Philosateleia
Kevin Blackston
PO Box 17544
San Antonio TX 78217-0544
United States of America

Stamp collecting forum offers great info, but acidic personalities too

You’ll find plenty of bulletin boards on the Internet that are dedicated to stamp collecting, but it takes a lot of participants to keep a forum alive and well. Stampboards.com has achieved that critical mass.

Operated by Australian stamp dealer Glen Stephens, Stampboards at last count has several thousand registered users from some 80 different countries.

The good

With members from so many different countries, many of whom have years if not decades of experience, it’s hard to find anything even remotely related to stamp collecting that they can’t identify. I’ve seen a number of obscure cinderellas identified on the forum, information not available elsewhere on the Internet.

Several of the regular participants also have highly specialized collections, and can identify the plates or printings of early British or Australian stamps, identifying scarce varieties of otherwise common items. This sort of information is typically available only in expensive and hard-to-find reference books, but you get it for free on Stampboards.

The bad

Even though Stampboards has members from so many different countries, many of the registered members live in Australia, and the forum tends to be very Australia-centric. That doesn’t mean you can’t get help with stamps from other countries, just that you’re likely to get more information more quickly if your stamps are Australian stamps.

The ugly

As is the case with many Internet forums, seemingly simple questions tend to blow up into extended arguments over issues that really don’t matter. Such debates would be better taken offline—or at least off Stampboards—to make it easier to find information there. Unfortunately, the moderators seem to be just as quick to jump into knockdown, drag-out arguments as anyone else.

In addition, some of the moderators seem to be prone to verbally boxing individuals about the ears if they ask questions without posting scans of the stamps about which they’re asking. One of the forum’s rules is that you post scans so people can see the item in question, but new members could probably be treated a bit more gently if they miss that bit of information.

Conclusion

If you have thin skin or a short temper, you may want to steer clear of Stampboards. On the other hand, I recommend joining Stampboards if you don't mind an occasional tussle in the online mud. You’ll learn a great deal by reading existing posts, and you just might be able to help someone else answer a question about his or her own collection. That’s an excellent way to give back to the hobby.

Have you participated in other online forums? How do you think Stampboards stacks up against the competition?

Published 2009-11-01

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