2. (Optional) Allow yourself to be influenced by Personal Messages from a (possibly female) member. and start a feud with anyone that member suggests could be a Paid Government Shill, hell bent on stealthily destroying the Forum by openly voicing opinions which that member, and therefore you, disagree with.
3. Completely ignore the fact that the Forum's greatest asset is the willingness of all the members to tolerate all viewpoints, even if they don't agree with them, and take an absolutely rigid stance in favour of a probably true but totally unproveable belief you have about a particular incident. Personal attacks on anyone who dares to disagree are preferable to any form of evidence at this point, because it is not possible to prove anything either way.
4. By constant bickering about your probably true but totally unproveable belief (see 3), create an unfriendly atmosphere that causes a number of completely innocent members to leave the Forum. Eventually the ones you actually want to get rid of will leave too. Some collateral damage is inevitable here, but stick to your guns, it will be worth it in the end.
5. Long after you have driven off the Trouble Makers, and even if they haven't visited the Forum for weeks, let alone expressed any blasphemous opinions, continue to attack them openly on the Forum, preferably using evidence that, if you read it in context, actually contradicts what you claim it proves. This maintains the unfriendly atmosphere and helps keep membership numbers down to a manageable level.
6. Enjoy the peace and tranquility of the new style Forum you have created, where everyone agrees with everyone else. Leading by example, encourage the members that remain to restrict their comments on posts to non-controversial remarks such as 'I agree', 'Interesting video', 'Nice picture', and so on.
---------- Congratulations, you have succeeded in cleaning up your Forum ! ----------
7. (Optional) At this stage, you may wish to contemplate whether what you now have is really what you wanted. You probably had much nobler things in mind when you first set up the Forum. Never mind. You stood up for what you believe in, and it was well worth it, wasn't it?
No doubt the Forum will carry merrily on with a new set of members, but all the aggravation was totally unnecessary. No one gained anything from it, and everyone involved lost, unless someone actually planned to disrupt the Forum. If that is the case, is that person still there, waiting to do it again?
Time will tell......
Forums can be depressing sometimes.
People may find it hard to believe, but sadly, with the possible exception of items 2 and 7 (which I can't verify for obvious reasons), everything described above actually happened on a Forum I was closely involved with. Out of respect for the owner of the site, a person I once considered to be a very good friend, I won't identify the site. I know he started out with good intentions, and I just wish things had worked out slightly differently, for everyone concerned.
Just for the record, in case anyone thinks I'm moaning because I was a victim of the above tactics, I wasn't, at least not directly. I did however involve myself by trying to defend one particular person against what I felt were unfair and unjust attacks. I still feel I was right to do so, and in similar circumstances I would do the same again. Shortly after that person was driven off I decided I wanted no more to do with the Forum, and I stand by that decision.
On a more positive note, I've had my rant and got it off my chest, even if no-one ever reads it. I can now forget about it and move on. It's nice to be away from the hassle, and I'm no longer Grumpy Old Bob, I'm Interested Bob these days.
Walking away from that Forum was the best thing I've done in a very long time...
It certainly was...
PS. In case anyone reading this hasn't realised it yet, and I have met one or two people on forums who probably wouldn't have, I am NOT seriously suggesting you should do what I have described above. It is a satirical look at a perfectly true story.