True Crime message boards make me want to commit a violence!
June 21, 2007 3:32 AM   Subscribe

Are there any "smart" true crime community blogs or message boards?

A couple of times I've become interested in some crime-related news (one was the BTK case, and another is now, the disappearance of a young mother), and gone looking for a (generally) Mefi-style place where people are discussing and updating... and what I've found has been awful.

What I don't like:

The repetition: The exact same (usually obvious and simplistic) comments and observations are posted again and again, ad nauseam... and gods help you if a bit of misinformation gets introduced - 70 pages and 3,000 comments later people are still discussing that bit of false information as though it has some bearing on the case. And the people who dash into a thread with thousands of comments and are all, like, "So, what happened? Sorry, I couldn't read all these comments."

The psychics: "I have a very strong feeling that VictimNameHere will be found by water" ; "I think it was the husband, JMHO"; "She wouldn't have ever done X in a million years"... blah, blah.

The stupidity: Oh... man. Too much here to cover.

The smilies, avatars, and sigs: Gag.

The gooey: "My heart just breaks for that poor family." Yes, absolutely... but 800 comments like that makes me want to kill you all.

The Expert Victims: I have never seen one of these boards in which there weren't a least a couple of people going on about their experiences being stalked, attacked, etc., with lots and lots more comments saying, "oh, how awful for you!" Most boards even have their resident Star Victims, and almost nothing they talk about has any bearing on the case at hand, except in the most superficial way, ie: "She must have been so afraid... I remember when I was attacked, I was very afraid." Sure, sometimes real life experience can bring something to the table, but I haven't seen this happening.

So. Isn't there someplace where the discussion is a little more rigorous and disciplined?
posted by taz to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
There was one recently posted to the Blue, damn if I can remember it, but it was written by a respected newspaper's police reporting team. I remember thinking it was very "smart" but I can't recall if they allowed comments or if the comments were somehow moderated.

Not a blog, exactly, but I've always loved Find A Death. It's mostly celebrities but there sure is a lot of murder and mayhem in Hollyweird.
posted by Brittanie at 4:15 AM on June 21, 2007

Ahh, here's the post.
posted by Brittanie at 4:16 AM on June 21, 2007

Best answer: Steve Huff's True Crime Blog is often good (although there's a wee bit too much pro-death penalty and other yadda here and there for my tastes, but there are some intelligent comments, he's a pretty good reporter and he finds some interesting stories, plus there are contributions from other bloggers), and he links to a number of other decent true crime blogs including True Crime Blog UK, Blogging the Unsolved and another of Steve Huff's myriad crime blogs, History's Miseries. Another Huff crime blog is Crimeblog.US, but it's down just now (there's a great historical crime story in that one called "Mother May I...Murder You" about the Chloe Davis case. Google cache here.

I followed the BTK case on Crime and Justice, and they easily had some of the best discussion I'd come across, but it's gone downhill a bit since, with the smilies and idiocy you don't want.
posted by biscotti at 5:10 AM on June 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure all message boards that have ever existed are exactly as you have described above, regardless of topic.
posted by tjvis at 8:25 AM on June 21, 2007

Thanks for this post! I've asked myself the same question more than once. Going by your criteria, I'm guessing you've been to Serial Killer Central, Websleuths, Parents of Murdered Children, and Someone Knows Me, which are pretty much exactly what you're not looking for.

biscotti recommends Steve Huff. I seem to recall that his currently down blog has a forum/comments, but as she mentioned, it's generally populated by cretins. He's a thorough and intelligent writer, but I find him a bit self-promoting and also really concerned about Missing White Women and not much else.

Not a forum but a blog, Copycat Effect is intelligent (though he hasn't updated in a month; I don't know if it's shuttered).
posted by veronica sawyer at 9:19 AM on June 21, 2007

There's also this one, a forensic psychology forum, with the caveat that it's academic and not much is going on there right now.
posted by veronica sawyer at 9:33 AM on June 21, 2007

Thanks for the totally backhanded compliments there, Veronica. I got rid of the forum because I detested running one. Frankly, in many ways, I feel exactly the same as taz about message boards, in particular most of the true crime message boards I've seen. They are populated by way too many cyber versions of the old lady in the town who attends everyone's funeral regardless of whether she knew the dead person or not. I hate the inappropriate intimacy many posters affect, especially with murdered children, doing hideous things like photoshopping angel wings on the photo of a dead child's head (seen it done).

Self-promoting? Guilty. So what? is my answer to that accusation anymore. The act of having a publicly available blog is self-promoting.

Anyone is welcome in blog comments. I prefer them to message boards because it is easier to moderate the discussion and boot a-holes. I also jump in and try and discourage some of the more maudlin idiocy I sometimes encounter on message boards.

As to the missing white women thing -- give me a freaking break. Sure I cover those stories. Where were you when I wrote about the unsolved murders of black transvestites here in Georgia? Where was anyone? Or of the unsolved serial murders of black women in Jim Crow Atlanta, between 1908-1912? Noticed recently that I wrote about the Haines family murders, which may have been the result of a teen boy's homophobia and self-loathing? If you think I only write about missing white or any color women, you don't really know my work at all, left-handed compliments about the writing and research notwithstanding.
posted by stevenhuff at 8:02 PM on June 21, 2007

Response by poster: Heh. Well, good to see you here, Steven! If you ever decide you want to try a message board thing, or just beef up blog commenting (I guess you would need a much heartier cms, like Drupal or something), and want to hash out posting guidelines, I'd love to talk to you.

In fact, ever since first venturing into the through-the-looking-glass of crime boards, I've been thinking that a really intelligent board or community blog would definitely fill a niche (and there aren't that many internet niches left). Key elements would be stringent guidelines, possibly a barrier to entry (like the Mefi $5 registration), and a few great moderators.

Why bother? Well, the great thing about beefy commenting is that with a large enough member-base, you usually get a member who's on the scene and can provide details that aren't in the news, and - as you well know, it seems it's usually the Google ninjas that scour the net and manage to come up with those obscure connections and background details that later show up in the news stories. A lot of commentors also means a greater cache of useful info links... and, yes, theories!

I love the theories, when they're well-considered. And, of course, everyone is interested in analyzing and discussing the details of a case. If there were a place where one didn't have to comb through the angel wings, personal dramas, fortunetellers, and master-of-the-obvious commentary to try to pick out the threads of intelligent discussion, I bet it would quickly become the top spot.


Also, I don't know how well you know MetaFilter, but please believe me when I say that the comments here about you and your sites are actually high praise - so I hope you don't feel attacked. Mefites using any combination of the words "good", "intelligent", "interesting", and/or "thorough" is fairly uncommon, so you can safely take the comments here as laudatory. :)
posted by taz at 10:25 PM on June 21, 2007

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