Friday, 22 January 2010

Decisions, decisions.

This post is something of a digression- more of a rant, perhaps- and certainly it is a very personal view.  But I'm finding myself wondering if it is worth renewing my supporting membership at The Miniatures Page, which is up for renewal within a week or two.

Now, there is much that is good about TMP;  It has become a main focal point of the online wargaming community. It is a major source of Hobby News, and there is some good discussions on various message boards.  The membership is, by and large, very motivated and helpful.

So I keep telling myself, but I find myself wondering more and more whether it is worth my wanting to "ante up" with a supporting membership.  Recently, I've realized that I've been finding my visits there just as frustrating as they have been rewarding.

Just looking at the Napoleonic boards alone, there has been a steady stream of what to me have been fairly inane- and at times clearly trolling- topics being posted ("What if Napoleon had the 7th Panzer Division and Cruise Missiles at Waterloo?"  "Was Ney really an Ottoman spy?"  "Did Mother Nature make a pact with Beelzebub and Wellington to defeat Napoleon in Russia?").  And it seems to be the same few people who feel compelled to post them in the first place. 

And we still have the petty cat fights that seem to infect Napoleonics like no other boards, and which still seem to infest the place like ants at a picnic  (although say something glowing about FoW on the WW2 boards and see what happens).  Take this recent thread for example.  Round up the usual suspects, shall we? The smaller the stakes, the nastier the fights.

Then there is the increasingly "Hit-and-Run" political commentary which seems to have gotten more and more common since the end of the Current Affairs board.  Now, I'm not averse to political discussion, and used to dabble on the CA boards myself regarding international issues.  But I liked having the opportunity to go there- or not to go there- as I pleased, and having politics for the most part being quarantined from actual wargaming boards.  

Having  people make throwaway political comments on wargaming threads annoys me because:
  • Often I go to hobby sites just because I want to get away from politics and the "real world".  That's what a hobby is all about.
  • I can't comment on what I feel are the more outrageous remarks without risk of either being Dawghoused (not that it matters, mind) but- more to the point- without derailing a thread any more than it has to be.
  • I really don't care about, say, US domestic issues such as Medicare, any more than most Americans would if I posted diatribes against some tax policy here in Japan.
Yes, there is the complaint button, but I don't want to act the snitch and would be a lot happier if Bill Armintrout just found some reliable moderators to deal with such shit as it came up, and do away with the Dawghouse altogether.  Much better to just quietly delete posts or  threads and, if necessary. lock accounts without the spectacle of a virtual Bloody Assizes which provides entertainment to the Masses.  Who'd complain?  After all, "Bill's house Bill's Rules!" remember?  

Friction and nastiness emerges on any forum. But in comparison- and while allowing for the smaller membership- I feel that the moderators of WD-3 have handled such incidents much more quietly and much more effectively, and to the ultimate benefit of the forum itself, without the need of any "Dawghouse".  

In short, TMP would be better off without it.

With all the new rule sets coming out these days, there has been an almost steady stream of intense disdain and contempt that some people seem to bring towards differing wargaming approaches and rule sets which they may dislike or disagree with.  Especially- God help them, those from large and clearly successful companies. All this talk of rubbish rules and "fanboys" just makes me shake my head in wonder.  If you don't like a product,  just  don't buy it.  It really is that simple.   Why waste time slagging a product off, let alone slagging off those people who do like it?

No-one is forced into anything in this hobby.  I'm a Front Rank fan, and I personally I don't have any love for The Foundry, largely because of their policies regarding shipping charges.  But neither do I feel compelled - as some people do- to post gratuitous and unsolicited comments on TMP  advocating that someone would be best off selling their whole collection of Foundry stuff and replace it with Front Rank.  (Iannick wouldn't listen anyway!)

Bottom line, I just don't enjoy the place as much as I used to. 

I cannot help but to feel that there has recently been a rise in the level of bloody-mindedness, intolerance, and just plain bitchiness over at TMP, enough to push the envelope of my comfort level as a paying supporter.  

The kicker recently was when I realized that I have been finding myself hesitating before posting anything on TMP these days.  Before hitting the "submit" button, I start to wonder if it would be my turn next to have the balloon of enthusiasm rudely deflated by some cranky killjoy.  That, or someone would take umbrage with me over my use of the word "kepi " instead of "forage cap" (regardless of the terminology of what 90% of other gamers use, especially those for whom the ACW is not a main interest- like me!).

Typing all the above, it looks as if I've probably answered my own question, although I still have a week or so to decide. I'd miss the private mail function, and communicating with some fine people out there.  But I find myself spending much more time on La Bricole  and WD-3 these days, and posting a lot more often there than I do on TMP. 

It may be that my money would be much better spent on things like getting my Russians painted! 

M. le Capitan's log, update 02/04/2010: In a classic case of hope triumphing over experience, I've decided to renew my supporting membership for three months, and when it next comes up I'll see how I'm feeling about things then.   In the meantime, I'll just do my best to avoid reading any thread over 50 posts, which is usually a sure sign that something stupid is going on!


Docsmith said...

Hahaha Robert - I think you did answer your own question! I agree with all your complaints and well recognise them as exactly those I have had myself about various forums I have been a member of over the years.

I found I could never sustain the effort to post on them - for all the reasons you mention.

Personally I have found blogging much more enjoyable. You can interact where you want and post on blogs where fellow bloggers such as yourself or Alte Fritz for example (and I just posted comment on his blog too!) have something interesting to say and dare I say - worthy of discussion?

Save your money mate - I can hear some FR Russians saying 'buy me Robert, buy me!' - much better to spend it on something you will enjoy eh?


JAM said...

I would tend towards keeping my subscription, the place drives me crazy for all the reasons you list. But at the same time, the store of knowledge out there just does not exist anywhere else. Look at my recent post on the Maida uniforms in 1806, I could never work this out on my own and I believe that these people are keen to help and just not showing off there obscure knowledge.

Best wishes,


Rafael Pardo said...

A good "fight" in a Forum is a good sporting activity when you are bored, your figures are in winter quarters and the brushes are at rest!

Peter said...

Yes, it can be a little irritating (please note the self control!) over there. Too many people with too many agendas that they wish to force upon the world. A list of names should be kept somewhere for when the revolution comes!

On the plus side I think it is still the single best place to keep up with product releases etc though not a total solution.

von Peter himself

Iannick said...

- Iannick wouldn't listen anyway! -

lol!! I laughed hard at that one, didn't see it coming! You know me too well
It always makes me laugh to see people offended (really) that I buy Foundry; it's my money, why do you give a f***?!

I find expensive cars useless, yet you don't see me spending my time calling Porsche owners idiots! To each their own...

As for TMP membership; Bill's got me because of the PM function, which I've used to 'meet' lots of great people over the years. And I like a lot of people who hang there.

If only Bill would care as much about the ambiance of the place than he does about hit counts, it would be such a nicer place!

Iannick said...

Oh, and I agree with Peter about that list... :-)

Robert said...

I may well just renew- largely because of the PM function as you suggest, Iannick.

As for Peter's list, I've a number of candidates who would soon got to the wall!