The Gaia Online subculture is a mixture of anime enthusiasts, those interested in pop-culture / media, and some with a (seemingly) large amount of free-time; allowing them to enthusiastically participate in matters which outsiders may consider tedious - such as theories concerning the storyline of the website, or of the item market which the site features. Even though the site is not generally gender biased, there appears to be almost twice as many females as there are males on the site.
General Traits of a Gaia UserEdit
As Gaia Online is an Internet Forum which averages a slightly younger membership than most, they have a rather unique average user profile:
- The site, while hosting a "cute" look that may appeal to young people, is not necessarily populated by children. Most people range from 13-19, but there are many 20-30 year olds that also enjoy Gaia. Gaia Online is geared for anyone that loves anime or a good forum for chatting.
- Many enjoy the concept of owning/collecting Gaian items (it’s not uncommon for people to be accused of being materialistic), although a significant minority do not participate actively in Gaian economics.
- A significant (yet highly visible) minority have poor grammar and even worse spelling, tending to use Internet slang/net speak. On the other end of the spectrum there are the Grammar Nazi, who will attack (in excess) anyone with incorrect grammar, spelling, or punctuation. The minority with poor spelling is probably the larger of the two, however, more users frequent the forum designed for pure spam than any other forum on the site. Different sections of the site have generally different tolerances to grammar (with the 'Extended Discussion’ forum often being mentioned most, in reference to Grammar Nazis).
- Many will passionately debate points on the site, to the extent that some may land themselves in trouble for excessive personal attacks and/or disruptive behavior.
- There are many Gaians who like to help out others, for instance: Bumping a shop to support it, donating to a charity or user, and helping out petitions. They often help newbies to establish themselves in the world of Gaia. These are often literate users, using decent grammar for the benefit of the community.
- Those that are literate are often more wordy than necessary, using superfluous phrases such as 'go so far as to,' which, while flowery, add nothing to a message; a phrase like 'a breed of users' or calling anything fun 'addictive' can even be misleading.
- Since much of the site is a role-playing community, the 'flowery language' is acceptable (or commendable) on the site itself.
Social Hierarchy Edit
Due to the capitalistic nature of the website (users earning electronic gold based on their amount of posts) there is a common view that those who are richer (i.e. have more gold, more expensive items) are superior to those that are poor. Equally, there are views that those who signed up for the site earlier are more valuable assets to the community. There are characteristics which can typically, but by no means universally, define the place or rank of the user:
Date of Membership Edit
The date of membership could be seen as how much faith the user had in the website. If the user joined when the site was just starting, they are typically seen as valuable contributors (regardless of what their actual contributions were, unless they have a widely known history). They tend to have moderators as friends, and are commonly called oldbies. After a year has passed the day in which the user has joined becomes that users "Gaiaversary" on this day some user's or "gaians" give this user gifts. Though sometimes, oldbies are some that have only posted one or two posts, if said oldbies do post, and people see their join date, will be flocked with requests for money, or gold.
Everything you do on Gaia Online causes your amount of gold to slowly increase. However, this is not the only way to attain wealth - many users choose to buy and sell the electronic items in an attempt to make a profit (done on the Exchange forum, which was created for this purpose). The more profit they make, the richer they become, and the more expensive items they can afford - which act as status symbols or means to get more wealth. As with real life economics, it is estimated that most the wealth on the site (i.e. gold, items) are owned by a tiny percent of the richest Gaians. There is a sharp peak between the ‘lower’ and ‘upper’ economic classes. The richest Gaians are almost always users from the site's start, 'exchange whores', or artists.
Not all users trade items to obtain wealth. Many users that joined the site earlier obtained limited-release items (either Monthly Collectibles, which are obtained by donating $2.50 to the site, or event items, which are obtained by attending admin-sponsored events on the site) which are very valuable today. An example of this is the 'Panda Hat', which used to be sold for around 8000 gold in July 2003, is now worth over 3 trillion gold. This makes some 'oldbies' obscenely wealthy (and has also made investing in limited-release items items a common practice. Which in turn reduces supply, increasing price inflation, increasing incentive to invest...)
Also, users that are wealthy can get away with acting like a noob. For example, if one were to own a halo, s/he could get respect whether typing in "chatspeak" or prose. S/he might spam where it is not allowed without getting in trouble, as few would be willing to report him/her.
Post Count Edit
In each users' profile, there is a meter that keeps track of how many posts that the user has made. Some people use this as a measure of status. This, however, is unreliable, as post count can easily and quickly be inflated with spam.
Guild Owners Edit
A guild in Gaia Online is a private forum. In this forum, the owner (or ‘captain’) is able to decide on what the topic of discussion will be, and can also set the rules and ban users from posting. Some guilds become highly successful, with membership in the tens of thousands, and the creators can become very well-known. Guilds are also a way to maintain a civilized forum outside of the aforementioned 'flame wars'.
Thread Owners Edit
A highly successful thread (or topic) can mirror the success of a Guild. Some threads are used exclusively for role-playing, or for discussion of a certain subject. One example of this is the ‘price guide’ topics which can be seen around the ‘exchange’ – the owners of these, providing they’re successful, often become well-known by the community. However, these have been known to trigger and fuel intense rivalry.
User Name Edit
If a user on Gaia is deemed to have a "cool" name by the user population, they can sometimes earn vast amounts of recognition. A lot of beginners to the site have made themselves popular quickly by having a unique, shocking, or funny name.
A user's forum name can work against them too, for instance, people with anime titles or characters in their names, such as "Inuyasha", will often get less respect from other users than someone with a more unique name. Other things that could contribute to loss of a user's respect include advertising their sexual preference, religion or race in their name.
Most sub-forums have a few regulars, or regs, who are well known in their specific forum. They often use their fame for their own benefit, for instance, Avatar Talk regs seem to win a disproportionate amount of avatar contests, and Exchange regs often auction cheap items (such as their panties) for huge profits. They often seem elitist to less established Gaians. They can create a lot of drama between themselves and regs of other forums. Some of the more common clashes include:
- The General Discussion and the Extended Discussion
- The General Discussion and the Gaia Community Discussion
- Virtually every sub-forum and the Chatterbox
- The Video Game Discussion and the Fighting Game and Final Fantasy Subforum.
Typical Problem Posts Edit
In Gaia Online, there are many different forums and sub-forums. Each of these may have a slightly different subculture - in that they may all use common slang / jokes that usually only the regular members of that particular forum would understand. They may also share similar annoyances - such as topics created:
- Asking for a boyfriend or girlfriend (normally referred to as BF/GF)
- Asking for a friend (Acceptable in the Friends Chat forum.)
- Asking a question which has been answered many times, and is included in a sticky at the top of the forum
- Asking for Neopets points or any other thing from another game/website.
- Asking for charity (Acceptable only in the Charity forum)
- Asking for pornography (These are more common than most users are aware, but are often deleted quickly)
- "Cybering" with someone (although this activity and any such solicitation is forbidden on the site)
- Asking for gaian items for free in a non-quest thread.
Another problem that frequently happens is a user will advertise their topic in somebody else's thread without the thread owner's permission.