The Effect of the MR Forum Closing

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cuyama

Member
dthurman said:
I do think they have a tough game to control, they need to allow free exspression, but at the same time, they also need to control any negative posts towards their advertisers. Pretty thin and grey line there.

That is one thing that does bother me, the censorship sometimes is a large brush. Again I understand their position. I noticed just the other day that Bergie had posted a retort to some posts about the product reviews, and the "who is this Bergie fellow". If I am not mistaken, he was I think a little disturbed by the posts and ended up locking them and I would imagine delete them out over time.
I appreciate your views, just don't see it the same way. There have been lots of negative posts about MR's biggest advertisers (e.g., Walthers and Horizon), with not a hint of censorship.

The "who is this bergie" thread was from someone who clearly did not understand the forum. That thread is still active. Erik has not posted to it.

Erik was very clear why he locked the others. A poster had impugned the integrity of a member of the MR staff personally in an earlier thread (which was rightly removed) and then accused MR of a whitewash. Those two later threads, though locked, are still up for anyone to read. If they were going to be deleted as part of some dark conspiracy, they would have been by now, one thinks.

I think Erik rightly locked them to avoid a hissing match and encourage people to move on to more informative discussion.

I guess it's just my nature, I don't see a huge conspiracy behind every action Kalmbach takes. There are many threads critical of MR and many threads critical of MR advertisers. Though most have little value, they are allowed to continue ad nasueum, so I see no censorship at work. But, again, I may just be naive.
.
Regards,

Byron
 
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dthurman

Guest
I guess Joe I would equate the Kalmbach event to a company I used to do web dev and hosting for back when I was in the business. When I first took them as a client, they just wanted a place to hang their name, why not since everyone else was doing it. As time progressed they had added a e-commerce section to the site. Being rather leery of the web and not wanting to invest in a new store front, which the Internet is just a virtual building to do business from, people walk in your brick and mortor and see a mess they may not come back, same thing applies on a web site. When they came to me for consulting and work, I tried to push them to use a "decent" ecom application, they didn't see the need, I mentioned SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and again they balked. After about 2 years of updates, me charging the cost of a new born on it's way to college ;) they started to listen to me, we installed a new shopping cart, revamped and "modernized" the web site, new design, new mapping and page ordering for navigation and got them SEO'd to the max with a firm out of Traverse City, they rock! and you know what, they saw the light, their sales went from 1 or 2 a week online to 15 to 20 a day, now more like 50-75, last time I spoke to them, now all their sales are online, all their dealers are online and under a program, their cusotmer base uses the web for everything.

I guess my point is, if Kalmbach wants to be the leader in the MR and railfan market, they need to embrace the Internet now. Not later because we all now the first one out of the gate with the right format and marketing is normally the one that leads and holds a 80-90% market share, if not the whole game. I hope they do get with it, I hope they take what is going on seriously, that means investing in staff and resources to make they forums work, make their website the place to get news and information, get their advertisers to buy into ad space and get them into the Internet. What I see so far on the MR front for model train websites, is a still stuck in the 90's website design and navigation. Not to slam Walthers or Atlas, but both sites need some work and better search and navigation. I haven't run around the new Athearn redesign, but from what I remember it looks like they may have an understanding on what needs to be done. I also am not sure if Kalmbach, Atlas and others really should be doing Forums, it as you said has a life of it's own and can morph or get a cancer that will soon get out of control.

Oh well just had a burst on energy and thought I would do some editorializing ;)
 

cuyama

Member
modelbob said:
That may well be the best choice. Running an online forum is a full time job, and it's a lot different from traditional publishing.
<snip>
The more people you get, the harder it gets. It's a delicate balancing act, and one that takes plenty of patience and practice. Also, as others have mentioned, it's not a job for just one person.

We work hard to try and overcome those problems here. Hopefully we're doing a good job of it.
Bob,

Thanks for the work you've done in creating this forum. But I'll disagree slightly in that I think Kalmbach is to be encouraged to do more online, not less. For beginners to model railraoding and to online forums, the MR forum has a role to play.

Yes, it looks great here so far ... thanks to your hard work. When this forum does get bigger and the Trolls and the ridiculous "what color is your train room?" posts start rolling in, I hope it will not be too great a burden on you and your helpers.

