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Are We Losing Perspective?

By Michael Benolkin

We are among a unique group of modelers. Not only do we have the same avenues of modeling fellowship (model club meetings, hobby shop discussions, etc.) as our non-computer compatriots, we also have access to websites, newsgroups and realtime chat rooms. We have access to the latest information and techniques almost instantaneously. By the time the hardcopy magazines print a juicy newsflash, we’ve known about it for weeks!

The central meeting place in cyberspace seems to be the newsgroup rec.models.scale (folks that do not have newsgroup access can still get to rec.models.scale via the website http://www.dejanews.com). This is a truly unique medium! Where else can you find out the cockpit color of an Mi-24, and the answers come from the folks who fly/maintain them? Or find out if anyone else had problems with the intake trunks on the Academy Su-27 and how they overcame them? The information age has finally reached the modeler!

As with any social group, there are always a few folks that love attention and garner that attention through conflict. We’re seeing them on our newsgroup as well, I’ll call these chaps ‘flamers.’ They are usually identified by never using their real names.

The battle lines are usually drawn by an outrageous comment or demand in an otherwise innocent-looking post. The latest flamer topics include the aesthetic appearance of modelers’ babies (get over it, they ALL look like Winston Churchill at first), online auctions are evil, email abuses, etc. These people have a right to state their opinions on rec.models.scale as anyone else does.

The problem is this: we find it far too tempting to engage the flamers with our own points of view. You may be able to write a compelling response that should answer the challenge, but what it usually accomplishes is a chain reaction of opinions, hurt feelings and/or alienation of fellow modelers. Many of us have seen similar events happen in "real life" that usually ends at best with one or more modelers quitting a club, and at worst with the club dissolving.

We all turn to modeling to relieve stress and to have some fun. We look to rec.models.scale as an avenue of fun and exchanging ideas among people who share the same interests around the world. We hurt ourselves and our hobby when we let ourselves fall into the flamers’ trap. There are literally thousands of newsgroups out there where these folks can get the attention they seek. If we acknowledge their posts with any response, the problem only intensifies.

I’d like to encourage everyone to put rec.models.scale back into perspective. Modeling is about fun. Lets use this fantastic newsgroup to learn from each other and not bash one another. When we do debate, lets keep it relevant – is Brand X’s new Spitfire really accurate, or did the RAF really use that color in their wheel wells. Please avoid the flamers; traps and they will go away. As several folks have eloquently stated out there: "Please don’t feed the Trolls."

 




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Air Intelligence
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