April 13, 2001


A question, here, for the masses...

How many people do you think are 'INTO' this hobby of ours?

I'm specifically looking for the numbers interested in the SF/Horror/Figure/Ship/Fantasy/Films/TV aspects of the Scale Modeling hobby.

5,000? 2,000?

And of those numbers, how many are frequent visitors to the Internet?

500? 550?

If the above number is somewhat in the ballpark, can you tell me then, why we have so many Message Forums??!

...and why new ones seem to be popping up weekly!?

Have you ever had the urge to put out some new info, and end up having to 'shotgun' the message over numerous lists and bulletin boards in the hopes of reaching everybody?

Pain in the ass, isn't it!!

What's worse is the fact that not ONE of those message boards can state, "This one EVERYONE reads!"

Let's take a peek around the vast inner world of the Internet and see if we can even list them all....

  • Bulletin Boards
    • Polar Lights
    • Modeling Forum
    • CultTVMan's
    • PC Modeler's
    • Starship Modeler's
  • Mail Lists
    • Aurora Models
    • Gremlins
    • Garage Kits
    • Novice Sculptors
    • Figure Kits
  • Yahoo Clubs
    • Garage Kits
    • Female Kits
    • ToyBiz Forum
    • Aurora Models
    • Batman
  • News Groups
    • Rec.Models.Scale
    • Alt.SF.Scale.Models
    • many others too numerous to mention

Not counting the News Groups, we have at least 15 listed. Scary, isn't it?

So the question that begs to be asked is, "Why, if there's just 500+ of us, do we have so many damn forums??!"

Just a mere three years ago there were only two sites. The Gremlins Figure site and the newly arrived Polar Lights on HobbyTalk. Many people on the one list had no knowledge of the other until the Garage Kit folks started to meet the newly rekindled, newly returned Styrene heads, and over time the names on both forums started to merge.

When I went investigating into why the other forums started up, the answers varied slightly....

  • "They weren't covering the models I was interested in."
  • "There were a few people on the other forums that I despised, so I started my own."
  • "My favorite forum de-evolved into a slug fest, so I started my own."
I'm still at a lost as to why another Aurora Forum was started on Yahoo, although I suspect the answer. And some folks stated that they liked the Yahoo Club format over the Yahoo List forums.

Personally I like the email list forums more for ease of reading/replying.

Although I get all the Yahoo Clubs via email, inorder to respond, you have to bring up the web page and type your message there. And if you are posting a new message that covers more than one Club, you have to call up each one individually and paste your message in the little box for each club.

Same goes for the HobbyTalk BB's. And their format is even worse! Especially if there's a thread that is being replied to frequently... you have to first call up the index page, click on the thread and get that page to load, then page down through all the old replies until you finally see what's new.

And if it's two, three, or four pages long... you have to figure out what page you last read! Usually I can't remember, so I have to call each page up, page down to the last message, remember I read that one, click on page 2...etc, etc. Sheesh!

So when is enough, enough already?!

Do we really need all these forums? Or is the right question to ask, do we really need to subscribe to all these forums?

Personally, I feel the reasons the new forums were started are somewhat lame overall! But I can sympathize with those reasons. Anyone whose been on the Gremlins list for any length of time can see why one might want to find a, uh, friendlier place.

I still get a lot of chuckles outta the Grems list, but it certainly has crashed and burned from it's earlier glory. And sadly the 'greats of the hobby' that use to frequent it have long since packed their bags, which was a loss for many just coming into the GK hobby who are deprived of their vast experience.

I'm slowly coming to the realization that no, I don't have to read every news group! I was for awhile there, for fear that I might miss out on some tidbit of news that I wasn't aware of. But over time I've noticed that the folks, like me, who have new news to put out, shotgun their messages as well, so I'll more than likely see it on one of the lists I read.

I find I now glance at the Polar Lights BB once a week vice 3 or 4 times a day. (Which is a good thing, since that poor BB has also fallen from the heights of earlier days).

As much as I love Tony Spangler, never saw the valid need for a seperate 'Female Kit' club and pretty much get the news of new girl kits from other sources. But I continue to receive postings via email.

Have no desire to sign up for Dave Malin's new 'Aurora' club, since the other one pretty much covers that arena quite well. I use to read most of the threads on Mark's PC Modeler's & Starship Modeler's forums, but realized in the last 3 months that although I visit their sites for new info all the time, that I haven't been checking the forums... since most new happenings are told on Cult's BB.

I'd love to see the list of forums come down to a managable number. One that is more reasonable for the number of us in this tiny niche of the SF/Figure hobby. Just for ease of navigation and to save some time, if nothing else.

But what I really would love to see, is JUST ONE of these forums where EVERYONE can be found!

Is that too much to ask??!

Last week's column garnered it's own separate thread on the PL board.

To quote a famous underground artist;
"Unfortunately those ignorant sluts wouldn't get the point if it was painted on top of there dull, feeble-minded heads."

For the many folks that e-mailed me on the backside, I appreciate the words of encouragement and shared frustration. You might want to CC' a copy of those posts to the folks at PL and let them know just how many of you feel that way.

I know I was happily surprised!!

Continuing to "...bite your tongue" isn't going to stop the downward spiral. (Probably won't help either, but at least you tried).

For those few who put their '...head on the chopping block...' and had the guts to go against the grain, Bravo!

A special kudo to Mark_6478 for not only opening this thread, but having the balls to state his opinion. I admired that immensely!!

Surprisingly I didn't receive one e-mail in disagreement. But then what do you expect. They'd much rather chest-beat and ass-kiss each other on the BB in full sight of the rest of the passive sheep.

Maybe, just maybe, before they hit that 'NEW TOPIC' button, they could ask themselves if the topic pertains to Polar Lights. If not, do us all a favor and place the topic in the 'Modeling Forum'.

I especially loved the one opening remark that went...

"I would hope that Polar Lights would have more to do in their day than make the BB happy with answers! "

Geeez! Silly me!! And here I thought that was EXACTLY what the POLAR LIGHTS BULLETIN BOARD was formed to do! My bust!!


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