Of course, when you do start policing such things, posters will probably howl about your "censorship". I don't envy you, but I'm appreciative that you're willing to do it.

Regards,

Byron
 
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dthurman

Guest
cuyama said:
I appreciate your views, just don't see it the same way. There have been lots of negative posts about MR's biggest advertisers (e.g., Walthers and Horizon), with not a hint of censorship.

The "who is this bergie" thread was from someone who clearly did not understand the forum. That thread is still active. Erik has not posted to it.

Erik was very clear why he locked the others. A poster had impugned the integrity of a member of the MR staff personally in an earlier thread (which was rightly removed) and then accused MR of a whitewash. Those two later threads, though locked, are still up for anyone to read. If they were going to be deleted as part of some dark conspiracy, they would have been by now, one thinks.

I think Erik rightly locked them to avoid a hissing match and encourage people to move on to more informative discussion.

I guess it's just my nature, I don't see a huge conspiracy behind every action Kalmbach takes. There are many threads critical of MR and many threads critical of MR advertisers. Though most have little value, they are allowed to continue ad nasueum, so I see no censorship at work. But, again, I may just be naive.
.
Regards,

Byron
Actually Byron, Bergie did post on the Who is Bergie post, then deleted it.

I do see a censorship happening, I think in a way it's required, the pace that the MR forums moves, it's hard to see something that is censorable (sp) and have it be there an hour or even 15 minutes later.

Again that's why I said I see this odd attack on Kalmbach going on, I am all for talking about things, but on another forum, I saw postings by a person that just made me wonder what the true issues were in his post. Many don't like MR for what ever reason, be it they are recycling material, of all things gave away a free DVD (I mean really, there are people seeing the Illuninati at Kalmbach ;) sorry my Art Bell listening habits showing)

I saw Bergies reply on Jim, I was shocked, and that's what I mean, there seems to be some odd element out to question MR and even see a plot. The flames seem to get pretty hot over there lately, not sure, maybe it's the fact that MR season is just starting and many had cabin fever :)

I hope they get the place back to normal, the lockdown/troll episode lasted well into Wednesday of this week, with many still talking about the "Lockdown and The Troll"

Sorry I am sitting here just laughing out loud at all this (not at you or our exchange, just how people get sometimes). Rodney was right, we all need to get along :D
 

jfugate

Modeling SP in the 1980s
Byron:

You are right that MR isn't a big conspiracy that's trying simply to find new ways to "stick it to the poor unsuspecting modelers". But they are the biggest outfit in the hobby media, and you know how people like to ascribe bullying intentions to nearly everything the big guy does.

I agree much of it is misplaced. However, in my discussions with MR about their website and their future direction on the internet, they readily admit they are not experts. The print publishing business they know like the back of their hand, but their internet business has been somewhat "everyone else is doing it, so we should too" based.

But that's changing. As a professional internet developer, the first meeting I had with them (conference phone call), they picked my brains about their internet presence and what I thought of it. And those discussions have continued in and around our other discussions about me producing video content for them. Nothing in concrete yet, but the discussions have been *very* interesting.

They are aware their internet presence needs work -- some serious updating, etc. In our discussions around me doing video content for them, I have asked that we come to some formal position that allows me to make recommendations around their internet presence and how my material is presented. I don't want my material to be presented as an afterthought.

I expect them to upgrade their entire site's look and feel one of these days, but I can't say rightly when. I do know they are working on a serious site overhaul -- and with the late 90s technology they're using on their site, it's overdue. Using 6+ year old technology on a web site puts you into the dark ages as quickly as the internet moves these days.
 
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jfugate

Modeling SP in the 1980s
I do have to make one other comment ...

I get awful tired of many negative posts on the MR forum.

"The October MR is crap ..."

"The Dream Plan Build DVD is crap ..."

"The PDF downloads are crap ..."

"All MR cares about is their advertisers ..."

And so it goes. Generally, those same people never submit anything for publication. Byron and I (having been editors of the Layout Design SIG publications, among other things) know how much work it is to make and produce a publication, and I for one feel that Model Railroader magazine is a marvelous piece of work each month.

