way to get an answer externally. But as I'm sure you know, it doesn't really work that way. The good news is that you can discuss any troubles you're having with us; chances are, at least one fellow forum member will know how you feel.
Five seems like as good a number as any. While it may seem like some of these tips are just common sense, I've seen the trouble caused by people not following them. The forums allow us to enrich each other's experiences and help each other out, but they only work if we all know what's expected of us.