October 26, 2001


Long before I started this weekly column, Steve 'CULTTVMAN' Iverson's weekly Sunday SF Digest was firmly established. Each week Ivie puts out an e-mail newsletter that covers a wide gambit of information surrounding the hardware and science fictional side of the modeling hobby. If you don't subscribe, you should! A lot of good info to be found within!

Over the last year or so he started running articles submitted by our mutual friend, David Merriman. David's words of wisdom usually fall into two categories...

1) A tone of distaste and superior distain towards those he calls simple 'Model Assemblers', as opposed to scratchbuilding 'Model Makers'...or

2) Step-by-step instructional articles covering a variety of Scratchbuilding endeavours. (Usually sprinkled with tidbits from #1).

Each time one of David's words of prose is featured in Ivie's Digest, you can bet the farm that if you go to Ivie's bulletin board you will find what quickly becomes a multipaged thread, usually condemning his words of wisdom. And of course, Ivie now has fill-in material from the numerous e-mails he receives on the side to fill out the next five Digest issues.

Unfortunately the reader's of his Digest haven't caught on to this game of his, and fall for the hook each and every time!! Once again it serves Ivie with three purposes... a) increased traffic to his bulletin board, b) fodder for future Digest issues, and c) the ability to ride in on his white horse and bestow calm upon the land! All through the words of someone else! A neat trick!

Many readers, though, continue to wonder why Ivie has to revert to Merri-ism's, and an ever increasing number have unsubscribed to the Digest in distaste because of the inclusion of David's pearls of wisdom.

The Sunday before last, October 14th, was no exception. Ivie ran a lengthy Merriman piece which concerned David's distaste of idiots who go on & on about nitpicking technical details on various SF type ships, but never get off the computer long enough to build anything! It definitely came under the #1 category, and in typical Merriman fashion, used every name in the book in ridiculing everyone!

In Sunday's Digest, October 21st, Scott 'Captain CBoard' Alexander's letter to Ivie was published. For those that do not subscribe to the Digest, Scott kindly allowed me to quote said message, and I've included Ivie's reply...

This is just an opinion, although I also have a request.

I can't figure out what Mr. Merriman is contributing. Is he writing construction articles as a contribution to a hobby or is he using construction articles to rant on about how this hobby is plagued by people who have skills he feels are inferior to his and, therefore, somehow waste HIS time in writing the article? I'm really stumped. I wouldn't be so perplexed if it weren't for the fact that Mr. Merriman seems to be the only - ONLY - person who constantly mixes useful information with his own version of how the world should be (commonly referred to as crap).

The Request: You, as editor of this digest, are reluctant to edit his condescension from his information. That's fine and I understand your reasons. However, I would request that you do one of two things.

First, that the information contained in his contributions be left as black text and his opinions be posted in white. This way, we don't have to see the remarks that have absolutely nothing to do with the information, unless we copy and paste them into another format and change the text color to something that can be read against a white background. His remarks are still there for anyone to read and the content of Mr. Merriman's contribution remains unchanged.

The second option would be to move Mr. Merriman's baloney to the end of the 'article'. As an editor, I'm sure you recognize the value of grouping the information contained in the contribution so that it presents a cohesive whole, instead of being broken into disjointed sections, separated by non-information. This might actually improve the readability of his work since the information would flow concisely and the editorializing would be grouped together, forming a more complete picture of what's going on in that whacky noggin of his.

I would also ask that you consider something else, as a way of judging whether or not his contributions are valid. If he were to submit the information in one post and the opinions normally contained in his articles in another, would you post the second as consistently as you would the first? Does that second post really have ANY relevance in THIS forum?

Some of it might, but most does not. Just because one contains the other, doesn't mean that 'consideration' should be set aside. If I were to contribute posts about the latest Chevy models, which have nothing to do with Science Fiction, would you post every one of my articles, or would you tell me to use another forum? You do have the option of returning the material and ask that HE edit it.

If it weren't for his penchant for setting his ego above the dissemination of knowledge, I'd be of the opinion that he really wants to help people. If it weren't for the fact that he can't give advice without pointing out that he thinks very few are worthy of it, I'd enjoy his articles. And if he'd write just one article without the doo-doo, I'd think there might be a human-being beneath those flowing, god-like robes.

If he was to stop it entirely, I'd know it.

Scott Alexander

A well written piece that brings up some interesting questions, insightful observations and like a good writer, proposes a variety of possible solutions. Was looking forward to seeing how Ivie responded to this, but of course wasn't surprised when he replied, saying...

At the moment, I don't have any plans to change the way the digest is done.

People send content, and I send it out. I look it over and that's about it. I don't go through and edit much of anything. I don't have time.

The digest takes and site takes up far too much of my time as it is. Sorry I don't have more to offer. -Steve

Now I support Ivie's stance 100%! It is his digest, just as this Sprue column is mine, and he can feature any written piece penned by whomever, anyway he wants to!! But in replying to Scott's letter, he not only pretty much blew him off, but he could, at least, have the integrity to answer the man honestly!!

The fact of the matter is Ivie does edit. Regardless of what he says back to Scott, when I first read David's piece in the October 14th Digest, it just sounded too tame for my good friend David, and said so on Ivie's Bulletin Board. David was kind enough to say I was correct, and promptly forwarded his original, unedited prose my way! I discovered upon reading the original that Ivie had edited what finally ended up in his Digest pretty extensively!!

Nothing wrong with that. Again, it's his Digest. Edit away!! But why lie to your subscribers about it?! Honestly, Ivie, the job of an editor is to edit. Nothing to be ashamed of, son! And as editor, you do have a responsibility to your readership... You make the time! Otherwise why bother?! I know Scott's a busy man too, but he found the time to write out a lengthy, concise concern that I'm sure he felt strongly about. Your answer was more demeaning than Merriman's pieces could ever achieve!

Then again, maybe it's just me!

This Friday marks the first day of the CHILLER THEATRE Expo being held in the Sheraton Hotel in East Rutherford, NJ all weekend long!!

Once again I'll be in the Model Contest Room all day Saturday, between 9:00am - 6:30pm, so please stop by the room and introduce yourself!!! I look forward to seeing all the new kits since last April, meeting old and new friends and talking about our favorite hobby for three full days!!

Hey! I finally get to meet Ivie face to face!! Can't get any better than that!!

Til next week...

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