Sure some months are more interesting than others, but they are doing their print publication work very well. It's certainly a long ways from crap. And if they apply themselves to the internet with the same intensity, look out.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Joe,

Don't hold back. Let us know how you really feel.

I can't imagine what it would be like to edit a magazine like MR. I once was the editor of an education journal The Pennsylvania Council of the Teachers of Englsih and you would not believe the crap I received each month. These were English professors and the writing was so bad that 80% of it was rejeccted because it was not quaility writing. I can't imagine what MR gets in the way of submissions. I can imagine if they get a good idea they have to work with the author and re-write it for them in such a way that they think they wrote it themselves. Quite a trick.

I've only manage to collect about 4 years worth of MR. I've been happy with it.
 
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dthurman

Guest
I have bought the PDF downloads, their Operations set. I was happy with them, wish it was just a little cheaper ;)

I don't want to come off as an anti MR person, which I am not, I have subscriptions to MR, Trains and Classic Trains and love all 3, also I buy used MR's every chance I can at train shows, at 25 cents they are a bargain. I also have about every how to book they have come out with.

I agree and have stated earlier, there seems to be a large bash at Kalmbach, and maybe your right Joe, the big guys are an easy target. I did disagree with the photoshopped article that drew a large response, but that's just me :)

I do know you have to tow the line with those companies that pay you, a local realtor was backing a certian canidate for Mayor, I had to hang low until it was over, I was all for the other guy. We all have a price.
 

jfugate

Modeling SP in the 1980s
Don't get me wrong, I know no company is lilly white ... and Kalmbach has its problems, too. It's more big-business minded than the good old days when MR and Trains was *it*, and they've somewhat sold out to the "beauty shots" mindset which says don't dare show bare benchwork!

Plus, the magazine's name is Model Railroader. When was the last time you saw a modeler on the cover? Not like you used to during the heyday of the 50s and 60s.

But I do get tired of the total negative MR-cant-do-anything-right sort of posts. Those guys need to get a life ... or at least go write an article and submit it to show us all how a non-crap piece of work should look. ;)
 
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dthurman

Guest
jfugate said:
Plus, the magazine's name is Model Railroader. When was the last time you saw a modeler on the cover? Not like you used to during the heyday of the 50s and 60s.
Good point, Now that I think about it, all those old issues I have seem to always had someone on the cover, sort of looking like you avatar looks.
:)
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
dthurman said:
I do know you have to tow the line with those companies that pay you,.
I disagree. It was this type of thinking that brought down the company I was talking about before. The more they tried to tow the line when customers critcized the advertisors, the worse it made them look.

The Internet is too fluid. When the publisher I am talking about squelched anti-advertisor talk, they appeared greedy taking the side of the obviously wrong advertisor. The customers went to another site and continued the conversation with the previous site as the bad guys. This spread out to their general (read offline) customers and their profits fell--plumetted. This affected sales from the advertisors as well because they, like MR, were THE game in town.

Eventually, the advertisors had to address the issues in the publisher's website and when the customers felt they were being listened to, everything was hunky dory. But this was a two year process and not pretty.
 
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dthurman

Guest
I should have clarified that, I really meant myself when I had my business.

I think it depends if you are the media, then you really need to be unbiased and not let your "sponsors" dictate your news, but if you are a little shop, and the client pays some decent $$, and as long as you aren't selling your soul so to speak, I can live with a little be quite time. I was not happy in my situation, though I when in business always left the politics alone, I did some pro-bono work for a certian political party, but never put my name or mentioned it to anyone, I was on the other side so to speak, was just doing a friend a favor.

I think MR is trying hard to be impartial on those threads about MR slants their reviews stuff, which in a way allows them to actually get the real review out (hmm, could this be a ploy on MR's part ;) ) and still keep the advertisers happy that MR doesn't say, Junk don't buy. Erik aka Bergie actually said that if a product was poor, they just didn't do a review. Sort of opposite of that old if they aren't saying anything bad it must be good.
 

BoneValleyALCo

New Member
I too, have paged through MR since I was a little shaver.

