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Old Sep 06, 2004, 09:24 PM
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An open letter to Jim and Staff

An open letter to Jim Bourke and the staff at RC Groups

Greetings all.

Lately, there seems to be some serious hostility toward users of the OTD discussion forums from certain of the RC Groups Staff, culminating in this note, posted this evening in the Site Suggestions and Complaints forum:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy W
RCGroups strongly encourages discussion of RC modeling topics. We go out of our way to maintain a warm, friendly, courteous location for these discussions. That said, you (plural) are placing too much emphasis on off topic discussion. As much as you may feel this is an important part of this site, the (unpaid) moderator staff expend considerable time and energy in an effort to ensure the overall tone of the site is not compromised by repeated actions of, what is becomming ever so painfully apprarent, the same group of offenders. We have lost two good moderators lately as a direct result of members (who fall into this group) criticizing and debating our policy here. I will engage in no such debate. You (plural) would be wise to read my final word on this matter, posted here..
..a
This was posted in a thread discussing the new Warning Levels, about which some users were unclear. Following this posting, the thread was locked, eliminating the opportunity for further discussion.

It seems to me that something has been lost here there is no forum without the users. Without the users, there are no contributions, and nobody for the advertisers to reach. And if we are truly in a place where there can be no discussion of site policies, no questioning of certain actions then loss of users is a certainty.

Maybe I am a good example of what Andy considers the problem, since I spend a great deal of time in OTD because I happen to enjoy discussing some of these issues as well as modeling. Elsewhere on the site, I help folks with problems and try to contribute some of the experience I have as a licensed radio operator and technician. I also contribute to the site financially and visit / patronize the vendors. Just as I find OTD stimulating at times, I enjoy RC models. I find it convenient and enjoyable to be able to do both in one place.

But it is getting pretty uncomfortable to remain here when the attitude of the moderators slides further and further toward an "at-war" footing with some of the users. I would submit to you that an environment where there is no room for the user to express concerns or question the policies of the administration is not healthy. As the quote above demonstrates, that is very nearly the situation here.

I am uncertain, as I begin to post this note, what will happen from here. Will it be locked / deleted immediately? Will this note be the excuse for my banishment from the forum? Time will tell. But to paraphrase a famous quote, the only thing the wrong thing needs to advance is for good men to remain silent. So if this is to be my swansong here, at least I will have left in an honest fashion.

Sincerely,

Matt Larson
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Old Sep 06, 2004, 09:42 PM
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I don't know about the majority of the users here, but I personally come here to read about and discuss r/c related topics as the site name "rcgroups.com" implies. I think it is actually very kind of the moderators to even include the "OTC" thread page on this site. I'm sure there are other web sites out there that are dedicated to discussing ANY topic that may come to your mind. I have noticed that every ad posted on this site has SOMETHING to do with the R/C hobby. Therefore it is to their best interest to post their ads in a R/C related forum, not a general-whatever-you're-thinking-about-at-the-moment forum.
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Old Sep 06, 2004, 09:44 PM
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By the way.... RCGROUPS ROCKS!!!! Keep up the great work guys! This is a wonderful site, and I have learned a TREMENDOUS amount about R/C from here. I probably would have never purchased my first plane if this site was not available.
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Old Sep 07, 2004, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bret
I don't know about the majority of the users here, but I personally come here to read about and discuss r/c related topics as the site name "rcgroups.com" implies. I think it is actually very kind of the moderators to even include the "OTC" thread page on this site. I'm sure there are other web sites out there that are dedicated to discussing ANY topic that may come to your mind. I have noticed that every ad posted on this site has SOMETHING to do with the R/C hobby. Therefore it is to their best interest to post their ads in a R/C related forum, not a general-whatever-you're-thinking-about-at-the-moment forum.
That's pretty well said. The OTD is not necessary, but it can be nice. It's very hard to keep it under control, WHATEVER the mods have to do is okay by me, if they deleted the whole thing, so what? They have had to slap ME a few times, I guess I had it coming, and nobody died.
As a matter of fact, the only REAL bummer is I created a little extra work for the moderators, that's the real bothersome part, to me. I don't want to come off like a brown-noser, that's not my intent at all, it's just the moderators are volunteers, they do a very important job, for free, and I don't like being a pain to people who are just doing their job. I have no compunction whatsoever being a pain to those poor, misguided souls who disagree with me on the OTD, though!
I saw the one incident with Brian Cullen, after it happened. Sorry, but the users were wrong. Period. Maybe Brian DID make a mistake, but moderators do that now and then, I dunno, but "jack booted nazis" was totally uncalled for. Besides, it's bad netiquette to argue with moderators...period.
Notice I am defending Brian, even though he is the VERY guy who banned me from OTD for a month. Because right is right. You don't argue with the moderators.
If you find a pattern of moderation that you consider unfair, or unpleasant, find another site. The level of moderation has a lot to do with the tone and content of a site, some like more, some like less...but don't blame the vlunteer moderators for setting a tone that pleases the majority of the users...they are just doing their thang, is all.
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Old Sep 07, 2004, 12:09 AM
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PS...I did not read any "serious hostility", any "us versus them", just a guy trying to keep things within some boundries.
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Old Sep 07, 2004, 12:19 AM
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PS PS
I like the new warning system. Just realized it was there for the first time. Did not know, I got two warnings yesterday. I can see where I had them coming.
I like the quantifiable aspects of it, and I like where there is no big discussion about it, the moderators don't have to explain themselves to everybody.
If I accumulate ten warnings, I get suspended for five days. I think ten in a row pretty much shows that I cannot control myself and play nicely with others...it's plenty of opportunity to wise up before getting the boot.
Good system, good thinking, should save a lot of debate.
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Old Sep 07, 2004, 09:42 AM
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When we're pushing the envelope in flight, knowing the exact limits is important to avoid getting into trouble. When we're not pushing the envelope, the exact limits are not critical because we're not even close to getting into trouble.

