The (few) forums that deal with British awards & medals certainly seem to buzz less than those that deal with other areas of collecting. The Third Reich oriented boards certainly have a higher usage - which is probably due to the endemic fakery inherent with collecting such items.
British medals are pretty self-explanatory and there are a wealth of publications that cater for such collectors - and they're [usually] named and made from silver - which sets them apart from the above and makes them harder to fake. People who collect to the 2/3rd Wolverhampton Foot Dragoons don't really need extensive on-line discussions about construction methods & black light technology and they're probably too busy down at the PRO anyhow.
You find the posts on forums that deal with British medals go something like this: Looking for information on Pte. Smith of the Strathmuir Railway Muleteer Vols. Really, how specific? Inside leg measurements, sperm count? It's all a bit 'anoraky' really, and each to their own. But it does take the 'fluidity' out of forums, because the chances of anyone even knowing anything about such an obscure unit is... zero.
I personally am a 'generalist', but does being a 'generalist' make me any less of a collector [hoarder] than a 'research head'? We all do what we do for different reasons. I personally am not too bothered with Pte. Smith's fertility as I'm more interested as to why someone bothered to send the Muleteer Volunteers to Alaska in 1872, i.e. the grand historical scheme of things. I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm an ex-soldier that I can't see why anyone should be interested in my waist size in a hundred years time!
I tried getting all 'serious' & joined the OMRS once. All very nice it was, albeit slightly 'anal'. Maybe I didn't have a research project large & complex enough to really benefit from the brain pool? I do know this though. I've had more fun with the Internet and my mailbox is regularly full of queries. Most of the queries are of the 'what medal is this' or 'what medals would my grandfather have had?' And the inquirers usually go away happy - some are even 'cyber-friends'.
I started collecting when I was eight years old. My father wanted me to have a decent hobby. Little did he realise the monster he'd created! My collecting got shelved whilst I was in the forces - much nicer things to spend money on... beer! Fortunately, I have returned to the fold and regularly make up for my years of neglect.
I used to trawl around the tables at fairs, but the Internet allows me to be more selective in hunting down the more obscure medals, although I do not actually purchase 'direct' over the net. Of consequence, I have a reasonably large collection of [British] medals that cover virtually the whole range of awards. Although I have a passion for Victorian campaign medals, I also have a soft spot for LS&GCs and Coronation & Jubilee medals.
My collecting is non-specific. i.e. I don't collect to unit/name/theatre. Of consequence, I've aquired some scarce medals that I [otherwise] would not have encountered had I specialised in one specific area. Collectors of British medals tend to fall in to these following categories:
i) Unit specific. Taffy collects medals to the Monmouthshire Mounted Volunteer Fencible Militia - and nothing else. It's a noble attempt to reunite the entire regiment via the medium of his obsession, but to someone who doesn't share his passion for the regiment, it does look rather uninspiring, considering they were disbanded two years after being raised - and never left Wales.
ii) Medal specific. Bob trawls the tables looking for Canada General Service Medals. So far he has over one hundred to various units - both British & local Canadian units. He has no friends and wears womens' panties. I have seen a tray-full of someone's former collection of CGSs - all to the same ship. See above.
iii) Campaign specific. Charles just luuuurves African campaigns and he takes great pleasure in getting his extensive collection of Ashantee Medals out and any given opportunity. Unfortunately, he suffers from Halitosis and also has few friends.
iv) Gallantry Medals & Groups. Roger is a Chartered Accountant. He is married to Marlene and is seriously loaded. He drives a Jaguar and his wife is having an affair with his business partner. All his medals are thoroughly researched - but not by him.
v) The groupie. Single medals? Pah! Barry has a table-full of trios & pairs. Well... they look good, don't they?
vi) Category specific. Now I suffer from this. I just love those Coronation & Jubilee medals, but I also have a soft spot for Long Service medals too, so I'm not that focused. See below.
vii) Freddie Mercury. "I want it all! I want it all! I want it all... I want it NOW!
viii) The researcher. "I'm sorry, I havn't got time to talk, I'm too busy researching!" That's Jonathan, and he comes in very handy indeed. He lives in the PRO.
ix) The investor. "Well, it's an investment innit guv?" Sometimes confused with (iv).
x) The muppet. See above.
All in all, it takes all sorts and it certainly makes life and the hobby... erm... interesting, if not rather frustrating at times.