It takes a village idiot: The jerks of online forums

Discussion forums are magnets for some of the jerkiest people on the 'Interwebs'. We profile a dozen of the most common and annoying forum jerks--from 'The Antagonist' to 'The Conspiracy Theorist'.

3. The Sermonator

A close relative to the Self-Promoter, the Sermonator trolls various comment forums to find some way to divert the conversation to his favorite subject--most often something related to morals, religion, or a particular political view. No discussion is too interesting and no community too engaged for the Sermonator to subvert into a tedious homily on his topic of choice. Let's head out to the showroom for some real-world examples:

• Example #1: The author of a blog posting about an asteroid that came close to Earth stated that the incident was "like God threw a snowball at us and missed, but just barely." From this, a handful of commenters began a discussion that degenerated into a three-page debate over whether historical evidence could prove that Jesus was God.

• Example #2: A recent story of mine raised some privacy concerns about Google Latitude, the company's new mobile location tracking service. After concluding that my apprehensions stemmed from a general problem of dishonesty, one forum user took to the pulpit and lectured at great length about why the entire forum community should stop uttering even the littlest white lies. I would tell you that everyone found his contributions thought-provoking and useful, but that would be a not-so-little white lie.

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