I’ve had some of my most fun times interacting with other writers via the internet.
I’ve also had some of my most frustrating times interacting with other writers via the internet.
The fun vs. frustration factor of message boards works in direct proportion to the sort of writers who populate the site.
The boards which are full of writers who have published commercially are usually the most fun, the most informative; and the places where I’ve learned the most.
The boards which are full of writers who have gone ahead with self- or vanity-publishing their fiction because no commercial publishers would touch it are usually the most frustrating. Some of the writing makes my toes curl; many of the critiques are positive but lack real substance; and much of the advice given about publishing is just plain wrong. All I’ve learned from these places is to avoid them.
If you really want to learn about writing and publishing, you’ll learn more from the people who have had some real, commercial success than from the people who have taken shortcuts to theirs. So, if you’re an aspiring writer with little experience but a lot of enthusiasm, consider carefully which sort of message board you’d prefer to sign up to. Do you want to hang out with successful writers, editors and agents and take a crash-course in how publishing really works? Or would you prefer to hang out with other novices and compound your lack of knowledge? It’s your choice.