It seems to me that the only reason for needing to know the exact limits of what can be said in an off topic forum is to push the speech envelope. But the very concept of pushing the envelope in what we say to each other is a violation of the spirit of these key words from RC Groups forum rule #2: Users shall treat each other with respect at all times. There shall be no name-calling. Users shall not provoke one another.

I've never seen an off topic forum anywhere where some people were not constantly pushing the limits on how close they can get to expressing disrespect, calling names and deliberately provoking others without getting kicked out of the forum. I've seen instances of people who are consistently polite and respectful in RC Groups on topic forums applying a different standard in off topic discussions.

RC Groups members who want an off topic forum where they can act differently than they do in the on topic forums without having to worry about the limits of what they can say to one another could easily get together and take their OT discussion to another forum with looser speech limits outside of RC Groups. That would relieve the moderators of unwanted, time-consuming, off topic obligations, create more bandwidth on the site for on topic discussion and generally make RC Groups a more pleasant place for those who are focused on R/C issues. In short, it would benefit everyone.
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Old Sep 07, 2004, 05:04 PM
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Warning system? Must of missed it... Just went back to OTD to look and found nothing about it...


Edit:

Nevermind, I found it. My only question is how can you 'review' the offending post if it's been edited and you forgot what you said? Ah well... It doesn't matter....

Go fly people.

Paul
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Old Sep 09, 2004, 09:09 PM
AerialCamsByDoug@aol.com
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Hey, whatever..I made the mistake of (politely, in my opinion) questioning a mod's threat of closing a thread because it had drifted "off topic." I raised the point that the very nature of political discussion pretty much makes it a given that the topic will drift.
The moderators response was to lock the thread, and state that my questions should have been raised in this forum. Maybe so, but my question was in response to his "warning" and merited an answer without the arrogant slap on the wrist gesture of locking a thread that others were participating in..
I sympathize with the mods working here..I have done (and am doing) the same job on far more bloodthirsty sites than this one. I don't dispute the locking of threads due to ad-hom attacks or other posted rule violations which disrupt site harmony...but to lock down a thread because the issue has been discussed before and the moderator is apparently "bored" with it or "tired of it?"
If there is a discussion being held on the topic in question, then it follows that there are at least TWO members who are NOT "tired of the topic!"
The site I work with has a few mods who periodically become what the members call "little gods," taking it upon themselves to kill conversations, not because the site rules are broken but because they (the mods) are displeased with the thread for personal reasons.
If this isn't what's happening here, hey my bad..carry on and I'll not be in your hair any longer. But if it is what's happening, you'll have more unhappy users in short order..and who is the site maintained for if not the user?
Good day.
Seeya (but only in the R/C forums)
Doug T.
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Old Sep 09, 2004, 10:59 PM
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Doug, can you link me to the thread? Mods shouldn't close threads for drift or because they are bored of the topic. You are right about that. If that happened then I'll have the thread re-opened.

