The change in temperament and quality in communities found on social sites that have little ways of controlling the stream of information (tumblr, facebook, reddit, youtube, etc.) versus the otherkin forums is drastic and intimidating. This sudden change in community process has been known to make those new to the forum welcome wagons feel violated, defensive, attacked, angered, sometimes even intimidated to the point where they flee the forum and swear off forums period. This contributes to the constant flow of misunderstood information, confused ideas, and even blatant lies that continue to be spread in the otherkin social groups, with the better information and more reliable members almost exclusively limited to the forums because of the cries of “gatekeeping!”, “Discriminating!,” and “Unfair!” being put to the people that try to make the correct information available to more of the community. This leads to more people, new to otherkin, being mislead, confused, or even refusing to accept they’re otherkin.
Step 1: Finding a Good Forum to Join
In an attempt to help those new to the forums adjust to the change; I'm going to explain what to expect and how to act in forums, why things are done the way they are, and the best place to start is looking for an otherkin forum to join. Not all forums are the same, some are focused on therians, some on fictionkin, some on mythickin, some accept all of them, and some aren't so friendly toward others (some therian sites don't believe or accept otherkin and fictionkin, some mythickin don't allow therians and don't accept fictionkin, etc.); so it’s important to take the extra few moments to see how the forum operates and if it’s a good fit for you, as an example if you are a mythickin you wouldn't want to join a therian forum that is unfriendly to mythickin. While most forums have some areas of the site open to the general public, there are some that don't allow you to see anything unless you are a member, so it’s perfectly OK to create an account and check out the site before posting to make sure you will get a friendly greeting.
Step 2: Getting Acquainted with the Rules and Expectations of the Forum
Once you find a forum you feel good about and make an account, it’s both expected and encouraged for you to read things like Rules, Etiquette, and things that are tagged or labeled for newbies, these things can help you learn how to navigate the forum. Reading that can tell you what subjects to avoid (things like physical shifting or p-shifting can get you automatically banned), and where to post things that are too mature for kids 13 and up to avoid trouble. Even though it’s troublesome and takes up a little time, it’s both helpful and important to read those things, and all it can do is aid you in your adventure.
Step 3: Making an Introduction
It’s common for forums to require or encourage new members to make an intro thread, this is where you will get your first true taste of the forum and its members as they will respond to you (it’s the sometimes called the scariest step). It’s not only normal but encouraged for members to talk to and ask questions of the new members in their intro thread, this can be seen as an attack or being told they are not otherkin, but that's not what is happening. Questions serve to allow the new member explain themselves and give everyone a chance to meet, greet, and understand, but it also helps weed out trolls and correct any confusion or misunderstandings. When you make and respond in an intro thread you need to try and keep a level head, it’s not often someone is actually trying to attack you and, if you get angry or defensive, when people ask you questions it can cause a chain reaction that can spiral into a bad situation. Everyone has went through that and go through it every time they join a new forum; the key is to answer to the best of your ability, be truthful, and know that no one can tell you whether or not you are otherkin, they might simply suggest you look at another term.
Things to expect:
- How you found your kintype (if you have before joining)?
- What kind of shifts you experience (if any)?
- Possible second explanations to why your are otherkin and your kintype
- Suggestions of possible other kintypes or being something other than otherkin
- Possibly more
Step 4: Making Threads
Everyone has questions they want to ask, but it’s important to look through threads posted by others before making one to see if someone has already asked the question you have in mind, there is a good chance someone has asked that question and has gotten an answer, and this can save you time. If you can't find the answer, then make that thread and ask away. Some forums have a rule against posting in threads that have been inactive for a set limit of time (an example of why you shouldn't skip step 2) and would have you make a new thread, and some forums would prefer if you posted in an older thread over making a new one to ask the same question. Don't forget to put your thread in the right section, if it’s in the wrong section it might not get the attention or replies you are needing.
Step 5: Being Respectful
Forums will encompass many different people and beliefs (members from other countries, various different spiritual beliefs, various different religions), you need to give the same respect to people that are different from you as you would someone like you. This will help you make friends and get information you seek easier. It’s OK to be have different beliefs or belong to a different religion because no one is the same as you and needs the same things you do, and you may not always agree on things and that is OK too. What isn't OK is to shame someone, harass or coerce people to your beliefs/religion, or argue with someone over the differences.
Something to Remember: Belief vs. Fact
When taking part in forum discussions you'll come across a situation where you have to figure out if what you're going to say is your personal belief or actual fact, and this is a common mistake; fact is something that has been proven and has evidence behind it. It’s ok to share personal beliefs in forums, but you are usually required to tell people that it is your belief; if you don't it will be assumed that you are trying to pass off something that can't be proven as fact, and you may face some negative backlash. There is a lot of stress put on what is and is not fact, because it can confuse and mislead those new or inexperienced with the otherkin community; another reason is that what you believe can clash with what someone else believes, and if you present it as fact they will fight that.