But I feel that with the coming of the Information Age, that internet forums have brought people together. Perhaps the Kalmbach folks have yet to really learn this. Such a dynamic topic as model railroading deserves more than a static outlet such as printed publications can provide.

In my view, Bob has one of the hottest rail forums on the 'net, both prototype and model. He is among the pioneers of a new generation, just as Al Kalmbach was seventy years ago.
 
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dthurman

Guest
I have to say this, the magazine that got me all into Model Trains, the magazine that I stared at for months on end, the one that I would dream about at night and pretend I owed that layout they had, at 6 or was it 8 years old, it's been that long, was my issue of Boy's Life when I was a cub scout. It had the model railroad that someone had built, it was the most detailed, run your trucks around and play train set and scenery. I wish I could find a copy of that issue somewhere, THAT was the true model railroad magazine that I have now based all my love of model railroading on, MR was just icing on the cake ;)
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
It was 3 months after I joined Trains.com that I saw my first MR magazine. It was the forum that got me going and created my subscription.
 

GrandpaCoyote

Wiley Old Dog
cuyama said:
Wow. Harsh. I did not get that impression at all, but maybe I am just naive. To me, this was a corporation trying to deal with bad behavior by a few jerks (or one jerk, more than likely) taking advantage of a service Kalmbach provides at no charge to us but significant cost to them.

MR couldn't leave the trashy posts up all weekend. Unlike a private forum like this, the vulgar posts would directly impact the public's view of the company. And the jerks would just have added more. Kalmbach probably also couldn't ask Erik Bergstrom to work all weekend on Troll Alert. Then what do you do the next weekend? And the next?

In my mind, they handled this the only way they could, given the situation. Lock everything down so it won't melt down again over the weekend, clean it up, and hope it goes better this weekend.

Is Kalmbach or their online presence perfect? No. But I think they are doing their best in a tough situation for them. What's RMC's on-line presence like? Or Hundmann's? RMJ, MR'ing? They can barely put out magazines, let alone a useful web site.

Personally, I think it's a mistake to ascribe evil intentions or bad attitudes to people who are trying to do their best with a difficult situation (not of their own making) when they don't handle it perfectly in our 20/20 hindsight.

Just my view.

Regards,

Byron

Byron,

Please excuse my lack of clarity in this matter, what I said, and stand by, was not leveled at Kalmbach or any of the moderators on the MR forums (Terry, Bergie, et al).
The posts that I was referring to were thing that came from inside the community of members and posters. Nasty little asides, generalizations of those of us on the MR Forum as time and space wasters, side comments about us bringing it on ourselves, advise to others to look out that now we might be hanging around "their" fourms, and petty squuables, some from our own.
I have no illusions as to the rigours and demands placed upon any major corporation, and was not leveling this at Kalmbach. I long ago passed the point were corporations disappoint or sadden me, or where I can address mankind or large groups, these days only individuals, seem able to do that. And as an aside so I don't mispeak again, I do not mean you by that in any way Byron. :)
 

Brakie

Member
SpaceMouse said:
I am depressed.

The MR forum was the impetus for my diving into the model railroading hobby and what kept me driving forward on seemingly huge obstacles. I have friends I have never met that I go to when I need help or encouragement. Friends like Tom and Randy and Crandell and countless others. Likewise, I learn by helping others. I really enjoy critiquing track plans. Beginners I think I can help--sophisticated well designed plans sometimes elude me.

But as a beginner, I found MR first, and time after time I see newbies coming in with their train set, like I did, wanting to go to the next level. I belong to several forums and several listserves. None fill the role the MR forum does.

This is not a criticism of this board by any means. Quite frankly it looks quite well thought out. But it is difficult for me to read the posts. It is not my home.

I think that closing the MR forum was a mistake in the short run and even bigger mistake in the long run. I've seen this before. Print media unable to understand the culture of the information age. And it cost them, just as it will cost MR if that is what they choose. Still, companies make mistakes.

What do you think?

Chip,Let's look at it in another view and from one that has been in the hobby for years.
First what makes you new modelers think you need forums to help you? I will never understand that seeing I came up through the hobby in the dark ages where the LHS magazines and club-and some times neither was close at hand- was the best means of getting information and I sure don't mean just some unlearn questions..We had to think on our own and learn from our experience be it good or bad and above all how to over come problems in a era of locomotive kits..
I can sign off of every forum I am on and still keep up with the hobby through modeling friends and the club.

