In the SEO business, it pays to spend some time in the SEO forums. There are great ideas floating around in there and reading through them often sparks my creative juices and gives me good ideas for our SEO clients. Other times, I find I am sitting there reading an SEO forum and thinking, I know everything in here. I have not seen one new idea in a week. A contradiction? Yes. Bottom line, 95% of what I see in the SEO forums is junk. 5% is worth keeping.
Why is there so much SEO forum trash? Well, for one thing, many of the SEO forums themselves rank highly on desirable SEO terms. As a result, people are running around commenting all over the place in an effort to get links back to their site. This is possible because when you register at an SEO forum, they will often allow you to put in a signature that is seen at the bottom of every post you make. Most SEO forums allow this signature to include a link with anchor text you select. The more popular SEO forums will make you wait a certain amount of time or number of posts before your link will become active. Others make their links no-follow. But I'll bet those see their volume drop significantly.
In this one particularly popular SEO forum that I am active in, it is pretty much impossible to make a post without being criticized by one of the senior members. I don't take offense to this. They must get hit by so much forum spam each and every day, they have probably become very hardened to it. But even still, I am an SEO professional by definition because I make my living doing SEO. And when I make a meaningful post and get negative feedback, it makes me wonder. Perhaps they have developed a "let's be critical" strategy for their SEO forum as a way to generate controversy. It certainly makes you want to post again and defend yourself. I'll bet that SEO forums that stir it up probably get more attention. If that's the case, I'd say they are being manipulative.
In the end, I think it is positive to cruise the SEO forums in moderation. Try to spot the good ideas, reinforce what you already know, but don't get lost in there. As you find a good SEO forum that feels right, bookmark it and return. You will ultimately develop a short list of favorites. But also have thick skin, as even thoughtful posts will sometimes be shot down by the SEO forum Nazis. But in the end, get back to work. SEO forums should not distract you from doing what you know works.