Jim
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Old Sep 09, 2004, 11:06 PM
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Good point (I guess). The only reason I am responding to this is because I was notified by email there was a post and I feel like writing. This is the only "OTD" thread I have responded to (or read), but I still believe that RCGROUPS.COM is a fantastic forum related to the R/C HOBBY with a ton of information relating to it. The "OTD" forum is an "extra" that the moderators are not required to have. I would imagine that the 6 posts to this thread (including mine) are a very small percentage of the total members of the forum. I would also think that a VAST majority of the members of this forum come here to discuss R/C related topics. Even at that, I would think that, if a thread is opened with (or leads into) a topic that the moderators are not comfortable with, for any reason, they have the right to close it. IT IS THEIR FORUM. Without their patience and hard work, it never would have existed. You (the user) have every right to start your own web site and run it however you feel compelled to.
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Old Sep 10, 2004, 12:38 AM
AerialCamsByDoug@aol.com
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Here's a link to the thread in question, Jim. http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showt...9&page=1&pp=15
Don't go reversing a mod's decision based on my input though..please. I don't want to twist anyones undies, y'know? Maybe just let the mod in question take a second glance for himself?
Thanks for taking the time to reply..y'all have a great site here!



Bret, it's a fine line that you have to dance as a moderator..if you are going to allow any kind of freedom of discussion, you have to be able to concede that the forum is actually in existence for and because of it's users, and you are merely a caretaker who's generously donating his time. I ran the "Politics & Religion" forum over at www.zrxoa.org for a couple years, and we allowed a pretty much "free-for-all" sort of climate in there..the forum is still flourishing despite all the petty fights, and those who can't stomach it have learned to stick with the on-topic (motorcycle, in this case) forums on the site.
As I said, I moderated that forum for a couple years, (as well as our two biggest general discussion forums) but eventually it wore me down. Nowadays I'm sort of a "father figure" for our sites mods, with access to all forums as a mod so I can play "clean up" should it become needed.
The bottom line is that it is VERY VERY hard to not allow your personality and feelings to enter the decision making process, and I would imagine it's even tougher on these poor guys at RC Groups due to their commitment to keeping it a "family" site.
I didn't intend to rain on anyone's parade with my complaint..nor do I wish you to think I'm deeply offended at being "moderated." I'm just used to a rougher crowd when it comes to these topics, and it makes sense for me to bow out of the forum before I bruise someone..
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Old Sep 10, 2004, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZRX Doug
eventually it wore me down.
That's what worries me about RC Groups. I hate to see good moderators get burned out by having to deal with inherently volatile off topic discussion. I'd rather see all the moderators here focused on RC issues. The internet is full of OT discussion sites for those who are interested. The true value of RC Groups is in RC discussion, and nothing should be allowed to compromise this.
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Old Sep 10, 2004, 07:49 AM
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But Dave, you cannot deny that OTD provides value to the RC groups advertisers.

As of this morning, the main page shows more than 103,000 views for L,TU a P.

As many as Electric Helicopters.

More than Cars, Boats and Clubs combined.

More than all the Fuel Powered Airplane forums combined.

That is a lot of exposure for the vendors who advertise here.

And that is a valid purpose for hosting the forum, aside from quanantining the political discussions there to keep them out of the RC threads.

Matt
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Old Sep 11, 2004, 12:00 PM
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That is not a valid reason at all, Matt. By that logic, RC Groups should add a forum with photographs of provocatively posed models. How many views do you suppose that forum would draw?

Advertisers are a lot more sophisticated these days. They are not looking for raw numbers of views, but for quality of impressions. Those participating in OT discussion are distracted from RC topics. It would be much more compelling for RC Groups to be able to tell advertisers that this site features only RC content and no superfluous forums that attract people who are not focused on RC.

It's not worth it to have an OT forum if the behavior in that forum requires constant supervision and stretches the site's resources.
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