As far as the MR forum its OK but,I know better forums where knowledge can be given by experienced modelers starting with this forum..I also find the MR forum lacks the true meat of the hobby that the new modeler needs to gain that experiance..In closing I would not depend on one forum for the answer to my questions and to gain valuable experience I would try things on my own..You see that way you KNOW FIRST hand what works and what doesn't..After all experience is still the best teacher.Besides like I said there are better forums then MR. :D
 

GrandpaCoyote

Wiley Old Dog
Personaly I have nothing against Kalmbach or Model Railroader Magazine, I mean lets be honest here, I was looking for something to do with my OL and my 10 yer old son, I knew diddly and squat about trains and in fact still know less than the average stray dog that lives near a depot. I found a great old book at a local used book store, and it got me thinking but all those thoughts and dreams and plans would have boiled down to nothing without three things

Kalmbach publications, which not always the greatest source in the world, helped me to see the basics and adressed me as someone who knew nothing, and never talked down to me, or over my head.

Model Railroader Magazine, which continued to -show- me what could and can be done, amazed me, gladdened my day when I got one and pointed me to so many other sources I've lost track (no pun intended).

and finally

All the wonderful people and now friends, that I met over on the MR forums and I am happy to see everyday here now, that continue to challange me, set the bar, leave me speachless and in open good natured jealousy of their skill, knowledge, wit, wisdom and ability. And have turned into a great gang of friends who I enjoy talking to or reading about everyday.


Without any of those elements I would have probably moved on long ago now, Trains aren't enough for me (though day by day I get the bug more and more), long discusions about the minutia of the hobby aren't enough, prototypical operation still has me pulling out hairs (this may be good if I just stick to the grey ones), and reading coffee clubs and our places aren't enough either (picky sob aren't I) its all of it together as well as what I do on my own and with my OL that does indeed make this The World's Greatest Hobby.

So there have been hiccups and bumps in the road, it happens, I dont see a masterful conspiracy going on with Kalmbach, at least ;) nor am I ready to as we say down here "git a rope", but I am grateful for having found this forum and to all the people who keep it up and running.
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
I'm with Coyote, I was angered by what some of the members at the Kalmbach forum were saying on Monday after the re-opening - for the same general reasons he cited. I never felt any ill-will toward Kalmbach or Bergie, I knew from the start that they had to do something drastic. However, a little clearer communication from management - both before and after - would have certainly helped! I was chided for having the audacity to suggest this.

In any event, I do want to see the Kalmbach forums continue, since - as Chip and a few others have pointed out - they are often the first 'face' of model railroading that people see. I'll continue visiting trains.com, but not at the same frequency as in the past - they are not the only game in town for me anymore.
 

cuyama

Member
David T., Grandpa C.,

Sorry I misunderstood your posts. Just reading too quickly and not deeply enough. and as others have said, I'm fatigued from all the Kalmbach-bashing.

David, I stand corrected on Erik's posting to the "Who's Bergie" thread. I'm not on-line in forums much of the day, so I missed it before the retraction. (On the other hand, a guy should be able to change his mind about something he posts, right?)

Personally, I'm trying to keep my time in the forums down to 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. Today's an exception to the rule because I am stuck listening to a long, long conference call for a client.

Keeping my time down means I miss out on some good info and conversations, but it also makes me a little more selective. If I know I only am going to spend 15 minutes, I'll avoid the temptation to look at threads that I know will only raise my blood pressure.

And Joe F's correct, much of the ill-feeling expressed toward MR is because it's the biggest and as such an easy target. Some of these folks (I guess) feel bigger because they can pick on such a big player. The same thing happens to individuals on email lists and forums. I've seen a number of better-known folks in the hobby leave the Layout Design SIG list after recurring sniping by people anxious to pick on "the man".

Human nature is not different on the Internet, sadly, except it's dialed up to 10. (Or "11", for you Spinal Tap aficianados).

Regards,

Byron
 




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